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Writing Science in English:

Abstract Writing and


Common Errors
科学写作:
科学写作:摘要撰写及常见错误
November 2007
by Chad Walker (王可杰)
理文编辑总编辑)
理文编辑总编辑
(理文编辑总编辑
http://www.liwenbianji.cn 1
Importance of Abstracts
摘要的重要性
• Let reader decide whether to read further
让读者决定是否继续阅读
读者决定是否继续阅读
• Is the 1st part to be read, therefore it sets up positive or negative expectations
for the remainder of the work
摘要是文章的第一部分
第一部分,关系着读者对全文的印象好坏
第一部分 印象好坏
• Should encourage readers who decide the topic is relevant to read further
应当吸引读者继续阅读正文
应当吸引读者
• If poorly written, discourages reader from reading further
写的差的摘要会导致读者停止继续阅读
• Should be aimed at both readers who will read the
abstract only and those that will read the complete paper.
摘要应当既能吸引单纯的摘要读者
单纯的摘要读者,又能吸引阅读全文的读者
单纯的摘要读者 阅读全文的读者
Tips for Writing an Abstract
摘要写作技巧
• Be clear and brief and try to avoid abbreviations.
简明扼要 避免使用缩写
简明扼要,
• Describe methods and results in the past tense.
方法与结果
方法 结果部分使用
结果 过去时
• Discuss conclusions in the present tense; avoid perfect tenses.
讨论部分使用
讨论 现在时;避免使用完成时
• State document contents in present tense.
文献内容使用
文献内容 现在时
• The use of I and we is preferable in many journals to the third person and the
passive.
使用第一人称,而不使用第三人称和被动语态
• Do not use synonyms e.g. if you use “housing” in one sentence, do not change it to
“casing” in another. The reader may think you are discussing two different things.
不要使用同义词,否则读者会认为你在指两个不同的事物
不要使用同义词
• The abstract should be understandable when read separately from the paper (i.e.,
stand-alone)
即使在没有阅读全文的情况下,摘要也可以作为一个独立的部分为读者所读懂
读懂
The “Code” of Writing Scientific Abstracts
科技文章摘要写作“代码”
Think of each sentence as representing one of the following “codes” based on its
function: 根据功能,每个句子分别代表以下“
“代码”
代码”
B = Background information 背景信息

P = Principal activity/purpose/scope/aims of study 主要活动/目的/范围/研究目标

M = Information about methodology 方法

F = Main findings/results 重要发现/结果

C = Main implications/conclusions of the work 重要意义/研究结论

S = Suggestions/recommendations 提示/建议

*Tip: B, P, M, F, China Science!


Adapted from Weissburg and Buker (1994)
Exercise: Evaluating Abstracts: Biology
Stimulus-induced oscillations in plant cell cytosolic free calcium. Ca2+ is implicated as a
second messenger in the response of stomata to a range of stimuli. However, the mechanism
by which stimulus-induced increases in guard cell cytosolic free Ca2+ ([Ca2+] are transduced
into different physiological responses remains to be explained. Oscillations in [Ca2+] may
provide one way in which this can occur. We used photometric and imaging techniques to
examine this hypothesis in guard cells of Commelina communis. External Ca2+ ([Ca2+]e),
which causes an increase in [Ca2+], was used as a closing stimulus. The total increase in
[Ca2+] was directly related to the concentration of [Ca2+]e, both of which correlated closely
with the degree of stomatal closure. Increases were oscillatory in nature, with the pattern
of the oscillations being dependent on the concentration of [Ca2+]e. At 0.1 mM, [Ca2+]e
induced symmetrical oscillations. In contrast, 1.0 mM [Ca2+]e induced asymmetric
oscillations. Oscillations were stimulus-dependent and modulated by changing [Ca2+]e.
Experiments using Ca2+ channel blockers and Mn2+-quenching studies suggested a role for
Ca2+ influx during the oscillatory behavior without excluding the possible involvement of Ca2+
release from intracellular stores. These data suggest a mechanism for encoding the
information required to distinguish between a number of different Ca2+-mobilizing stimuli in
guard cells, using stimulus-specific patterns of oscillations in [Ca2+].
Analysis of Abstract - Biology
Stimulus-induced oscillations in plant cell cytosolic free calcium. Ca2+ is implicated as a
second messenger in the response of stomata to a range of stimuli. [B1-well focused intro to
research topic] However, the mechanism by which stimulus-induced increases in guard cell
cytosolic free Ca2+ ([Ca2+] are transduced into different physiological responses remains to be
explained. [B2-gap in understanding] Oscillations in [Ca2+] may provide one way in which this can
occur. [B3-hypothesis] We used photometric and imaging techniques to examine this hypothesis in
guard cells of Commelina communis. [P, M1-NB active rather passive]. External Ca2+ ([Ca2+]e),
which causes an increase in [Ca2+], was used as a closing stimulus. [M2] The total increase in [Ca2+]
was directly related to the concentration of [Ca2+]e, both of which correlated closely with the
degree of stomatal closure. [F1] Increases were oscillatory in nature, with the pattern of the
oscillations being dependent on the concentration of [Ca2+]e. [F2] At 0.1 mM, [Ca2+]e induced
symmetrical oscillations. In contrast, 1.0 mM [Ca2+]e induced asymmetric oscillations. [F3]
Oscillations were stimulus-dependent and modulated by changing [Ca2+]e.[F4] Experiments using
Ca2+ channel blockers and Mn2+-quenching studies suggested a role for Ca2+ influx during the
oscillatory behavior without excluding the possible involvement of Ca2+ release from intracellular
stores. [C1] These data suggest a mechanism for encoding the information required to distinguish
between a number of different Ca2+-mobilizing stimuli in guard cells, using stimulus-specific
patterns of oscillations in [Ca2+]. [C, S-broader/possible focus for further research]
Case Studies: Problems Specific to
International Authors
案例研究:
案例研究:国际作者面临的特殊问题

• In addition to properly formatting their abstracts,


international authors must also pay attention to the
proper use of English writing conventions and
grammar.
除了摘要的格式正确外,还要注意正确使用英文写作习惯和语法
正确使用英文写作习惯和语法

• Next we look at some actual case studies taken from


edited abstracts.
案例研究
Edited Abstract Sample 1
编辑后的摘要-例1
Abstract 1 Common Error Example
常见错误

• “…complex adsorbed at the hanging mercury drop


electrode (HMDE)…”

→ “…complex adsorbed to a hanging


mercury drop electrode (HMDE)…”

EXPLANATION: first mention


首次提到
Abstract 1 Common Error Example
常见错误

• “…linearly with the increment of the


concentrations…”

→ “…linearly with increasing concentrations…”

EXPLANATION: not concise


不简练
Abstract 1 Common Error Example
常见错误
• “…not in … such as L-dopa, epinephrine ...
pyrogallic acid (PA), and gallic acid (GA).”

→ “…not in … such as L-dopa, epinephrine ...


pyrogallic acid (PA), or gallic acid (GA).”

EXPLANATION: in a list, negative = “or”,


positive = “and”
在列举时,否定的用“or”,肯定的用 “and”
Edited Abstract Sample 2
编辑后的摘要-例2
Abstract 2 Common Error Example
常见错误
• “…investigation of three trimeric aluminum(III)-
water species: …”

→ “…investigate the three trimeric aluminum(III)-


water species: …”

EXPLANATION: limited/exact number = “the”;


unlimited = not necessary
说明:可数名词之前需要用“the”;不可数名词不一定必需
Abstract 2 Common Error Example
常见错误

• “…properties of triangular Al3 structure are…”


→ “…the properties of the triangular Al3 structure are…”

EXPLANATION: 1) with “X of X”, “the” is required in most


cases. 2) “the” is used with things already mentioned in the
text (Al3 )
说明:1、使用“X of X”形式, “the” 多数情况下是必须的
2、 “the” 用于指文中已经提及的事情,比如Al3
Abstract 2 Common Error Example
常见错误
• “…according to “Core-link” model or “Cage-like”
Keggin-Al13 model.”

→ “…according to the “Core-link” model or the


“Cage-like” Keggin-Al13 model.”

EXPLANATION: use “the” in front of the names of


unique models/methods, etc.
说明:在特定的方程式、方法等的名称之前用“the”
Edited Abstract Sample 3
编辑后的摘要-例3
Abstract 3 Common Error Example
常见错误

• “To cope with the situations with time- and space-


dependent…”

→ “To manage situations with time- and space-


dependent…”

EXPLANATION: use clear and concise language


要使用清晰简练的语言
Abstract 3 Common Error Example
常见错误
• “This approach not only can introduce unsteady and
non-uniform body forces into momentum equations, but
be able to add…”

→ “This approach can not only introduce unsteady and


non-uniform body forces into momentum equations, but
is also able to add…”

EXPLANATION: Proper grammar: “not only…, but also”


正确的语法形式是:“not only …, but also …”
Abstract 3 Common Error Example
常见错误
• “…can be guaranteed in incompressible limit.”

→ “…can be guaranteed in incompressible


limits.”

EXPLANATION: articles and nouns must


match: “in XX limits” or “in (a) XX limit”
冠词和名词必须搭配使用
Edited Abstract Sample 4
编辑后的摘要-例4
Abstract 4 Common Error Example
常见错误

• “…were not influenced obviously.”

→ “…were not obviously influenced.”

EXPLANATION: placing adverbs directly before what


they modify is usually clearer for the reader.
将副词直接放在所修饰的词语之前
之前通常会使读者更清楚。
之前
Abstract 4 Common Error Example
常见错误
• “deteriorated sludge settlability after…” AND
“aggravation of sludge settleability under…”

→ “deteriorated sludge settlability after…” AND


“aggravation of sludge settlability under…”

EXPLANATION: When words can be spelled 2 ways,


choose one and be consistent.
如果单词有两种拼写方式,选择其中一种并且保持一致。
Abstract 4 Common Error Example
常见错误
• “So TCP is a better uncoupler for sludge reduction…”

→ “Accordingly, TCP is a better uncoupler for sludge


reduction…”

EXPLANATION: Use language appropriate for formal


science writing. Instead of “so,” use “accordingly,”
“thus” etc.
科学写作中应使用适当的正式语言,在这里不使用“so”,而使用
“accordingly” “thus”等词语。
Edited Abstract Sample 5
编辑后的摘要-例5
Abstract 5 Common Error Example
常见错误
• “As one of popular used geophysical tools, the
…”

→ ““As one of the most commonly used


geophysical tools, the …”

EXPLANATION: “one of …” requires “the” (“one of


the …”); before a verb (“used”), an adverb must
be used.
“one of …” 后面需要加“the” ;在动词之前,如
“used”,一定要用副词。
Abstract 5 Common Error Example
常见错误
• “…imaging section by the parameter of the
secondary differential.”

→ “…imaging section using the parameter of the


secondary differential.”

EXPLANATION: use “using” to show what was used


to do something. Also avoid using “by using” (the
extra word is unnecessary)
使用“using” 以表明某物用来做某事。还要避免使用
“by using” ,额外的词是多余的
Abstract 5 Common Error Example
常见错误
• “…has more ability to find the most available
resolution…”

→ “… can be used to obtain the optimal


resolution…”

EXPLANATION: use proper, scientific verbs and


word choice
使用正确的、科学的动词,词语选择要适合于科学表

Edited Abstract Sample 6
编辑后的摘要-例6
Abstract 6 Common Error Example
常见错误
• “…tests were carried out …oxidized sample exceeds
2200 C with a …composites were -0.23mg/s…”

• → “… tests were carried out…oxidized sample


exceeded 2200 C with a …composites were -
0.23mg/s…”

EXPLANATION: Matching verb tense


动词时态应一致
Abstract 6 Common Error Example
常见错误
• “No macro-crack and spallation were detected after
oxidation…”

→ “No macro-cracks or spallation were detected after


oxidation…”

EXPLANATION: When used in a negative sense, lists of


things are linked by “or”, not “and.”
否定句中所列举事物要使用“or”,而不是“and”
Abstract 6 Common Error Example
常见错误
• “…scanning electron microscopy Energy Dispersive
Spectrometry and X-ray diffraction, and the
oxidation…”

→ “Energy Dispersive Spectrometry (SEM-EDS) and X-


ray diffraction (XRD), and the oxidation…”

EXPLANATION: Common abbreviations can be


introduced in the Abstract, and should be if appearing
more than once.
在摘要中应介绍常用缩写词,尤其是在多次出现的情况下
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