“All start is heavy!” How does one write scientific texts in English? Our expert reveals tips for the sovereign writing of term papers, term papers, project work, etc.
An exciting seminar is offered at your university, but it is in English. Are you showing it?
You could do a semester abroad, but you have to write all the chores in English. Do you dare to do this?
You are in the middle of the promotion and create your first project poster – in English. What do you have to consider?
These seven tips will help you to successfully write scientific texts in English – and avoid typically German constructions.
Writing in English – Grammar
Scientific work: Talking verbs
The German language loves the nominal style. It is about achievement of goals , provision of services <or> profit maximization . The English language is more the verb, the action words, at heart. It’s about> attaining goals , providing services <and> maximizing profits .
Verbs make your text more dynamic and easier to read – which is contrary to some opinions in scientific texts but beneficial.
Scientific work: In active writing
Dynamic also has an active writing style. If you learned at school that scientific writing should use the passive, erase that memory from your memory. English texts are as active as possible.
A tip to avoid the passive is to turn your text into a acting actor: This paper aims to … , This essay challenges … , and my favorite verb for the humanities and social sciences:> This study explores … . Your results are also active: Our results illustrate … , The findings demonstrate … , Our study suggests … .
Guidelines for scientific papers in English
English in a nutshell: the KISS principle
Keep It Short and Simple (KISS) could be attached to the screen as Post-It. Especially in scientific texts, the sentences are short and crisp. They contain many technical terms and foreign words, but the structure is simple. They avoid flowery and poetic language. As a rule of thumb for the humanities and social sciences applies: the more foreign words in the sentence, the simpler the sentence structure should be.
It is not a sign of bad English to write clear and simple sentences, but a sign that you want to make reading easier for your readership. Clarity shows that you understand the topic. It also shows that you are trying to convey your thesis comprehensibly and convincingly.
The entry in English: exciting introduction
Why is the topic of your work important? Tell that to the reader quite explicitly. Not only do we fight malnutrition, but we are in a race against time to eradicate the global scourge of undernutrition. Not only is the terracotta army in China the subject of your archaeological work, but it is ‘one of the most emblematic archaeological sites in the world’.
Writing a scientific paper in English: The Absatract
The type of text that is most commonly written in the study is the abstract. What belongs in there?
Which elements of your work are the most important for this summary?
Try to count on five fingers.
Thumb: topic. What is the main topic of the work? Why is that important now?
Index finger: focus. What aspect of this theme do you explore in this text? What is your research question?
Middle finger: method. What did you do? For theoretical work: which theories were important?
Ring finger: Results. What are the key findings?
Little finger: So what? What do the results mean? What conclusions do you draw? Which broader relevance do you have?
If you describe these five elements (one sentence per finger), you already have your abstract.
Writing in English: Gender neutral
In German it is still common to speak of “students”, “professors” or “academics”. The male form should include all persons. In English, on the other hand, that’s a mortal sin! A sentence like “A child’s ability to learn depends on his …” sounds like the text from the 1960s. Fortunately, English has a nice solution that is not possible in German: they. Childrens’ ability to learn depends on their … <
Since the plural form is gender neutral, you can almost always use it in more general terms. Also useful: Write ‘humanity’ instead of ‘mankind’, ‘chairperson’ instead of ‘chairman’ and ‘members of Congress’ instead of ‘Congressmen’. Or use the> singular they <. In Vanity Fair, Thackarey used> they <for one person:> A person can not help their birth.
Tip for writing scientific papers in English: Read other scientific papers!
How do the professionals in your field write?
How do you formulate in subject-specific text types such as essays, empirical papers, case studies, “thought papers”, lab reports, posters or exposés?
Exercise in a targeted reading-reading style (reading-for-genre) allows you to tap into the language of your field and use it confidently in the text types relevant to you. You’re used to reading for content.
Here it is about to sift texts for their subject-specific writing style and their technical formulations. For example, if you want to create an exposé for your bachelor thesis, master thesis or dissertation, search online for authentic exposés in your subject area.
Please befriend students or your profs to provide you with old (successful!) Exposés. Choose three that you like.
How are they structured?
Look for structural elements such as scope, sections, citation. But look also for phrases: how active are the lyrics written?
Can you speak of ‘prove’, as in mathematics, or do your area use more cautious phrases like ‘suggests’, ‘indicates’ or ‘could possibly’.
Are there phrases that could be useful for your exposé, for example, the research question “The chief questions I want to investigate …”, “By examining [X], this study aims to provide answers to [Y] <?
This is about finding out how scientific English is actually used on successful texts. Anyone who does this makes writing easier.