Not all articles written on academic topics are written in proper academic English. In this "This is not academic writing" column we examine short excerpts from academic texts to illustrate common writing errors and explain how to correct them.
“The classic background of many of the early agronomists, including Sanginga and Borlaug, shows the power of book-learning in the schooling of modern soil scientists. Their contributions were not all “by guess and by golly.” Heck no! They leaned on the thinking of 19th-century farmer-scientists and then put in their own ideas. I suspect even the earliest farm thinkers got some of their stuff from somebody else, though what they got didn't amount to much.”
While the previous paragraph communicates coherently, it violates several recommended principles of academic writing. The “book-learning” phrase is purely colloquial, as is “by guess and by golly.” Such informal and casual phraseology is not appropriate for academic papers. The “heck no!” emotive outburst has no place in rational scholarly writing. “I suspect…” is an inappropriate first-person intrusion into the text and a weak assertion to boot. Finally, several other colloquial phrases—“leaned on the thinking” … “put in their own ideas” … “some of their stuff” … “amount to much”—might be all right for conversation, but they are too imprecise for an academic paper. The original version of the paragraph appears below.
这段文章看似条理分明，事实上已违反许多学术英文的撰写大忌。 “book-learning”只有口语时才会使用，“by guess and by golly” 也是一样。不正式与随性的用语不适合在正式的学术文章出现。抒发情绪的用词，如“heck no!”，更不可表现在专业、理性的学术性文章中。以第一人称“I suspect…”为句首切入内文不但不恰当，本句更透露出作者对研究发表主张不坚定的态度。最后，其它口语化的用词，如“leaned on the thinking” … “put in their own ideas” … “some of their stuff” … “amount to much” 等等，或许可应用于日常会话，然而，站在学术性文章的角度来说，用词的技巧实在不够严谨。此段文章编辑润饰后内容，刊登如下。
“The classic background of many of this century's agronomists, including Sanginga and Borlaug, highlights the efficacy of formal study in the education of modern soil scientists. Their contributions were not all intuitive. Rather, they incorporated into their thinking the corpus of 19th-century agricultural knowledge before adding incomparably to its mass. Even the earliest recorded agronomic thinkers were derivative, though necessarily from less pure sources.”