Throwback Thursday – Manchester Phrasebank: An invaluable resource for thesis writers

This post first appeared here on Thesislink on 30 October 2013 but the Manchester phrasebank is still a useful writing tool today.

Author: David Parker, Student Learning Centre/Puna Aronui, AUT University

Do you occasionally find yourself struggling to find the perfect word or phrase when you are writing your research paper, dissertation or thesis?

For example, are you lingering for 20 minutes at a time over that phrase will begin a paragraph in your literature review with the right emphasis? Do the words you use to frame your critical analysis of the literature lack variety? Are the verbs you use to report the work of others repeating themselves with monotonous regularity? Are you finding it difficult to frame the ideas you want to convey in your conclusion?

Whether you are a confident writer of considerable experience or just beginning on writing a dissertation or thesis, you are likely to have experienced those ‘blank’ moments. We’ve all been there! And for some writers, they can be more than occasional events…

In these moments, the University of Manchester Academic Phrasebank ( is the website for you!

The phrasebank provides a large collection of academic words and phrases that can provide the solution to all the situations outlined above, and many more. It is aimed specifically at writers of research papers, dissertations and theses and is organised into separate sections that relate to the sections of your paper or the chapters of your thesis: Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology, Results, Discussion and Conclusion.

There is also a section on Being Critical, which helps you find the language to convey your critical analysis and evaluation in more diverse ways, and a General Functions section which covers handy phrases for defining terms, giving examples and many other ‘everyday’ academic writing situations. Most usefully, in my view, there is also a subsection on signalling transitions.

Each section lists literally dozens of phrases: a variety of sentence openers, phrases that incorporate references more smoothly or more sharply into your text, verbs that can more precisely capture your analysis. In fact there is so much here and such variety that it is impossible for me to do it justice, so I can only encourage you take a look:

Truly, this resource is a goldmine, a lifesaver, an inspiration!




About Robyn Kannemeyer

Robyn Kannemeyer was the Researcher Development Coordinator at AUT from October 2016 to the beginning of March 2017. She has an MSc in biosecurity and conservation and is taking up a role at Landcare Research as an Environmental Social Scientist. She is passionate about conserving New Zealand’s unique biodiversity and recently returned from travelling through South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania where she climbed Mt Kilimanjaro.

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