This article takes a look at a couple of filler phrases in research articles. As with most writing, these phrases can be important. However, when facing a word limit or looking to reduce a paragraph to a more manageable size, such phrases can often be removed without affecting meaning. (The abstract is a particularly important section to watch for unnecessary words.) Without further ado, here are two phrases to watch out for when writing your next paper:
“We found that…”
When you find this phrase in your writing, ask yourself, "Is it necessary to remind the readers that I'm describing my results?" In some cases, you may wish to contrast your findings to those of others (as in the Introduction or Discussion). However, when this phrase appears in the context of your Results section, see how the sentences reads without it:
- We found that neither group showed a statistically significant increase in levels of adrenaline over the course of the experiment.
- Neither group showed a statistically significant increase in levels of adrenaline over the course of the experiment.
“It is known that…”
Like the first example, consider whether you absolutely need to remind readers that the next piece of information reflects the current understanding. There may be times when you are expressly listing prior hypotheses, but these will likely be in the past tense or use softer verbs like considered or thought. In other cases, see whether the reader will still have a clear understanding without the additional words:
- There are currently known to be seven components of the ATC complex.
- There are seven components of the ATC complex.
We hope that this post will help you think critically about phrases found in your writing, leading you to reduce word count wherever needed. If you have questions about specific passages in your writing, you can always reach us at [email protected]. Best wishes!