Writing in Science: Practical Tips Academic Writing Science Communication
Practical Tips:



article use

British vs American


compare to/with


dates & numbers

dangling participle

eponymic terms


-ic vs –ical



like vs such as



faulty parallelism

passive voice


sentence structure


spell check
split infinitives


that vs which

unusual plurals


word confusion


NB: these pages are under development

“There’s no such thing as good writing, only good rewriting.” (unknown)

The way you write creates a direct impression of you and your work. Good writing creates a good impression! (Read a a BBC article on this issue) It does not “just happen”. The need for editing and revision cannot be overstated.

There are now many, many wonderful online resources for writing. A number are listed on his website. Please do not hesitate to send in specific questions, or suggestions of other internet sources that should be included.

English is a living language: rules, norms, definitions are constantly changing. Here are some dictionaries with online versions: Oxford English Dictionary Online, Merriam Webster Dictionary Online and Dictionary / Thesaurus .com.

Editing your own work:

"You are judged by how you spell"
(Gremlins of Grammar, Boyle & Sullivan)

First: turn spell-check on (and grammar-check).
The advent of automated editing services such as spell-check, grammar-check etc. has greatly improved the basic level of writing. But these services are not infallible; all writing can be improved at the very least with careful re-reading.

Second: pick your English - should it be American or British English? (or another English?) In Europe I believe that one should use British English. However, there are arguments for using American English, especially when writing articles for journals published in the US. Most journals accept either as long as the usage within an article is CONSISTENT. Check the style guidelines for each journal.


There are two kinds of re-reading; one is for the writing content, the other for technical style. Many aspects of technical style are defined by the genre, and most journals clearly specify their technical style requirements.

Suggestion for re-reading to edit technical style (double or missed words, spell-check errors, etc.): limit the field of view with a ruler or piece of paper, so that one reads (or skims) one line at a time.

When re-reading to edit content, try to read aloud. Allow for some distance: wait a few days, so that you see what you have written with “fresh eyes”. Among other thing, consider: Is the progression of ideas logical? Is the information presented as clearly and concisely as possible? If a grammar warning comes up, reflect. Most English grammar rules can be broken, if the situation warrants it. However, one must know the rules to break them.

Remember, English is not logical. (!!)

Do we have an individual grammatical signature? Does 'grammaromics', consisting of verbomics, nounomics, adjectivomics and other subspecialities, exist? (!!)

"For some writers, style not only reveals the spirit of the man, it reveals his identity, as surely as would his fingerprints."
(The Elements of Style, Strunk & White)

K.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple Stupid (Seriously?)

"I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead."
(Mark Twain)

From the BBC: 10 old letter-writing tips that work for e-mails

Questions? Suggestions? contact: elinor.bartle<at>uib.no