Colloquium: Thursday, December 4, 14:00 to 16:00  in room A 2.35 (inside the CBS Library at Solbjerg Plads)

The paragraph is the unit of composition in scholarly prose writing. Though there are of course exceptions, in general you don’t want to say anything in a journal article that cannot be said within the form of a paragraph. But what is a paragraph really? That will be the topic of Thursday’s craft colloquium.

The most concrete definition I can give you is that a paragraph is a group of a least six sentences and at most two-hundred words that say one thing. The one thing that the paragraph says is stated clearly by one of the sentences and the rest provide the support or elaboration. “Support or elaboration” is a very broad notion. A paragraph can say that the internet has changed the way we do business and support this claim with statistics or historical documentation or an anecdote, or it can describe one or more business practices that has been changed. The important thing is that the central claim, expressed in what we call the “key sentence”, is what the reader takes away from the reading of the paragraph. Understanding it is the point of making the effort of understanding the rest of the paragraph.

A journal article is a simply an arrangement (indeed, a series) of paragraphs, usually about 40 in all. The 40 central claims made by the article provide us with an outline of the argument of the paper. If each paragraph does its job properly it will either convince us of the truth of its claim or (in cases where we already believe) improve our understanding of it. The reader’s task is to read, interpret and absorb about forty claims. The writer’s job is to construct an occasion for each of those acts of reading.

There is the question of how to write a paragraph and the question of how to string them together. On Thursday, if there are no objections, we’ll concentrate our attention of the former. We will look at and edit a number of a specific examples. Feel free to bring your own favorite examples, preferably in a Word document that we can edit.

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