Language problems

We often see the same language problems over and over again in the manuscripts we receive. Here we discuss some of the more common problem categories.

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Redundancy

By far the most common problem we find in manuscripts is lack of conciseness, and much of that is due to redundancy. Some redundancy is OK. It’s OK, for example, to repeat in the discussion section a finding that was reported in the results section when the repetition is used as the basis of a discussion. But it is not OK to simply report the information a second time. Moreover, data should be given only once. The same data should not be presented in both a figure and a table, and data that are given in a table or a figure should not be repeated in the text.

Readers like concise writing because it is easier to understand, and journals like it because shorter articles cost less to publish–but it requires effort and skill to produce. At SciWrite, we are expert at it.

“Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.” The Elements of Style, William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White

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Tower of Babel

Tower of Babel, Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1525-1569)