Academic Writing page 1 of 10
Referring to Other Work
There are 2 main ways of reporting other work. The first way emphasises the
information, the second way emphasises the author. The first way is more typical in
more factual/scientific reports. The second type is more common in
discussion/argument reports where ideas/information are not so certain.
1. Information Emphasis The simplest way to mention other work in your
writing is to make a statement summarising the facts or ideas and then give the
reference in brackets, or reference number in brackets or as a footnote:
Recent consumer oriented applications easily absorb an exponential
increase in processing power (Sasaki 1996).
2. Author Emphasis Another way, which emphasizes more the people who have
done the work, as well as your or their attitude to the ideas, involves using
various reporting verbs or phrases (see the list on the following pages):
Quarantelli (1987) and others have added that there is every reason to
think we will have both quantitatively and qualitatively more difficult
disasters in the decades to come.
……that or …..As.. ?
Johnson (1990) explains that paintings from that period are rarely found today.
As Johnson (1990) explains, paintings from that period are rarely found today.
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Which Tense to Use?
These are the most common tenses:
Present Simple – if the idea is recent, or you want to suggest that it is a well
established fact, or it is still true today:
D’Amico and Rubinstein rightly argue that “the success of a
negotiation pivots on issues of language.” They point out that
“Language provides a rich resource for cultural research”
Present Simple Grammar Note: be careful with singular/ plural agreement:
CORRECT: “Results from a previous descriptive study suggest that …..”
WRONG: “Results from a previous descriptive study suggests that …..”
The main idea is: “Results…suggest..” (the subject is RESULTS) not “…study
Present Perfect – if the idea has just been developed recently, or several pieces of
research up to the present are mentioned:
The evolution of traffic has been evaluated by Marchetti (1988),
using the UMOT (unified mechanism of travel) model
Previous work has suggested that the presence of a grandmother in
the household may reduce the likelihood of parental childcare
involvement for girls more than boys (Short et al.. 2001).
Past Simple – you want to emphasise that the work was done in the past, it’s
finished, and perhaps things are different now.
Wasserman and Varnik (1998) conducted a study of the reliability of
statistics on violent death and suicide in the republics of the former
Compare the following and what they could mean:
1. Watson and Harrison (2005) claim that this zircon formed at a temperature of 7000 C.
(this is recent and it could be true)
2. Watson and Harrison (2005) claimed that this zircon formed at a temperature of 7000 C.
(perhaps this work is older or perhaps it has been shown that this is not true now)
3. Watson and Harrison (2005) have claimed that this zircon formed at a temperature of 7000 C.
(this is recent and it could be true)
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REPORTING VERBS AND PHRASES
Below is a list of common verbs that are used in reporting other work, with an example and explanation of the meaning.
They are organized in approximately similar areas of meaning.
Verb (phrase) Example Meaning
Say (that) As Smith (1999) says, governments need to look into the problem more Simple – not very
carefully. formal though
State (that) Quarantelli (1980) stated that research literature had not provided a Same as the above but
model of evacuation decision making. more formal
Note (that) W. Mills (1959) noted that if there was one unemployed man in a city, Mentions, a less
that was his personal problem. important point
Point out (that) As Gusfield (1981, p. 13) points out, ‘‘Acceptance of a factual reality often Mentions something
hides the conflicts and alternative potentialities possible.” that perhaps not
Report (that) Noji (1997, p. 11) reported increases in the number of natural disaster Information found from
events, deaths, deaths per event concerning the processes of facility a study
Declare (that) Portman et al. (1989) declare their interest in prolonging the debate. Admit or state your
idea strongly, or
clearly- perhaps others
Add (that) Quarantelli (1987) and others have added that there is every reason to More information
think we will have both quantitatively and qualitatively more difficult about a subject
disasters in the decades to come.
Build on …(idea, work, Ainsworth (1978) built on Bowlby’s ideas about exploratory bases Do more work on the
research) same subject
Predict (that) Pezzoli (1991, p. 207) predicts that such conflicts and contradictions will Say that something
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increase will happen in the
Identify Drabek (1991) identified perceived personal risk as a characteristic Information found from
positively associated with initiating an adaptive response. a study
Show (that) Results from laboratory studies show that E. coli can remain alive for up Show!
to 5.5 months (Gerba and Keswick, 1981).
Demonstrate (that) Astin’s (1993, 1999) work on college adjustment demonstrates that active Show , make clear,
involvement in all areas of college life is associated with emotional well- perhaps by explaining
being and academic and social success. how something was
Indicate (that) The American Academy of Microbiology indicated that the safety of Show (more formal)
drinking water is declining throughout the world because of suggest
microbiological contamination (Hart,1996).
Present (the case) De Falla (19994) presents the case in support of tighter controls. Show, explain, describe
Testify (to) The work of Bryant and May (1987) testifies to the need for greater Show, confirm
(that) precautions in such studies.
Observe (that) Aastrup and Munck (1982) observed that a line with low ß-d-glucan Noticed in the
content possessed a thin cell wall. experiment, or mention
Describe However, a 1961 paper by Plotkin and colleagues described seven pools of Say what something is
CHAT, two of which were made at the Wistar Institute, and three at other like or what happened
laboratories (Plotkin et al.. 1961)
Detail Ferguson (1998) has detailed how this affected the civil right movement. Describe in detail
Record Mathur (1942) and Brown (1968) record Morus as a host-plant for P. Write down, note
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Mention and stress etc
Mention (that) Franck (1999) mentions some of the difficulties connected with Say in short way, or
enforcement. about something not
Refer to Key research on evacuation in the United States refers to the evacuation mention
process (Drabek 1969)
Draw attention to (the Blanche (1995) draws attention to the limitations of this approach. Mention something
fact that/ the Burton R. Clark (1960) drew attention to the importance of cooling-out in that could be forgotten
importance of) higher education
Point out As Henner-Stanchina and Holec (1985) point out, self-assessment need Mention something
not be norm-referenced. that could be forgotten
Point to ( + noun) Fillmore et al.. (1988) point to the need for greater flexibility in dealing Mention something
with the concept of the word. important
Emphasise (that) The study emphasizes urban rather than plantation slavery (Peterson To say that it is more
1999). important, or talk more
Highlight Bramki and Williams (1984) have highlighted the problems specialist Similar to the above
Underline vocabulary can pose.
Bring out Similar to the above
Define Fredrickson and Mitchell (1984) defined a comprehensive decision-making Explain the exact
process as one that is exhaustive in the generation and evaluation of meaning of a word or
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Find, discover etc.
Find (that) In this study decreasing glucanase activity during grain filling was found. Find!
(Leon et al. 2000)
Discover (that) Livingston et al. (2000) discovered a worrying trend in migration Find
Detect (that) Randall (1984) and Bowers and Brown (1992) detected regularity in the Find – perhaps with
spacing of D. spectabilis mounds. more difficulty
Reveal (that) Major research findings reveal that organizations typically experience Find – perhaps with
serious problems in the movement of institutionalized populations such as more difficulty or a
hospitals, jails, nursing homes, and residential campuses (Hans and Sell more surprising
Establish (that) Taylor and her colleagues’ (Taylor & Pham, 1996; Taylor et al.., 1998) Show from their work
research on mental simulation has established that imagining the process that something is quite
of pursuing a goal facilitates obtaining that goal. certain
Confirm (that) Brancaccio et al. (2000) confirmed that amyloid deposits strongly reacted We thought this was
with the deposits. true and this
information also makes
us believe that it really
Identify (that) Kipnis, Schmidt, and Wilkinson (1980) identified eight influencing Found and described
tactics at work in organizational situations.
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Hold the view that Montefiore (1988) holds the view that this can lead to genetic imbalance For an opinion
Make the case that in the population at large.
Express the view that Six in ten (60%) Canadians express the view that Canada should only
Put forward the view provide military assistance for any military action taken against Iraq if
that the United Nations, not just the United States, decides that military
action is required
Argue (that) Charles Crothers (1991) argues that, as a group, students undergo "status Says this idea but perhaps
degradation" other people don’t agree
Agree (that) This does not agree with the findings of Wangsotorn (1981) or Blue Have the same idea
Affirm (that) Phillips et al.. (1997) affirm that the PMR statistic is not a suicide rate. Similar to confirm
Admit (that) Vidal (1978) acknowledges the limitations of the sample size. Agree that another
Acknowledge (that) person’s idea is correct
Accept (that) the Hong Kong Education Commission (1990) accepted the logic of this
Support (the view The present study supports the findings of earlier work on subcultures in Agree with
that/of - the /findings the workplace.
Recognise (that) Wu and Zhu (1981) recognised that there were two species of Chlumetia Notice, Accept, understand
on mango in China. as true
Assume (that) Baumann (1989) studied the assumption that adult children often abuse We accept that an idea is
(noun: assumption) elderly parents. true even though we are
Presume (that) Similar to the above
Question (whether) Speilman et al (1988) question the need for further work in this area. Question here means
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Ask him/herself why
Disagree (that) Disagree!
Dispute (that) Strong disagreement
Reject (the claim that) Parkinson and Swithin (1988) reject the claim that their work Very strong disagreement
(the view that) interferes with the natural process.
Contradict Our findings contradict those of earlier researchers. Say the opposite of something
Suggest (that) Results from previous descriptive studies suggest that ratio analysis Makes us think that this is true
is not the appropriate analytical procedure (Biggs et al. 1989)
Suggest (that) Ware (1979: 80–1) suggests that the ‘membership style of party Mentions a new idea
organization’ produces ideologically and organizationally rigid
Maintain (that) Express belief firmly, perhaps
Claim (that) Pantin (1968) claims that certain disciplines are restricted. Says this but other people might
not agree (stronger than the
Assert (that) Cervero and Wilson (1994a) asserted that bargaining is the strategy Same as above (but stronger)
Contend (that) Same as above
Warn (that) Mausner & Kramer (1985) also warn about interpreting the PMR as Tell of the danger
a risk measure.
Allege (that) Say that someone did this bad
Propose (that) Simon (1960) proposed that human thought is governed by programs Suggest a new idea
that organize myriads of simple information processes into orderly,
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Urge Watson (1999) urges the government to increase funding for this Suggest strongly
provide evidence that These models provide evidence that existing knowledge in this area Give information that makes us
is limited (Libby 1981) think something is true
Appear to The work of Beal et al.. (1983) appears to suggest the need for Similar to the above, but perhaps
(suggest/claim etc. ) pressure treatment of wood in contact with soil. some might not agree
Seem to (suggest/claim Similar to the above, but perhaps
etc. ) that some might not agree
Imply (that) The findings of the present study imply that the situation is not as Makes one believe that something
clear as previously thought. is true from the information found
Suspects (that) Bavelier (2004) suspects that it is the complex demands placed on Thinks that this is the probable
the visual system by action games that leads to the improvements. explanation but is not sure
Review This essay reviews the archaeological interpretations of slavery in Discuss all the other research in
the southern United States. this subject
Look at Robert Dreeben (1968) looked at school culture and concluded that it Study, look at
taught students to "form transient social relationships,….
Examine Boothroyd (99) examined the data from the computerized process- Study carefully
Conclude (that) Bowers and Brown (1992) concluded that other rodent species may State an idea based on the
be relegated to areas beyond 13m. information collected
Sum up (by) Similar to the above
Reach the conclusion Similar to the above
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Summarize Lambert (1990, 1992) summarized his research about what has Make a summary
become known as the Canadian immersion program.