37.2 General tips

A series of experimental studies concludes that

… a majority of undergraduates admit to deliberately increasing the complexity of their vocabulary so as to give the impression of intelligence.

Oppenheimer (2006), p. 139

That is, study like to use fancy words to sounds clever. One conclusion of the study was that using ‘fancy’ language does not work: ‘needless complexity leads to negative evaluations…’ (Oppenheimer (2006), p. 151). One recommendation by the author is to

… write clearly and simply if you can, and you’ll be more likely to be thought of as intelligent.

Oppenheimer (2006), p. 153

With this in mind, a scientific paper:

  • Should use simple, clear but technically correct language.
  • Should present the facts in an unbiased manner.
  • Should be clear, concise and complete.
  • Should use facts to make statements.
  • Should be complete enough that other professionals can repeat the study.

Likewise, a scientific paper:

  • Should not be haphazard, jumbled or illogical.
  • Should not be used as a personal soapbox.
  • Should not reach conclusions not based on the reported evidence.
  • Should not be for insiders only.
  • Should not overstate what has been learnt from the study.


Oppenheimer DM. Consequences of erudite vernacular utilized irrespective of necessity: Problems with using long words needlessly. Applied Cognitive Psychology: The Official Journal of the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition. 2006;20(2):139–56.