This unit is concerned with general organization of academic writing (e.g. a review and project), its structure and particularly the way in which the different parts are linked together.
Most peaces of writing are organized in a similar way: introduction, development of main ideas and conclusion.
It is essential to divide your writing into paragraphs. A paragraph normally contains several sentences and the key sentence is usually the first one, which contains the main idea of the topic. The other sentences support it by adding further information or examples. A paragraph should be linked logically with the previous and following paragraphs.
When we develop arguments in academic writing, we normally need to present a balanced view. We must also ensure that facts and opinions are clearly separated.
According to Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, a review is a report by somebody giving her or his opinion of a book, film, paper, etc. It has the following structure:
Opinions and Recommendations
● Introduction gives the title of the article, the author’s name, the book in which it is published and the reasons you have chosen this article.
● Paragraph 2 gives the main idea, examples, details.
● Paragraph 3 analyses advantages and disadvantages, develops the main idea.
● Conclusion summarises the main points, gives views and what is very important – recommendations.
When writing a review bear in mind that there are many useful phrases which can help you in reviews.
The text (article / paper / publication) is published in the book …
The text is taken from the book …
The author of the book is …
The text is devoted to …
The book (magazine, journal) publishes the text under the title …
The text is entitled ….
The text informs (tells us about / points out that / stresses that / presents, etc.)…
The author describes (reviews / offers / clearly explains / starts by telling about, etc)…
Paragraphs 2 and 3
The main (key) problem (question) of the text (article) is …
The basic aim (purpose) of the text, in my opinion, is to show ….
Brief (full) information about ….. is given in …
The text is divided into 2 (3,4, etc.) parts
The first part is about ….
The second part tells (informs) us about …
In the first place …
Secondly, thirdly, …
The text is organised into the following parts …
In the text the author gives interesting data about …
The text gives some interesting facts, for example, …
For instance, …
Then the text passes on the problem of …
It is necessary to point out that …
Special attention is given to …
The author gives numerous examples in order to illustrate …
There are some figures …
Figure 1 shows the scheme (diagram / graph / table) of …
In figure 2 you see …
On the whole …
On the one hand / on the other hand …
It is fact that …
A lot of people think (believe) that …
What is more /Moreover / Besides / Therefore / Thus …
In conclusion …
On the basis of the above information we come to the following conclusion …
I think / I believe …
In my opinion / To my mind …
It seems to me that …
As far as I am concerned …
Finally / To sum up …
Taking everything into account …
The main advantage (disadvantage) of this text is …
The best feature of this text is …
The only drawback I noticed is that …
I particularly enjoyed the second part, because …
I recommend this (well-written / topical) text (highly) to …
3.1 Choose the most important pieces of advice from the list below, that you think will help you to improve your academic writing.
● Write precisely: clearly and accurately.
● Use correct language: grammar, vocabulary, spelling, etc.
● Organise the writing carefully: introduction, main body, and conclusion.
● Write legibly: handwriting should be easy to read.
● Write in an academic style: without using colloquial language.
● Avoid very long sentences.
● Be rational, critical, honest and objective.
● Carefully paragraph the writing.
● Avoid too much repetition.
● Check details carefully.
● Ensure that the opening paragraph is not too long and that it creates a good impression.
● Pay as much attention to the conclusion as to the introduction.
● Avoid the use of jargon, propaganda, exaggeration, and emotive language.
● Ensure that ideas and items are logically connected.
● Finally add some advice of your own that is not covered in the list above.
3.2 Read the review below and answer the questions:
1 Which tenses are used?
2 What is the purpose of each paragraph?
3 What useful phrases are used in the review?
4 Is this a good example of the review or not? Give reasons.
The title of the article I have just read is “Air Pollution”. It is published in a famous journal “National Geography” and once more proves the importance of the discussed topic.
The author begins the article with some historical background and then gives a detailed analysis of the problem of air pollution. The idea is not new, of course, but we must agree that it remains very topical nowadays. Generally speaking the article is organised into 6 parts. Part 1 recounts the history and gives some definitions, e.g. air pollution management and monitoring. Part 2 describes industrial processes causing pollution in such big cities as London and Tokyo. Part 3 clearly explains the sources of harmful emissions, mentioning industrial complexes, motor vehicles and power plants. Part 4 compares big cities, small towns and rural areas. Moreover it gives additional information about toxic and hazardous sources of pollution. I really enjoyed reading part 5 because it is a good bridge to the next part. Only 10 sentences long it presents impressive possibilities of antipollution measures. Unfortunately in the last section the author comes to a distressful conclusion: although millions of dollars are spent to reduce the amount of pollution emitted into the atmosphere, this battle is endless and often not very successful.
I personally believe that the main advantages of this article are the following: all problems are covered from many points of view and vivid examples are represented to support them. In addition to this it is well written from all standpoints: the content, topic, style and structure. That is why I heartily recommend this article for those who are doing ecology and geography – it will provide you with many things to think about.
3.3 And now read a similar review of the same article. This model is not a good one and your task is to explain why.
This article under the title “Air Pollution”, deals with one of the most essential problems of today. The article is divided into several paragraphs – each to describe the problem from different sides.
The author starts with the origin of the problem and the first steps taken to solve it. He mentions, that people did not consider air pollution as a problem a century ago, but nowadays almost everybody realizes it. Evidently to catch reader’s attention the author gives a comprehensive picture of a modern city. From my point of view this paragraph, the largest one, is the best one for its insight.
All in all the paper is clearly written and relatively easy to read. The only drawback I noticed is that it says nothing specific about the problem. A primary goal is a list of organisations concerned with the quality of urban air. The readership if this article intends to attract students and all the people who want to get general information about air pollution. The epilogue of this article, however, remains the question of air pollution open.
3.4 Are the statements correct or incorrect?
1 Reviews do not include the writer’s view point.
2 The present tense is usually used in the description.
3 Each new topic is introduced in a new paragraph.
4 Linking words should be included in your writing.
5 The last paragraph never summarises the article.
6 Always justify your point of view.
7 The heading of the article should always be mentioned.
8 Students always have some difficulties writing in English.
3.5 Which verbs are similar in meaning?
1 analyse a) show
2 characterise b) make clear
3 classify c) demonstrate
4 explain d) describe
5 express e) examine
6 list f) propose
7 illustrate g) arrange into groups
8 suggest h) mention things one after another
3.6 Fill in the appropriate word from exercise 3.5. Mind grammar tense.
1 The report …….. various ways of solving the problem.
2 In 1918 W. Köppen …….. climates in 5 categories.
3 Last year British scientists …….. samples of leaves taken from the sea.
4 To put pictures in a book means to …….. it.
5 At the end of the course paper the books are …….. alphabetically.
6 The author …….. his own opinions in his books.
7 Bright colours …….. his paintings.
8 Science cannot …….. everything.
3.7 Match the two parts of the sentences.
1 There is acid in that bottle, therefore a) the icy road continuous.
2 The accident occurred because of b) cold it is.
3 He passed his examinations because c) they had to turn round.
4 Lots of factories closed down, thus d) he worked hard.
5 She leaves all the windows open, however e) everyone played well.
6 We lost the game although f) many people lost their jobs.
7 A tree had fallen across the road, so g) the rain.
8 We went out in spite of h) it must be handled very carefully.
3.8 Fill in the words in bold. Remember that:
who / that – refers to people which / that – refers to things
where – is used for places
1 The article …….. I have just finished reading is very clearly written.
2 A professor is a person …….. works in a university.
3 The book …….. I finished last year has just been published.
4 A school is an institution …….. children are educated.
5 An encyclopaedia is a book …….. gives information on subjects.
6 There are a number of languages …….. are descended from Latin.
7 The difficulties …….. you have when writing in English may be in grammar and spelling.
8 A university is a place …….. students get higher education.
3.9 Match the definitions.
1 survey a) an article that gives opinion about something
2 essay b) composition
3 review c) an examination of something
4 dissertation d) a list of questions
5 summary e) a long piece of writing on a particular subject that do for a university degree.
6 questionnaire f) a brief statement of some points
3.10 Read Ali’s essay. Then match the paragraphs A - I with these topics:
Conclusion / Crime and People’s Attitude / Environmental Problems / Introduction / Leisure Choices / Multicultural London / The Cost of Living / Famous Sights / Transport
MY HOME – LOVE IT OR HATE IT!
(by Ali Khazan)
A) I live in Blackheath in South London. London’s one of the largest and most exciting cities in the world, and there are advantages and disadvantages to living here.
B) The main advantage is that there’s a lot to do and see. In the centre of London there are tourist attractions like Madam Tussaud’s and the Science Museum, and there are all kinds of parks and historic buildings. I suppose that we don’t always make the most of it (use something for your benefit). We only visit places like the Tower of London when one of our relatives comes to visit!
C) Secondly, London is a great place for entertainment. All the new films come here first, and if we want to go to a pop concert or a big sports events, there’s always something right on our doorstep (very near to your home). And of course the shopping is great – there’s everything from department stores like Harrods to Camden Market.
D) Another advantage of living in London is that you can travel easily and quickly across the city on the underground. And we’ve got railway stations and airports to take you anywhere in the world.
E) Lastly, London is truly cosmopolitan. Kids at my school are from lots of different cultures, but that doesn’t stop us being friends. It’s good to mix with people from different backgrounds (the type of home and family that someone has). It stops you from becoming narrowminded (conservative and prejudiced).
F) But there are some major problems if you live in London. Like most other capital cities, it is noisy, polluted and congested with traffic. The traffic problem is so bad that they have recently introduced a congestion charge (demand of money) for central London. Drivers now have to pay if they want to take their cars to the city centre. Hopefully that will improve the situation.
G) Secondly, things are very expensive here – apparently it’s more expensive to live here than to live in any American city. For example, if you go to the cinema in the centre of London it can cost you £12. And to go just one step on the underground can cost you nearly £1.
H) But the worst problem about living in London is that, in general, people aren’t very friendly. Nobody will talk to strangers or help people in the street if they are in trouble. They don’t trust each other, and I think that’s because they are scared of becoming victims of crime. London has the highest crime rate in the country.
I) But in spite of (ignoring) these negative points, I still wouldn’t want to live outside of London. It’s my home – love it or hate it!
3.11 Complete the summary of the essay. Use these words:
activities / expense / home / multicultural / principal / shops / unfriendliness / variety
For Ali, the (1) …….. advantage of living in London is the (2) …….. oà things that there are to see and do. He thinks that the (3) …….., the choice of leisure (4) …….. and the transport are good, and he likes the fact that London is a (5) …….. city. The disadvantages for him are the traffic, the (6) …….., people’s (7) …….. and the crime, but he doesn’t want to leave his (8) …….. .
3.12 Write the review of the text “My Home – Love It or Hate It!”
3.13 Now read the four models of academic writing and define: a survey, summary, questionnaire and introductory paragraph of the essay.
Model 1 Britain is an island that is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. It consists of the mainland of England, Wales and Scotland. Ireland lies off the west coast of Britain. It comprises Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. The United Kingdom is composed of Britain together with Northern Ireland. The capital city is London which is located south-east England.
In 1998 the population of the UK was nearly 59 million. The density of population is 240 people per square kilometre. In the UK English is the first language of most people. In western Wales, Welsh is spoken by many of the people, but few people in Scotland speak Gaelic.
Model 2 This essay will examine the problems facing secondary education in Britain today. It will examine the background to the problems, starting with the 1944 Education Act, which established universal free primary and secondary education. It will then look at problems associated with comprehensive schools. After this, it will examine the concept of the National Curriculum, the extended responsibilities and powers of school governors and the local management of schools. Finally, there will be an analysis of the relationship between central government and local education authorities, and a discussion of the problems relating to the financing of schools.
Model 3 Several years ago, some research was conducted at Manchester University into the amount of time that overseas postgraduate students spent listening to spoken English and speaking English. Sixty students co-operated by completing questionnaires.
It was found that an average of 22¾ hours per week were spent listening to English and only 6¼ hours speaking English to English people. An analysis of the time spent listening to English showed that lectures accounted for 5 hours and seminars 2 hours. An estimated 2½ hours were spent in serious discussion while 2 hours were devoted to everyday small-talk. Watching television accounted for 5¼ hours and listening to the radio 4½hours. Going to the cinema or theatre only accounted for an average of 45 minutes per week.
1 Tick the colour you like best from those listed below.
2 Which is your lucky or favourite number? ____________
(if you do not have one, write none)
3 What do you consider to be the ideal age to get married? Tick one of the age groups below.
□ 16-20 years
□ 21-25 years
□ 26-30 years
□ 31-35 years
□ 36-40 years
□ 41-45 years
If none of these, state what you think here ________________
□ Tick here if you do not believe in marriage.
4 Tick below the three most important qualities you would look for in your ideal partner.
1 It is important to remember, that writing …….. should not be mixed.
2 A common …….. is to add a conclusion that does not follow logically from what has been written before.
3 …….. may be a part of the survey.
4 A …….. is needed to show that the writing is finished.
5 At the beginning we write the …….. of the book and the author.
6 The …….. to many pieces of academic writing contains historical background.
7 Written English, like spoken English, may be …….. or informal.
8 When we discuss or argue in academic writing, we need to present a …….. view.
3.16 Read the three models and answer the questions:
1 Which model is the most formal? Why?
2 Which model consists of short forms?
3 Which model is informal? Give reasons.
4 Which model is a mixture of styles? Why?
Model 1 I’ve never really been keen on going out in the snow – and I can’t understand why people get so excited about it. Your feet get soaking wet, your fingers nearly freeze off, and where’s the fun in having a snowball pushed down the back of your neck? I’d love to have enough money to be able to get away from here when it snows.
Model 2 Moreover, the combination of harsh winters and warm summers has an interesting effect on the personality of those who live in the more remote, rural parts of my country. Inhabitants of these areas tend to withdraw into themselves between December and March, becoming shy and reserved. In spring, however, they undergo a transformation – it’s really amazing! They’re just so incredibly different – you’d almost think you were in another country!
Model 3 Huge waves crashed onto the beach, sending sand and stones high into the air. Gale-force winds caused destruction to buildings along the seafront, and made walking in the street extremely hazardous. We spent the day sheltering in the lounge area of our hotel, wondering when, if ever, the storm would die down.
3.17 Study the information.
It is well known that project is a very popular kind of written work at British universities. Students usually do projects on a topic by their own choice or by the agreement of a lecturer. It is a piece of work that involves collecting detailed information about something.
Group projects can be a kind of mini-research. You can divide yourselves into small groups (perhaps 2-3) with each person responsible for one aspect or part of the activity: you will need to agree on who does what. Afterwards you will need to put all your information together and write a joint report.
Your project may contain a questionnaire that you need to construct for a specific purpose (perhaps to collect data or to obtain people’s opinions on issues or matters of concern by means of interviews). It may involve investigating various sources of information or references, perhaps in libraries. It may also involve personal observation of certain matters and comparing these observations with other people. Finally, some kind of conclusion will need to be agreed upon.
► In your group select one of the following projects and decide on a framework for collecting data etc, and who will be responsible for which part.
● The main subjects studied at different levels at your university.
● The history and development of the university / town, etc.
● Types of pollution and resulting problems in the town.
● Environmental Tourist Guide. Choose any piece of nature (river, lake, park, etc.).
Your steps: 1 Define the problem.
2 Find the solution.
3 Find out everything you can about it.
4 Use information from all sources (library, the Internet, surveys, etc.)
5 Use photos, drawings, slogans, etc. Anything!
Under the agreement with your lecturer you could modify the topics. You can propose other projects suitable for your locality.