Better Signal Phrases for Research Writing
In style guidelines for research writing we have the idea of efficiency.
The concept is:
- to use the least amount of words necessary to be clear (don’t be wordy).
- to avoid saying what is unnecessary (don’t be redundant).
Here in an example of an awkward signal phrase, or phrase that introduces a source, and several solutions that will instantly improve your research writing style.
Consider a common style of awkward signal phrase used by beginning research writers. It might look like this:
“In a journal article I found called [“title”] it states that…”
- It takes 10 words, plus a long title, to get the reader to the point. Therefore, it is wordy – a burden to readers.
- We know the author found the article because it is in the paper, and we will know it’s a journal article because we have Works Cited (or References in APA style) to tell us. Therefore, it is redundant.
Writing like this clogs the paper and takes away from developing the content.
Try these less redundant, more efficient solutions:
- “The article [“title”] states…”
- Instead of giving a long title, use the authors, for example, “Afshari, Mojgan, et al. write…”
- In APA style you would add the year: “Afshari, Mojgan, et al. (2009) write…”
- Or give the authors with a relevant description, such as “Afshari, Mojgan, et al. studied how technology is used by teachers and found…”
- In APA style you would add the year: “Afshari, Mojgan, et al. (2009) studied how technology is used by teachers and found…”
Don’t forget your in-text citation at the end.
Better introductions to sources that are less redundant and more efficient will not only give you more time to develop your research paper, but will be a relief to readers. As a bonus, your research style will instantly sound more professional.
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