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Scientific Writing: Grammar/Language

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  • Be precise
  • Simplify your language
  • Use 3rd or 1st person
  • Use active voice
  • Use short sentences
  • Limit qualifiers and subordinate clauses
  • Be consistent with the words used to describe the same thing
  • Use transitions
  • Avoid excessive jargon and acronyms, and explain acronyms when you use them
  • Check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation
  • Reverse outline your paper to make sure it is well-organized (check out this video)


  • Use 2nd person
  • Overuse conjunctive adverbs (however, moreover, thus) -- here's a list.
  • Use useless phrases (note that, be aware, etc.)
  • Use excessive hedging (may possibly, might be, etc.)
  • Use demeaning adverbs (obviously, clearly, etc. -- if it's obvious, you don't have to write it)
  • Use passive voice
  • Use contractions
  • Use words redundantly
  • Be wordy
  • Use unfamiliar words
  • Use unnecessary adjectives and adverbs

Have someone, or multiple people, review your paper before submitting it.

For more tips, try this article from Elsevier or this tutorial from the Duke Graduate School.

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