Tag Archives: Concision

Top five posts of 2012

Is improving your scientific writing among your goals for the new year? If so, you might start by revisiting the five most-read posts on The Scientist’s English for 2012:

1. Adverb placement 

2. Dangling infinitives

3. Shortening your paper or abstract

4. Illogical comparisons

5. Implied antecedents for “those” and that” 

I look forward to providing more tips in 2013. In the meantime, I’d like to direct you to a wonderful series of articles on scientific writing, published in 2010 in the journal Clinical Chemistry: “The Clinical Chemistry Guide to Scientific Writing.” The great thing for ESL authors is that these articles—which cover all the components of a typical scientific paper, including figures and tables—have been translated into Chinese, Spanish, and Portuguese. For additional online information about scientific writing, visit the links in the sidebar on the right, under “Scientific Writing Advice.”

Served as

It’s difficult to find a book on scientific writing that doesn’t inveigh against weak verbs and nominalizations, and in previous posts, I’ve suggested ways to find them in your papers and eliminate them (here, here, and here). In this post, I want to point out another one: “served as,” as in

Metallic nickel served as a catalyst for the growth of carbon nanotubes. Continue reading Served as

Need to shorten your paper?

Recently, I was asked to help an author shorten a paper by 10% to meet the word-count requirements of the target journal. The paper was already quite short and contained little extraneous information. However, by using the techniques illustrated here with example sentences, I accomplished the task without eliminating anything important. Consider the following sentences: Continue reading Need to shorten your paper?

Citing figures in text

Scientific Style and Format: The Manual for Authors Editors, and Publishers (7th ed, pp. 586) recommends that text citations of figures be parenthetical. If your target journal follows this style guide, you’ll want to make a separate pass through your manuscript to check your figure citations and revise if necessary. Let’s look at some before-and-after examples: Continue reading Citing figures in text

More red flags

A couple months ago, I posted about unnecessary nominalizations in scientific writing and shared some search strings that you can use to ferret out and revise such constructions.  Since then, I’ve been compiling a list of some additional red-flag phrases that tend to signal nominalizations. Here are some of the frequently encountered phrases on my list: Continue reading More red flags