Join us as we mark 15 years of supporting the global research community. Learn how you can take part in the celebrations.

Powerful Verbs in Your Academic and Scientific Writing

Learn how to strengthen your research manuscript with strong, meaningful verbs.

This article takes a look at the keystone of the sentences in an academic paper: the verb. Verbs that convey clear actions help readers tackle dense sentences like those found in academic writing. Beyond the added clarity, authors also save space by using informative verbs. Today’s post provides some examples of verbs that can trim the word count of a research paper.

AJE's network of thousands of editors with research experience can help you find the right verbs (and other words) in your research paper.

In another article, we argue against the overuse of vague verbs such as is or has. But what are the alternatives? In English, many nouns can be turned into verbs. Consider whether using a verb form would eliminate the need to introduce the noun with a weaker verb. Take the following examples:

VerbLonger sentenceConcise sentence
AgreeThese results are in agreement with prior findings.These results agree with prior findings.
AnalyzeWe performed an analysis of several factors.We analyzed several factors.
ContradictOur results are in opposition to Johnson’s study.Our results contradict Johnson's study.
ImproveOur method is an improvement over prior systems.Our method improves on prior systems.
LocalizeAjeA was found to be present in the nucleus.AjeA localized to the nucleus.
SummarizeTable 1 presents a summary of the patient data.Table 1 summarizes the patient data.

We hope that this article has given you some ideas for making your writing as clear and concise as possible. If you have a question about a verb in your writing, we’d be happy to help. Contact us at [email protected]. Best of luck with your writing and research!

Share with your colleagues

Related Articles

Know Your Verbs

Editing Tip: Common Prepositional Verbs

Prepositional verbs, or verbs that are paired with prepositions, can be challenging for any writer, especially because there are few consistent rules about preposition use... Read More »

Know Your Verbs

Editing Tip: Singular and Plural Verbs with Measured Quantities

Scientific writing often involves measurements and units such as milliliters (ml) or microns (µm). Measured quantities involving these units are often found in tables or... Read More »

Know Your Verbs

Subject-Verb Agreement Across Prepositional Phrases

How to make sure your subject and verb agree even if there are intervening words or phrases. Read More »

Stay up to date

Sign up for early access to AJE Scholar articles, discounts on AJE services, and more