This is not academic writing 學術文章不是這麼寫的
Not all articles written on academic topics are written in proper academic English. This column examines short excerpts from academic texts to illustrate common writing errors and to explain how to correct them.

Unacceptable 不被認可的文章

“Setting up an observation post, the group of young scientists prepared to study the planet Saturn as it dramatically rose in the night’s sky. The person chosen to lead the group went out and carefully selected the night’s observation platform, which was a gently sloping cleared area in the Rocky Mountains in the vast interior of the United States. The scientists were extremely hopeful of capturing some crystal-clear shots of Saturn because the April sky was cloud-free and the clearing far enough from municipal lighting to escape its ugly glare. The last telescope had been set up and focused when someone shouted: “Oh, no! A cloud bank!”

This prelude to a report of an astronomy outing is appealing in its detail and drama. However, the writer lapsed into cliché and the writing falls well short of being smooth. It reads, in fact, like a draft rather than a final version of a paper. Scientists who study the stars and planets are astronomers, for example, yet they are never called such in this passage. The group has assembled to study “the planet Saturn,” which is wordy: “Saturn” says it all. That the planet “dramatically rose” is subjective and hackneyed phrasing and that it did so in “the night’s sky” is tongue-twisting; “nighttime sky” reads more comfortably. These are examples of marred writing.

Acceptable 認可的文章

“Setting up an observation post, the young astronomers prepared to study Saturn as it ascended in the nighttime sky. The designated field trip leader had carefully selected the observation platform—a gently sloped clearing in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains in the western United States. The scientists hoped to capture sharply defined photographs of Saturn because the April sky was crystalline and the mountain slope sufficiently distant from municipal lighting. The last telescope had been set up and calibrated when a cry went up: “Oh, no! A cloud bank!”

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