Common Mistakes in Scientific Writing

This section summarizes a few common mistakes that students make in their lab reports. Learn to avoid these!

1. Do not use nouns adjectives:

• BAD: ATP formation; reaction product

• GOOD: formation of ATP; product of the reaction

2. “This” or “That” must always be followed by a noun so that its reference is explicit.

• BAD: This leads us to conclude…

• GOOD: This observation leads us to conclude….

3. Describe experimental results in the past tense.

• BAD: Addition of water gives the product.

• GOOD: Addition of water gave the product.

4. “Spectra/Spectrum/Spectroscopy:

Spectroscopy is the technique.

The data we collect is a spectrum (singular), and the plural form is spectra.

• BAD: “IR spectroscopy showed…”

• GOOD: “The IR spectrum of the product showed….”

5. Filtered/Filtrated

The past tense of “to filter” is “filtered” not “filtrated.”

“Filtrate” is technically a verb, but chemists only use it as the noun corresponding to the liquid collected from a filtration.

• BAD: “The product was vacuum filtrated…”

• GOOD: “The product was vacuum filtered….”