tightening up your sentences – cut the bloat

Excellent advice for early careers researchers

patter

We all know what bloat is. If something is bloated it is swollen, puffed up, flabby, distended, enlarged. Right now, we probably associate bloat with eating too much over the festive season. But bloat also happens in academic writing.

A lot of academic writing is on the bloated side. You can pick up almost any academic journal and find papers where whole paragraphs are stuffed to the gills with excess phrases and words. Of course, academic writing is not the only kind of writing that suffers from word-inflation. Legal and bureaucratic writing over-indulges in the same wordy overkill as some academic writing.

And when a supervisor or reviewer suggests that academic writing needs to be tightened up, it’s likely that they are actually saying that they’ve noticed a lot of bloat. They’ve met a text that takes up too much space – and much more time than they wanted to…

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