March 26, 2020

Scientific writing cheat sheet

Scientific writing can be tough, but we can improve it with some tricks and principles. Here is a list of writing tips from the course Writing in the Sciences.

I’ll keep adding new tips as I go through the course.

Do not convert verbs to nouns.

These findings imply that the rates of ascorbate radical production and its recycling via dehydroascorbate reductase to replenish the ascorbate pool are equivalent at the lower irradiance, but not equivalent at higher irradiance with the rate of ascorbate radical production exceeding its recycling back to ascorbate.
These findings imply that, at low irradiation, ascorbate radicals are produced and recycled at the same rate, but at high irradiation, they are produced faster than they can be recycled back to ascorbate.

Don’t bury the main verb

One study of 930 adults with multiple sclerosis receiving care in one of two managed care settings or in a fee-for-service setting found that only two-thirds of those needing to contact a neurologist for an MS-related problem in the prior 6 months had done so.
One study found that, of 930 adults with multiple sclerosis who were receiving care in one of two managed care settings or in a fee-for-service setting, only two-thirds of needing to contact a neurologist ... had done so.

Cut unnecessary words

This paper provides a review of the basic tenets of cancer biology study design, using as examples studies that illustrate the methodologic challenges or that demonstrate successful solutions to the difficulties inherent in biological research.
This paper reviews cancer biology study design, using examples that illustrate specific challenges and solutions.
As it is well known, increased athletic activity has been related to a profile of lower cardiovascular risk, lower blood pressure levels, and improved muscular and cardio-respiratory performance.
Increased athletic activity is assoicated with lower cardivascular risk, lower blood pressure, and improved fitness
Increased athletic activity lowers cardivascular risk and blood pressure, and improves fitness
The demonstration experiment is the first of its kind and is a proof of principle for the concept of laser driven particle acceleration in a structure loaded vaccum
The experiment provides a proof of principle of laser driven particle acceleration in a structure loaded vaccum.
Brian injury incidence shows two peak peroid in almost all reports: rates are the highest in young people and the elderly
Brian injury incidence peaks in the young and elderly
Anti-inflammatory drugs may be protective for the occurrence of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Anti-inflammatory drugs may protect against Alzheimer's Disease.
Clinical seizures have been estimated to occur in 0.5% to 2.3% of the neonatal population.
Clinical seizures occur in 0.5% to 2.3% of the new borns.
Ultimately p53 guards not only against malignant transformation but also plays a role in developmental processes as diverse as aging, differentiation, and fertility.
Besides preventing cancer, p53 also plays roles in aging, differentiation, and fertility
Injuries to the brain and spinal cord have long been known to be among the most devastating and expensive of all injuries to treat medically.
Injuries to the brain and spinal cord are among the most devastating and expensive.
An IQ test measures an individual’s abilities to perform functions that usually fall in the domains of verbal communication, reasoning, and performance on tasks that represent motor and spatial capabilities.
IO tests measure one's ability of verbal, reasoning, motor and spatial capabilities
As we can see from Figure 2, if the return kinetic energy is less than 3.2 Up, there will be two electron trajectories associated with this kinetic energy.
Figure 2 shows that a return kinetic energy less than 3.2Up yeilds two electron trajectories.
There are many ways in which we can arrange the pulleys.
We can arrange the pulleys in many ways.

Eliminate negatives

They did not believe the drug was harmful.
They believe the drug was safe.
  • Not honest - dishonest
  • Not harmful - safe
  • Does not have - lacks
  • Did not pay attention to - ignored

Use active voice

The activation of Ca++ channel is induced by the depletion of endoplasmic reticulum Ca++ stores.
Depleting Ca++ from the endoplasmic reticulum activates Ca++ channels.
Major differences in the reaction times of the two study subjects were found.
Two study subjects differed in reaction times.

Colon, semicolon and dash

Colon

Many types of cells and tissues develop a kind of directionality. Certain events happen toward one end of the cell or tissue or the other. It’s a phenomenon called cell polarity.

Many cells and tissues develop a kind of directionality called cell polarity: certain events happen toward one end of the cell or tissue.

Semicolon

Semicolon connects two independent clauses. A clause always contains a subject and predicate; an independent clause can stand alone as a complete sentence.

It happened because people organized and voted for better prospects; because leader enacted smart, forward-looking policies; because people’s perspectives opened up, and with them, societies did too.

Dash

Use the dash to add emphasis or to insert an abrupt definition or description almost anywhere in the sentence.

The drugs did more than prevent new fat accumulation. They also triggered overweight mice to shed significant amounts of fat – up to half their body weight.

Use strong verbs

The WHO reports that approximately two-thirds of the world's diabetics are found in developing countries, and estimates that the number of diabetics in these countries will double in the next 25 years.
The WHO estimates that two-thirds of the world's diabetics are found in developing countries, and projects that the number of diabetics in these countries will double in the next 25 years.

Don’t burry the main verbs

The fear expressed by some teachers that students would not learn statistics well if they were permitted to use canned computer programs has not been realized in our experience. A careful monitoring of achievement levels before and after the introduction of computers in the teaching of our course revealed no appreciable change in students’ performances.
Many teacher feared that using of canned computer programs would prevent student from learning statistics. We monitored the achivement levels before and after we introducing computers in our course, and found no detriments in performances.
Review of each center’s progress in recruitment is important to ensure that the cost involved in maintaining each center’s participation is worthwhile.
We should review each center's recruitment progress to ensure the its continued participation is cost effective.
It should be emphasized that these proportions generally are not the result of significant increases in moderate and severe injuries, but in many instances reflect mildly injured persons not being seen at a hospital.
Shifting proportion in injury severity may reflect stricter hospital adimission criteria rather than true increases in moderate and sever injuries.
Important studies to examine the descriptive epidemiology of autism, including the prevalence and changes in the characteristics of the population over time, have begun.
Studies have begun to describe the epidemiology of autism, including recent changes in the disorder's prevalence and characteristics.
There are multiple other mechanisms that are important, but most of them are suspect to only have a small impact or are only important because of impact on one of the three primary mechanism.
Most other mechanisms play only a small role or work by impacting one of the three primary mechanism.
After rejecting paths with poor signal-to-noise ratio, we are left with 678 velocity measurements of waves with 7.5 seconds peroid and 891 measurements of 15 second waves.
Rejecting paths with poor signal-to-noise ratio left 678 7.5-second waves and 891 15-second waves.
It is suspected that the importance of temperature has more to do with impacting rates of other reactions than being a mechanism of disinfection itsefl since ponds are rarely hot enough for tempurature alone to cause disinfection
Ponds are rarely hot enough for temperture alone to cause disinfection; thus the effect of temperture is likely mediated through its impact on the rates of other reactions.

Punctuations

Many types of tissues and cells develop a kind of directionality. Certain events happen toward one end of the tissue or cell to another. It's a phenomenon called cell polarity.
Many types of tissues and cells develop a kind of directionality called polarity: certain events happen toward one end of the tissue or cell to another.
Evidence-based medicine teaches clinicians the practical application of clinical epidemiology, as needed to address specific problems of specific patients. It guides clinicians on how to find the best evidence relevant to a specific problem, how to assess the quality of that evidence, and perhaps most difficult, how to decide if the evidence applies to a specific patient. Finally, the lessons of clinical epidemiology are not meant to be limited to academic physician-epidemiologists, who sometimes have more interest in analyzing data than caring for patients. Clinical epidemiology holds the promise of providing clinicians with the tools necessary to improve the outcomes of their patients.
Evidence-based medicine teaches clinicians the practical application of clinical epidemiology: how to find the best evidence relevant to a spcific problem, how to access the quality of that evidence, and how to decide if the evidence applies to a specific patient. Finally, the lessons of clinical epidemiology are not limited to academic physician-epidemiologists -- who sometimes have more interest in analyzing data than caring for patients -- but provide clinicians with the tools to improve their patients' outcomes.

Xiangpeng Hao 2020