Striving for Simplicity in English Academic Writing

Trying to write in English without a high level of comfort can lead to several issues. Here is a simple way to avoid this difficulty in academic writing.

person writing a list in a notebook and using a computer

English is tricky. Trying to write in English without a high level of comfort can lead to several issues, including the wrong use of certain sentence structures and terms. It can take a native English speaker several years before mastering certain expressions, and many adult native speakers still often make mistakes. Hence, being a non-native speaker makes it difficult for authors to write in such a way that the people they are addressing have no doubt about their comfort with the English language. How can this difficulty be avoided?

Suggestion: Avoid using written expressions that you are not familiar with and instead keep your writing simple.

The scientific writing often carried out for research purposes allows for avoiding “flowery” language. Do not make the writing process more difficult than it has to be. According to Jean-Paul Nerriere, developer of Globish, a paper can be written in the English language using only words from a limited set of 1500. Don’t believe me? Well, consider this: nearly everything you are reading now has been written based on the limitations of the Globish language (you can confirm this yourself using the Globish Scanner). Hence, except for certain terms commonly used in your field of research, it is possible to write, e.g., a research document using only the most necessary words and expressions while still appearing to be a native speaker.

So remember: instead of trying to impress a journal reviewer with your expert use of the English language, spend your time making sure that your research materials are simple, easy to read and to the point.

If you feel the need to add “flowery” language more commonly used by those whose first language is English, let a native speaker, such as an editor at AJE, decide whether or not it is wise to do so. Otherwise, keep things simple and just say what you need to say.

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