Avoid Boring Writing: Tips (to Avoid) from Scientific Articles

Most sci­entif­ic papers con­sist of “pre­dict­able, stil­ted struc­ture and lan­guage”, lead­ing to con­sist­ently bor­ing journ­al art­icles. Kaj Sand-Jensen, writ­ing in the eco­logy journ­al Oikos, decided to invest­ig­ate this prob­lem and con­cluded his research by provid­ing a set of recom­mend­a­tions for how to write con­sist­ently bor­ing sci­entif­ic art­icles (pdf):

  • Avoid focus
  • Avoid ori­gin­al­ity and per­son­al­ity
  • Write l o n g con­tri­bu­tions
  • Remove most implic­a­tions and every spec­u­la­tion
  • Leave out illus­tra­tions, par­tic­u­larly good ones
  • Omit neces­sary steps of reas­on­ing
  • Use many abbre­vi­ations and tech­nic­al terms
  • Sup­press humor and flowery lan­guage
  • Degrade spe­cies and bio­logy to stat­ist­ic­al ele­ments
  • Quote numer­ous papers for self-evid­ent state­ments

Even though this was ori­gin­ally pub­lished in an eco­logy journ­al, you can’t fail to see how these recom­mend­a­tions apply to almost every oth­er piece of writ­ten work.

via @Falijn