1.6- Practicing cutting clutter

دوره: Writing in the Sciences / فصل: principles of effective writing / درس 6

1.6- Practicing cutting clutter

توضیح مختصر

So the next example reads, "Ultimately p53 guards not only against malignant transformation but also plays a role in developmental processes as diverse as aging, differentiation, and fertility." So, "An IQ test measures an individuals" and then we get, "abilities to perform functions that usually fall in the domains". So, "An IQ test measures an individual's verbal, reasoning, or motor and spatial capabilities."

  • زمان مطالعه 9 دقیقه
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The best way to learn writing is through practice. So in this next module, you’re gonna get some practical experience cutting clutter. I’ll put up a sentence, and then I’ll have you pause the video and try editing it on your own. Then you can restart the video and I’ll show you how I would edit that sentence so you can compare your edits to mine. And we’ll do this for several sentences. So the first sentence reads, “Anti-inflammatory drugs may be protective for the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease.” So I want you to think about all the extra words that you can cut out of that sentence. See how many you can cut. So pause the video now and try to edit this sentence and then I’ll show you how I edited it. Great. So when I edited this sentence, I read it through and I said “Anti-inflammatory drugs may be protective for the occurrence of”. I found that part to be quite wordy. So rather than “be protective for”, how about just “may protect against”. Now we don’t really need “the occurrence of”, we “may protect against Alzheimer’s disease”. Right? We don’t need “the occurrence of”. So “Anti-inflammatory drugs may protect against Alzheimer’s disease.” So hopefully you had a similar rewrite. Obviously, you might have done slightly different things and always feel free to email if you’ve got a better rewrite that you want to share with the class. Sometimes, I might miss a few words that could still be edited out. So here’s the second example. “Clinical seizures have been estimated to occur in 0.5% to 2.3% of the neonatal population”. So now, pause the video and edit that sentence on your own. Great. So now I’m gonna go through my edit on this sentence. So, “Clinical seizures have been estimated to occur.” Well that seems like a lot of extra words. How about we just get rid of the “have been estimated to” and just say “clinical seizures occur”. Now, some of you may feel like that’s being too direct. Right? You want to put the hedge word that it’s “been estimated to be”. We don’t want to be so direct as to say “it occurs”. But notice that in the statistics in this sentence, the 0.5% to 2.3%, that’s a range. So it’s obvious immediately to the reader that you’re talking about estimates because you’ve presented the reader with a range of possible different values. So I think in this case it’s OK to just say clinical seizures occur, and then, of course, we can give the references for those numbers at the end of the sentence. We don’t need all this “have been estimated to”. And then we get to “occur in 0.5% to 2.3% of the neonatal population”. Now you might have thought, oh, neonatal population, that sounds really important. I better leave it untouched. And in fact, the first time I edited this sentence, I missed this. But what is a neonatal population? So, neo means new, nate means born, so this is just a fancy way of saying newborns. See how much more direct and easy that is to read? “Clinical seizures occur in 0.5% to 2.3% of newborns.” And then, of course, we want to have some references at the end of that sentence. So, hopefully, you’ve got something similar. Again, you may not have an identical rewrite to mine, but hopefully you have something similar. So the next example reads, “Ultimately p53 guards not only against malignant transformation but also plays a role in developmental processes as diverse as aging, differentiation, and fertility.” So now pause the video and try editing that sentence on your own. OK, so now I’m gonna go through my edit on this sentence. So, “Ultimately P53 guards not only against malignant transformation.” How about we say instead of that – malignant transformation is just talking about cancer, so how about “Besides preventing”, guarding against is just a way to say preventing. “Besides preventing cancer, p53 also plays”, I’m gonna make this roles, because we’re talking about more than one role, “plays roles in developmental processes as diverse as”. Well, I don’t think I need to say all of that. That doesn’t really add much. So “plays roles”, how about just “plays roles in aging, differentiation, infertility”. It’s kind of understood that that’s a diverse range of things. So “Besides preventing cancer, p53 also plays roles in aging, differentiation, and fertility.” See how much we could strip out of that sentence without losing the meaning? So here’s the next one. “Injuries to the brain and spinal cord have long been known to be among the most devastating and expensive of all injuries to treat medically.” So pause the video and edit that sentence on your own. All right. So here is my edit for this sentence. So, “Injuries to the brain and spinal cord have long been known to be.” So that’s kind of a long way of saying are, they are. Now, the fact that they, you know, it’s been known for a long time, again, maybe you’re gonna put some references to indicate that, but we don’t really need a long verb like that. So just, “Injuries to the brain and spinal cord are”, we don’t need this “to be” here. So, “are among the most devastating and expensive”. And then we get this little bit of repetition, “of all injuries to treat medically”. Well, when we’re saying they’re devastating and expensive, it’s kind of assumed that we’re talking about their medical treatment. Right? So I don’t think we need any of this. So we just say – and of course the injuries is repetitive – so we just say “Injuries to the brain and spinal cord are among the most devastating and expensive.” Period. You, again, may have slightly different rewrites than this, but hopefully you have something somewhat similar. Here’s the next one. “An IQ test measures an individual’s abilities to perform functions that usually fall in the domains of verbal communication, reasoning, and performance on tasks that represent motor and spatial capabilities.” You can hear a lot of extra words in there. So pause the video for a moment and edit that sentence. All right. So here is what I did on this sentence. So, “An IQ test measures an individuals” and then we get, “abilities to perform functions that usually fall in the domains”. This is kind of very wordy. How about we just get to what the test measures. “An IQ test measures an individual’s”, I’m gonna get rid of all of this. An IQ test basically measures an individual’s verbal abilities, right? So we could just say that at the end. “An IQ test measures an individuals verbal”. I don’t think we need communication after verbal, right, because that’s just repetitive. “Verbal, reasoning” and then we get “performance on tasks that represent.” How about we say it more directly, that they’re measuring their “motor and spatial capabilities”. And perhaps there are more than one type of IQ test, so we might want to use the word or here, ‘cause not every IQ test measures all three, but some may measure any one of these. So, “An IQ test measures an individual’s verbal, reasoning, or motor and spatial capabilities.” So again, hopefully in your rewrite, you’ve got something similar and you were able to strip a lot of those excess words out. OK, one last example here. It says, “As we can see from Figure two, if the return kinetic energy is less than 3.2 U p, there will be two electron trajectories associated with this kinetic energy.” So go ahead and pause the video and edit that on your own, and then we’ll talk about it afterwards. So let me show you my edit for this sentence. Again, you may not get exactly the same thing, but hopefully you’re cutting a lot of the same words. So, “As we can see from Figure two”, let’s just say, “Figure two shows”. In fact, this little “As we can see from” is just kind of a lot of extra words. We can just say directly “Figure two shows” or we could even just reference Figure two in parentheses at the end of the sentence. “Figure two shows, if the return kinetic energy is less than 3.2”. Let’s just say, “Figure two shows that a return to kinetic energy less than 3.2 U p”. That’s, kind of, now the subject of the sentence, the subject of this clause, that a return kinetic energy less than 3.2. How about it just that it “yields two electron trajectories”. We don’t need to repeat that kinetic energy. So, something like, “Figure two shows that a return kinetic energy less than 3.2 U p yields two electron trajectories.”

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