When we want to explain ourselves, we tell stories, and in academic writing when we want to share what others have said we report on them.

  • Telling Stories
  • Reporting
  • Why "Conversation"?

Telling Stories

We tell all sorts of stories (but academic/professional writing has strict requirements): stories hold our facts together, and help transform facts into information.

  • Engage through Storytelling explains how storytelling helps you work up these new combinations, to integrate facts into something that is meaningful, engaging, and worth doing

Comparing, Reporting

In this example, you will see that each text is carefully using report structures,

  • “Smith (2003) reported on …
  • “Smith (2003) I … claimed
  • “Jones hypothesised

A more extenstive discussion you’ll find here.

They Say / I Say

Once you’ve learned how to report on what others say you will be ready to add your thoughts and opinions into the mix, like this:

  • “While I agree with points A and B, I do not believe …
  • “Although Jones …, I would suggest that …
  • “… Therefore, it can be stated that …
  • “All articles reviewed emphasised the importance of A …

In They Say / I Say, this manner of writing is discussed and illustrated using templates that you do well to copy and paste and change as appropriate. Such expressions as “On the one hand, some argue …, others argue that …” are perfectly legal, expected, and helpful: they are standard forms of argumentation in academic and professional English, as templates they will get you started, and as long as the arguments makes sense (fill in the blanks appropriately) you can’t go very far wrong!

Why "Conversation"?

Professionals explore options before they decide. When you ask, "where should we meet?", you and your friends survey options all the time. Managers explore what the competition is doing, what else might be done, and try to peer into the future. Academics survey what others have written, evaluate critically, and formulate research questions.

  • Your topics have surely been explored already by many others, and in any group there will be others challenging you, so you do well to survey what others think
  • Researchers open their questions, sources, and arguments to others as a matter of course: to check their thinking, clarify thought, and enter into a professional conversation leading forward
  • You’ll likely find that you arr on to something interesting, that others have already looked into it, and that’s just great: you’ll soon find yourself in good company
  • if you don't find a lot of discussion, maybe you will want to ask: who cares?