John Dixon, independent medical writer and trainer in scientific writing skills, provides a useful tip for medical writers who work in MedComms.

John’s Linkedin page is at https://www.linkedin.com/in/johndixonlmm/

John’s web page is at https://librasciencecomms.co.uk

Note these “bites” are recorded online using the zoom.us platform and hence quality may be affected by variability in internet connectivity and quality of webcams. The tips, however, are always first class!

Recorded 22 November 2018. Produced by NetworkPharma.tv

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Transcript

Hi, I’m John Dixon, a trainer in scientific writing, and here’s a bite that I hope may help you with your writing.

Try to avoid smothering verbs [NEXT SLIDE]

We, scientists, are very good at smothering verbs. A smothered verb – or nominalisation – arises when a verb doing a perfectly good job, is converted into a noun. For example:

We concluded that X is better than Y… when smothered becomes… We came to the conclusion that X is better than Y. [NEXT SLIDE]

The noun “conclusion” is a nominalisation of the verb “concluded”. The verb “concluded” has been smothered.

Perhaps this style sounds more – well – scientific, but the result is that we use more words to say exactly the same thing. [NEXT SLIDE]

You can spot smothered verbs by looking for nouns with suffixes such as ‘-ation’.

Here are some more common examples of smothered verbs and how they can be set free again – so “undertake an investigation” can simply be replaced by “investigate”, “make a decision” becomes “decide”… and so on.

So think about whether you really need to smother a verb. Why not free your verbs, use less words and make your writing a little clearer!

I hope that’s helpful. For more bites to help your writing, visit networkpharma.tv.

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[For the avoidance of doubt: this video is intended to be freely accessible to all. Please feel free to share and use however you like. Cheers Peter Llewellyn, Director NetworkPharma Ltd and Founder of the MedComms Networking Community activity at http://www.medcommsnetworking.com]