The writing challenges PhD students face

Writing your PhD thesis – which is likely to be the single biggest piece of written work you’ve done – presents many challenges. When you’re in the midst of a long academic paper, surrounded by people with opinions and feedback and under pressure to publish, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But don’t lose hope! Here … Read the full story

Bad vs. good abstract

When people search through articles on ScienceDirect, they may look at the table of contents of a journal or use the search function to find relevant articles. The title should tell them whether the article could be of interest, but to find out more they have to click through to see the abstract. As an … Read the full story

Why is English the main language of science?

English hasn’t always been the main language of science. Egyptian philosophers and stargazers told stories in hieroglyphs. Aristotle and Plato wrote books in Greek, which were then translated into Arabic by their followers. Then came the Romans – Pliny the Elder and Galen – writing in Latin. As the centuries passed, language evolved: people were … Read the full story

Common mistakes: apostrophe use

Apostrophe use differs depending on the language. In Dutch, for example, apostrophes are used for plurals: taxi’s, baby’s, pizza’s. But in English, the apostrophes in these words would indicate possession: the taxi’s light, the baby’s blanket, the pizza’s toppings. Misused apostrophes can make your writing look sloppy – something you definitely don’t want it to … Read the full story

Grammar rules

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Have you noticed that “overlook” and “oversee” have opposite meanings, but “look” and “see” mean the same thing? English is often considered one of the most difficult languages to learn. One reason for this could be some of the tricky grammar rules (or, rather, exceptions … Read the full story

Sharing a passion for science

How Cell Press’s CrossTalk connects people to the publisher For people who want to ask the Editor-in-Chief of Cell a question, geek out about octopuses and other sciencey things, or get a behind-the-scenes look at how one of the world’s biggest science journals runs, Cell Press’s official blog CrossTalk is the place to go. Written … Read the full story

The sentence not to start your paper with

The first sentence is vital in any piece of writing, including academic writing. It’s one of the first things a reader will see and it gives them a lasting first impression of your paper. It needs to draw the reader in and show them how important, interesting and relevant your research is. Think about some … Read the full story

National trends in word use

Academic publishing today is largely in English (about 80%, according to some estimates) but researchers are certainly not exclusively English speaking; much of the literature is written by non-native English speakers. A person’s native language can have an effect on the way they write and the words they use to express their points in English, … Read the full story