The “academic phrasebank” by Dr. John Morley

I just found a very useful site called Academic phrasebank and I thought I should share it with you. Usually, however, when I find useful links or sites I share them on tweeter, since it is much easier and can be done in seconds. I realize though that not all people have tweeter so I decided to mention it here too.

The site is created with the aim to “provide you with examples of some of the phraseological ’nuts and bolts‘ of writing” by Dr. John Morley  (

He writes that the Academic phrasebank “was designed primarily with international students whose first language is not English in mind” but notes that it can be helpful even for native speaker writers.

He points that:
the phrases can be used simply to assist you in thinking about your writing, or they can be used in your own work where this is appropriate. In most cases a certain amount of creativity will be necessary when you do this.

It is also possible to transfer some of the words used in particular phrases to others. The phrases are content neutral and generic in nature; in using them, therefore, you are not stealing other people’s ideas and this does not constitute plagiarism”

The Academic Phrasebank includes the following sections.

Introducing Work
Referring to the Literature
Being Critical
Describing Methods
Reporting Results
Discussing Findings
Writing Conclusions
General Functions
Useful Links

Each section included several sub-sections. I provide the example of the “Introducing work” that includes:

Establishing the importance of the topic:

  • One of the most significant current discussions in legal and moral philosophy is ……
  • It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the …..
  • X is the leading cause of death in western industrialised countries.
  • X is a common disorder characterised by ……
  • X is an important component in the climate system, and plays a key role in Y.
  • In the new global economy, X has become a central issue for ……

[Read the rest here]


Establishing the importance of the topic (time frame given):

  • Recent developments in X have heightened the need for ……
  • In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in ……
  • Recent developments in the field of X have led to a renewed interest in ….
  • Recently, researchers have shown an increased interest in ……

[Read the rest here]


Highlighting a problem in the field of study:

  • However, these rapid changes are having a serious effect ……
  • However, a major problem with this kind of application is ……
  • Lack of X has existed as a health problem for many years.

[Read the rest here]


Highlighting a controversy in the field of study:

  • To date there has been little agreement on what ……
  • More recently, literature has emerged that offers contradictory findings about …..
  • One observer has already drawn attention to the paradox in ……
  • In many Xs a debate is taking place between Ys and Zs concerning ……

[Read the rest here]

Highlighting a knowledge gap in the field of study (for research):

  • So far, however, there has been little discussion about ……
  • However, far too little attention has been paid to ……
  • Most studies in X have only been carried out in a small number of areas.
  • The research to date has tended to focus on X rather than Y.
  • In addition, no research has been found that surveyed …….
  • So far this method has only been applied to ……

[Read the rest here]


Focus, aim, argument:

  • This paper will focus on/examine/give an account of ……
  • This essay critically examines/discusses/traces ……
  • This paper will review the research conducted on ……
  • This chapter reviews the literature concerning the usefulness of using ……
  • The aim of this paper is to determine/examine ……

[Read the rest here]


Outline of structure:

  • This paper has been divided into four parts. The first part deals with ……
  • The essay has been organised in the following way.
  • Chapter 2 begins by laying out the theoretical dimensions of the research, and looks at how ……
  • Chapter 3 describes the design, synthesis, characterization and evaluation of ……

[Read the rest here]

Explaining Keywords

  • While a variety of definitions of the term X have been suggested, this paper will use the definition first suggested by Smith (1968) who saw it as …….
  • Throughout this paper the term X will refer to/will be used to refer to …….
  • In this article the acronym/abbreviation XYZ will be used.

[Read the rest here]



Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

2 responses to “The “academic phrasebank” by Dr. John Morley

  1. Thanks for posting this – useful stuff, and I’ve bookmarked the site.

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