Hello everyone! Hope you liked our last post “Words to avoid in academic writing”. Today we would like to discuss another topic that might be interesting and useful for you: How non-native English speakers can improve their scientific writing?
Nowadays English has become a language of science and you should be proficient in it anyway. However, the one thing is to write in English and another is to write in English well. Moreover, even not every native English speaker who writes well in English can write well for academic purpose. So here are some tips that we have collected from the experience of our scientists:
1. Read a lot.
Read scientific content in English written by native speakers: books, magazines, encyclopedias, academic journals, etc. Read every day. Read as much as possible to become more familiar with grammar, sentence structure and usage of word and phrases. Highlight unknown parts to check them in a dictionary later.
2. Compound your own dictionary.
This tip comes up from the previous one. Write down unknown words you come across during reading. Look through your notes from time to time until you become absolutely familiar with new vocabulary.
3. Memorize words in context.
Context is important. Knowing hundreds of separate words is useless, unless you know how to use them in proper context.
4. Be careful with articles.
“A/an”, and “the” are so commonly used articles, and sometimes so tricky. Check with grammar the references on them to be sure that you use them correct.
5. Passive Voice.
Scientific English writing has its own specialties and the use of passive voice is one of them. Usually passive voice is considered poor English in some forms of writing, for example, news, novels and blogs. Even so, the use of passive voice is acceptable and even encouraged in scientific writing.
It means that the pronouns “I” and “we” are better to change to passive voice.
6. Don’t be afraid of mistakes.
Here a quotation by American writer Peter McWilliams comes to mind: “Mistakes, obviously, show us what needs improving. Without mistakes, how would we know what we had to work on?” Noticing and admitting your mistakes helps you improve your scientific writing.
7. Not sure? Ask a native speaker.
For a non-native speaker it is sometimes hard to conclude if the phrase sounds natural. However, the native speaker might not explain you the particular grammar rule, but determine if the sentence sounds correctly instead. The native English speaker’s critique is the best thing you can get on your writing work.
8. Be confident.
After all, English is your foreign language, the knowledge of which comes with practice. And as you may know, practice makes perfect.
Did you find our tips useful? Do you have anything to add? You can leave your comment on our Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter pages.