We all know that feeling…writing a manuscript and using the same words over and over again. Sometimes it’s really difficult to think of alternatives, especially when you’re trying to describe complex scientific protocols in the materials and methods section.
We have put together a huge list of useful words for materials and methods sections. Originally we intended to list at least 100, but we just kept adding more and more, and we’re not finished yet! The list is...
Generally, apostrophes indicate either two words that have been shortened into one word (e.g. isn’t) or indicate the relationship between two words (e.g. the boy’s ball).
Words containing apostrophes are very common in casual written English, like a book or a letter to your friend, but apostrophes are not normally used in scientific writing.
Here are some tips for using apostrophes correctly in scientific writing.
Avoid using apostrophes to shorten words
Most students and researchers find it easy to collect information from the literature for the introduction or discussion section of their manuscript.
However, linking different facts together to produce logical, clear text is often difficult, especially if you do not have English as first language.
In this post, we’ll show you how it’s easy to use adverbs as “building blocks” in your writing to link or move between different ideas.
This is the second post in our series about creating and editing scientific tables. In the first post, we saw how basic table formatting and effective table titles could be used to improve an example of a poorly constructed table.
This post will deal with table row and column titles, units, error values and sample sizes. Let’s continue with the example table that we began to improve in the first post.
Fig. 1: Improved table after placing values...
Tables are a very important part of scientific papers. A good table should present the data simply, clearly and neatly, and allow the reader to understand the results without having to look at other sections of the paper. A bad table can be very confusing, and may reduce the chances of your paper being accepted.
In this post, we will look at the basic rules for creating effective scientific tables.
Let’s begin with an example of a bad table, highlighting some...
Every researcher wants to tell the world they are the first to find out something new
Unfortunately, many journals’ instructions to authors specifically ask that you avoid using phrases like “we provide the first evidence”, “this is the first discovery” or “we are the first group to prove that…”. These phrases are often referred to as “claims of novelty or priority”, “statements of novelty or priority”...
There is one phrase that you should leave out of your manuscripts:
The results showed that……
This phrase repeatedly comes up in the papers we edit and our editors always delete it or change it. I’ll explain why we suggest you should avoid using these words in this blog post, and we provide some useful alternatives to help you improve your scientific writing.
"The results showed” is often unnecessary
It is usually obvious you...
Selecting keywords for a scientific paper is often difficult, and it’s important to get the keywords right so readers can find your work. Your keywords must come from the list of approved keywords (MeSH library) maintained by the Medical Subject Headings section of the U.S. National Library of Science. You cannot make up your own keywords.
MeSH have launched a simple tool to help pick appropriate keywords. You can simply paste your abstract or other text into the webpage, and the...
Recently, I was editing a manuscript and found a sentence that reminded me of the importance of avoiding “double negatives” in scientific writing.
The patient had no abnormal blood glucose or insulin levels.
What are double negatives?
Double negative phrases are often used in informal spoken English, for example: "I didn’t do no cooking", "he never ate no food" and "they don’t know nothing".
In mathematics, two negatives always make...
In this post, I’m going to provide a quick overview of the most common basic errors our editors see in scientific manuscripts.
1. Check for spelling mistakes
This is obvious, yet it is surprising how many spelling mistakes our editors see in manuscripts. Firstly, use the spell check feature, making sure it is applied to all of the text in the file. Secondly, choose the correct language (e.g., US/American English or UK/British English) for your target journal or thesis...
Simple, bite-sized tips from an English scientific editor, delivered as short videos you can watch in less time than it takes to drink a coffee.
We know the most common mistakes in scientific writing - and we want you to avoid these errors.
These easy-to-understand videos will show you how to avoid basic mistakes and help you write manuscripts with more confidence.
You'll be able to apply this knowledge immediately, so you can spend more time actually doing research.