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. In this "This is not academic writing" column we examine short excerpts from academic texts to illustrate common writing errors and explain how to correct them.

Unacceptable 不被認可的文章

“Over-fishing of coastal waters brings lots of tragic consequences. The environmental impacts are extraordinary, including a dramatic reduction in the kinds and types of fishes in areas where commercial fishermen used to count on catching them. Natural development of species can be altered when only the biggest specimens are pulled from the sea. The environment in the water isn’t helped either when imbalances are created that gum up the natural order of things.”

This writing is marked by imprecision. The impact of over-fishing is couched in such vague terms as “lots of” and “extraordinary” and “dramatic reduction.” Rounded expressions of scale are dangerous because one man’s “lots of” is another man’s “few,” particularly without supporting data. The results of over-fishing are called “tragic,” but beware of universal assertions. A vegetarian in the Tibetan mountains might think over-fishing an interesting topic, but would he see it as tragedy? Do you see other glaring examples of poor academic writing?
這篇文章充滿許多模糊的字詞表達。過度捕撈所造成的影響,在lots of、extraordinary、dramatic reduction這些含糊的字眼下反而顯得柔弱無力。這類描述程度的籠統字眼非常危險,尤其在沒有數據佐證下, 一個人認定的lots of對另一個人而言可能不過是few而以。作者以 “tragic(悲劇性)” 形容過度捕撈的結果,但千萬小心這類在世界上普遍存在的宣言。居住於西藏山區的素食主義者也許會認為過度捕撈是個有趣的主題,所以在他眼裡這不見得是悲劇一件。大家不妨仔細觀察,你是否也找得出其他明顯的不恰當字眼呢?

Acceptable 認可的文章

“Over-fishing of coastal waters brings significant consequences. The environmental impact is evident, including a measurable reduction in fish variety and population in formerly reliable commercial fishing grounds. Natural development of species is retarded when selective netting culls only the biggest specimens from schools. Undersea ecology is altered as well when imbalances are artificially created that interrupt systemic and interconnected processes.”

Posted at 2011-04-28 14:52:46

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