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Effective Transition Terms in Academic Papers

The Most Common Transitions Found in Research Papers

What do transitions do?

A transition is a change from one idea to another idea in writing or speaking and can be achieved using transition terms or phrases. These are most often placed at the beginning of sentences, independent clauses, and paragraphs and thus establish a specific relationship between ideas or groups of ideas. Transitions are used to create “flow” in your paper and make its logical development clearer to readers.

Categories of Transitions

Transitions accomplish many different objectives. We can divide all transitions into four basic categories:

  • Additive transitions signal to the reader that you are adding or referencing information
  • Adversative transitions indicate conflict or disagreement between pieces of information
  • Causal transitions point to consequences and show cause-and-effect relationships
  • Sequential transitions clarify order and sequence of information and the overall structure of the paper
  • Additive Transitions

    These terms signal that new information is being added (between both sentences and paragraphs); introduce or highlight information; refer to something that was just mentioned; add similar situation; or identify certain information as important.

    Purpose
    Common Terms
    Common Phrases
    Examples in Research Writing
    Adding Information Also; Additionally; Furthermore; Moreover In addition to; As well as; In fact; Not only…but also; As a matter of fact Furthermore, the data shows that X is a significant factor.”“In addition to the above-mentioned study, Rogers also presents…”
    Introducing/Highlighting Particularly; Notably; Especially For example/instance; To illustrate; In particular; One example (of this is) Notably, only two species of this fish survive.”“One example of this phenomenon is X.”
    Referencing Considering (this); Concerning (this); Regarding (this) As for (this); The fact that; With regards to (this); On the subject of (this); Looking at (this information) Considering the amount of research in this area, little evidence has been found.”“With regards to the Blue Whale, its teeth are also the largest of any mammal.”
    Showing Similarity Similarly; Likewise; Equally By the same token; In the same way; In a similar way Likewise, the algorithm was applied to Y.”“By the same token, this principle can be applied to Z.”
    Clarifying/Identifying Important Information Specifically; Namely That is (to say); In other words; (To) put (it) another way; What this means is; This means (that) “There are two factors: namely, X and Y.”“In other words, the fall of the Empire was caused by over-expansion.”

    Adversative Transitions

    These terms and phrases distinguish facts, arguments, and other information, whether by contrasting and showing differences; by conceding points or making counterarguments; by dismissing the importance of a fact or argument; or replacing and suggesting alternatives.

    Purpose
    Common Terms
    Common Phrases
    Examples in Research Writing
    Contrasting/ Showing conflict But; Still; However; While; Whereas; Conversely; (and) yet In contrast; On the contrary; On the other hand; …when in fact; By way of contrast However, there is still more research needed.”“On the other hand, the 1997 study does not recognize these outcomes.”
    Distinguishing/ Emphasizing Indeed; Besides; Significantly; Primarily Even more; Above all; More/Most importantly Indeed, a placebo is essential to any pharmaceutical study.”“Most importantly, the X enzyme increased.”
    Conceding a point Nevertheless; Nonetheless; Although; Despite (this); However; Regardless (of this); Admittedly Even so; Even though; In spite of (this); Notwithstanding (this); Be that as it may Nevertheless, X is still an important factor.”“In spite of this fact, New York still has a high standard of living.”“Although this may be true, there are still other factors to consider.”
    Dismissing an argument or assertion Regardless (of) Either way; In any case; In any event; Whatever happens; All the same; At any rate Regardless of the result, this fact is true.”“Either way, the effect is the same.”“In any event, this will not change the public’s view.”
    Replacing/ Indicating an Alternative Instead (of); (or) rather; (or) at least Instead of using X, the scientists used Z.”“Or rather, why not implement a brand new policy?”

    Causal Transitions

    These terms and phrases signal the reasons, conditions, purposes, circumstances, and cause-and-effect relationships. These transitions often come after an important point in the paper has been established or to explore hypothetical relationships or circumstances.

    Purpose
    Common Terms
    Common Phrases
    Examples in Research Writing
    Showing Cause or Reason Since; For; As; Because (of the fact that) Due to (the fact that); For the reason that; Owing to (the fact); Inasmuch as Since the original sample group was too small, researchers called for more participants.”“Due to budgetary demands, funding will be cut in half.”
    Explaining the Conditions If…then; Unless; Granting (that); Granted (that); Provided (that) In the event that; As/So long as; Only if Unless these conditions change, more will need to be done.”“As long as there is oxygen, there will be oxygenation.”
    Showing the Effects/Results Consequently; Therefore; Thus; Accordingly; Because (of this) As a result (of this); For this reason; As a consequence; So much (so) that Therefore, we can conclude that this was an asymmetric catalysis.”“As a consequence, many consumers began to demand safer products.”
    Showing the Purpose For the purpose(s) of; With (this fact) in mind; In the hope that; In order that/to; So as to For the purpose of following standards, X rule was observed.”“With the current state of pandas in mind, this study focused on preservation.”
    Highlighting the Importance of Circumstances Otherwise Under those circumstances; That being the case; In that case; If so; All else being equal Otherwise, this effect will continue into the future.”“All else being equal, the economic impact of this law seems positive.”

    Sequential Transitions

    These transition terms and phrases organize your paper by numerical sequence; by showing continuation in thought or action; by referring to previously-mentioned information; by indicating digressions; and, finally, by concluding and summing up your paper. Sequential transitions are essential to creating structure and helping the reader understand the logical development through your paper’s methods, results, and analysis.

    Purpose
    Common Terms
    Common Phrases
    Examples in Research Writing
    Organizing by Number Initially; Secondly; Thirdly; (First/Second/Third); Last First of all; To start with; In the (first/second/third) place Initially, subjects were asked to write their names.”“First of all, dolphins are the smartest creatures in the sea.”
    Showing Continuation Subsequently; Previously; Afterwards; Eventually; Next; After (this)   Subsequently, subjects were taken to their rooms.”“Afterwards, they were asked about their experiences.”
    Summarizing/ Repeating Information (Once) again; Summarizing (this) To repeat; As (was) stated before; As (was) mentioned earlier/above Summarizing this data, it becomes evident that there is a pattern.”“As mentioned earlier, pollution has become an increasing problem.”
    Digression/Resumption Incidentally; Coincidentally; Anyway By the way; to resume; Returning to the subject; At any rate Coincidentally, the methods used in the two studies were similar.”“Returning to the subject, this section will analyze the results.”
    Concluding/ Summarizing Thus; Hence; Ultimately; Finally; Therefore; Altogether; Overall; Consequently To conclude; As a final point; In conclusion; Given these points; In summary; To sum up Ultimately, these results will be valuable to the study of X.”“In conclusion, there are three things to keep in mind—A, B, and C.”

    How to Choose Your Transitions

    Transitions are commonplace elements in writing, but they are also powerful tools that can be abused or misapplied if one isn’t careful. Here are some ways to ensure you are using transitions effectively.

  • Check for overused, awkward, or absent transitions when you are editing and proofreading your paper. Don’t spend too much time trying to find the “perfect” transition while writing the paper.
  • When you a place where a transition could connect ideas, establish relationships, and make it easier for the reader to understand your point, use the list to find a suitable transition term or phrase.
  • Similarly, if you have repeat some terms again and again, find a substitute transition from the list and use that instead. This will help vary your writing and enhance communication of ideas.
  • Read the beginning of each paragraph. Did you include a transition? If not, look at the information in that paragraph and of the preceding paragraph and ask yourself: “How does this information connect?” Then locate the best transition from the list.
  • Check the structure of your paper—are your ideas clearly laid out in order? You should be able to locate sequence terms such as “first,” “second,” “following this,” “another,” “in addition,” “finally,” “in conclusion,” etc. These terms will help outline your paper for the reader.
  • For more helpful information on academic writing and the journal publication process, visit Wordvice’s Resources Page. And be sure to check out Wordvice’s professional revision services if you are looking for academic editing and proofreading after composing your document.

    Wordvice Resources

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    Other Resources Around the Web

    MSU Writing Center. Transition Words.
    UW-Madision Writing Center. Transition Words and Phrases.