ORGANIZATION OF ACADEMIC PAPER Topic sentences and paragraphing Source: Turner, Dorothy. Writing Topic Sentences. University of Ottawa
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ORGANIZATION OF ACADEMIC PAPER Topic sentences and paragraphing Source: Turner, Dorothy. Writing Topic Sentences. University of Ottawa. Slide 2 CONTENT Topic sentences Analysing a topic sentence Paragraphing Developing paragraphs development by detail development by comparison and contrast development by process development by combination Slide 3 TOPIC SENTENCES A topic sentence (or a focus sentence) organises an entire paragraph Include one in most of your major paragraphs. Although topic sentences may appear anywhere in a paragraph, in academic essays they often appear at the beginning. Think of a topic sentence as working in two directions simultaneously: it relates the paragraph to the essay's thesis, acting as a signpost for the argument of the paper as a whole it also defines the scope of the paragraph itself. Slide 4 Analysing a topic sentence Topic sentences often act like tiny thesis statements. Like a thesis statement, a topic sentence makes a claim of some sort. As the thesis statement is the unifying force in the essay, so the topic sentence must be the unifying force in the paragraph. Further, as is the case with the thesis statement, when the topic sentence makes a claim, the paragraph which follows must expand, describe, or prove it in some way. Topic sentences make a point and give reasons or examples to support it. Slide 5 Paragraphing Starting a new paragraph is a signal to your reader that you are beginning a new thought or taking up a new point. Your outline will help you divide the essay into sections, so the resulting paragraphs correspond to the logical divisions in the essay. If your paragraphs are too long, divide your material into smaller, more manageable units; if they are too short, find broader topic sentences that will allow you to combine some of your ideas. Slide 6 Paragraphing Instead of just listing your ideas in one long paragraph, divide your ideas into two or more topic sentences You can start from more general ideas and then move on to more specific ones. Some organisation and a few topic sentences can transform a long and undifferentiated listing of ideas into two or more unified paragraphs with a logical division between them. Slide 7 Developing paragraphs A paragraph is well-structured when every sentence develops the point made in the topic sentence. It must have a single focus and it must contain no irrelevant facts. Every sentence must contribute to the paragraph by explaining, exemplifying, or expanding the topic sentence. In order to determine whether a paragraph is well developed or not, ask yourself: "What main point am I trying to convey here?" (topic sentence) and then "Does every sentence clearly relate to this idea?" There are several ways in which you can build good, clear paragraphs: development by detail, comparison and contrast, and process, and a combination of development strategies. Slide 8 Development by detail This is the most common and easiest form of paragraph development: you simply expand on a general topic sentence using specific examples or illustrations. Slide 9 Development by comparison and contrast Consider developing your paragraph by comparison and contrast when you want to describe two or more things which have something, but not everything, in common. You may choose to compare either point by point (X is big, Y is little; X and Y are both purple.) or subject by subject (X is big and purple; Y is small and purple.). Slide 10 Development by process This involves a straightforward step-by- step description. You might recognize it as the formula followed in the "method" section of a lab experiment. Process description often follows a chronological sequence Slide 11 Development by combination Very often, a single paragraph will contain development by a combination of methods: it may begin with a brief comparison then move on to provide detailed descriptions of the subjects being compared. a process analysis might include a brief history of the process in question. many paragraphs may include lists of examples Slide 12 How do I know when to start a new paragraph? You should start a new paragraph : when you begin a new idea or point. to contrast information or ideas. when your readers need a pause. when you are ending your introduction or starting your conclusion. Taken from: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/606/01/ Slide 13 Now to the reference article Switch papers with the person sitting next to you. Choose a paragraph and try to: 1. Identify the topic sentence. 2. Which method was used to develop the paragraph (Detail? Compare/contrast? Process? Combo?) 3. Check how the information is organized in each sentence. Do they follow the given new, light before heavy principles?