Clear science writing is not only possible, but expected in the journals considered the pinnacle of scientific publishing.
This blog post by Dey Alexander catalogs excerpts from the style guides of no less than the Journal of Neuroscience, Nature, and Science (among others). She notes that “many of the techniques that are resisted–active voice and personal pronouns seem to elicit the strongest negative reactions–are explicitly recommended by many science journal style guides. However,” she laments, “style guides are rarely read. Instead we tend to copy the style of our peers, believing this is the standard we must conform to.”
Her recommendations for clear science writing–which match my own–are:
- Use the active voice
- Use personal pronouns
- Avoid nominalizations and noun strings
- Avoid jargon and acronyms
- Write concisely and use short sentences
- Use a clear, simple style
Hop on over to Alexander’s post to read the examples yourself. She also has a list of resources to improve your scientific writing (which I haven’t fully explored).
PS: Remember, if you’d rather get back to doing the science you love, you can hire Science Refinery to help you communicate it! I can ensure your article meets the intended journal’s style guidelines and clearly and effectively conveys your message.