Three Academic & Scientific Styles and When To Use Each of Them

Engaging Journal Readers with the Right Style
It goes without saying that any academic or scientific author who wants to be taken seriously should aim to write as well as possible, employing correct grammar, spelling all words accurately, using pronouns and abbreviations clearly and communicating with as much precision and subtlety as possible. However, the style of writing expected in a discipline or by a particular journal can differ markedly from that expected in another discipline or by another journal, and often these expectations amount to requirements that must be met in order to achieve publication and citation success.
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In the hard sciences, for instance, clarity and precision are central, and a style that is as simple and straightforward as possible is usually desirable. Such writing involves the detailed description of methodology, conditions, results and implications, and accuracy is more important than eloquence. Eloquence is never out of place, of course, but decisions about the validity of a study and its conclusions will depend to a large degree on how effectively the necessary information is reported, and potential readers will decide to consult that study based on how its content is summarised in the title, abstract and other readily searchable parts or descriptions of the book or article. Clear communication of facts is the goal, and while conjecture and generalisation should be heralded as such, even those aspects of a text should generally be presented in a crisp and clear scientific style.
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In the humanities, on the other hand, an eloquent and sophisticated writing style is often expected, and such a style can effectively communicate the subjective, conjectural and nuanced nature of the information and argument presented. In a literary study, for instance, an author may borrow, emulate, play on or overturn the language of the literature discussed, and this use of earlier texts can create a subtle commentary on not only those texts, but also the author’s main argument and discussion. In a historical study, considerable time and space might be dedicated to revealing and analysing the many possible interpretations of a chronicle written centuries ago, in which case the goal is to open various possibilities rather than narrowing the perspective to obvious facts, though that, too, can be a goal of such discussions. Word play is often welcomed in the titles and headings for studies in the humanities, with the potential for subtle and varying meanings attracting readers.

In the soft sciences, a balance between the two styles is often adopted, with a straightforward scientific approach sometimes dominating when the methods and results are presented, and a more suggestive humanistic style being employed when the goal is discussion of results and implications. There are no hard and fast rules, of course, as to when and where a particular style will be appropriate, but reading extensively within a discipline, especially works on your topic and/or published by the journal or publisher to whom you hope to submit your writing, will provide you with the models you need to conform your own writing style to the professional expectations and requirements of your field.

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Our scientific proofreading services for the authors of a wide variety of scientific journal papers are especially popular, but we also offer manuscript proofreading services and have the experience and expertise to proofread and edit manuscripts in all scholarly disciplines, as well as beyond them. We have team members who specialise in medical proofreading services, and some of our experts dedicate their time exclusively to PhD proofreading and master’s proofreading, offering research students the opportunity to improve their use of formatting and language through the most exacting PhD thesis editing and dissertation proofreading practices. Whether you are preparing a conference paper for presentation, polishing a progress report to share with colleagues, or facing the daunting task of editing and perfecting any kind of scholarly document for publication, a qualified member of our professional team can provide invaluable assistance and give you greater confidence in your written work.

If you are in the process of preparing an article for an academic or scientific journal, or planning one for the near future, you may well be interested in a new book, Guide to Journal Publication, which is available on our Tips and Advice on Publishing Research in Journals website.

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