How do I write a coherent paper?

 The term 'coherence' refers to the connection of different parts of the text. It should result from the structure of the paper and the logical sequence of ideas presented in paragraphs. There are three levels of coherence:

  1. Coherence (thematic consistency) at the overall text level: It results from the overall structure of your paper, i.e. the chapters of which your paper is composed.
  2. Coherence (thematic consistency) at the chapter level: It results from the internal structure of each chapter. Think about what you are presenting in which order, and bear in mind that each chapter of your bachelor's paper has a specific function.
  3. Coherence (thematic consistency) at the paragraph level: Each paragraph in fact consists of an argument or is part of a chain of arguments.

Start from the overall level and check, step by step, whether the sequence of the individual text elements is logical. Take care that your line of reasoning is comprehensible and that the reader can understand your point. Ask your friends to read your text. This will help you identify illogical or confusing ideas in the text. The writing mentors and writing assistants at the CTL can give you feedback on excerpts of your text or your outline structure.


  • What is the function of this paragraph (what do you want to say)?
  • How does it link up with the overall structure of the chapter? Which arguments are discussed in this chapter?
  • What is the main point (main argument) of the paragraph?
  • Is the main point an independent argument or is it a continuation of a point from the previous paragraph?
  • If it is a continuation of the prior paragraph - how does this paragraph relate to other paragraphs?
  • Will this paragraph be followed by another one (or several others) that is/are connected to it?
  • Does the paragraph have an introduction?
  • Have you formulated the main statement?
  • Have you explained and summarised it?

Adhering to these structuring questions will provide a main thread running through your work. The 'guiding thread' is a metaphor for coherence at the text level, as well as for the structural cohesion and consistency of your work and all its individual sections. It is linked to the cornerstones at the metastructural (superordinate) level:

  1. the title of the paper
  2. the abstract
  3. the table of contents
  4. the research question as the main cornerstone
  5. terms that relate to your question
  6. conjectures and (hypo)theses derived from them
  7. the answer to your research question.

Each paragraph, chapter, and finally the entire paper, serve only one purpose: answering the research question and communicating it to the readers in a comprehensible way. If you aren't sure whether you have provided a continuous main thread, you can compare, step by step, how the individual paragraphs and chapters are linked to the research question.


Each paragraph and each chapter consists of an introduction, a main point and a summary of what has been written. The individual levels are just like an hourglass: The information presented as an introduction culminates in the main point in the middle of the paragraph and develops to a conclusion, from which you link forward to the next point or argument. Just as the sand, all of which is initially in the upper part of the hourglass, flows through the middle and then collects in the lower part.

When reading academic texts, pay attention to the way in which the authors have structured their paragraphs. Have a look at how they are organised, and identify their introduction, main point and conclusion/transition to the next paragraph.