What Is Style Inthe Context Of Scientific Writing

"Style" is one of those terms that can mean anything or nothing at all. Robert Day defines "style" as the "personality" of a scientific manuscript (see Robert Day, 1995; Scientific English. A Guide for Scientists and Other Professionals). He emphasizes that each publication has its own "personality," dictated by both the writing style used and the particular journal's editorial requirements.

Good scientific writing is not only a matter of correctness; it is often just as much a question of good style and careful adherence to stylistic conventions used in a particular field of science. Many competent scientists hold the firm belief that style is just something "nice to have" but lends no importance to the scientific message. Let me assure you that no one charged with the editing and proofreading of manuscripts would share this view. A clear and consistent writing style not only facilitates the "digestion" of the scientific message; it also shortens the time-consuming process of editing and helps to make the task enjoyable.

In this chapter, I draw your attention to stylistic issues that are not necessarily a question of "right" or "wrong" but clearly enhance the readability and clarity of your text. In particular, this chapter deals with the issue of active versus passive voice, the need to reduce the number of prepositions, and the sensible handling of modifiers and other "decorative" words in scientific texts. Moreover, we shall look at journal-specific style recommendations, i.e., the so-called "house styles," and company-internal conventions of style and format.

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