4 Key Features of Academic Writing # 3– Use Precise Language 學術寫作四大要訣之三:精確

撰寫學術論文必須遵守某些特定風格和技巧的規範,雖然這些規範不至於讓創作學者寫得縛手縛腳,但某些經濟的寫作方式和表達法的限制向來被視為奉行不悖的圭臬。本專欄為撰寫學術論文的四大要訣,每項要訣都會刊登在TPS 粉絲頁,最後集結於 TPS 學術電子報。
Academic writers must conform to certain expectations about writing style and techniques. The rules are not so tight as to place a creative scholar in a straitjacket. However, certain economies of writing and constraints on expression are generally considered de rigueur. Following are four of the principal guidelines for writers of academic papers. Each part in the series will be presented on the TPS Fan page before being compiled.

3rd Writing Guideline – Use Precise Language

Precision in academic writing can take several forms, but each formulation contains this characteristic: exactness. For instance, an academic writer should be precise in describing research materials and methods. Doing so accomplishes more than one task. Here is an example: Saying that a chemist identified 14 compounds gives concrete evidence of his laboratory skills, whereas saying that a chemist’s work resulted in more than a dozen compounds leaves a reader guessing. Furthermore, “14” is shorter than “more than a dozen” and wordiness is not a virtue.

Precision also refers to accuracy, which is a fundamental requisite of any celebrated academic paper. Inaccuracy leads to fallacy, misinformation, error and falsity. Can anything be more damaging to a paper and its author than to be described as wrong in its facts? In terms of language, inaccuracy misleads and confuses. For example, if a gathering of poets is called an “assembly,” one connotation is that formal rulemaking will occur. Calling it a “conference” suggests discussion. The words are not exactly interchangeable, and exactness matters.

Precision also is a virtue in terms of keeping a reader on track. When a reader experiences some confusion about a sequence of events or the thread of thought, a writer has failed to lead by not being explicit in his language. Such transition words and phrases as “consequently” and “in this way” help a reader stay on course. Similarly, clearly identifying a source rather than attributing it vaguely helps a reader weigh and sort complex information. Readers need help and precise verbal guideposts are helpful. A writer cannot be successful in an academic paper when readers get lost.


Posted at 2014-05-16 21:49:49

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