Common Mistakes in Academic Writing
Academic or scholarly writing must have a clear objective, state the relevance of the topic, and must be well organized. A well-written academic paper is precise and appropriately employs a formal academic rhetoric. However, it is crucial to maintain clarity and conciseness and ensure comprehensibility.
In contrast to an academic tone, spoken language has abundant grammatical errors and inaccuracies. Therefore, few general points should be remembered while writing academic documents. Apart from an appropriate language and accurate vocabulary, it should be remembered that the manuscript is being written for an audience, and correct punctuation, sentences, paragraphs and overall structure will only help the reader.
Let us take a look at few of the common mistakes by academic writers!
1. Inappropriate Structure
Structural inaccuracy reflects flaws in the research design. The objective of conducting research is to present a theory, with sufficient data. Therefore, the most important factor considered while drafting a manuscript is its structure. The aim and objective, approach, result, and conclusion must be appropriately stated and referenced to facilitate reader comprehension and render a better logical flow and transition throughout the manuscript.
Redundancy refers to an act or instance of needless repetition. A superfluous use of words and wordy construction hampers readability and often alters the meaning.
Error: Disaster prevention and avoidance systems are crucially important.
Revised: Disaster prevention systems are crucial.
3. Tense Shift
Ensure that all verb tenses in sentences are complementary; shifting from one tense to another with no clear reason can lead to ambiguity.
Error: Lucy was watching the great blue heron take off. Then she slips and falls into the swamp.
Revised: Lucy was watching the great blue heron take off. Then she slipped and fell into the swamp.
4. Pronoun Shift Pronoun shifts occur when a writer unnecessarily shifts to another pronoun from the one he has been using to refer to someone or something. The most common shift in pronoun is from “one” to “you” or “I.”
Error: If we had known about the ozone layer, you could have banned aerosol sprays long ago.
Revised: If we had known about the ozone layer, we could have banned aerosol sprays long ago.
5. Unclear Pronouns
Vague pronoun references occur when a pronoun might refer to more than one word or when the reference to a word is implied but not explicitly stated.
Error: Transmitting radio signals by satellite is a way of overcoming the problem of scarce airwaves and limiting how they are used.
Revised: Transmitting radio signals by satellite is a way of overcoming the problem of scarce airwaves and limiting how the airwaves are used.
6. Subject–Verb Agreement Every noun must agree with the verb that precedes it; singular and plural must be used with singular and plural objects, respectively.
Error: Serology for human herpes viruses I and II were negative.
Revised: Serology for human herpes viruses I and II was negative.
7. Comparisons The comparative degree is the comparative form of an adjective or adverb. Compared to is used to compare items of different order, and compared with is used to compare items of the same order.
Error: Although polydopamine has distinct advantages of biocompatibility and fluorescence properties, relatively few studies have reported the preparation of fluorescent polydopamine nanoparticles compared to other fluorescent nanoparticles.
Revised: Although polydopamine has distinct advantages of biocompatibility and fluorescence properties, relatively few studies have reported the preparation of fluorescent polydopamine nanoparticles compared with other fluorescent nanoparticles. Furthermore, when comparing two ideas or entities, whenever a comparative version of an adjective is used, it is always followed by the word “than.”
Error: Gastrointestinal accumulation of the radioisotope in the furosemide group was 4-fold higher to that in the control group.
Revised: Gastrointestinal accumulation of the radioisotope in the furosemide group was 4-fold higher than that in the control group.
8. Parallelisms A parallel construction eliminates ambiguity, promotes clarity, and improves readability.
Error: The minister focused on eliminating poverty and to increase literacy.
Revised: The minister focused on eliminating poverty and increasing literacy.
9. Word Choice Slang and colloquialisms should generally be avoided in academic writing.
Error: Retirement is something most of us must face sooner or later.
Revised: Retirement is inevitable.
10. Contractions A contraction, by definition, is a shortened version of the written and spoken forms of a word, syllable, or word group, created by omission of internal letters (actually, sounds). In academic writing, contractions such as “can’t,” “shouldn’t,” and “couldn’t” should be avoided.
11. Comma Splice A comma splice occurs when a comma separates two independent clauses. To correct a comma splice, you can insert a semicolon or period or restructure the sentence.
Error: We go cycling every weekend, we enjoy it.
Revised: (i) We go cycling every weekend, and we enjoy it. (ii) We go cycling every weekend; we enjoy it.
Academic writing is as much an art as it is a science. A manuscript must be proficient without conceptual, methodological, and analytical errors and must be presented in a manner that accurately answers the research questions. Companies providing Research paper editing services ensure that a manuscript complies with the general rules of writing, increasing the chances of publication by several folds. These manuscript editing services are available for various domains and have led to a booming increase in the number of error-free manuscripts getting published.