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Thread: Technical Writing for Peer-Reviewed Journals

  1. #1 Technical Writing for Peer-Reviewed Journals 
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    I'm looking for sources on style details for journals.

    Many journals don't give much guidance to potential authors.

    There are issues such as the following:
    Suppose one is doing a literature review. One writes: "Smith (2003) did a series of experiments and originated the Smith-Jorn model, which has grown in popularity."

    The experiments are clearly in the past, but the Smith-Jorn model is still popular.

    Next should one write: "The Smith-Jorn model has three variables," or "The Smith-Jorn model had three variables"?


    That's a very simple example -- I would probably go with the present. However, that would entail mixing past and present tense in one paragraph, which I consider to be bad style.

    Does anyone have favorite style guides --e.g. Chicago Manual of Style or something similar? I can definitely say that the AP Style Book is *not* adequate to guide scientific writing.


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  3. #2  
    Forum Sophomore Cuntinuum's Avatar
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    Well if it's still popular I can see present being fine if used. If it's not well known, and especially if a more accepted model is out then past tense is acceptable I think.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Published data/conclusion is always in present tense.

    So it is 'has'.

    If you write up your own research you do your own stuff in past tense.

    So if you had your own new data mixed in you would write: we showed an extra variable...

    Although nowadays style is a bit more flexible.

    I would suggest to read a few articles already published in the journal.

    If it is a decent journal they will have a language editor who will check it all in the end anyway.

    It's advised to write it properly first though, because you don't want to piss off the editor/reviewers with sloppy English.
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  5. #4  
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    Reading previous journal articles mostly makes me notice the grammar errors that managed to get past several layers of proofreaders. The fact that many of the folks writing this stuff don't have English as a first language is a factor.

    Thanks for the feedback.
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  6. #5 Re: Technical Writing for Peer-Reviewed Journals 
    Forum Professor serpicojr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rick.taiwan
    However, that would entail mixing past and present tense in one paragraph, which I consider to be bad style.
    It's fine to switch tenses in a paragraph. I even think it's fine to switch tenses in a single sentence if the occasion calls for it.
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