Friday, April 15, 2011

Using reference words

Using Reference Words

This section explains the system used to refer forward or backward from where you are in a text
to other words or concepts. You use reference words to show the connections between ideas,
giving greater cohesion and clarity to your writing.

You will already be familiar with the word ‘reference’,
meaning conventions for acknowledging authors or documents you have used in your research
and reading. You ‘reference’ these authors when you quote them or paraphrase them.
(See Module 2, Unit 3: Quoting and paraphrasing).
However, the term reference is also used to refer to a system of creating cohesion in a text.
Reference words point backwards or forwards to other words or concepts that have already
appeared in the text or are about to appear in the text.In the majority of cases, the word has already
occurred in the text i.e. the reference word is pointing backwards.

In this sentence, these is a reference word pointing back to phases in the preceding sentence.
In this sentence, those is a reference word pointing forwards to the changes requiring only
a moderate level of financial support.
Reference words are important because they are another way you
can strengthen the connections between different elements of your text and clarify the progression of ideas.

Categories of reference words

There are six main kinds of reference words.
1. Personal pronouns
The personal pronouns are I, you, she, he, it, we, they.
Because an impersonal style of writing is strongly favoured by most academic disciplines, you may rarely find yourself using pronouns like I, youand we.
The most commonly used personal pronouns in academic writing are it (referring to things) and they (referring to either things or people). In academic writing, ‘things’ are usually phenomena and abstract nouns, and people are usually previous researchers. He and she may also be used, usually to refer to authors previously mentioned in the text.
2. Possessive pronouns
The possessive pronouns show a relationship of ownership or ‘belonging to’. They are: my, mine, your, yours, his, her, hers, its, our, ours, their, theirs.
As with personal pronouns, my and our are not commonly used in academic writing. The most commonly used possessive pronouns in academic writing are itstheir, his, her.
3. Demonstratives
Demonstratives are similar to personal and possessive pronouns in that they refer to nouns usually already present in the text. However, they have a stronger pointing quality – they identify (point at) exactly which thing or things are being referred to.
The most common demonstratives are: this, that (singular), these, those (plural), such.
4. Comparatives
Comparatives are sometimes used as pronouns and sometimes as adjectives. You do not need to be able to distinguish the two because, in both cases, they are being used to refer to something or someone in the text.
Comparatives include words like: another, other, both, similar, the same, bettermore, earlier, later, previous, subsequent.

5. The definite article ‘the’
The definite article the is often used to refer back to something which has already been mentioned in the text and is now occurring for the second (or perhaps the third or fourth) time.
The definite article can also be used to point (refer) forwards, although this is less common.
Note that the definite article is not always used referentially.
6. General reference
Usually a reference word is tied to a word, phrase or other grammatical element which is clearly identifiable in the preceding or subsequent text.
However, sometimes a reference word refers back to an entire stretch of text – perhaps even a paragraph or two - without referring to any one particular component of it. In this case, the reference word has the function of summarising the preceding information.
The words most commonly used to do this are the demonstrative pronouns this and these.

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