Last month, on the 26th of October, we had our another webinar entitled: “Top Tips and Common Mistakes in Scientific Writing”. It was a huge success and we were really happy to see such a turnaround – over 100 people subscribed. It was moderated by co-founder and chief editor of eCORRECTOR, dr. hab. Mark J. Hunt, PhD, and our main guest, who conducted the entire lecture, was dr. Jerry Carr-Brion, MRSC, CChem who obtained his PhD in Chemistry from Queen Mary’s, University of London, UK, and is the author of recently published book Process Development: An Introduction for Chemists.
The main purpose of the webinar was to introduce to the attendees the best tips and common mistakes in writing scientific papers – especially in the field of chemistry/biochemistry.
Many PhD candidates who participated were issued a certificate of attendance, which they could attach to their end of year report of their progress.
eCORRECTOR as a proofreading end editing company always try to help authors with the submission of their papers by offering proofreading/editing services or even just by giving some tips and pointers, that is why we want to share with you some highlights from our recent event:
- Before you write your paper
- Check you’ve done all the experiments you need to. Controls are important.
- Stick to a clear story. Leave out irrelevant experiments.
- Read the ‘Instructions for authors’ for the journal to which you plan to submit your paper.
- Decide whether you want to write in UK English or US English; stick to this throughout the paper
- Advice on Style
- Avoid very long sentences with lots of different clauses, since they often lead to confusion. They may be perfectly clear in your native language, but ambiguous in English.
- Avoid sentences with too many adjectives, which can often be found in introductions and conclusions.
- Time after time…
- In general, keep the text in the past tense (with some exceptions).
- In the method and results sections, nearly everything you report should be in the past tense: ‘The yeast was added to the buffer solution.’ The exception is when you refer to figures or tables: ‘Figure 1 shows…’ !!!
- When discussing the work of others (typically in the introduction and discussion sections), well-established facts can be written in the present tense, such as ‘Sodium metal reacts violently with water.’
- Where there is disagreement, or if you are reporting the results of a single research group, use the past tense. ‘Bloggs et al. claimed to have achieved high enantioselectivity using magnetic fields.’
- Some of the most common mistakes to avoid
- Leaving out ‘a’ or ‘the’ or putting them when not needed. However, there are some cases, typically when discussing a class of objects in general or abstract concepts, where no article or equivalent is needed.
- Putting adjectives after a noun, not before, such as ‘The precipitate above-mentioned was centrifuged’, when it should be ‘The above-mentioned precipitate was centrifuged.’
- Misplaced apostrophes, such as ‘Alzheimers’ disease’ (should be ‘Alzheimer’s disease’) or ‘Both precipitate’s were…’ (this should be ‘Both precipitates were…’).
!!!Note that in statistics, it should be ‘Student’s t-test’ with a capital letter and an apostrophe, since ‘Student’ was a pseudonym.
- Using decimal commas instead of decimal points. An instruction such as ‘Carefully add 1,333 g of concentrated nitric acid’ would lead to an English-speaking chemist adding 1.333 Kg, probably giving a rather vigorous reaction.
- Misuse of ’during’. ‘The mixture was heated during 5 hours’ should be ‘The mixture was heated for 5 hours.’ ‘During’ normally refers to something that happened within a particular period of time, for example ‘The mixture was heated for 5 hours; during this time a yellow solid precipitated.’
As you can see just from those few highlights, working on a scientific paper is not an easy task, so why not make it less stressful and ask for a professional help? 😉