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

“Researchers found the stillness of the forest disconcerting. Typically buzzing with sounds, the vast forest seemed deathly silent. Nothing tweeted or even hooted. Nothing rustled anywhere or creaked. Where scampering squirrels once chatted, leafless tree branches now poked out at all angles into the April air like skeletal skyscrapers. The research team set up its equipment in an area without trees. Teams of bird and insect specialists surveyed the property and began to methodically investigate the natural disaster. They worked with the silent dedication of true scientists determined to show the world how the enormous power of nature can destroy.”

This introductory paragraph about a scientific field trip tries to establish a setting in introducing readers to the examination of a natural disaster. Unfortunately, it does so in language that interferes with the mood setting. The first sentence is too passive. The second sentence talks about the absence of “buzzing” forest sounds, then goes on to enumerate sounds that don’t buzz at all. Imagined squirrels “chat” instead of chatter. Wordiness permeates the paragraph, with leafless branches unnecessarily identified as “tree” branches, for example. Scientific specialties are not properly identified. And what is a “true” scientist? The writing is weakened by such sloppiness.

Acceptable 認可的文章

“Researchers were disconcerted by the stillness of the forest. Normally resplendent with sound, the vast acreage of trees seemed a cocoon of quietness. Nothing buzzed or twirped or hooted. Nothing rustled or creaked. Where red squirrels once chattered, leafless branches now poked disconsolately into the April air like unfinished skyscrapers. The research team set up its equipment in a clearing. Teams of ornithologists and entomologists platted the property and began to methodically chronicle the depth of the natural disaster. They worked with the hushed resolve of scientists determined to bear witness to the destructive power of nature.”


Posted at 2013-01-07 15:24:20

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