Your reader should be able to follow your line of discussion, see how you are moving your discussion from one topic to the next in developing your overall point of view. In other words, paragraphs should be properly linked to ensure coherence. Below are examples of common transitions used in academic writing.

Repetition

One of the simplest transitions is the repeated key word, phrase or idea.

Example 1

Last sentence of a paragraph
The nature of the ceremonial rites performed at this initiation ceremony is particularly important.
First sentence of the next paragraph
These ceremonial rites are organised around three basic activities, each with its own religious significance.

Example 2

Last sentence of a paragraph
Here X postulates two general linguistic notions: the notion of polarities and the notion of equivalence.
First sentence of the next paragraph
The notion of polarities derives from X's insight concerning....

Example 3

Last sentence of a paragraph
X's analysis provides useful insights into the existing power relations between the army and the government at that time. 
Possible first sentences of the next paragraph using different logical connectives

However, the power relations embedded in the social structure may be more important in explaining causes of the massacre.

or

Even so, there is no real attempt to grapple with the issue of the government's role in the army's slaughter of unarmed men, women and children.

or

Consequently, Y's much quoted analysis of this same event needs to be reconsidered in view of X's findings.

The summarising transition

Consider a student who has just completed a lengthy comparison of high school and university teaching methods. She now wants to move to a new topic of 'personal responsibility' in learning, and makes the transition by referring to the differences in teaching methods pointed out in the preceeding discussion.

First sentence of the next paragraph
Because of these differences in teaching methods, universities throw more responsibility on the student.

She makes a transition by using a summary phrase, 'differences in teaching methods', to refer to the lengthy discussion she has just finished.

A word of warning

The summarising transition may take even briefer form, using pronouns like this, that, these, those or such to sum up the topic discussed in the preceding paragraph(s). However, you need to be careful that your reader will know just what you are referring to when you use such pronouns. For instance, it is unclear in the example below whether 'these' refers back to 'policies' or 'fiscal arrangements'.

An unclear transition

Last sentence of a paragraph
Policies produced by the different institutions are incoherent in terms of fiscal arrangements proposed for introducing the scheme in 1992. 
First sentence of the next paragraph
These have been the subject of vigorous debate in the literature.

A clear transition

To avoid any misinterpretation that pronouns can create, it is often better to specify exactly what you are referring to. The example below clarifies what the pronoun refers to and makes the argument much easier to understand. 

Last sentence of a paragraph
Policies produced by the different institutions are incoherent in terms of fiscal arrangements proposed for introducing the scheme in 1992. 
First sentence of the next paragraph
These policies have been the subject of vigorous debate in the literature.

 

The question-and-answer transition

The question-and-answer transition can be a striking, engaging way to draw the reader's attention to a key problem or idea. Note, however, that overusingthis transition tends to produce a forced stylistic effect, so use it sparingly.  

Last sentence of a paragraph
Why did the plan fail?
First sentence of next paragraph

X, in his analysis, suggests three major reasons.

 

Cohesion >>