writing a road map – christmas present one

During December I thought I would offer some short writing ‘hacks’, that can be used for practising particular aspects of academic writing. These will be in the form of ‘meta texts’, where the original content has been stripped out to reveal the way the linguistic ‘construction’ works. The first focuses on the way in which a big text starts.

The introduction of an academic book always sets the scene and creates the mandate for the topic (see CARS). It outlines the problem, puzzle or question that the book addresses. Authors try to make this introduction as interesting and engaging as possible so that the reader will want to continue reading.

At the end of the introduction it is customary for the author to say something about the content of the chapters to come. These signposting comments are a kind of road map for the reader, so they know what to expect. They are a bit like a trailer for a film – they show just enough to let the audience/reader know that there’s lots of good stuff ahead of them. In an academic book, this road map usually indicates the shape of the argument.

Sometimes this road map is a rather extended trawl. However, it is also possible and acceptable to provide a succinct road map for the reader. Here’s a sentence skeleton that shows how a road map might be accomplished in a mere paragraph or so.

After an examination of……………………….., I look at…….., since this…………… . Having established …………., I then address………………………………, breaking down/elaborating/extending (etc) the…… ……………………………. to consider……………………………………. . I conclude by suggesting that ………………

You can use this sentence skeleton to practice writing a short road map to a longer text – like a book introduction or the abstract to a thesis.

Skeleton manufactured from p 16 of Miller, T (2012) Blow up the humanities. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

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About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
This entry was posted in academic writing, introduction, meta-text, sentence skeleton, signposts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to writing a road map – christmas present one

  1. maelorin says:

    ditto for writing the abstract!

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