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Discussion: Overused words in scientific writing

Which words and phrases are scientists guilty of overusing?

Go to the profile of Clio Heslop
Aug 04, 2015
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24 Comments

Go to the profile of Kang Liu
Kang Liu over 1 year ago

The overused words in my daily writing are " use", "get", "improve", etc. Most repeating words are verbs, and some are adverbs like "very", "relatively" and "quite". I have been trying to avoid the usage of the same words in my writing.

Go to the profile of Hoa Nguyen
Hoa Nguyen over 1 year ago

Some repeated words:
- results, data, we, trend (n, proN)
- see, prove, show, convince, can, require (v)
- corresponding, about ... (other)

Go to the profile of Erica Pasini
Erica Pasini about 1 year ago

I try to change words when I have the feeling that I am using the same word to often by using synonyms. I look them up in Thesaurus. However, this means sometimes substituting a commonly used word such as "use" with a more complex word eg. "utilized" to avoid repetition. According to the Masterclass it seem preferable to use the same word more often if it is a short commonly used word and have repetition than looking for a synonym that may be less often used.

Go to the profile of Erica Pasini
Erica Pasini about 1 year ago

I try to change words when I have the feeling that I am using the same word to often by using synonyms. I look them up in Thesaurus. However, this means sometimes substituting a commonly used word such as "use" with a more complex word eg. "utilized" to avoid repetition. According to the Masterclass it seem preferable to use the same word more often if it is a short commonly used word and have repetition than looking for a synonym that may be less often used.

Go to the profile of Yingqi Hou
Yingqi Hou 2 months ago

Agree. Using the same word should be easier for the audience since they know exactly that you are talking about the same thing.

Go to the profile of Binyam Mogessie
Binyam Mogessie about 1 year ago

A number of phrases put me off when I'm reading papers and so I try to avoid using them myself. But these two really do my head in...
- taken together
- to this end

Go to the profile of Blake Gossard, MWC
Blake Gossard, MWC about 1 year ago

"Have/has been shown to"

Go to the profile of Susana Enríquez
Susana Enríquez about 1 year ago

For me the most repeating words are "therefore", "thus", "hence", "moreover", "furthermore".... they help to link different paragraphs, but are ofter overused

Go to the profile of Erna Sulistyowati
Erna Sulistyowati about 1 year ago

Go to the profile of Erna Sulistyowati
Erna Sulistyowati about 1 year ago

My overused words are ; show, get, compared with, significantly, therefore, study, decrease, increase.

Go to the profile of Carla Pinheiro
Carla Pinheiro about 1 year ago

In my view, there are many words that we cannot possibly avoid. However, words such as "novelty", "new", "innovation", "crucial" are overused.

Go to the profile of Mwila Hilton Mwaba
Mwila Hilton Mwaba about 1 year ago

Life would be so much better if 'therefore' had over 10 synonyms.

Go to the profile of Suenne Kim
Suenne Kim about 1 year ago

For me, respectively and additionally!

Go to the profile of Olive Onyemaobi
Olive Onyemaobi about 1 year ago

I tend to use the words "however", "significantly" and "it" a lot in my writings but am working on changing that.

Go to the profile of Chandan Narayan
Chandan Narayan about 1 year ago

My comment is more of a different issue! Often I see nature or Science or any other top journals are complex in their writing. I hardly see papers with simple language. But all the editors here ask it to be simple! I am really surprised! And wondering which one to follow. I do not know if all the people taking this course would agree with me?

Go to the profile of Ivan Palomares Carrascosa
Ivan Palomares Carrascosa about 1 year ago

connectors like "therefore, moreover, for example/instance", verbs like "present, describe, outline"...

Go to the profile of Jun Xu
Jun Xu about 1 year ago

Some frequenlty and may be over used words: "As a result", "therefore", "It is shown that ".

Go to the profile of EA Guntly
EA Guntly about 1 year ago

Scientific writing, like everything else, has its fashion trends, and a word that seems fashionable right now is "unpack."

To speak to Chandan's point, the ideas are complex, and the writing will reflect that. But the editors are speaking against needless complexity, where the writing interferes with the reader's understanding of the work.

Go to the profile of Bing Wang
Bing Wang 11 months ago

The overused worlds in my paper are"therefore", "in addition", "reduced" and, etc.

Go to the profile of Lei Pan
Lei Pan 11 months ago

and, which, we just like to make long sentences.

Go to the profile of Liliana Layer
Liliana Layer 11 months ago

I often use "significant". However, there is hardly any alternative to this word (if you are referring to statistically significant differences), so I often try to put several things that are significant into one sentence to save some of the "significant"s.

Go to the profile of Kuang Lele
Kuang Lele 11 months ago

use, show

Go to the profile of Yingqi Hou
Yingqi Hou 2 months ago

I always feel it hard to make 2 comparisons at a time. For example, 'The xxx of A is larger than that of B. The yyy of A is lower than that of B.'  I hesitate a lot whether to combine those together, but xxx and yyy are completely different things.

Go to the profile of Sandeep Singh Jain
Sandeep Singh Jain about 2 months ago

what is the best way to reduce usage of same words again and again?