Presentation on theme: "UAB UNIVERSITY WRITING CENTER Improving Paragraphs for Academic Writing."— Presentation transcript:
UAB UNIVERSITY WRITING CENTER Improving Paragraphs for Academic Writing
Basic Features of Strong Paragraphs Clarity – the focus of the paragraph is clear, not ambiguous; content is unified Concise – each sentence in the paragraph has purpose and power; no unnecessary repetition Coherent – the paragraph is clearly connected to the rest of the essay and to the thesis Emphasis – the paragraph is situated within the essay in a way that clearly indicates its degree of importance within the essay Engaging – the paragraph keeps the reader interested in the content
Topic Sentences – the paragraph mini-thesis Importance: Establishes unity Key to coherence Must be clear Function – Explicitly states the focus of the paragraph: the specific subpoint extension of the main thesis to be developed in the paragraph Placement – Often the first sentence of the paragraph May follow a transitional sentence Occasionally delayed until end of paragraph
Developing Body Paragraphs One Basic Format: Topic sentence that states focus/mini-claim or states a synthesized concept Sentence that expands or explains focus/mini-claim/synthesis Sentences that support the explanation/mini-claim/synthesis (cited research) Commentary on the cited research Wrap-up sentence that connects research to overall focus of essay or next paragraph
Strategies to Improve Overall Coherence 1. Repeat key terms or phrases 2. Reinforce key concepts by using synonyms 3. Use words that express the relationships between paragraphs and among sentences within the paragraphs Ex. Additionally, researchers have found that the production of biofuels may actually improve soil quality, rather than deplete it. Ex. However, opponents of biofuels argue that grain-based biofuels may be detrimental to under-developed countries who rely on grains to offset food supplies.
Improve Coherence through Parallelism Parallelism: Related ideas or ideas joined in a list should be presented in the same grammatical structure (i.e. nouns, phrases, clauses) Not parallel: The study participants were asked about how much weight they had gained recently, exercising habits, current health status and history, and if they had seen a medical doctor recently. Parallel: The study participants were questioned about current weight fluctuations, exercise habits, health status, health history, and recent doctor visits.
Improve Engagement through Variety Purposefully, vary sentence length within a paragraph. For example, contrasting several long sentences with a short sentence creates emphasis and draws attention to the point made. Underline the sentence openers. Vary occasionally. Vary the sentence patterns used within the paragraph: simple, compound, complex, compound- complex.
Basic Sentence Patterns Simple – one subject and one verb. Over-used produces choppy and often bland style. Very straightforward; often preferred in medical writing Compound – two simple sentences combined by a conjunction (i.e. and, but, therefore) or a semicolon. Complex – a simple sentence combined with one or more dependent clauses; preferred in humanities Compound-complex – two or more joined simple sentences combined with one or more dependent clauses; frequently used in academic writing
Creating Emphasis through Paragraph Order Some paragraph order is constrained by the discipline/genre, i.e. sciences, social sciences In other disciplines, writers are generally expected to create a logical framework that readers can follow: General to specific (deductive reasoning) Specific to general (inductive reasoning) Old information to new information Least important to most important (or vice versa) Chronological sequences Cause/Effect Warrant, Reason, Claim