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Generic phrases are used extensively in English academic writing. They are an excellent tool for non-native speakers and even native speakers as generic phrases immediately create academic style, help structure writing and ensure clarity.

What are generic phrases?

Generic phrases are standard phrases used in research papers. From reading academic papers you will certainly be familiar with some of these. Generic phrases exist for each part of a research paper.

Phrasebanks such as the Manchester Academic Phrasebank provide generic phrases organized according to parts of a research paper. These phrases also help to structure and signpost text, guiding the reader through the paper by clearly indicating what is being discussed.

A good way to improve your academic English is to write down generic phrases that you encounter in articles from your field.

Because these phrases are neutral in terms of content, they can be copied and pasted into your work without danger of plagiarism.

Examples of generic phrases used in various parts of a research paper

  • The topic of this paper is…
  • In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in…
  • Many researchers have utilised X to measure…
  • These results suggest that …
  • Further studies need to be carried out in order to establish whether…

Isn’t it boring to use generic phrases?

The convention of using standard generic phrases in English academic writing may seem unimaginative and strange to continental academic writers. However extensive use of these phrases fits with various key concepts in Anglo-Saxon academic writing.

  • reader-orientation
  • standardized text with expected rhetorical moves
  • clear structure with signpost language to guide the reader
  • impersonal
  • concise and clear

My colleague’s post on Academic writing in English and Czech has more information on these concepts as does my post English Academic style key concepts.

More information

Manchester Academic Phrasebank; PdF version of the Manchester Academic Phrasebank

Generic phrases from Springer English for Writing Research Papers

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Pamela Cotte

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