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 February 2019. 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.

If one word can replace two or more words, then just use one word! [NEXT SLIDE]

It was George Orwell, author of 1984 and Animal Farm, who said: “If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out”

We, scientific writers, should take note of his advice, because we are fond of using many words when, often, just one will do! [NEXT SLIDE]

Here are some commonly used phrases in scientific writing – which can usually be replaced by just one word:

a considerable number of … many
a greater number of … more
despite the fact that … although
during the time that … while
for the reason that … because
in respect of … about
in the absence of … without
in view of the fact that … because …or… whilst
it is possible that … perhaps
published in the literature … published …or… reported [NEXT SLIDE]

And here are some commonly used pairs of words – when we could use just one word instead.

and additionally … and
careful consideration … consideration
causal factor … cause
definitely proved … proved
each individual … each
majority of … most
provided that … if
prior to … before
subsequent to … after
various different … various …or… different

I’d recommend you refer to Robert Days’ book: Scientific English. A Guide for Scientists and Other Professionals. He lists many more examples of when we can cut out unnecessary words.

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]