varying the monotony of scientific writing

In writing scientific articles and grants, we find ourselves saying the same type of thing over and over again. We’re almost always talking about theories and evidence. We discuss the relationship of the evidence to the theories, saying whether particular evidence supports the theory or undermines it.
To write well, we need to have lots of ways to say these things. So I’m making a list of the ways.
Words for theories and hypotheses

  • notion
  • idea
  • generalization
  • claim
  • framework

Going from evidence to conclusion, mostly with a verb. Different ways, in rough descending order of strength

  • Proves that (largely banned from the empirical sciences)
  • Shows that
  • Demonstrates that
  • Implies that
  • It follows that
  • Reveals
  • convey
  • Uncovers (rarely useful)
  • Indicates that (I like this one because it’s strong but unobtrusive)
  • Suggests that
  • Supports the
  • Bolsters, buttressses
  • Illustrates
  • key evidence for
  • decisive evidence for
  • Fits
  • in accord with, concord with
  • Is evidence for
  • Weighs on the side of
  • Hint that
  • Is consistent with
  • Is not inconsistent with
  • Sheds light on
  • assesses

Negative impact of evidence on a theory, claim, conclusion, or criticism

  • Disconfirms the
  • Dismisses
  • Challenges
  • contradicts
  • “the outmoded theory of Jones [1], unable to accommodate stubborn experimental facts [2–25], has generally fallen out of favor”—Cosma Shalizi
  • calls into question
  • Undermines
  • Counters
  • Detracts from
  • engenders skepticism of
  • should not be taken as support for
  • presents difficulties for
  • highlights shortcomings of
  • violates
  • reveals inadequacy of
  • does not sit easily with
  • Contrasts with
  • fails to confirm

Thanks to my friends on Facebook for providing some of these. Can you add any to the above? I think this will be a useful reference, for me and possibly others. Of course, it won’t be enough to make my writing truly stimulating. I did say varying the monotony, not breaking it!

4 thoughts on “varying the monotony of scientific writing

  1. nafbfakadonkey

    assumption, statement, outline, paradigm, annotate, formulation, reformulation, proclamation, declaration, manifesto, contract, products, clauses, disposition, prediction, preamble, application, notation, composition, fixtures, utterances, scope, quote, tableaux.. and anything else ending in ‘-tion’.

    add variation of ‘to, with, for, towards, that’ etc. after word depending on context.

    elicits, deduces, shapes, shifts, moulds, purports, elucidates, asserts, reasserts, aligns, highlights, enlightens, underlines, points, encompasses, edifies, precipitates, orders, epitomises, permeates, synonymous, replete, syncretise, inextricable, focuses, reacts, advises, journeys, mobilises, reflects, insofar as, justifies, contextualise, conjectural, manifests, substantiates, legitimates, informs, reforms, conducts, displays, mileage, factors, mode, restores, amasses, adjudicates, percusses, slivers, coalesces, packages, un-packages, flavours, grounded, fundamental, captures, tailors, suits, filters, elevates, illuminates, funnels, encapsulates, ensures, wilful, mends, mops, dusts, tips, icing, showers, vigilant, scuttles, shepherds, uncovers, emerges, re-emerges, hammers, looms, enshrines, fixates, choreographs, attenuates, applicates, implicates, allocates, explicates, placates, diligates, designates, promotes, pulls, swerves, twinkles, soulful, shields, parallels, concordance, give birth to, punch line, horizons, cliqued, trails, enrich, notes, builds, accumulates, velocifies, credits, treats, meticulises, reticuloses, reiterates, embraces, empowers, pens, falls, disseminates, expounds, eureka, intonates, channels, colours..

    add variation of ‘to, with, for, towards, that’ etc. after verb depending on context.

    rescinds, panders, pre-mediate, catatonic, murky, quagmire, lip service, monopolise, odds, restrains, constrains, unlawful, compromises, damages, precautionary, reverts,
    autonomies, festers, averts, precursors, crimps, contracts, counteracts, hampers, juggernaut, jaundiced, milks, shrouds, cloaks, peppy, limits, restricts, myopic, chaotic, dystopic, forebodes, forbearance, personifies, impartial, abject, objects, abdicates, endangers, puppets, nullifies, fictitious, solicits, laces, entraps, collides, friction, hollers, masks, idiosyncratic, covers, messes, hankers, hubris, hitches, disembowels, calculated, miscalculates, simplifies, shrivels, staves, shaves, cuts, chips, botches, blotches, pushes, bilious, pervades, evades, pliers, cracks, wrinkles, amputates, shortens, stumps, bogus, maligns, induces, planked, flanked, baked, stench, selective, marginalises, knocks, mistakes, confuses, ill informs, slanders, accuses, bingles, shaky, stirs, scratches, shoddy, shunts, plucks, paradoxes, perturbs, jargons, quenches, garbles, enslaves, imprisons.. could rattle on ALL night…

  2. creation, tasks, matrix, format, lamentation, adoration, function, signatory, parameter, paralogism, replicate, freeforms, grid, will, morceau, prose, form, cast, pandora, predicate..

    add variation of ‘to, with, for, towards, that, up, down’ etc. after word depending on context.

    postulates, perchances, serenades, proliferates, bequeaths, hones, zones, deictic, pleas, negates, collaborates, capitalizes, recapitulates, collates, mirrors, foregoes, shimmies, incandesizes, credates, pacifies, undulates, bygones, insinuates, immaculates, rhythemates, flourishes, trickles, flows, maps, nurtures, paints, injects, wires, drizzles, touches, fervours, liberalises, champions, decorates, gravitises, progression, merges, tangent, factuates, eventuates, actuates, casts, hovers, holiates, dehisces, evolves, libation, liaises, paragraphic, hinges, stacks, stabilises, pleasance, pleaches, determinates, homogises, heterogises, harmonizes, dichtomises, cascades, associates, freefalls, fraughts, brassages, aggregates, aggrades, assimilates, accommodates, flosses, construes, constitutive, consubstantiate, consulates, pertains, converges, derives, jocunates, resonates, spheriates, discloses, hems, helms, prophases, prempts, picfacs, piceous, glitters, fashions, accosts, befits, commands, dresses, electrifies, plonks, pulsates, impromptuates, patulates, forefeels, forecasts, forbyes, degusts, delegates, prefigurates, glissades, glints, glistens, glides, soubretizes, weens, manifolds, percolates, perdures, perfervids, perfoliates, streams..

    add variation of ‘to, with, for, towards, that, up, down’ etc. after word depending on context.

    pilfers, sacrifices, jeopardizes, fractures, sours, lemons, perversus, pricks, famishes, divides, secession, sanctions, plummets, befalls, bends, tapers, devolves, habituates, insipidizes, hinders, yoke, tearaway, destabilises, delendates, stoops, regresses, digresses, fabricates, negligates, indeterminates, jerbles, jumbles, paucity, aggreviates, trips, frays, frazzles, brittles, scrapes, grinds, wheedles, misconstrues, logjams, conspires, forecloses, foolhardish, bewails, bibful, jocular, helotises, morbific, mordant, mordacious, nibbles, misty, glitches, crustates, cursts, picaresque, picas, impuissance, irreducible, irrefragable, irrelativises, irrepealable, irresolute, irresolvable, irrevocable, irruptive, irritated, aloofs, liquidates..

  3. @nafbfakadonkey- an amazing list, did you get these from a thesaurus- which one?! I haven’t seen one this good. I find it hard to imagine using many of these, is that lack of imagination on my part? Unfortunately I think reviewers and editors would balk at some as well. I haven’t even found definitions yet for ‘cursts’ and ‘helotises’ and ‘jerbles’. I should try to distill these down..

  4. nafbfakadonkey


    red wine mixed with boredom.. so long as the wine is yummy i could go on and on.. you should provoke it, break open them imaginations like alice in wonderland. i’m chester and you can be alice.

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