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Paragraphs in academic papers should consist of 4 basic parts. Each part has a specific function.

This method of structuring paragraphs derives in part from the following key concepts of Anglo-Saxon academic style (see the post entitled Academic style key concepts):

structured, clear, objective, evidence-based, reader-oriented

The Academic English UK website has an excellent table with basic paragraph structure along with concrete examples from academic articles.

Source: Academic English UK

This paragraph from the introduction of the European Sociological Review article Classes and Castles: Impact of Social Stratification on Housing Inequality in Post-Socialist States provides a good example of the 4 parts.

It also shows that while all 4 parts should be included, generally in this order, there is some flexibility in how this can be done. For example authors must differentiate which claims need to be substantiated with evidence: in this case we see that evidence in the form of a citation is provided in the summary section as well as in the development section.

Using the table above, can you identify the 4 parts of this paragraph?

After 1990, labour markets changed. Many employment positions connected to the nomenklatura were gradually abolished. Conversely, new jobs in the financial sector, sales, marketing, legal services, media, and informatics emerged. In services, people with the requisite qualifications replaced people who had held positions previously because of their loyalty to the socialist regime. Differentials in labour wages grew as did the threat of unemployment with liberalization of the economy (Večerník, 1998). With such changes also came increased socio-economic inequalities and the differences that emerged were similar to the social stratification patterns evident in advanced industrial economies (Evans and Mills, 1999).

Here the paragraph is divided into its constituent parts.

Topic sentence After 1990, labour markets changed.

Development

Example Many employment positions connected to the nomenklatura were gradually abolished. Example Conversely, new jobs in the financial sector, sales, marketing, legal services, media, and informatics emerged. Example In services, people with the requisite qualifications replaced people who had held positions previously because of their loyalty to the socialist regime. Example with evidence Differentials in labour wages grew as did the threat of unemployment with liberalization of the economy (Večerník, 1998).

Summary with evidence With such changes also came increased socio-economic inequalities and the differences that emerged were similar to the social stratification patterns evident in advanced industrial economies (Evans and Mills, 1999).

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Pamela Cotte

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