Paragraphs, Argument and Structure
As units of thought that reflect and present the development of an author’s ideas and argument, paragraphs are vital to the effective structure and progression of academic and scientific documents. There are no absolute rules for writing successful paragraphs and stringing them together into sections, chapters and articles, but as a general rule the first sentence of a paragraph should introduce the main idea or unit of thought that will be discussed in the paragraph, the following sentences should develop that idea in one or more ways and the final sentence should bring the paragraph and its main idea to an effective close, ideally in a manner that leads the reader on to the next paragraph and thus to the next main idea.
Focussing on paragraphs as you write can be an excellent strategy for following an outline with accuracy and ensuring that all important aspects of a topic or problem, your investigation of it and the conclusions you draw are discussed in an organised and thorough manner. Paragraphs are most effective for readers if they are neither too long nor too short, so if you need to present main ideas that are relatively simple, it may be best to combine two or more related ideas into a single paragraph. On the other hand, if a main idea is complicated and many different aspects of it require attention, the most effective strategy may be to deal with each of those aspects in a separate paragraph to develop the idea in detail. The first and last sentences of each paragraph should play a transitional role, clarifying the progression of the argument from paragraph to paragraph.
Carefully structured paragraphs can also help you check, assess and revise your work. Reading over your draft and summarising in a single sentence the subject of each paragraph will provide you with a complete outline of what you have written. This outline can then be compared to your original outline and any other plans you had before you began writing. You will quickly be able to see the sequence of ideas and evidence as well as any digressions, how much space you have dedicated to each idea, and whether you have missed important elements of your argument or repeated concepts and discussions unnecessarily. Whether the revisions are minor or extensive, they will usually prove much easier when you focus on paragraphs in this way, and some authors find that simply trying to define what each paragraph contains can inspire revisions that clarify not only the content of each paragraph, but the overall argument of a piece of writing.
Such an approach can also be used to restructure a chapter or article in more significant ways. Perhaps you have shared your writing with colleagues or submitted it for publication, but it simply is not achieving the positive impact you envisioned, though no reader has indicated exactly why. Analysing your writing at the paragraph level enables you to make decisions about the best order in which to present the units of thought your paragraphs contain. Some fields and disciplines use standard structures for documents, a policy that allows less opportunity for restructuring, but even so there tends to be considerable leeway within each section of an article or chapter. Rearranging your paragraphs to present information in what may prove to be a more engaging order is therefore usually possible to some degree, bu
t do be sure to adjust and rewrite the opening and closing sentences of each paragraph to reflect the new progression of your argument.
Why Our Editing and Proofreading Services?
At Proof-Reading-Service.com we offer the highest quality journal article proofreading, phd thesis proofreading and proofreading services via our large and extremely dedicated team of academic and scientific professionals. All of our proofreaders and editors are native speakers of English who have earned their own postgraduate degrees, and their areas of specialisation cover such a wide range of disciplines that we are able to help our international clientele with research editing to improve and perfect all kinds of academic manuscripts for successful publication. Many of the carefully trained members of our academic proofreading team work predominantly on articles intended for publication in scholarly journals, applying painstaking journal proofreading standards to ensure that the references and formatting used in each paper are in conformity with the journal’s instructions for authors and to correct any grammar, spelling, punctuation or simple typing errors. In this way, we enable our clients to report their research in the clear and accurate ways required to impress acquisitions editors and achieve publication.
Our scientific proofreading services for the authors of a wide variety of scientific journal papers are especially popular, but we also offer academic proofreading services and have the experience and expertise to proofread and edit manuscripts in all scholarly disciplines, as well as beyond them. We have team members who specialise in medical proofreading services, and some of our experts dedicate their time exclusively to PhD proofreading and master’s proofreading, offering research students the opportunity to improve their use of formatting and language through the most exacting thesis proofreading and dissertation proofreading practices. Whether you are preparing a conference paper for presentation, polishing a progress report to share with colleagues, or facing the daunting task of editing and perfecting any kind of scholarly document for publication, a qualified member of our proofreading team can provide invaluable assistance and give you greater confidence in your written work.
If you are in the process of preparing an article for an academic or scientific journal, or planning one for the near future, you may well be interested in a new book, Guide to Journal Publication, which is available on our Tips and Advice on Publishing Research in Journals website.