This article offers a few suggestions for ways to cut extra words out of your manuscripts. Although many online journals do not restrict the length of papers, a number of journals still have word or page limits, and it's sometimes tough to meet them. And even if your target journal does not have word limits, it is still advisable to keep your writing as concise as possible so your readers can focus on your research, not your text. Here are some ideas for keeping your manuscript concise:
The adverb very is one of the most common terms in English writing. However, it is not always a necessary part of a sentence. In many cases, a single adjective can be substituted for another adjective modified by very (for example, "a drastic change" instead of "a very large change" or "the sensitivity was excellent" instead of "the sensitivity was very good").
In English, there is always a fun new word to learn; this week I came across the term pleonasm, which is appropriate for this post. Pleonasms are words that can be removed from a sentence without altering meaning. Examples for academic writing include absolutely essential (which can be captured simply as essential) or even saying ISSN number when the abbreviation already refers to an International Standard Serial Number. You can find some other examples of redundant phrases in one of our other tips.
Hedge terms are words that imply uncertainty (e.g., may or putative). In general, one such term per sentence is enough to convey the concept of uncertainty. Having more than one can lead to redundancies. For instance, the sentence "the new compound may potentially reverse oxidative damage" can be shortened to just "the new compound may reverse oxidative damage." You can see some other examples of reducing redundancy related to hedge terms in another article.
We hope that this tip gives you some additional ideas for keeping your text as concise as possible. If you have questions about a specific term or sentence, write us an email. AJE wishes you the best of luck!