Writing a scientific paper

Write accurately

  1. Scientific writing must be accurate. Although writing instructors may tell you not to use the same word twice in a sentence, it's okay for scientific writing, which must be accurate. (A student who tried not to repeat the word "hamster" produced this confusing sentence: "When I put the hamster in a cage with the other animals, the little mammals began to play.")
  2. Make sure you say what you mean.
  3. Instead of: The rats were injected with the drug. (sounds like a syringe was filled with drug and ground-up rats and both were injected together)
    Write: I injected the drug into the rat.

    Hi David. Thanks very much for your tips. Very interesting article. Did you just tweet that you should keep “I” and “We” out of the abstract? I am translating a psychology article from Spanish into English, and I’ve come up against an unwieldly sentence (the very last one in the abstract) that basically wants to say “We propose a number of strategies for improving the impact of the psychological treatments[…]” Would you say it’s a no-no? I tend to avoid personal pronouns in academic articles as much as poss, but it just sounds like the most natural option in this case. Perhaps I could put, “This article proposes a number of treatments…”? Strictly speaking it’s not the article that’s doing the proposing, obviously. I’d be very grateful to have your opinion. Thanks a lot. Best regards. Louisa

    You may want to identify certain types of equipment by vendor name and brand or category (., ultracentrifuge vs. prep centrifuge), particularly if they are not commonly found in most labs. It is appropriate to report, parenthetically, the source (vendor) and catalog number for reagents used, ., " ....poly-L-lysine (Sigma #1309) ." When using a method described in another published source, you can save time and words by providing the relevant citation to the source. Always make sure to describe any modifications you have made of a standard or published method.

    Besides the grammar and spelling, which is easy to correct, English scientific writing has a different style. I often notice that non-native speakers write in a very wordy, verbose style. Also, the organization of the papers tends to seem unclear and unfocused. Their spelling and grammar are perfect, but they don’t use clear topic sentence etc. The paper does not always follow a clear linear progression. This is also part of writing scientific English yet no one sees this as a problem or seems to care about improving this aspect.

    Writing a scientific paper

    writing a scientific paper

    Besides the grammar and spelling, which is easy to correct, English scientific writing has a different style. I often notice that non-native speakers write in a very wordy, verbose style. Also, the organization of the papers tends to seem unclear and unfocused. Their spelling and grammar are perfect, but they don’t use clear topic sentence etc. The paper does not always follow a clear linear progression. This is also part of writing scientific English yet no one sees this as a problem or seems to care about improving this aspect.

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