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Continental writers often find the extensive use of signpost language in Anglo-Saxon academic writing surprising. Examples of signpost language include phrases such as This paper will explore how…; This study addresses the impact of…; First it will…; The second section will…; To conclude… 

Signpost language structures writing and guides the reader through the text. Since these phrases are generally very simple and clear, continental writers may feel that they are not academic enough and thus hesitate to use them. 

Signpost language is a convention in Anglo-Saxon academic writing and should be used when writing academic texts in English.  It is fine to use even the simplest signpost phrases, for academic writing such as first, second, third.

The following example from Oxford Economic Papers illustrates how simple and clear signpost language is used at the end of the introduction to clearly set out the structure of the journal article. The choice of an academic article from Oxford was deliberate to show that this type of signpost language is used at the highest levels.

The paper is organized as follows: Section 2 starts off with a presentation of the three proposed indicators, followed by an inspection of their ability to capture major uncertainty-enhancing economic/political events (Section 3). Sections 4 and 5 go one step further, analysing the role of the uncertainty measures in shaping economic fluctuations in the euro area by estimating and simulating multivariate time-series models. Conclusions follow.

Source: New uncertainty measures for the euro area using survey data

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Pamela Cotte

2 Replies to “Signpost language in introductions”

  1. Hello,
    thank you for a very useful article. I would love to see the example from Oxford economic papers that it is referred to, however, it seems to be locked for subscription-only access. Would it be possible to give a different example that is freely available?
    Thank you very much.

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