Oct 20, 2022

Effective Transition Words for Research Papers

Wordvice KH

What are transition words in academic writing?

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 transitions are usually 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 enhance cohesion in your paper and make its logical development clearer to readers.

Types of Transition Words

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 the 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 a similar situation, or identify certain information as important.

Common Terms
Common Phrases
Examples in Research Writing
Adding InformationAlso; Additionally; Furthermore; MoreoverIn addition to; As well as; In fact; Not only…but also; As a matter of factFurthermore, the data shows that X is a significant factor.”“In addition to the above-mentioned study, Rogers also presents…”
Introducing/HighlightingParticularly; Notably; Especially; SignificantlyFor 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.”
ReferencingConsidering (this); Concerning (this); Regarding (this)As for (this); The fact that; With regards to (this); On the subject of (this); Looking at (this information); With reference to (something)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 SimilaritySimilarly; Likewise; Equally; By the same token; In the same way; In a similar wayLikewise, the algorithm was applied to Y.”“By the same token, this principle can be applied to Z.”
Clarifying/Identifying Important InformationSpecifically; NamelyThat 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.

Common Terms
Common Phrases
Examples in Research Writing
Contrasting/ Showing conflictBut; Still; However; While; Whereas; Conversely; (and) yetIn contrast; On the contrary; On the other hand; …when in fact; By way of contrastHowever, there is still more research needed.”“On the other hand, the 1997 study does not recognize these outcomes.”
Distinguishing/ EmphasizingIndeed; Besides; Significantly; PrimarilyEven more; Above all; More/Most importantlyIndeed, a placebo is essential to any pharmaceutical study.”“Most importantly, the X enzyme increased.”
Conceding a pointNevertheless; Nonetheless; Although; Despite (this); However; Regardless (of this); AdmittedlyEven so; Even though; In spite of (this); Notwithstanding (this); Be that as it mayNevertheless, 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 assertionRegardless (of)Either way; In any case; In any event; Whatever happens; All the same; At any rateRegardless 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 AlternativeInstead (of); (or) rather;(or) at leastInstead 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 research paper has been established or to explore hypothetical relationships or circumstances.

Common Terms
Common Phrases
Examples in Research Writing
Showing Cause or ReasonSince; For; As; Because (of the fact that)Due to (the fact that); For the reason that; Owing to (the fact); Inasmuch asSince the original sample group was too small, researchers called for more participants.”“Due to budgetary demands, funding will be cut in half.”
Explaining the ConditionsIf…then; Unless; Granting (that); Granted (that); Provided (that)In the event that; As/So long as; Only ifUnless these conditions change, more will need to be done.”“As long as there is oxygen, there will be oxygenation.”
Showing the Effects/ResultsConsequently; Therefore; Thus; Accordingly; Because (of this)As a result (of this); For this reason; As a consequence; So much (so) thatTherefore, we can conclude that this was an asymmetric catalysis.”“As a consequence, many consumers began to demand safer products.”
Showing the PurposeFor the purpose(s) of; With (this fact) in mind; In the hope that; In order that/to; So as toFor 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 CircumstancesOtherwiseUnder those circumstances; That being the case; In that case; If so; All else being equalOtherwise, 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.

Common Terms
Common Phrases
Examples in Research Writing
Organizing by NumberInitially; Secondly; Thirdly; (First/Second/Third); LastFirst of all; To start with; In the (first/second/third) placeInitially, subjects were asked to write their names.”“First of all, dolphins are the smartest creatures in the sea.”
Showing ContinuationSubsequently; 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/aboveSummarizing this data, it becomes evident that there is a pattern.”“As mentioned earlier, pollution has become an increasing problem.”
Digression/ResumptionIncidentally; Coincidentally; AnywayBy the way; to resume; Returning to the subject; At any rateCoincidentally, the methods used in the two studies were similar.”“Returning to the subject, this section will analyze the results.”
Concluding/ SummarizingThus; Hence; Ultimately; Finally; Therefore; Altogether; Overall; ConsequentlyTo conclude; As a final point; In conclusion; Given these points; In summary; To sum upUltimately, 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 Transitions in Academic Writing

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 during the paper editing process. Don’t spend too much time trying to find the “perfect” transition while writing the paper.
  • When you find a suitable 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 repeated some terms again and again, find a substitute transition from the list and use that instead. This will help vary your writing and enhance the communication of ideas.
  • Read the beginning of each paragraph. Did you include a transition? If not, look at the information in that paragraph and 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 Academic Resources Page. And be sure to check out Wordvice’s professional English editing services if you are looking for paper editing and proofreading after composing your academic document.

 Wordvice Tools

Wordvice Resources

Other Resources Around the Web

Our Academic Editing Services