Avoiding common language issues

Without even realizing it, readers will expect certain information to appear at certain places within a manuscript. This includes where information is provided in a sentence, in a paragraph, and in the sections of an article. If this information is not provided where the readers expect to find it, they will likely become confused and will not understand your ideas clearly. By considering these reader expectations, you can greatly improve the readability of your manuscript.

Gopen and Swan [1] outlined a logical way for organizing ideas within a manuscript that can improve the readability of your writing. The key concepts they proposed include the following:

• using short sentences
• keeping the verb and subject close together in sentences
• using the topic and stress positions to organize and link ideas within and between sentences

The following pages provide further information about these three concepts and how to apply these to your manuscript. We also highlight issues that we see commonly appearing in manuscripts submitted from non-native English speakers and provide examples on correct usage. 

[1] Gopen, George D and Swan, Judith A “The Science of Scientific Writing” American Scientist Nov-Dec 1990: 550–558 http://www.or.org/files/Gropen,%20Science%20Writing.pdf

(Source: or.org)