English for Scientists 2022

English for Scientists 2022

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Welcome to English for Scientists. This page contains the daily Journal update, with a new post every weekday.

We will cover different scientific activities each week, from presenting seminars to writing up your research in a full-lenght research article. We will break down writing a full article across several weeks. Other weeks will cover writing a review or presenting a poster at a conference. We will continue to cover different aspects of a researchers work that needs to be presented in English.

Within each week we will look at different aspects of presenting in English, such as grammar, phrases, writing style and language construction. We will highlight many phrases that you can use in your work to aid your writing and presenting. We will use real live work that has been written and presented as examples.

Because learning English is not a one-off exercise, but a matter of continual practice this Journal is a Daily Journal covering many aspects of English used in science and research that we will return to over again. This will help you to solidfy and retain knowledge of the language over time. The daily delivery of English that you can read and understand in 15 minutes will make it easy for you to fit into your daily life. It is designed to be easy for you to get through quickly once a day and will include a short, fun interactive test each day to help you retain the knowledge.

We hope you enjoy using these daily entries – the first four lessons of the first two weeks are free for you to try. Start your subscription with four week free trial here.


Writing a review – day 1: review structure and useful phrases

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Introduction Writing a review of other people’s research is a great way to get started with writing about Science in English. It will get you to read and evaluate scientific work and help you to understand when something is well written or poorly written and make you more familiar with phrases and vocabulary. It can [...]

Writing a review – day 2: uncountable nouns and useful phrases

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Uncountable nouns Uncountable nouns are words that do not have a plural form and most cannot be used with ‘a’ or ‘an’ before them and we cannot quantify them. In science and research quite few of the frequently used words are uncountable nouns such as ‘knowledge’ underlined in bold in the extract below. Other uncountable [...]

Writing a review – day 3: writing style and useful phrases

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Adopting a formal writing style Today we will consider some key elements of writing style. Often journals or your university department will have a style guide which will give you information about whether you should use British or American English, how to spell certain words, how to use hyphenation and punctuation and so on. If [...]

Writing a review – day 4: referring to yourself and more useful phrases

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Writing style - how to refer to yourself, the author, in your own work There are different conventions in different fields of science for referring to yourself in your written work, so you should look through some other papers in the field and then decide which is going to be best for your paper. However, [...]

Writing a review – day 5: full stops, commas and useful phrases for reviews

Introduction In today’s Journal entry we will look at some punctuation, focusing on full stops (UK) / periods (US) and commas. In later Digests we will look at colons and semicolons and also separately at hyphenation. The main focus of punctuation in your written research writing should simply be to enable the reader to understand [...]

Writing a paper, materials and methods – day 2: units and the personal form

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The International System of Units The International System of Units (SI) is the most used measurement system and frequently appears in the field of science. It uses the metric system based around the number 10. The system consists of base unts and a set of prefixes. Scientists are likely to need the names, symbols and [...]

Writing a paper, materials and methods – day 4: making definitions

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Writing definitions Defining things is a key part of scientific writing, you will often need to define methods, scales, objects, etc. in the course of writing up your research so that it is clear to the reader what research you have done, what your are intending to evaluate and how. In Academic research, particularly at [...]

Writing a paper, materials and methods – day 5: adjective order and useful phrases

Adjective order Today’s Journal will look at word order – specifically the order to arrange adjectives. There are other considerations for word order in sentences, which will be covered later on other days. There is a specific order in which adjectives describing a noun should be listed. Normally adjectives come before the noun: A thin [...]

Writing a paper, presenting results and data – day 2: writing captions

Introduction In today’s Journal we will look at writing captions for tables and figures. The generally accepted style, most likely in every language, is that captions for tables should go above the table and captions for figures should go below the figure. Many figures will need more information to make the figures easy to read [...]

Writing a paper, presenting results and data – day 3: describing data and increases and decreases

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Adverbs and adjectives for describing increases and decreases You can use the following words to describe increases or decreases: Considerable / considerably (meaning ‘large’) – e.g. there was a considerable increase in… Consistent / consistently (meaning ‘no change’) – e.g. the rate of infection was consistent across the different…. Down / downwards (meaning ‘move lower’) [...]

Writing a paper, presenting results and data – day 4: describing data and making comparisons

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Comparative adjectives comparative adjectives are often use to describe results. For example: Study group A showed a much greater improvement than group B. Table 1: Making comparative adjectives Type of adjective Rule Comparative adjective One-syllable adjectives +er short → shorter One-syllable adjectives that end: consonant + vowel + consonant double the last consonant +er big [...]

Writing a paper, results and discussion – day 1: stating your findings

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Stating how a finding is important In the results or discussion section of your article you will need to highlight why a finding is important. Likely there will be more than one result from your study, but you will need to explain to the readers what is consequential and why. The phrases below can help [...]

Writing a paper, results and discussion – day 2: negative results and contradictory findings

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Phrases for describing negative or contradictory findings Many studies result in contradictory findings or produce negative results that do not match your hypotheses. The results of these studies could still be interesting and worthwhile to document. Below are some useful phrases below for presenting these findings. Negative results There was no detectable effect on… There [...]

Writing a paper, results and discussion – day 4: structuring the discussion

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The key parts of a discussion section Writing the discussion section well is important to making the most of your research. It is therefore a difficult section to write because you need to make sure that you put across to readers what is valuable about your research and why it matters. Before you begin there [...]

Writing a paper, conclusion – day 1: structuring a conclusion

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Introduction You may not need a conclusion in all circumstances, if there weren’t any clear conclusions because of the nature of the results. Some authors and some journals may try to cover the conclusions in the discussion section. The Journal covered how a discussion section might be constructed with and without conclusions in an article [...]

Writing a paper, the conclusion – day 2: phrases for conclusions

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Phrases for conclusions Below are some of the common phrases you might need for conclusions broken out by the areas you need to cover. Concluding From these findings we conclude that… One conclusion of our findings is that… Our conclusion is that… There are several conclusions that can be drawn… Significance The significance of our [...]

Writing a paper, general style – day 4: writing style – collocations

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Collocations Today’s Journal article is not about conclusions, but instead covers an aspect of writing style that can be used in any area of your article. Collocations are combinations of words that are commonly used together. A collocation could be a combination of: adjective + noun adverb + adjective adverb + verb These words are [...]

Writing a paper, the conclusion – day 5: confusing words – pronouns

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Confusing pronouns In the English language common pronouns are some of the most frequently used words, but they are frequently misused. Here are some of them below. It’s and its ‘It’s’ with an apostrophe is an informal construction and is not used informal writing such as science articles. ‘It’s’ is short for it is. For [...]

Writing an abstract, and language and grammar – day 2: structuring an abstract

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Introduction The advice below applies to writing an abstract for a research article rather than an abstract presentation at a conference. The Journal has approached this part of writing a research paper last as normally it would be best to write the abstract after you have written all of the other sections of the paper. [...]

Language for research articles – day 1: language for speculating

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Language for speculating When writing about hypotheses and analysing research, it’s useful to know how to use a range of language for speculating. Modals of deduction We can use modal verbs of deduction to show how certain we are about something. Present form:                   modal verb + infinitive (without to) Past form:                         modal verb [...]

Language and grammar for research articles – day 2: word order for sentences

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Word order for sentences The basic word order for sentences in English that you need to follow is: Subject (the scientist) Verb (measured) Direct object (the leaves) Indirect object (the laboratory) The scientist measured the leaves in the laboratory. Note that you would not write: The scientist measured in the laboratory their leaves. This puts [...]

Language and grammar for research articles – day 3: more word order for sentences

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The subject and verb should be close to each other The verb contains important information about the subject and they should be near to each other to help the reader understand what the sentence is about. Delaying the verb can make the sentence hard to follow. For example, some authors have written: Our findings centered [...]

Language and grammar – day 2: expressing limitations and negative outcomes

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When writing or presenting your academic research, it is often necessary to discuss limitations and negative outcomes in a formal manner. The phrases below will be useful for doing this. Useful phrases and grammatical structures We can use the present perfect with ‘yet’ to show that an action is incomplete. The technology has not yet [...]

Language and grammar – day 3: language for discussing quantities

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In order to clearly explain the data and statistics in your article, it is often necessary to use a variety of language for discussing quantities. All of these phrases for discussing quantities can be followed by the preposition ‘of’. A range of (meaning: different things that can be considered to be the same type of [...]

Poster presentations – day 4: practicalities for presenting a poster at a conference

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Introduction Presenting a poster at a conference in a foreign language can feel like a difficult task. However, it’s important to remember that poster presentations usually take place in an informal setting which allows them to be social and interactive events. Poster presentations provide a great opportunity for you to promote yourself and your work. [...]

Poster presentations – day 5: language for poster presentations

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Language for presenting posters When someone appears interested in your poster, don’t simply hit them with the cold hard facts - try to tell a story with your poster. This enables you to make a more personal connection with your audience and maintain their interest. It’s important to take your viewer through your poster in [...]

Discussing research – day 1: how to structure a poster presentation

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Planning a poster Writing a poster in English as a second language is a second language is much easier if you have a clear idea of what you are aiming to do. The English will come more naturally. So be clear and spend some time planning before you write anything in English. Writing a poster [...]

Discussing research – day 2: language for arguing your case

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Introduction When presenting a poster or other research at a conference you will need language to put forward your opinions. This may not be that dissimilar to language that you would use in your research paper, however, spoken language may be more informal compared with the formal style of written research. The phrases that appear [...]

Discussing research – day 3: using definite and indefinite articles

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Articles are either definite or indefinite. They are before a noun to indicate the type of reference being made by the noun. The definite article is the. The indefinite article is a or an or some. The indefinite article a or an The article a / an is used when we don't specify the things or people we are talking about: I [...]

Discussing research – day 4: language for discussing data collection

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When discussing your research methods and results, it’s essential to explain how you gathered your data. In order to make your text less repetitive and more engaging for your reader, it’s useful to use synonyms where possible. Verbs for discussing data collection Gather - meaning: to look for and bring together information from different sources [...]

Data and language for research- day 1: language for reporting data

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When discussing your work, it’s important to be able to use a variety of language for reporting data. Language for reporting data A respondent (meaning: a person who responds to a survey, questionnaire or poll) A high proportion of respondents reported not knowing about the available funding. A subset (meaning: a small group which is [...]

Data and language for research – day 2: language for discussing data

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When discussing your work, it’s important to be able to use a variety of language for discussing data. Language for discussing data A discovery (meaning: something that is found or learned about for the first time) Pronunciation: The letter ‘o’ in this word has an /ʌ/ sound - /dɪˈskʌvəri/ This noun is often used with [...]

Data and language for research – day 3: word building

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In this article, we will look at some commonly used words in academic articles and explore how they change according to word type. Pay attention to any changes in pronunciation in order to improve accuracy when using these words in spoken English. Commonly used verbs To assume (meaning: to think that something is true even [...]

Data and language for research – day 4: using words with dependent prepositions

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The English language contains lots of prepositions that are used in a variety of different ways. Some nouns, verbs and adjectives are followed by a specific preposition. Unfortunately, there isn’t a strong set of rules about which preposition is used in each case but we can see some links between synonyms. Nouns followed by a [...]

Data and language for research – day 5: confusing words

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There are lots of words in English that look similar to words in other languages but have a different meaning. These are known as ‘false friends’. It’s also common for words in English to have more than one meaning, which can make things increasingly confusing. Here are some frequently used words that can sometimes be [...]