Make notes on or otherwise mark up a text.

attributive tag

A phrase embedded in a sentence that indicates the source of the information in that sentence. Sometimes these tags can serve as citations, particularly when there are no page numbers to reference.


A technique for generating ideas that involves listing as many as you can think of quickly.


Coherent writing moves the reader smoothly and logically from beginning to end. Students sometimes call this "flow." This term applies to both full projects and to individual paragraphs.

collaborative annotation tools

Apps like Perusall and that allow multiple people to annotate the same text and respond to one another.

comma splice

A grammatical error in which two independent clauses are linked together with a comma, which is not a strong enough piece of punctuation for this work.


A usual or customary way of doing something. In writing, the term is most commonly applied to grammar and citation.


Normal or usual for a given field or community. See also "convention."

coordinating conjunction

A word that joins parts of sentences or whole sentences that are of equal importance. There are only seven of them: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so (FANBOYS). See also "coordination."


A sentence structure that gives equal weight to the ideas in each of the parts of a sentence.


An approach to writing in which the writer generates a lot of writing and then selects the best, given their purpose and audience. This word is written in italics because it's a foreign word. This approach stands in contrast to economy.


An argument that opposes the argument that an author is making; also used to describe an author's response to that opposing argument.

creative nonfiction

Storytelling about real-life people or events.

critical thinking

A kind of thinking characterized by logical, objective analysis and evaluation based on evidence.

dependent clause

A group of words containing a subject and a verb that cannot stand on its own as a sentence, as opposed to an independent clause.


Developed writing provides the reader with enough evidence and enough explanation to support the claim that the writer is making. This term applies to both full projects and to individual paragraphs.


An area of study, very similar to a major in college.


The section of a research article describing the most important results and what those results mean.


A piece of original scholarship, generally between 100 and 300 pages, written as a requirement for a doctoral degree.

double-entry journaling

A method for taking notes about a text that uses columns to differentiate summary from response.

dropped quotation

A quotation that appears by itself in a text without any connection to writer's text. These usually take the form of complete sentences in quotation marks without any of the writer's own words.


An approach to writing in which a person only does as much writing as is required to complete the task and the person includes all of their writing in the final product. This approach stands in contrast to copia.


A mark of punctuation made up of three periods (...) that indicates that something has been left out of a quotation. Plural form: ellipses.

et al.

An abbreviation used to indicate additional authors. Formally, it is an abbreviation for "et alia," which is Latin for "and others."


Material from sources other than yourself and your own experiences, as distinct from explanation, which is where you explain your own ideas (including your understanding of your sources). See also "explanation."


Material in which you explain your ideas, as distinct from evidence, which is material from outside sources. See also "evidence."

five-paragraph theme

A highly structured organization for writing in academic settings that includes an introduction with a three-part thesis, three body paragraphs each explaining one part of the thesis, and a conclusion that summarizes the paper.


Focused writing stays on topic. This term applies to both full projects and to individual paragraphs.

gesture forward

Statements made in a conclusion that move beyond summary to invite your reader to think or do something different as a result of reading your work.


A proposed explanation that serves as a basis for research designed to determine the accuracy of that explanation.


A group of words that has an established meaning in a culture or language that doesn't necessarily reflect the combination of the individual words.

imperative verb

A verb that gives a command. In “Wash the dishes,” “wash” is the imperative verb.


The acronym (pronounced im-RAD) for organization of research reporting in many of the social and natural sciences. Also written "IMRAD" or "IMRaD."

independent clause

A group of words containing a subject and a verb that can stand on its own as a sentence.

interlibrary loan

A service that college and university libraries offer that allows community members to request books and other materials that the library does not have from other libraries. This service is usually free.


Relating to a person's awareness of the position and movement of the parts of the body.

master's thesis

A piece of original scholarship, generally between 50 and 100 pages, written as a requirement for a master's degree.


A kind of knowledge that is self-aware and that focuses on how a thinker thinks. It is sometimes called "thinking about thinking."


The section of a research article describing the materials and procedures of the study at hand.


An auxiliary verb that helps indicate what is needed or what is possible in the action of the main verb. Examples include "should" and "might."


In the context of writing, the expectations and/or requirements of a writing task.


A rewording of someone else's ideas so that the ideas are accurately represented, but the language and sentence structure are different.


A weak paraphrase that relies too heavily on the language of the original text. Patchwriting is usually considered a form of plagiarism.

peer review

A process by which research articles are evaluated by other researchers in the same field for the appropriateness of their methods and accuracy of their findings.

peer reviewed sources

Sources that have been evaluated by experts in the field, also sometimes called "scholarly sources"; these sources are considered the most reputable in academic settings.


A small group of words in a sentence that form an idea but that do not make up a sentence on their own. See also "independent clause" and "dependent clause."


A serious violation of academic honesty in which the writer makes it appear as though ideas and language from a source are their own. Plagiarism can be intentional (e.g., buying papers or having someone else write a paper), but it can also happen inadvertently through poor paraphrasing or a failure to follow rules around the use of quotations.

prepositional phrases

Short parts of sentences that begin with prepositions (words like "at" and "to") and that serve as adjectives or adverbs.

primary purpose

The most important goal of a piece of writing; there are three primary purposes: inform, persuade, and entertain.

primary sources

First-hand accounts or documents created in historical real-time, including texts of laws, speeches, letters, photographs, works of literature and art, and newspaper reports in which the reporter was an actual witness to the event or reporting the words of those who witnessed it. Reports of original research are also primary sources in many disciplines.


Words written in regular sentence structure and word order, as opposed to poetry.


In writing, the understanding that the process tends to loop back so that while a writer moves through stages, they also frequently come back to earlier stages to improve their writing.


The section of a research article describing the findings of the study.

rhetorical principles

Concepts used to explain how persuasion works, particularly in oral and written language.

search engine optimization

A process that website designers use to increase traffic to their sites. The process involves the use of keywords and other techniques to raise the rank of sites in response to particular searches on the internet.

secondary sources

Sources that interpret primary sources. These sources include scholarly research review articles and meta-analyses.


Forming or following in a logical order or sequence.

subordinate point

A less important point, as distinct from the main point.


A sentence structure that gives differential weight to the ideas in each of the clauses, with one idea being less important than the other.

target audience

The group of readers who would be interested in a particular text, as opposed to a general audience who would be able to read the text, but may or may not be interested in it.


A system of classification, a way of organizing elements into groups or categories, that is often, though not always, hierarchical.

tertiary sources

Sources that summarize or synthesize information that is considered established, such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, and textbooks.

thesis statement

The controlling idea for an academic text, though some other kinds of texts may have such a statement, too. See also "working thesis statement."

topic sentence

A sentence that summarizes the main point of a paragraph.


A word or group of words that guide the reader logically from one idea to the next in a text.

transition sentence

A sentence usually at the beginning of a paragraph that makes a connection between the ideas in the previous paragraph(s) and the idea in the next one. See also "transition."


A magazine published online.

working thesis statement

An early version of a thesis statement that helps in focusing and organizing ideas. See also "thesis statement."


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Reading and Writing Successfully in College: A Guide for Students Copyright © 2023 by Patricia Lynne is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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