In English, it is very common to use one noun to describe another noun, for example heart disease (a two-noun cluster). This phrase has the same meaning as cardiac disease (an adjective and a noun), and the two phrases can be used interchangeably. Two-noun clusters are acceptable and usually cause no problem for the reader. However, if three or more nouns are used in one cluster, to the point where there is a long string of nouns and adjectives modifying one another, problems arise. First of all, the reader easily gets lost before he reaches the main noun. Note the following example of poor writing that was actually published.
Five two week old single comb white leghorn specific pathogen free chickens were inoculated with approximately 105 tissue culture infected doses of duck adenovirus.
If you cannot understand this, don't feel bad because I can't either. The noun 'chickens' has 11 words describing it! The sentence is very difficult to understand because the reader is unsure which nouns are substantive and which are modifiers.
Many scientific writers make this error because they are trying very hard to be brief. In my first set of tips, I instructed that brevity should be a goal in scientific writing. However, clarity is always more important than brevity. The following example is obviously brief, however it is not clear and could be interpreted in many different ways. Even though it is not necessarily from a scientific report, similar occurrences can be found in literature from every academic field.
aged dog meat samples
This phrase could have at least five different meanings:

1. samples of aged meat fed to dogs
2. samples of aged meat from the bodies of dogs
3. aged samples of meat from the bodies of dogs
4. aged samples of meat fed to dogs
5. samples of meat from the bodies of aged dogs
When you edit your own article (which you should do BEFORE you send it to E-World Editing or any native-speaking editor), try to circle every group of more than two nouns.Your goal is to reduce these strings to simple pairs. There is a saying in English that is useful to remember; "Two is company, three is a crowd." While this phrase usually refers to a couple who wants to be alone, it also applies to this method. The following are some examples of phrases that contain a string of nouns or adjectives, and beside them are clearer revisions.
A system necessitated automated motor starting circuit

A 4 month secretory cell produced mucosal accumulation history

The negative penicillin skin test result group

Blue absorbing pigment spectral curve

Climate controlled gene cluster phenotype variation

Two dimensional real time ultrasonographic blood flow detection techniques

A calibrated transit time ultrasonic blood flow probe cable end
An automated motor-starting circuit required by the system

A 4-month history of accumulation of mucosa produced by secretory cells

The group with negative results on the penicillin skin test

Spectral curve for blue-absorbing pigment

Climatically controlled variation in gene-cluster phenotype

Ultrasonography techniques that detect blood flow in two-dimensional real time

The cable end from an ultrasonic blood-flow probe calibrated to measure transit time ultrasonically
Before you begin to take apart these long strings in your own paper, be sure to determine the precise relationship of one word to another. Then express this relationship by adding the necessary prepositions, commas, and hyphens. Be careful that you do not unintentionally change the meaning.
The following are some exercises you can do to practice. When you are finished, feel free to email your answers to me at for comments and help. Good luck!
A. Remove the ambiguity from the strings of nouns and adjectives listed below. You can rewrite each more than once to express different meanings.

1. mature muscle iron
2. chronic depression symptoms
3. renal lithium excretion

B. Improve the sentences below. In order to do so, you may need to choose a meaning because of the ambiguous phrases. Therefore, more than one answer is possible and your revision should be judged by its clarity.

1. The three cases all had histologically confirmed metastatic malignant intra-abdominal tumors.
2.The present study examines various immunospecific drug sample combinations and their inhibition
   producing effects upon human peripheral blood leukocytes.
- 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