Scientific English Writing
Writing in Scientific English
Clear writing enhances the reader's understanding of the importance of your reported findings. Once published, your article becomes a permanent record of your ideas, hypotheses, and thought processes, allowing others to build on your ideas for future investigation, which is the backbone of scientific exploration. English is the lingua franca for science communications, but knowing how to communicate in English is not the same as knowing how to communicate in scientific English. Even the most accomplished scientists for whom English is their native language may struggle to write in clear and concise scientific English.
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Guide to Scientific English
Writing in Scientific English requires precision and accuracy to ensure that the intended meaning is conveyed clearly and effectively to an international audience. In scientific English, the vocabulary, grammar, and syntax are all tailored to the specific needs of scientific communication. The language must be precise to convey complex ideas and technical concepts in a manner that is easily understood by other scientists and researchers. Scientific English also emphasizes accuracy and objectivity. Extraneous words, subjective language, and personal opinions must be avoided while data, facts, and evidence must be presented to support claims and arguments.
7 Tips for Scientific English Writing
1. Identify the target audience
Before you begin writing or editing your manuscript, it is important to clarify your target audience. Who will be reading your research? What is their level of expertise in your field? Identifying your audience will help you to tailor the language, tone, and style of your writing to meet the reader's needs and expectations.
2. Minimize jargon
One of the biggest challenges of writing scientific English is the judicious use technical jargon. While technical terms are necessary in scientific writing and can help to increase precision when communicating among colleagues, excessive use of jargon can make the manuscript difficult to read and understand for those not familiar with the terms. Instead, use clear, concise, and easy-to-understand language suitable for the target audience.
3. Use an active voice
Using an active voice can help to make your writing more concise and impactful. A passive voice can make your writing sound vague and unclear, whereas an active voice provides a clear subject and verb, making the meaning of your sentences more direct and immediate. Start your sentences with the subject that is performing the action, focus on the person or thing doing the action rather than the action itself, and use strong verbs such as “discovered”, “measured”, and “analyzed” rather than verb phrases using forms of “to be” such as “is”, “are”, “was”, and “were”. See our article "Knowing How, When, and Where to Use Active and Passive Voice in Science Writing"
4. Use precise language
Scientific English requires precise language to ensure that the intended meaning is conveyed accurately. Avoid vague or ambiguous language, and use precise terminology to describe your research findings.
5. Pay attention to grammar and syntax
Grammar and syntax are essential components of scientific English. Proper grammar and syntax ensure that the manuscript is clear, concise, and free from errors. Pay close attention to grammar and syntax when writing your manuscript.
6. Use language that is appropriate for the target audience.
Tailor the language for your target audience. If you intend to submit your manuscript to a generalist journal like Science or Nature, then use language that any educated reader can understand without knowing the specific terminology of your field. Carefully define terms and minimize the use of abbreviations and acronyms. If you are submitting your findings to a specialist journal, then use more precise language and jargon, but still be careful to define those terms that are not commonly used by all potential readers within the scope of the journal.
7. Seek feedback from others
Seeking feedback from colleagues can be invaluable in improving the clarity and impact of all your writing. Especially, colleagues in different fields or with different backgrounds will help you to identify issues with your writing, such as ambiguity and lack of clarity, as well as those areas that you make have taken the readers’ knowledge for granted. In addition, their suggestions may help you to improve the language, tone, and style of your manuscript.
A poorly written manuscript can compromise the validity and reliability of the research, hindering its impact and dissemination. In contrast, a well-written manuscript can enhance the credibility and impact of the research, making it more likely to be accepted for publication in high-impact scientific journals. Scientific English editing can help you to improve the readability of the manuscript, making it more accessible to a broader audience, including policymakers, clinicians, and the general public.
Scientific English editing plays a vital role in producing well-written science articles and communications. A professional science editor will ensure that a manuscript conforms to the standards of scientific English, including proper grammar, syntax, and word choice. A scientific English editor should not only check for grammatical errors, typographical errors, and other language-related issues that may detract from the clarity and accuracy of the writing, but also make suggestions to enhance the clarity, brevity, and impact of your manuscript, making it easier for readers to understand and engage with the research.