Paragraphs and References

Scholarship consists of paragraphs with references. Scholars compose their thinking in statements that require several sentences of support, elaboration or defense and they cite their sources according to the conventions of their discipline. Different disciplines have different styles, which determine how long paragraphs normally are and what a reference normally looks like. Most scholars in the social sciences do well to learn to write paragraphs of at least six sentences and at most two-hundred words (Basbøll, n.d.) that cite their sources using an author-date system like that of the American Psychological Association (VandenBos, 2010). To write in this way is to play into your reader’s expectations and provides you with an efficient way to communicate your meaning. Conventions are not wholly arbitrary, but part of their utility does come simply from their familiarity. The reader simply has an easier time understanding you if you manage both your textuality and your intertextuality in recognizable ways.


Basbøll, T. (n.d.) The Paragraph. Retrieved from

VandenBos, G. R. (Ed). (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

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