The topic position
The topic position (=the subject) needs to contain information that is already familiar to the reader.
This information can take different forms:
- It can be information you were just talking about.
We used X analysis. This analysis works in this way…
- It can be information that the reader already has in mind from the general context of your paper.
Diabetes is usually treated…
- It can be general information that everyone is familiar with.
Patients usually experience...
Menopausal women suffer from...
The DNA was analyzed...
Use concrete or human nouns
To make the topic position comfortable for the reader, choose concrete nouns and human nouns whenever possible. Stay away from abstract nouns in the topic position.
To participate in activities in daily life,
Children need more than just athletic competence to participate in activities in daily life.
Since there are no validation criteria to quantify proteins with LC-MS/MS,
Since there are no validation criteria to quantify proteins with LC-MS/MS, we used recommendations from the AAPS Bioanalytical Focus Group’s Protein LC-MS Bioanalysis Subteam.
Why does this work?
Readers are learners: they are learning the information in your text. We all learn by connecting new ideas to what we already know. Readers need to connect each piece of new information they receive with something that they are already familiar with. So you must first give them something that they know, then you can give them something new. Readers can connect the information as they read.
How important is the topic position?
On a scale of 1-10, it's a 10: most important!
Sometimes the writer thinks the information is so obvious that putting old information in the topic position is unnecessary. However, the reader loses the thread of the argument when this vital information is missing. If the writer pays attention to the placement of old and new information in every sentence, they can avoid creating logical gaps for the reader.
Ask yourself at the end of every sentence: now what does the reader expect to hear from me? If you can't figure out what should go in the topic position, ask for help!