Reference in Academic Paragraphs

  • Reference to a word Items like personal pronouns (it, them) or demonstratives (this) can refer to content information in a word or word group in a previous or following sentence. This is the simplest text cohesion though reference.
  • Reference to complete ideas Items like demonstrative pronouns (this, these) or comparative adjectives (similar, other) can refer to more than a word or group. They can refer to an idea developed over one or more sentences or paragraphs. This creates more complex text cohesion and is common in academic writing.
  • Reference with repetition, synonymy, taxonomy Reference items (this, these, other) are often used together with abstract vocabulary ('this foundation', 'these notions'). The abstract vocabulary may be a repetition, synonym, subordinate or superordinate of a previous word, or summary of a previous idea. Combined use of lexical and reference cohesion is common and important in clear academic writing.