He states, she indicates, they debate. Keeping verbs fresh while writing about scholarship is no mean feat.

Help is on the way. Tweed’s Ever-Expanding Compendium of Academic Verbs contains almost 250 alternatives to “state” and “argue”—though those are included as well. (Sometimes the occasion does call for boring straightforwardness.)

It’s my hope that this list reminds you of words you need to bring back into rotation and introduces you to some more specific and less utilized verbs. Here’s a smattering of the verbs you’ll find in the compendium:

  • detail

  • establish

  • hold

  • limn

  • proffer

  • report

  • speculate
  • surmise
  • theorize

As you can tell, the verbs are hardly synonyms. Be sure that you know the accepted meanings of the ones you choose. It’s also good to consider the tone of these options. Some are neutral while others carry value judgments. Some will briefly lighten the mood of a piece; others will lend sophistication.

Download the PDF: you can print it, email it, and keep it by computer for quick reference while you write.

Know that I’m serious about the ever-expanding nature of this list, as well. In the comments below, please add your favorite verbs for discussing scholarly literature. They’ll be included in future versions of this compendium, a truly collaborative effort.