While writing papers (computer science, on the border with digital humanities), I find it quite natural to write

In the following section we will present some examples of such and such.

or

To illustrate these point we will use a few examples of increasing complexity.

Many style guides forbid the use of the future tense and suggest the following formulations, that I personally find too stiff.

The following section presents some examples of such and such

and

Examples of increasing complexity illustrate these points.

(The last sentence is plain ugly.)

I do understand the will to use a language that keeps papers as much factual as possible, but should this dry style be used also for the more narrative parts of a paper?

I am currently in the process of responding to reviewer comments for a journal article submission, and I realized I was using the scientific/royal “we” in my response letter, even though I am the only author. For example, I have written, “We thank the Editor and reviewers for the constructive comments…”

This is my first time as a single author and I know in the actual manuscript it is still normal to use “we” to indicate the author and the reader. There are multiple questions here that address that question about pronoun usage (most refer back to this question which has a great answer: Choice of personal pronoun in single-author papers), but I have been unable to find a question or an answer that directly addresses my question about the use of “we” in a response letter to the journal from a single author. I understand that since it is a letter and not a manuscript, it doesn’t have to be quite so formal, but much of the content is still scientific and so I am still apprehensive to use “I” (when using a passive voice would be awkward).

So, should I continue using “we” or would it be more appropriate to use “I” in a response letter to the journal? Additionally, would these guidelines be any different for an initial cover letter that accompanies the first submission?

I have submitted a research paper to a peer-reviewed journal two months ago. It is my first submission. I have noticed two unfortunate elements in my introduction:

  1. I wrote the same sentence twice in my introduction.

  2. In one of the sentences, I have repeated the same word twice consecutively.

I think these mistakes came up with copying and pasting when I was trying to adjust my paragraphs in the introduction. Otherwise, I have already made grammar and spell check for the rest of the paper. Also, I am sure that the introduction is clearly written.

My question is that: can this kind of mistake (I think it is a minor mistake) cause a rejection by referees ? (The paper did not get a desk rejection, it is under review.) I will be really happy if you can share your experience regarding this kind of mistakes during the review process.

Is there any rule concerning the use of lower/upper case letters in figures, charts, diagrams etc. to be used in scientific papers?

I tend to use lower case only (e.g., axis labels and legends), but a reviewer recently suggested that I should start each word with a capital letter.

I would be very thankful for any advice!

Recently, I submitted a paper to a maths journal (which is a decent journal with a solid editorial board). It was eventually accepted after making some revisions suggested by the referees, at which point I uploaded my final submission. This final submission was then edited by a copy editor at the journal; as well as the usual cosmetic changes in ensuring that my papered adhered to the cosmetic style of the journal, the copy editor also made several grammatical changes. I then was given an opportunity to read through this edited version and suggest any final corrections before my paper is uploaded to the journal’s website.

This, of course, is all fairly standard practice. However, many of the grammatical changes made by the copy editor were incorrect. Of course, I noted this in my comments, so I hope these changes will be reverted before the paper is published.

It is appropriate for me to take further action in notifying the journal (e.g. a member of the editorial board) that a copy editor is repeatedly introducing errors?

This of course seems a little petty. On the other hand, these same grammatical errors occur repeatedly throughout papers in this journal (at least in recent papers published online), and I’m sure that I’m not the only reader who finds these mistakes irritating.


In case anyone is curious about the errors, the most common mistake is that the copy editor repeatedly replaced with a comma my usage of a semicolon before an independent clause, especially such a clause in the imperative mood: an example would be something like “This can be proved via the method of Gauss, see [1]”. Other such comma splices were introduced – all by replacing semicolons with commas.

Additional grammatical mistakes were introduced that were clearly incorrect: for example, I perhaps overuse the phrase “Note that”, and this was pruned on a couple of occasions by the copy editor, but in more than one case, the rest of the sentence wasn’t edited to ensure that it still made sense.

As a hobby I’m writing a formal piece on Gears of War within esports.

Is it incorrect to have a sentence like so:

Unfortunately, the popularity of Gears of War 3 declined shortly after release, and as a consequence…

Or would this be better:

Unfortunately for competitive “gears” fans, the popularity…

Or should I avoid using the word “unfortunately” altogether?

In British English, a billion traditionally had a different meaning to in American English (10^12). In modern writing the American convention has pretty much taken over. Is it therefore okay in a British publication to write ‘billion’ and assume the meaning will be unambiguous (e.g. ‘approximately one billion years old’), or should the figure (or SI equivalent e.g. G, Ga) always be stated still to ensure clarity?