Scientific research can be dull and confusing or exciting and enlightening. The difference stems largely from how researchers present the information. You can use these succinct writing tips for scientists to help your findings reach a wider audience and make a more profound impact on the general public.
Write with an active voice
While scientists have been largely trained to use passive voice when writing (stressing the action instead of the actor), active voice can make your writing easier to read and understand. Be sure to use both active and passive, preferring active to emphasize accountability or responsibility. In other words, if it doesn't matter who cultured the cells (and it rarely does), use passive voice, but if you or your team has made an exciting discovery, use active.
- Passive: An amazing discovery that will change the world was found.
- Active: We made an amazing discovery that will change the world.
Overusing "of" phrases causes an information overload.
- Weak: The growth factor of the neurons is important to their survival in the spinal cord, but not in the cranial nucleus.
- Strong: The growth factor helps neurons survive in the spinal cord, but not in the cranial nucleus.
Often, writers will take a perfectly good verb and change it into a noun, which means adding another verb and using more words than necessary to get the point across. Instead, use the "real" verb.
- Weak: The test was created for the identification and validation of the methods.
- Strong: The test was created to identify and validate the methods.
When nouns modify nouns, the compressed information confuses readers.
- Weak: Scientific research presentation improvement programs would make communication easier for researchers.
- Strong: Researchers could communication more effectively if they had access to programs designed to improve their presentation skills.
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