#1: Write Concisely. Scientific writing emphasizes brevity and clarity. It is important to include all of the information necessary to reproduce your research and discuss your findings but not more than is necessary. One important step towards this goal is to delete uninformative or redundant words. The list on the left includes "wordy" phrases. The list on the right provides improved versions.
brief in duration
sufficient in number
The wound was of a serious nature.
The solution was red in color.
mix together
the reason was because
brief
sufficient
The wound was serious.
The solution was red.
mix
because
Another way to avoid wordiness is to avoid writing grandiosely. It will impress no one and will make it difficult to understand your point. Below are two examples. Notice how difficult it is to understand the example on the left, and how much easier it is to understand the example on the right.
The validity of the structural information obtained will depend on the fidelity of reconstitution of the proteolipid in a native conformation under the condition or incorporation into vesicles. Such structural information is valid only when the reconstituted proteolipid has the native conformation.
The validity of the structural information obtained will depend on the fidelity of reconstitution of the proteolipid in a native conformation under the condition or incorporation into vesicles.
Such structural information is valid only when the reconstituted proteolipid has the native conformation.
#2: Avoid Nominalization.This tip is tied directly to Tip #1, and the best way to understand my point is to give you two examples.
This paper gives an analysis of the problem and offers a solution.
This paper analyzes the problem and solves it.
The second sentence is brief, to the point, easier to read, and much more powerful. However, it is still not perfect and remains obscure. It would be best to include more information and thus make an impact on the reader. Here are two possible ways to give greater context to the sentence.
Even a precursory analysis reveals several promising solutions, the least expensive of which is X.
A thorough analysis failed to solve the problem fully, but X is the most practical short-term strategy.
#3: Know when to use passive vs. active voice. This is an area that is very difficult even for a native speaker, and where there are two different points of view. Contrary to traditional scientific writing, nowadays experts prefer the active voice because it keeps the paper brief, is more direct, and sounds more natural.
A detailed description of the apparatus is presented in this report.
This report presents a detailed description of the apparatus.
However, it is sometimes better to use the passive voice when the one performing the action is not important.
This writer purchased bovine serum albumin from Sigma.
Bovine serum albumin was purchased from Sigma.
#4: Use parallel construction of sentences. This is an easy tip to learn once you get the hang of it. When there are 2 or more items in a list within a sentence, a parallel structure will be easier for the reader to understand.
I like to run in the park, sleeping late, and it's also fun to make home videos.
I like running in the park, sleeping late, and making home videos.
It's fun to run in the park, sleep late, and make home videos.
In the two correct sentences, the items in the list follow the same grammatical pattern. For scientific writing, the same rule must be applied, as shown in the following two examples.
A 10 mg dose produces no effect, a 20 mg dose produces a small effect, but patients demonstrate a noticeable effect from a 30 mg dose. A 10 mg dose produces no effect, a 20 mg dose produces a small effect, but a 30 mg dose produces a noticeable effect in patients.
#5: Use of Germanic Construction. This area deals with the use of several adjectives before a noun that make the phrase difficult to read and understand. Here is a case that will go against Tip #1. Instead of being more concise, a few more words and punctuation marks will make the sentence easier to understand.
Simian virus transformed fetal mammalian heart fibroblast

The gas analyzer sampling tube is then connected to the calibrator mixing chamber.

Respiratory rates were measured with a Yellow Spring Instruments Co. oxygen monitor system.
Simian virus-transformed fibroblast from fetal mammalian heart

The sampling tube of the gas analyzer is then connected to the mixing chamber of the calibrator.

Respiratory rates were measured with an oxygen monitor system (Yellow Spring Instruments Co.).
#6: Choose Your Editor Carefully. When choosing an editor, many writers will make one of these mistakes:
Choose a fellow Korean colleague who has spent a few years studying abroad and who understands the subject material, but cannot produce an article free of grammatical errors.
Choose an ESL teacher living in Korea who might provide valuable advice regarding grammar, but does not possess the academic background necessary to understand the subject material.
E-World Editing offers a better solution. By being based in the United States, E-WE is able to work closely with American universities and research institutions and provide you with an editor who:
is a native speaker of English
has the academic background to understand the terminology of the research material.
has been trained in the special problems Korean writers have when writing English.
- Tips Introduction
- General Tips
- The Proper Use of Verb Tense
- Taking Apart Long Strings of Nouns and Adjectives
- Commonly Misused Words (1)
- Tables and Figures
- Abbreviations, Acronyms, Numbers