Style and flow in
Scientific Writing
Considerations in Academic Writing
Scientific writing must take into account the
following considerations:
• Who is the audience or the reader to whom this is
• What style of wring is most appropriate?
• How can this be written to flow most smoothly through the
topics to be included?
• What is the purpose of writing this?
• How can this writing be best organized to accomplish that
• How can it be best presented?
1. Audience - For whom were these written?
Thermal systems is a very broad field involving many separate fields of
Thermal systems is an interdisciplinary field which involves the traditional
disciplines of thermodynamics.
Extractives are substances in wood that can be removed by certain solvents
without affecting wood structure.
Extractives are substances in wood, not an integral part of the cellular
structure, that can be removed by solution in hot or cold water, ether,
benzene, or other solvents that do not react chemically with wood
Those descriptions are written for two quite different audiences who have
different reasons for reading what you have written. In each case the
audience for the first is reading for general information, while the
audience for the second is reading for scientific or technical information.
2. Purpose
If the audience knows more than the author, as in
thesis defense, for example, the purpose is to
demonstrate a logical approach to the work and a
thorough understanding of your analysis and
If the audience knows less than the author, the
purpose may be instructional and to display
familiarity and expertise in the subject area and
ability at scientific presentation.
3. Style
Academic writers need to use a style
appropriate for the subject and the audience.
That usually involves a vocabulary shift to a
more formal use of words. This usually
means choosing the more formal verb, noun, or
other part of speech, and doing it consistently.
 Researchers looked at the way strain builds up
around a fault.
 Researchers observed the way strain
accumulates around a fault.
4. Verb Use
Scientific writing is clearer and better understood when the appropriate
verb is used in place of an expression of two or three words or more
that might be common in conversation or informal writing. You
should be careful to select verbs that denote the exact meaning.
1. The implementation of computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) has
resulted in some serious problems.
2. The implementation of computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM) has
generated some serious problems.
3. Plans are being made to come up with a database containing
detailed environmental information for the region.
4. Plans are being made to develop a database containing detailed
environmental information for the region.
Exercise 1
Substitute a single verb for the words in
italics below:
• Proposals to construct new nuclear
reactors have met with great resistance
from environmentalists.
• Subtle changes in the earth’s crust were
picked up by these new instruments.
• The process should be done over until the
desired results are achieved.
Exercise 2
Which is more suitable?
1. The government has made
good/considerable progress in solving
environmental problems.
2. We got/obtained encouraging results.
3. The results of lots of/numerous different
projects have been pretty good/encouraging.
Avoid contractions
1. The analysis didn’t yield any new results.
2. The analysis yielded no results.
3. The problem doesn’t have many viable solutions.
4. The problem has few viable solutions.
Limit the use of “run on” expressions
1. These semiconductors can be used in robots,
CD players, etc.
2. These semiconductors can be used in robots,
CD players, and so forth.
3. These semiconductors can be used in robots,
CD players, and other electronic devices.
Avoid addressing the reader as “you”
1. You can see the results in Table 1.
2. The result can be seen in Table 1.
3. Table 1 presents the results.
Limit the use of direct questions
1. What can be done to lower costs?
2. We now need to consider what can be done
to lower costs.
3. We now need to consider how costs may be
Place adverbs with the verb
1. Then the solution can be discarded.
2. The solution can then be discarded.
3. The blood is withdrawn slowly.
4. The blood is slowly withdrawn.
Reduce informality
1. If you fail the exam, you can’t enter the university.
2. If you fail the exam, you cannot enter the university.
3. You clearly can see the difference between the
treated and untreated specimens.
4. The difference between the treated and untreated
specimens can be clearly seen.
5. Flow
Flow relates to the way in which the writer moves
from one statement to the next to establish a
clear connection of ideas.
The following two sentences are clearly related:
Lasers have found widespread application in medicine. Lasers
play an important role in the treatment of eye disease.
They could be smoothly linked as:
Lasers have found widespread application in medicine. For
example, they play an important role in the treatment of eye
Linking words and phrases
addition, furthermore, in addition
• The strength of the specimens was reduced by
heating. Furthermore, the color was markedly
darkened. In addition, they were warped.
• The specimen material was stored at 1°C. In
addition, it was kept in a sealed chamber to
prevent contamination.
Cause and effect
because, since, therefore, as a result,
consequently, due to, because of
• Aluminum alloy parts are typically one-third to onehalf the weight of those made with steel. As a result,
cars with all aluminum parts use approximately 50%
less fuel than those with steel components.
• The engine became very hot. Consequently, it was
necessary to turn it off.
Exercise 3
Supply linking words or phrases for the
• The students were late arriving in class. They
were much distracted by the noise outside the
building. They missed part of the lecture. They
did not pay attention to the teacher. Their exam
scores were quite low.
About the mid-term exam
I. Translate the following text into Chinese
Nearly everything we do each day is connected in some way to Earth:
to its land, oceans, atmosphere, plants, and animals. The food
we eat, the water we drink, our homes and offices, the clothes
we wear, the energy we use, and the air we breathe are all
grown in, taken from, surround, or move through the planet.
By 2025, eight billion people will live on Earth. If we are to continue
extracting resources to maintain a high quality of life, then we,
as individuals and citizens, need to know more about our
planet — its processes, its resources, and its environment. And
only through Earth science education can students understand
and appreciate our complex planet.
To ensure a scientifically literate society, one that maintains wise
stewardship of Earth’s precious resources, the American Geological
Institute, in coordination with its Member Societies, endorses the
National Research Council’s National Science Education Standards
(1996) and agrees that Earth science should be:
• Included as part of the science curriculum at all grade levels
• Offered as a core credit science course for high school graduation
• Assessed through state-mandated science tests and exit exams.
Ultimately, however, the future lies in the hands of students, parents,
grandparents, teachers, school administrators, school board officials,
and politicians at all levels of government. The future of Earth
science literacy — indeed, the future itself — lies in your hands.
(Quote from “Why Earth Science”)
II. Translate the following text into English
經濟發展, 經濟奇蹟
(the) Eurasian (continental) plate
(the) Philippine Sea plate
plate convergence
debris flow, mud flow
nature (process) is unpredictable
economic development, miracle
Taiwan is situated (or located) in the convergent zone (or
at the junction) between the Eurasian (continental) and the
Philippine Sea plates. The rate of plate convergence in
this area is one of the highest in the world. Violent
geological processes are striking this land; natural
disasters, such as earthquake, landslide, debris flow, etc.,
seriously threaten the human life and property.
Indeed, nature (natural process) is unpredictable, but if
we know a bit better about the nature, we could (or
should) reduce a bit (more) of loss (correspondingly). In
the last few decades, we have concentrated in (put much
emphasis on) economic development and created the
“Taiwan economic miracle”. However, we have ignored
the understanding of and respect to our environment. We
firmly believed that nature could be conquered, so
continued our blind development; but in the end we are
suffering the revenge of the nature.
When the natural disasters of recent years are examined,
(we have found) the majority of them were caused by
human foolishness and arrogance. How we are (are we)
going to coexist with the nature becomes a serious and
necessary (essential) issue to be dealt with.