The comment “Rough” oftentimes refers to the transitions between paragraphs.

What happens when you drive a car down a nice paved road? The ride is pleasant. It is easy. The trip in the car is endurable. However, what happens when you stumble onto a bumpy road with pebbles and rocks and potholes? You are not happy. You become discontented, annoyed, and frustrated. You see no end in sight. If you had your way, you would turn the car around just to get back to that paved, smooth road.

As your professor reads your paper, he notices that everything from the introduction to a couple of paragraphs in the body of your paper is smooth. The read is pleasant. Your professor is eager to continue. However, when you abruptly change roads by changing ideas, without signaling or warning that you are about to do so, then your transitions between paragraphs appear rough and unpleasant for the reader. As a solution, always prepare the reader for when you are about to change lanes, when you are leaving one thought to the next.

For example, by law, you are required to turn on your signal before changing lanes. The same is true for writing the academic paper. According to the standards of academic writing, it is important that you tell the reader when you are moving to the next idea. Otherwise you will leave the professor without a warning signal and he will endure a bumpy road trying to understand your paper.

We call this rule of law “Using Transitions,” which means that you must use transitional phrasing before moving on to the next thought; and you must also use it to signify connections between ideas housed within a paragraph. Always stop at stop signs. Yield when the yellow light is on. Go when the green light flashes. When you need to change lanes, turn on the signal.

In other words, finish one thought before going on to the next; and use transitional words such as “in addition” and “in contrast” to signal to the reader when you are continuing a thought or making a change.

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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