Which reporting verbs and phrases are most useful?
This is the second of three lessons about Reporting Verbs. To complete this course, read each lesson carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.
– Introduce reporting verbs and phrases in detail
– Categorise reporting verbs into three types
– Provide examples of each type of reporting language
Now that you understand the main purpose for using reporting verbs and phrases and have looked at some authentic examples, the next aspect of mastering this type of language is to recognise which verbs and phrases are most useful for the writer.
Academic Reporting Verbs
Before we provide a comprehensive list of the most frequently used academic reporting verbs, it’s first necessary to discuss the way in which such verbs are used and how each reporting verb varies in meaning. Consider then the following three example sentences:
What do you notice about these three very similar sentences? Hopefully you can quickly see that the choice of reporting verb – whether ‘report’, ‘question’ or ‘argue’ is used – has an effect on how the source voice presents the information, and therefore how the reader understands and interprets that information.
For example, in (a), we can see that the verb ‘report’ is quite neutral. Neutral verbs such as ‘report’ avoid including any opinion from the source author and are instead used to present facts or explain methodology and research findings. However, in example (b) the reporting verb ‘question’ clearly indicates a weak authorial opinion. Here, the writer is indicating that the source author, Jones (2014), is uncertain about whether or not air pollution is harmful. Weak reporting verbs such as ‘question’ are therefore used to demonstrate cautious opinion. Finally, the reporting verb ‘argue’ used in (c) clearly shows Lee’s (2017) strong opinion about this subject. Such reporting verbs as ‘argue’ are used in this way to indicate that the source author has a good degree of confidence about this topic.
Because of the variation in whether reporting verbs differ in their neutrality or argumentative strength, such verbs should always be considered and used carefully by the writer. We’ve therefore provided a comprehensive list of reporting verbs within these three categories to assist you in deciding which to use.
Academic Reporting Phrases
Although reporting verbs account for most instances of reporting language, there are also some reporting phrases which are useful for the writer and are therefore worth mentioning. Unlike reporting verbs which come after the source author, such reporting phrases usually precede the citation, as is shown below:
– According to [source], [argument].
– As is admitted/claimed/stated by [source], [argument].
– As discussed/reported in [source]’s study/investigation, [argument].
– In agreement with [source a], [source b] [reporting verb] [argument].
– Just as [source a] [reporting verb] [argument], [source b] also…
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