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Can I use acronyms and abbreviations in the conclusion of a scientific paper or should I avoid them?

Even though the main idea of acronyms and abbreviations is to avoid repetition, my impression is that acronyms should be avoided as a conclusion should be somehow self explanatory.

Is there a consensus on something like that?

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The abstract should be self-contained, so any abbreviations used therein should be explained at first occurence (if a term occurs only once, then there is no need to introduce an abbreviation), and citations should be given in its full form (i.e., [Name, Journal, Volume, Pages, Year]). Then starting from the Introduction, one introduces abbreviations at their first occurence again, even if they were introduced already in the abstract.

And while I somewhat understand the desire to keep the Conclusions self-contained, too, at times when I wanted to do so either the reviewer or the language editor insisted that there should be only abbreviations once they are introduced. Personally, I don't like starting a sentence from an acronym, or a number, but the editors don't have such dillemas; so I usually just write so that there are none at the beginning of a sentence.

I once argued about it with the reviewer, but the language editor then again said to stick to abbreviations. I guess there are more chances to get it one's way in case of a very long paper (>50, or even >100 pages) for the sake of clarity.

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  • So, basically you agree with me but the feedback you often get is that it's not acceptable :-) Well... who's right and who's wrong then? Mar 20, 2018 at 22:57
  • @MedNait It's more a matter of writing style. I see your point, but don't agree 100% - I also appreciate the brevity that the editors seek.
    – user68958
    Mar 21, 2018 at 0:09
  • After a second thought, using abbreviations in the conclusion section of a few-pages paper don't seem necessary. And as you hinted to, their use might be justified in case of a long paper/book. Mar 22, 2018 at 20:52

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