The Art of Dancing with Change

English is destined to be in the next and succeeding centuries more generally the language of the world than Latin was in the last or French is in the present age. The reason of this is obvious, because the increasing population in America, and their universal connection and correspondence with all nations will, aided by the influence of England in the world, whether great or small, force their language into general use. - John Adams, American colonies, 1780 Most native speakers of English...

The Voice Of Science

Congratulations, you have polished the language of your manuscript. Your paper is a clarion call to scientists like yourself You have modified sentences, evaluated the use of transitions, eliminated excess language, improved vocabulary, and checked the consistency of tenses. Your readers can now rely on the accuracy of your words because you have made your message clear to all the innocent scientists of the world who were not in the lab with you. You have remembered that writers forget their...

Organizing the Sequence of Your Ideas

The sequence in which you present your ideas is basic to the success of your paper. Attempt to get the sequence established before you begin the actual writing of the paper. This sounds easier than it is. Organizing a clear, lucid sequence can be difficult because in scientific research a number of things appear to need to be told simultaneously. Since they cannot be told simultaneously, this is beyond doubt the most difficult part of writing a first draft and one that needs to be solved before...

Trends In International English

Ever since the advent of the World Wide Web, societies have reeled under the impact of needing to communicate rapidly and effectively with other countries. In the world-wide effort to improve communication, we have only begun to establish what may become known as international English. A Cherokee chief in the 1800s called English the language of deception. To whatever degree this was, or is, true of English, it is not a valuable characteristic in science. Scientists around the world desire to...

Spreadsheet

This spreadsheet may be a valuable tabulation of the verb tenses used in today's journals. Keep notes on how commonly the simple present tense occurs and also of any exceptions when the simple present tense is not the tense of choice. You will need this data especially after you finish writing your paper and are ready to edit it. Accomplished writers usually check the consistency of their verb tenses as the last step in polishing their manuscripts for publication. Remember not to pay attention...

Your Final Draft

Now, at last it is time to create the final draft in which you edit your manuscript, to make it as good as you have dreamed it could be.You are ready to practice the art of editing. To unpathed waters, undreamed shores. - Shakespeare Winters Tale Act IV, scene iv Without editors, writers are nothing but makers of lace. - C. Shields 2003 Unless, Random House of Canada, 177 Who will help you edit Certainly not editors of scientific journals Editorial staffs of journals do not provide this...

Emphasizing Meaning With Intensifiers

The impact of messages becomes stronger when writers avoid the addition of intensifiers, such as 'really', 'actually', 'truly'. These words add an almost slippery flavor to a research report. Such words belong in narrative writing, and a reader who finds them in science may withdraw in suspicion. Check your photocopied articles to see if these words ever appear. The best advice is to eliminate them in your final edit. They are good words to use socially, and are fine even in professional...

Editing Verb Tenses

The final and most tedious edit is to examine each verb tense in the paper for agreement and consistency. This should be done after all other revisions and edits have been made. While you are conducting this final tense check, do not let yourself pause to consider anything else in the manuscript. Even teachers of English easily overlook inconsistencies in tense when they let their concentration stray while they are doing a tense check. The most common tense in scientific writing today is the...

Passive Voice

Contemporary writing in science has become more and more direct and, as it has, the use of passive voice has been fast disappearing. Check your spreadsheets, or go back to the photocopied articles, to discover if you find verbs in passive voice. Change any you find to active voice, for examples see Table 2. The journals esteem active voice and direct statements. You will want to check your final draft for sentences which begin Also check for all sentences that start with the word 'It' when 'It'...