The problems we address as scientists are complex, but the way we explain them should not be so. We often add unnecessary complexity to our texts by using sophisticated words arranged in long sentences. ❌ If you speak a Romance language (e.g., Spanish, Italian, or French) as your mother tongue, you should be especially careful not to complicate your message when writing in English. This practice can make it more difficult for the reader to understand your message (or sometimes even to finish reading your text). 😩
As you review your draft papers, you should always ask yourself if there are any words that could be deleted or replaced with simpler alternatives ✔ without changing the meaning of the sentence. In that case, you should not hesitate to do it. Simpler words in shorter sentences better convey your ideas. Your readers will be grateful to you for eliminating the surrounding noise so they can hear your message loud and clear. 😃
Before: A sentence – no matter where in the writing it occurs – should contain no unnecessary or superfluous words, words that stand in the way of the writer’s direct expression of his or her meaning and purpose.
➥ After: Sentences should contain no unnecessary words, which can obscure the writer’s meaning.
Finally, effective writing is readable, clear, accurate, and concise.
We share the table below so you can already start to simplify your texts.
|Instead of…||Consider using…||Instead of…||Consider using…|
|due to the fact that||because/since||nearly unique||unique/rare|
|despite the fact that||although||plays a key role in||is key for|
|a large majority of||most||a new initiative||an initiative|
|has the capacity to||can||for the first time||(nothing)|
|is able to||can||as well as||and|
|are capable of||can||given that||since|
|whether or not||whether||in order to||to|
|are in agreement||agree||at this point in time||now|
|prior to||Before||gives rise to||causes|
|in the event that||if||very/extremely/highly||(nothing)|
|on the other hand||in contrast||in a careful manner||carefully|
|subsequent to||after||first of all||first|
|due to the fact that||because||it should be emphasised that||Note that|
|for the purposes of…||for…||it is noteworthy that||Note that|
|the question as to whether||whether||it is worth highlighting that||Note that|
|both cultures were equally affected||the cultures were equally affected||it is important to note that||Note that|
This material is based on the following resources with some additions and modifications from Gavin Lucas and Valeria Di Giacomo.
- Alley, 1996. The Craft of Scientific Writing. Springer
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