Common mistakes in written discourse | Part 1

Academic writing | Common mistakes | Run-on sentences and other mistakes. An example from an abstract of a scientific article:

“As for criterion validity of the WORQ-FULL versus the WORQBRIEF, ICC was good (ICC=0.84; n=74), however Bland Altman plots indicated potential bias.”

A few mistakes were made here:

1. Here, ‘however’ is used as a conjunction to connect two main/independent clauses, which is a mistake as ‘however’ is not a conjunction but an adverb and adverbs serve a different purpose in English. #partsofspeech

Even though ‘however’ is typically used to indicate that the second point we wish to make contrasts with the first point and may be similar in that respect to a word like ‘but’, which is a conjunction, it cannot and should not be used in the same way.

And, as English is not a pidgin (contact) language without rules, those rules should be applied, even when English is used as a lingua franca, where deviations from standard English conventions may be expected. #partsofspeech #wordchoice

2. Another aspect of writing is the type of language used in a particular context, for example: informal versus formal writing. One way to make a text more formal is by changing vocabulary with more formal alternatives. Building on the previous point raised, although ‘however’ is similar in meaning as ‘but’ and using fewer conjunctions like ‘but’ can help in upgrading the level of formality of writing, it is and should be used differently in terms of placement in sentences. So, not all words can be used identically, even if and when their meaning is synonymous.

3. Finally, an adverb like ‘however’ should always be followed by a comma #punctuation

 

A possible rewrite:

“As for criterion validity of the WORQ-FULL versus the WORQBRIEF, ICC was good (ICC=0.84; n=74) but Bland Altman plots indicated potential bias.”

So, all of these mistakes could have been avoided by just using ‘but’ here, which would have been fine and would not require changing the text at all. It would also have made this text more informal, an additional benefit of that choice, which seems to be what academic journals are more open to these days, unlike what was previously taught to those who wrote for academic or scientific purposes.

These types of mistakes are also found in medical, academic writing, and business writing, so please take such insights offered here to your advantage in your own professional endeavours.

 

[Please note: a list should normally not include ‘spoken language’, like the introductory sentences that were used here, i.e. after each number in this list. However, this choice was made as a conversational tone is usually appreciated in blog posts that should not be used in business writing as different expectations should be met there.]

 

Interested in learning more about the mechanics of writing and in receiving expert feedback on your written work product so as to be able to start writing more accurately?

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