Part of being a researcher involves learning how to be a really good writer, too. Once you’ve completed your incredible experiment and found your groundbreaking outcome, you have to put it all together coherently in a well-structured research paper in order to get the results out to your funding source, the publishing medium, and your audience!
Not everyone is a natural writer, though. It’s a skill that takes time, practice, and study to continue to hone and improve. As you learn different strategies, you’ll become a better writer. One of those strategies is using elliptical constructions to optimize the style of your paper.
What is Elliptical Construction?
Whether English is your primary language or a second (or more!) one, there are linguistic rules that must be followed in order to sound professional and scholarly. When you make a lot of syntactical errors in your sentence structure, it takes away from how you look as an expert in your field, even if you are extremely knowledgeable and intelligent.
To that end, learning the rules of syntax is crucial if you want to generate correct sentences with the right structure to get your idea across. One of those rules is that of elliptical construction.
Elliptical construction is when a word or a phrase that should be implied in context is taken out of the sentence because it is repetitive of something already said in that text. There are three main types of elliptical construction:
● A noun ellipses, in which the action verb follows behind two different nouns but is only used once
● A verb ellipses, in which there are two different subjects who are the focus, split between one verb that is not repeated
● A verb-phrase ellipses, in which two subjects are related by a phrase that tells what they did, but the phrase is not repeated
As a general rule, you should always avoid repeating yourself in a sentence, and usually in a paragraph, if you can get around it.
Tips to Include This Writing Style as Part of Your Voice
In scientific writing, there tends to often be a lot of repetition possible. You’re talking about an idea or experiment that takes you through the entire research article. Repeated words and phrases are quite natural, but as you pay attention to the ideas of elliptical construction, you can eliminate as many of these cumbersome repetitive sections as possible.
Omitting parts from sentences in order to make them more concise is called ‘elision,’ and it’s a very powerful skill in the art of writing. You’re taking a sentence and shortening it, while at the same time making it clear by using the context around it.
Try these tips to help you improve your research impact by reducing the ambiguity and confusion in your sentences:
● When there are repeated elements in a clause, use a comma to separate parts of the phrase, but a semicolon to separate the elements themselves (ex. A red, solid ball; a blue, viscous liquid; and a yellow, opaque gas)
● In sentences with two clauses, remove the conjunction word and replace it with a semi-colon (ex. The data showed that 49% of the participants pooled demonstrated improvement; 14% showed no change).
● Always read the sentence over with and without the conjunction to see if it could be clearly stated by omitting the joining word
Make sure you are using proper punctuation, checking with premium sites like Grammarly, or your institution’s version of this, to verify that your sentences aren’t confusing and your grammar and mechanics are correct. If you are not positive about your own writing abilities, you could look into hiring a freelance editor for a nominal fee. This price is worth paying if it keeps you from the wasted time inherent with a rejected submission.
Your goal is to write a clear, concise research paper that demonstrates your findings. You don’t want your expertise called into question because your text is not skilled enough to be considered scholarly, so learning tips like elliptical construction of sentences is a great way to improve your academic writing.