On his blog ThinkELT.com, Luiz Otavio Barros has put together 70 sentence models that were most useful to him when he was writing up his MA dissertation. Now, you Fickle Readers out there can get a glimpse of how academics build their agonizingly crafted, hopefully iron-clad arguments. Here’s a taste:
a. Along similar lines, [X] argues that ___.
b. There seems to be no compelling reason to argue that ___.
c. As a rebuttal to this point, it might be (convincingly) argued that ___.
c. The question of whether ___ has caused much debate in [our profession] [over the years].
a. In this section / chapter, the discussion will point to ___.
f. [X] lies at the heart of the discussion on ___.
c. The issue of whether ___ is clouded by the fact that ___. (clouded = made less clear)
As I recall, I tended to avoid the word “issue” (I think my dissertation chair wasn’t crazy about the term, and one must always follow the dictates of the Chair), but “point to” was a verb phrase I whipped out on a regular basis. Also, along similar lines (wink wink), “suggest,” “reflect,” “indicate,” “demonstrate,” and “evoke.” I also avoided certain words, especially “bespeak,” a verb I loathe with the hate of a thousand suns.
Anyway, for my money, Barros has given the world of writing a gift by showing us all the nuts and bolts of his craft. Many thanks, Luiz! I wish I’d had the clarity of mind to be able to build an argument and thus finish my friggin’ dissertation, but I know that this list will be helpful to many, if only as a structure on which to hang those raging, chaotic thoughts that go along with trying to put together research discoveries (or, in my case, pulling things out of my ass).