Which is correct – ‘biologic’ or ‘biological’, ‘histologic’ or ‘histological’, ‘physiologic’ or ‘physiological’? Is there a difference or can these words be used interchangeably?
Opinions regarding the use of the –ic and –ical word endings are varied and conflicting, and this issue has been hotly debated in linguistics and lexicology (Kaunisto, 2007). In 1969, the linguist Hans Marchand promoted the use of the shorter ‘-ic’ form, stating that this form was more closely linked to the root meaning of the word because it is a derivative of the noun form, whereas the ‘-ical’ form is more loosely related because it is a derivative of the adjectival form and thus more general. The 18th century linguist James Elphinston argued that the ‘-ic’ form was used more for “solemn” subjects and the ‘-ical’ form, for more “familiar” subjects. This led Marchand to comment that the ‘-ic’ form is more common in science due to its conciseness. That is, “the scholar uses the unextended forms much more, as for him the quality expressed by the adjective is more directly and intimately connected with the thing to which it [the word] is applied than it is for a non-scientist” (as cited in Kaunisto 2007 p.25).
Communicating your experimental findings with others is your most important task as a scientist. You may make critical observations, develop ingenious hypotheses, design innovative experiments, and make important and novel discoveries – but if you cannot communicate your ideas and achievements to your colleagues, your career as a scientist will be at a standstill.
As the founding editor of a scientific journal (Behavioral and Neural Biology, now Neurobiology of Learning and Memory) for 25 years and as a reviewer (and author) of scientific articles for over 50 years, I have discovered much about what makes an article excellent, acceptable, or poor. Here are a few of my observations.
A major source of delay in publishing research is submitting your manuscript to the wrong journal. Many strategies can be implemented to optimize the chances of publishing your manuscript. Audience, exposure, focus, language, reputation, and time to print are all critical factors in selecting the journal in which to present your findings.