Photo by Jakub Dziubak on Unsplash

I was getting ready to hop the commuter train home from work and I could not stop thinking about a personal statement I was editing for a graduate student. This applicant was accomplished by all objective measures — and yet — the language throughout her personal statement was subtly, but consistently, disempowering. Her sentences kept turning over and over again in my mind: I was able to, I was given the opportunity to, I was being trained in.


Following this one rule will improve your academic document

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My two-year-old daughter recently fell in love with a finger puppet. A mouse finger puppet. As a result, we have all become very aware of this said mouse (or as she squeals: mouse!). Any time it gets lost amidst the other stuffed animals, crafts and crayons strewn about the house, she systematically goes up to each adult and asks earnestly: “Mouse go?”

What I love most about this question is that it contains the two essential ingredients of a viable sentence and nothing more: one subject (mouse) + one verb (go)…


Photo by Chris Hall on Unsplash

They were once active verbs, full of life —

Analyze. Investigate. Observe. Explore.

Somewhere along the academic writing process, however, a science writer sucked the brains out of these vivid verbs, and transformed them into lifeless abstract “zombie nouns” — more formally known as nominalizations.

Analysis. Investigation. Observation. Exploration.

Perhaps the scientist who sacrificed her active verbs thought she was making her text sound more professional, more intellectual, more — academic.

It’s an unfortunate and all-too-common mistake. If the document does ends up sounding more academic, it’s likely academic in the worst way possible — it probably resembles academese.


Your science should tell a story. I’m here to defend this oft-quoted and oft-misunderstood piece of advice.

Ready to write up your scientific results into a manuscript? Congratulations! Before you launch into writing up the results of your project, do make sure you have a clear scientific story in mind.

Why?

Narrative techniques effectively communicate information [1–3]. And scientific information is no exception.

Not everyone is a fan of narrative structure, however. Especially not when it comes to scientific manuscripts. Many scientists bristle and push back against the advice to “tell a science story” because they are legitimately concerned. They worry and argue that story-telling is at odds with objective truth-telling.

If we project the features of…


Coding boot camps are becoming increasingly popular, and there are publicly validated data sets that we analyzed to understand what happens to these graduates. In a two part series, ConductScience looks at the 1) outcomes and 2) cost benefit analysis.

Content created by the Conduct Science media team

Wondering whether attending a coding bootcamp is worth your time and money or whether you’re better off going the traditional route? Here’s what you’ll actually spend in terms of your hours and dollars:


Coding boot camps are becoming increasingly popular, and there are publicly validated data sets that we analyzed to understand what happens to these graduates. In a two part series, ConductScience looks at the 1) outcomes and 2) cost benefit analysis.

Content created by the Conduct Science media team

So you don’t have a computer science degree but you want to break into the tech industry. Maybe you’ve considered signing up for a bootcamp as a way to get your foot in the door. But what really happens after graduates complete bootcamp training?

Opinions on whether coding bootcamps are worth your time and money have been hotly debated for…


When you run an experiment, you — as the scientist — know what results you’re looking for. Even if your hypothesis doesn’t bear out exactly as you may have predicted (or hoped), you likely know what an opposite/negative result implicates for your science. To your reader, it may not be so clear.

After spending a paragraph explaining the results of Experiment X, you need to tell your reader what those results all mean. Some writing coaches refer to this sentence at the end of the paragraph as the interpretive sentence.


Written by Amelia Douglass, PhD for Neurocrew

Science benefits everyone. We don’t need to look further than our phone screens, the vaccines we receive at doctor’s office or biodegradable plastics to see and feel the ways in which science touches our day-to-day. Yet, distrust in science is high and a positive attitude towards science is declining among US citizens (1).

Climate change is accepted by 50% of the American public compared to 87% of scientists (1). Genetically modified foods are considered safe by 37% of Americans compared to 88% of scientists (1). The lack of trust in science is problematic…


Written by Kathryn Vaillancourt for Neurocrew

For a lot of us, science can be isolating; when I started first started grad school, there were days when I got home only to realize that I hadn’t spoken to another human in hours! I still dread the idea of spending hours alone preparing stock solutions.

Early on in my training, I realized what I most looked forward to were monthly journal clubs, where peers and mentors methodically reviewed newly published research.


Written by Maria Montchal, PhDc for Neurocrew

Imagine you’ve written a news article or blog post about your research. Now imagine you catch someone at the library reading that article on their laptop. After reading the first few paragraphs, they begin scrolling rapidly to the bottom of the page and then — they close the tab.

This is the worst nightmare of a science communicator.

I write scripts for a science radio show hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, called The Loh Down on Science. …

Anahita Vieira, PhD

Neuroscientist. Senior Science Writer by day. Creative writer by night. Twin/NICU Mom 24/7. But first, coffee.

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