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Using respectively correctly


Respectively is a very useful word in scientific writing; however, we often see this word used incorrectly.

Here are some sentences that use the word “respectively” in the wrong way.

Can you identify what’s wrong with each sentence?


1. The P53, Bcl2 and Bcl-x antibodies were purchased from Cell Signaling and Invitrogen, respectively.

2. The leaves and flowers and were used for RT-PCR, Western blotting and immunofluorescent staining, respectively.


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Quick guide to scientific words that are easily missed during a spellcheck: free infographic


Using the spellcheck tool of your word processing software is a good way of making sure there are no mistakes in your scientific manuscript. 

However, the spellcheck will miss words that are spelled correctly if they are very similar to a word you actually intended to use.  For example, when I was a student I always typed preformed instead of performed – and it drove my PhD supervisor mad!

We often see these types of errors and have made a list of the most...

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Use of apostrophes in scientific writing


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

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How to avoid “claims of first discovery” but still tell readers your research is novel


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”...

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One simple way make your scientific writing more professional


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...

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Why are double negatives so confusing in scientific writing?


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...

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How to avoid 12 common scientific writing errors that annoy journal reviewers


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...

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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.