ERIC Number: EJ1066247
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Apr
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 9
Braddock Revisited: The Frequency and Placement of Topic Sentences in Academic Writing
Smith, Craig G.
Reading Matrix: An International Online Journal, v8 n1 p78-95 Apr 2008
It has been more than thirty years since Richard Braddock published the notable article in which he examined the manner that professional writers utilize topic sentences. He found in his corpus that expository paragraphs seldom began with topic sentences. Consequently, Braddock (1974) admonished teachers to stop instructing their students that most professional writers begin their paragraphs with topic sentences. The purpose of this study is to replicate Braddock's study using a corpus made up of articles selected from a particular area of written discourse, American history. Braddock's model, with a few exceptions, is used in the evaluation of this material. Braddock's conclusion, that only 13% of expository paragraphs begin with a topic sentence, has been widely cited to support the notion that teachers need to reassess the manner in which they teach reading and writing skills. Results of this study indicate that, in this corpus, a major topic sentence is at the initial position of the respective discourse block unit in approximately two-thirds of the cases. Thus, certain conclusions which have been drawn from Braddock's study need to be re-considered.
Descriptors: Academic Discourse, Sentences, Expository Writing, Paragraph Composition, United States History, Replication (Evaluation), Journal Articles, Reading Instruction, Writing Instruction
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
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