How to Get Your Point Across using Repetition and Variation
As an objective scientist, you write to convey an unbiased and unambiguous message. State it, instead of implying it; repeat it to drive it home; and vary it to hold the reader’s attention.
In the following example, you can highlight your message through the Title, Abstract, and Discussion. If you look closely, you will notice that most of the published research papers state and repeat their message in these sections:
- Title: Effects of the number of cagemates on home cage ethanol drinking during proximal cagemate drinking (PCD) procedures in male and female CD-1 mice
- Abstract: The present experiment evaluated the effects of the Number of Cagemates (0 vs. 1 vs. 2) on home cage ethanol drinking during Proximal Cagemate Drinking (PCD) procedures in Male and Female CD-1 mice…
- Discussion: The present study employed Proximal Cagemate Drinking (PCD) procedures to evaluate the intakes of ethanol and water in nonaddicted Male and Female CD-1 mice during their first 12 days of exposure to ethanol drinking.
If your message does not highlight your point like in the examples given above, modify it until it does. You can fine-tune the message so that it differs in other key locations, as this paper does in the Introduction, after a survey of the literature:
- Introduction: The present study evaluated the effects of social stimulation on ethanol consumption in the home cage using the Proximal Cagemate Drinking (PCD) procedures. (Tomie et al.)
Variation can also be used when a paragraph has more than one topic sentence. When a lot is going on, repeating the topic sentence in different words will help your reader to stay engaged:
Our working conceptual model is designed to illustrate only the possible mechanisms of S–W disturbances in alcohol addiction, focusing only on the role of the PPT in the development of sleep disorders that result from chronic exposure to ethanol (Fig. 2). Given the known anatomical connections between the PPT and the VTA, it seems reasonable that changes in PPT activity might influence drug relapse via this structure. This is clearly suggested by the finding that lesioning of the PPT blocks the expression of ethanol-induced reward, as measured by place preference, only independent withdrawn mice . In addition to its role in mediating the rewarding effects of ethanol, the VTA is also implicated in mediating the prediction of the availability of rewards (via phasic firing of dopaminergic neurons) [208,209] and signals for aversive stimuli . Collectively, this evidence suggests that the PPT may act via the VTA to influence alcohol consumption and seeking behaviors. Thus, the neuroadaptation at the level of CCC-PPT may be a critical patho-physiological mechanism for the S–W disturbances in AUD.
In the above example, the first sentence was the main topic sentence, and the last sentence was a modified version of that sentence.
Repetition can also be used microcontextually to drive home a vital point, as the word “alcohol” does here:
The development of AUD is characterized by frequent episodes of intoxication, preoccupation with alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, compulsion to seek and consume alcohol, loss of control in limiting alcohol intake, and emergence of a negative emotional state in the absence of the drug. (Knapp, Ciraulo, and Datta)
The substitution of “the drug” in the final position is a variance that only serves to heighten the emphasis on “alcohol.”
Pointers—words, phrases, or ideas—are used as a tool in sentences to use repetition for better comprehension. For instance,
Example 1: Epilepsy is a brain or neurological disorder where excess electrical energy causes seizures. Seizures result when the brain’s nerve cells, or neurons, produce an excessive or abnormal amount of electrical activity. Depending on this activity…
Example 2: Depending on this activity, three results may occur. First, the seizure may start and stop in one location. Next, it may spread a bit and stop. Finally, it may go through the body’s nervous system before stopping.
Repetition can make the text sound monotonous. To avoid this, you can use:
- Variations of the word (box, boxer, boxing)
- Pronouns (physicians…they)
- Synonyms (climb, ascend, scale)
Your readers should never have to struggle to understand your message because you will have clearly and repeatedly conveyed it.
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