In academic writing, you will often need to refer to the research of others, also called secondary sources. A reporting verb is a word which is used to talk about or report on other people's work. Reporting verbs can be used to great effect, but the difficulty with using them is that there are many, and each of them has a slightly different and often subtle meaning.
In academic writing, it is important to present an argument logically and cohesively. You may be required to: comment on someone’s work agree or disagree with someone else’s study evaluate someone’s ideas
Often you will be assessed on your ability to demonstrate these skills. It is repetitive and boring to write ‘Smith says...’ over and over again. Fortunately, there is a wide choice of reporting verbs in English. Reporting verbs can indicate either (a) the author’s personal viewpoint, (b) your viewpoint regarding what the author says, and/or (c) the author’s viewpoint regarding other literature. To interpret the writer’s ideas accurately, however, you will need to use a verb with the correct nuance (sense of meaning). Use an English learner's dictionary to check that you have the right verb for the right context.
Function and strength of reporting verbs
Some verbs are weaker in their function, while others are strong. Some verbs are followed by a preposition (e.g. as, to, for, with, of), while others are followed by a noun or ‘that’ (see page 3). In addition, some verbs can fit more than one category e.g. warns can be used to disagree with, emphasise or examine an idea.
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Common reporting verbs for academic writing
It is important you understand and know how to use...