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Questions tagged [writing-style]

Questions about the tones, turns of phrase and other writing patterns that are appropriate for writing in an academic context.

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111
votes
7answers
20k views

Choice of personal pronoun in single-author papers

Which personal pronoun is appropriate in single-author papers - 'I' or 'we'? Could the use of 'I' be considered egotistical? Or will the use of 'we' be considered to be grammatically incorrect?
30
votes
6answers
14k views

Using first person or third person in papers?

Are there written or unwritten rules for avoiding the use of first-person while writing research papers? I was advised at the beginning of my grad school to avoid use of first person - but I still don'...
55
votes
8answers
4k views

Can cited works hold grammatical positions in sentences?

Though I read this style quite often, I was recently told unambiguously by a reviewer that I was NOT supposed to use citations "as if they are objects in a sentence." The following sentence is an ...
84
votes
7answers
38k views

Use of first person in a PhD Thesis

Is there a non written rule to which person to use in the PhD thesis, 5 years of using "We" in the papers have brought me to the innate necessity to do it every time I describe something. Recently, ...
61
votes
2answers
17k views

In what tense (present/past) should papers be written?

That is, should it be present tense or past tense? Should there be a difference between the abstract, main body and the conclusion? Does the field of publication have any impact?
10
votes
2answers
6k views

Why shouldn't I quote famous scientists in my SOP?

In one of Ben Bitdiddle's comment, he confirms that quoting famous scientists in the SOP is generally bad. But I don't know why. Isn't SOP the place to tell our stories, our inspirations, our ...
110
votes
14answers
27k views

Why do researchers sometimes use extremely complicated English sentences to convey their meaning?

I will begin with a disclaimer, I am not an English native speaker, but I can speak fluent English and understand English in almost all research papers I read. However, occasionally I come across ...
21
votes
9answers
7k views

How to shorten an article before submitting to a journal

Does anyone know a good online source for guidelines for shortening journal articles? I've just finished a paper that I'm going to submit soon, but I think it is far too long. Its current length is ...
18
votes
1answer
3k views

Protocol for writing a recommendation letter for someone you only know on a personal basis

I am a graduate student. A close friend of mine is applying to post graduate research position and has asked me to provide a recommendation for her. I have never written a formal recommendation letter ...
17
votes
2answers
841 views

Conjugation: Do we cite authors or papers?

When referencing to another work in a scientific paper, do we cite the paper or its author(s)? This question is intended to clarify the conjugation of the verb that follows the reference -- ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Active or Passive Voice in International research journal, within the field of microorganism?

I have been composing the International journal for microbiology research. I learn that research journal should consist of active voice not passive, but I find that the previous researchers for ...
0
votes
2answers
2k views

How much of humor in a formal academic writing is considered as disrespect? [duplicate]

In a formal academic writing (in the everyday sense), is it appropriate to use phrases such as "step out on" to titillate the reader? Since I am not a native English speaker, and since I have not ...
19
votes
4answers
16k views

Are there any guidelines for labeling axes in plots/graphs?

What are best practices (if any exist) for labeling axes in plots/graphs for academic documents, such as theses, publications, or presentations? Possible options are to use the variable, spell out ...
23
votes
7answers
7k views

How should I cite something learned second-hand (eg, from Wikipedia) when I haven't seen the primary source?

I want to cite something that I have learned from a Wikipedia page. However, I'm loathe to cite Wikipedia because of the perception of it by my tutors, so I try to cite the original source. What ...
40
votes
4answers
49k views

How to handle swear words in quote / transcription?

In my research, I interview practitioners/real users. One of them, a native english speaker, used a lot a swear words (basically the f-word). Question: how to deal with curse words in content you ...
36
votes
6answers
153k views

How can I cite the same reference in successive sentences?

I've just read a paper that cited the same reference in two successive sentences: This is the first sentence (xxxx 2013). This is the second sentence (xxxx 2013). Up until now, I would have ...
16
votes
4answers
6k views

Are the words “I, we, us, his, her, he, she” all prohibited in thesis writing? [duplicate]

I am writing my masters thesis. My instructor told me not to use "I, we, us, his, her, he, she" in the thesis anywhere. Are all these words prohibited in thesis writing? I am writing my thesis ...
19
votes
1answer
3k views

What tense should paper titles use?

I have recently noticed that the tense of paper titles can be somewhat odd. This previous question, In what tense (present/past) should papers be written?, has some great information but it doesn't ...
21
votes
1answer
3k views

Should I write “we” or “I” in my research statement?

I am currently in the process of applying for tenure-track assistant professor jobs. I was wondering whether I should write "we" or "I" in my research statement. While it is true that I did not do all ...
15
votes
2answers
451 views

When to use inline versus displayed equations in a publication?

On a publication (thesis, paper, other), when should I write an equation inline and when should it be separated and numbered from the text? I've seen publications containing both styles, but I don't ...
12
votes
5answers
6k views

Citing a paper under review in 2 different conferences

I am currently writing 2 conference papers. One is highly quantitative in nature and the other is absolutely qualitative in nature. I am submitting both papers to conferences having deadlines in the ...
9
votes
2answers
490 views

Citation: refer to author or paper? [duplicate]

What is the British English way of referring to a source in-text. Is it plural because there are two authors, like this: X and Y (2011) describe ... Or is it singular because you are ...
6
votes
1answer
274 views

How to Refer to Enumerated Subsections and Subsubsections?

Body There is Subsection 1.2. There is Subsubsection 1.4.1. Referring in the body now See Subsection 1.2. See Subsubsection 1.4.1. I would like to replace all sub parts simply by section etc the ...
3
votes
1answer
779 views

Does giving compliments to the fellowship help?

The fellowship (I'll call it XYZ) I'm applying to requires me to write a personal statement (note that this is not a research statement). This is their definition: The Personal Statement includes ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

How to decide whether I should use “we” in an essay? [duplicate]

The answers to this question promote a view that the personal pronoun we is acceptable in an academic paper. But I did not see an answer there, or more generally on this site, that discourages the use ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

As a student, is it appropriate to use my university's letterhead for a letter I write, to give it extra weight?

A program I participated in for six years, while I was in junior high and high school has just had a huge chunk of their funding removed by the school. I credit this program with the majority of my ...
-2
votes
1answer
605 views

Is putting the statement/conclusion first considered to be cliched?

This question was inspired by the following comment by Johanna on another question: I just had to say: including the idea "I believe I was born for scientific research" is a terrible idea. Did no ...
78
votes
10answers
10k views

Do Asian authors have a different style of academic writing from European authors?

I'm an Asian student working with a European prof. My adviser told me several times that when he read my writings (our papers), he just wanted to rewrite it. He told me that my English was rather OK, ...
26
votes
6answers
7k views

First sentence of a research proposal

I am writing a research proposal and I can not choose the right very first sentence to start the introduction. My research is purely theoretical. Let's assume I want to study a mathematical model of ...
48
votes
7answers
13k views

Is using the phrase “… is left as an exercise for the reader” considered good style in academic papers/theses?

Possible arguments: Pro For brevity for trivial deductions Contra Looks like the writer could not be bothered to write an extensive explanation Definition of what is trivial to which reader and ...
67
votes
11answers
23k views

Can one or two emoticons be used in a PhD Thesis?

I have a very dumb :-) question: Are emoticons (if rarely placed - one or two times) in a PhD thesis considered unorthodox? I have an introduction where I give an apt example and appended some small ...
29
votes
5answers
73k views

Where in a thesis should a glossary be positioned?

I want to include a glossary in my master’s thesis explaining some technical terms. My university doesn't make any specifications about the usage or position of glossaries. So I'm asking myself: Is ...
58
votes
11answers
10k views

What can professors do to encourage properly written email messages from students?

(Motivated by https://academia.stackexchange.com/questions/55082/hey-i-was-wondering-of-your-students-write-like-this) The writing style probably [stems] from the electronic age of text messaging....
53
votes
7answers
7k views

Is it standard for a math research paper to include less detail in proofs than a typical textbook would?

I am a fourth-year undergraduate student in Mathematics. Recently, I read a mathematics paper. It seems that the proof in the paper is not as convincing as what one might find in a textbook. For ...
34
votes
7answers
8k views

Is it accepted to refer to your own published result by your own name?

Assume that Jane Doe has published a paper in 2010 where she has developed a model or a theorem or a similar result, let’s say, that it relates to growth. Now assume that Jane Doe is writing another ...
31
votes
3answers
5k views

On the possible obsolescence of research paper titles starting with “On the …”

I have observed that most papers with titles starting with "On the ..." are theoretical ones, like pure mathematics, physics, computer science, etc. Most of these papers are relatively old, though I ...
21
votes
7answers
4k views

Using slang in a Scientific Paper

We are writing a paper about an algorithm that takes a group of solutions and sorts them by their likelihood of being equal to the one and only 'good solution'. Internally, we refer to this 'good ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Resources for English speaking students with poor command of grammar and writing style

I sometimes read student assignments where the grammar and writing style is poor. Paragraphs don't really flow. Sentences go on for ever. The ordering of words is awkward. Instead of concisely ...
54
votes
5answers
13k views

Co-authors request that others do not use “he” as a pronoun - is this reasonable?

We are a bunch of people writing a collection of papers. Two of the writers are from Iran (where the common language does not have gendered pronouns), and they have expressed to me some concern with ...
15
votes
2answers
794 views

Is there a rule or style guide on use of gender-specific pronouns in academic papers?

Some authors use "her" whenever they employ a pronoun referring to a noun whose gender is immaterial to the discussion. Is there any rule (university or journal or conference-specific) which ...
4
votes
2answers
114 views

Learn to write scientific papers in medicine

I'd like to learn how to write scientific papers in medicine. I saw searching on google that there are many books regarding scientific writing but reading reviews it seems they are more oriented to ...
27
votes
6answers
24k views

When and why should you write numbers less than 10 in words?

My current strategy in my thesis and in papers is to write numbers less than 10 in words. For example, if I need to write the number 6, I write 'six'. Recently though, I've been thinking this strategy ...
15
votes
5answers
3k views

Is it bad form to use the word exciting in a paper, when discussing other people's results?

When writing a paper with a collaborator, they didn't like that I used the word "exciting" in the abstract since they said that they don't like when people use personal personal qualifiers in writing ...
6
votes
2answers
15k views

Introducing abbreviations in an abstract for a repeated term

I use a long term (e.g. "artificial neural network") more than once in the abstract of a paper. Is it best to introduce the abbreviation (e.g. "ANN") after the first occurrence, or repeat the non-...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Are there general guidelines for including code in a research paper?

I'm a beginning researcher trying to write a research paper , so please bear with some of the really basic questions I might have. I've already looked around for some help online, but the websites I ...
5
votes
1answer
13k views

Is it okay to discuss personal experiences or observations in literature review?

Is it okay to discuss personal experiences or observations in literature review as long as they are relevant and contribute to the presentation of the summary of literature? In other words, I am not ...
18
votes
7answers
4k views

Amusing remarks in papers [duplicate]

I have had to read so many papers, and papers on writing papers, that I noticed how engaging and more pleasant to read a publication is when the author inserts the occasional funny remark. I'm also ...
15
votes
7answers
3k views

Is it bad form to use the word “novel” when describing your own work in a paper?

Ideally any research paper should contain novel thoughts, ideas, procedures, observations, methods, etc. of some form or another. That being said, is it really necessary to remind the reader about it ...
7
votes
4answers
463 views

Where to locate authors’ names in sentences?

Is it or is it not good practice to make an author the subject of sentences in a paper? When should their name be central, discreet, or absent in the sentence? Here are five variations showing ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Is it a good academic practice to tell the reader in the introduction what the essay is about directly?

Is it academic to tell the reader in the introduction what the essay is about directly? For example, after some introductory ideas, you tell the the reader this essay or section discusses so and so. ...