Humans store language not only as individual words but also as ‘chunks’ of ready-made language. Research has suggested that non-native speakers use phrases as a main way of writing. The PhraseBook for Writing Papers and Research gives you a corpus of 5000 such words and phrases to help you write, present and build your academic English. As you use the PhraseBook, you will find the phrases becoming part of your own vocabulary.

The PhraseBook is designed to be used in a wide range of subjects and is suitable for all types of university papers and research publications and presentations. Phrases are divided into around 30 main sections that follow the structure of university and research writing, such as Introducing a Study, Defining the Scope of a Study, Arguing For and Against, Reviewing other Work, Summarizing and Conclusions. Many sections are further divided, for example the Relationship to Previous Work, the Relationship to Current Work, Contrasting Work and the Limitations of Current Knowledge.

The PhraseBook is available in both paperback and digital versions. All versions are identical in content. The digital versions allow you to search the PhraseBook for a specific word or phrase. For instance, by searching for ‘theory’ you find:

  • In theory,…
  • One possible theory is that…
  • …to put forward a theory of or for…
  • …to shed light on a number of issues or problem areas in current theory
  • the or a cornerstone of…theory
  • X’s theory is obviously of relevance or applicable here
  • Current theory, as it stands, does not adequately account for…
  • …is neglected in current theory
  • X’s statement or theory…requires some qualification
  • X highlights a number of problems in current theory

A number of example phrases are given below:


Introducing your work

The study will begin by outlining…
This study addresses a number of issues…
Chapters X and X concentrate on…
The following section sets out…
…to examine the research problem in detail
…to shed light on a number of problem areas in current theory
The paper presented here is based in part on an earlier study


Defining the scope of your study

The focus of the study is…
The central question to be examined in this paper is…
The study is important for a number of reasons:
Present understanding of…is limited.
Many authors would agree that…
Previous studies have shown or suggested that…
The problem has been much discussed in recent literature.
This approach has a number of advantages: firstly,…
The present study was designed to test the hypothesis that…
A fuller discussion of…will appear in a later publication.


Arguing for and against

This point is particularly relevant to…
This becomes clear when one examines…
This lends weight to the argument that…
Support for this interpretation comes from…
To put it another way,…
This raises the question whether…
While it may well be valid that…, this study argues the importance of…
This begs the question why…
A serious drawback of this approach is…
One of the prime failings of this theory or explanation is…


Reviewing other work

X’s study is a textbook example of…
X’s work has had a profound influence on…
The study contains a number of new and important insights:
X makes a strong case for…
X takes little or no account of…
There is little evidence to suggest that…
It is very much an oversimplification to…
The study offers only cursory examination of…
X gives a detailed if not always tenable analysis of…
The authors’ claim that…is not well founded.
X’s explanation is not implausible, if not entirely satisfactory.


Analysis and explanation

One tentative proposal might be that…
If, for the sake of argument, we assume…
One of the most obvious consequences of…is…
This would appear to be supported by…
There is some evidence to suggest that…
The importance of…is demonstrated clearly by…
Although it may well be true that…, it is important not to overlook…
It is important to distinguish carefully between…
It is not necessarily the case that…
The extent to which this reflects…is unclear.
A more plausible explanation for or of…would…
The reason for…is unknown, but…has been suggested by X as a possible factor.


Summary and conclusions

Concluding this section, we can say that…
Chapter X draws together the main findings of the paper.
The study has gone some way towards understanding…
A number of key issues have been addressed in this study.
The results lend strong support to…
This study has highlighted a number of problem areas in existing theory.
While the initial findings are promising, further research is necessary.
This raises a number of questions for future research.
The results of this study suggest a number of new avenues for research.

Online PhraseBook

To view more phrases from the PhraseBook, click on the sections below:

Preface and acknowledgements


Support, funding and approval

Personal thanks

About the author or authors

Education and position

Research and publications

Contributions and awards


Introducing a study, chapter or section


Related work

The aim of your study and outlining the topic

Current understanding

Importance of the study

Defining the scope of your study

What is excluded from study

Further references

Your method or approach

Type of study




Definitions, notation and terminology

Rules and laws

Use and reference

Following others’ definitions


Presenting data

Figures, tables and graphs

Describing figures and graphs

Data sources and collection

Giving examples

What the examples show


The relationship to other work

Previous work

Current work

Contrasting work

The limitations of current knowledge

Referring to other work

Citing work to support a view

Further references

Reviewing other work

What you agree with

What you disagree with

Their method

Their results or conclusions

Your view

Arguing your case and putting forward ideas

Arguing against

Analysis and discussion














Previous and past

Subsequent and future

Hypotheses and probability


Suggestion and speculation

Probability and prediction

Assumption and implication

Rhetorical questions and addressing your audience

Compare and contrast

Equal or equivalent

Same or similar


Agreement and correspondence



Tying a text together

Referring forwards

Referring back

Presenting results

Negative results

Interpreting findings


Contradictory, unexpected or inconclusive findings

Concluding a study, chapter or section



Implications and applications


Summary and abstract

Book jackets