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Tune your publications to achieve clarity and brevity

Scientific writing carries a lot of technical information and research arguments, which if not explained clearly and simply, could confuse the reader. The more assertively, clearly and briefly you present your thoughts to your readers, the easier it is for them to comprehend your arguments. Hence, the three main aspects to consider while writing your research manuscript are 

 and ‘word choice’. I  briefly outline a few tips, below, to help you meet this goal.

  1. Organise an outline of your research arguments in a systematic and logical order.
  2. Choose the personal or impersonal approach depending on your preference and the subject in hand. Thereafter, maintain the chosen approach.
  3. Follow the subject-verb-object rule while constructing sentences.
  4. Use the active voice over the passive voice.
  5. Present statements without dodging the meaning of what you want to convey. For example: instead of ‘not present’ write ‘absent’, ‘not positive’ – ‘negative’, ‘due to the fact that’ – ‘because’, ‘high degrees of accuracy’ – ‘accurate’.
  6. In an attempt to reduce the word count, avoid coining new words or using informal abbreviations.
  7. Pay close attention to words that sound similar; for example: principle/principal, accuracy/precision, affect/effect, examine/evaluate, imply/infer, etc. When in doubt, refer to a dictionary for an appropriate word or synonym. A good dictionary is the Oxford Dictionary
  8. Scientific writings are based on proof, values and quantification. Ambiguous words like much, minimal, quite, fairly, few, very, etc. should be avoided. Instead, furnish statistically significant data to support your research arguments.
  9. If there are multiple antecedents in a sentence, specify which antecedent the results refer to.
  10. Place a modifier as close as possible to the word it modifies. This will prevent the construction of confusing sentences.
  11. To avoid 
, identify participles ending in –ed, –en or –ing, mostly at the beginning of a sentence, and see if they relate to the intended nouns/pronouns.
  • Use present tense for published facts, and to refer to the tables and figures in your manuscript. For example: ‘The result from the experimental sample is presented in Table I.’ Use present perfect for recurring events (For example: ‘This trend has been observed in other samples as well.’) and past tense for unpublished results and results which cannot be generalized For example: ‘This trend was observed in other samples’.
  • To be more efficient, make a choice between the personal or impersonal approach before you start writing your draft. You can always improve on the syntax and word choice while revising your manuscript. Remember, in order to highlight your scientific arguments, your language should be as clear, brief and simple as possible.


    By | 2018-02-20T12:05:53+00:00 March 7th, 2014|Categories: Scientific Writing Tips|Tags: , , , , |1 Comment

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    One Comment

    1. WilliamKild June 8, 2016 at 3:28 am

      Thanks a lot for the post.Really thank you! Want more. Beliz

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