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In my thesis, I'm using "thus" and "therefore" a lot. This is repetitive and it sounds stuffy. Is there any alternative which sounds a bit more relaxed but is acceptable in scientific writing? "So" would be too colloquial, I suppose.

Example for "thus:"

Later in life, neural responses to sensory input become highly differentiated, as do overt reactions. Thus, it can be assumed that neurons adapt their responses mediated by experience...

The neural responses used by the SC to localize stimuli are stochastic. Thus, the SC’s task can be described as a statistical inference problem: ...

(Sorry, I didn't find any examples for "therefore" which would make sense outside of the thesis.)

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    "As a consequence" (or consequentially, though that strays back into stuffy territory again), "in turn", "in light of this", "given that", etc. in other words: use phrases of more than one word, doing so gives you opportunities for both variety and flexibility. – Dan Bron Feb 26 '15 at 11:57
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    'Is there any alternative which sounds a bit more relaxed but is acceptable in scientific writing?' is possibly asking for the impossible. I'd say Dan's suggestions are hardly 'more relaxed'. There are style guides dedicated to scientific writing. If your institution has one, see if it mentions register (it almost certainly will). Otherwise, check in the style guides that are available from other institutions. This is really 'primarily opinion based', and not a suitable question for ELU (though obviously an important issue). – Edwin Ashworth Feb 26 '15 at 12:03
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    My advice: don't worry about using 'thus' and go ahead and use 'thusly' as well for extra points! – EleventhDoctor Feb 26 '15 at 14:37
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    Every reader will have a different opinion about what makes prose stuffy. In my view, too-frequent recourse to thus and therefore is undesirable mainly because it comes across as unduly concerned with emphasizing the continuity and logical seamlessness of the text. But as a tool promoting stuffiness, such overuse has nothing on continual recourse to "it can be assumed that," ""X can be described as," etc. Occasionally replacing phrases of the type "Thus it can be assumed that neurons" with "Clearly neurons" "Evidently neurons," "Presumably neurons," etc., can be like opening a window. – Sven Yargs Feb 26 '15 at 18:35
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    In technical writing, being precise far outweighs seeming stuffy. – GEdgar Feb 26 '15 at 22:54
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In addition to the methods presented in RegDwigнt's answer — using synonyms and simply removing the words — two other techniques for avoiding such repetition come to mind.

Replacing "thus" or "therefore" in the conclusion with "since" or "because" in the clause presenting the evidence is perhaps the most straightforward. This technique works better with shorter statements of evidence.

Since neural responses to sensory input, as well as overt reactions, become highly differentiated later in life, it can be assumed that neurons adapt their responses mediated by experience...

Because the neural responses used by the SC to localize stimuli are stochastic, the SC’s task can be described as a statistical inference problem: ...

The second technique would be to use a verb that includes the logical inference such as "indicate", "imply", "show", "demonstrate", or even "allows". Using a participle avoids the need for an explicit subject, but "this" or "such evidence" are adequate subjects. (In fact, "such evidence" might be preferred when the evidence is extensive.)

Neural responses to sensory input become highly differentiated later in life, as do overt reactions, indicating that neurons adapt their responses mediated by experience...

The neural responses used by the SC to localize stimuli are stochastic. This allows the SC’s task to be described as a statistical inference problem: ...

This can include reversing the order of evidence and conclusion.

That neurons adapt their responses mediated by experience can be concluded from the fact that neural responses to sensory input, as well as overt reactions, become highly differentiated later in life.

The SC's task can be treated as a statistical inference problem by recognizing the stochastic nature of the neural responses used by the SC to localize stimuli: ...

(The latter rephrasing is clearly problematic since the colon indicates that a stronger binding to "statistical inference problem" is desired. However, it provides the useful example of "recognize" replacing "show", changing the subject from the evidence to the observer allows further variety in verbs.)

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    Incidentally, this kind of question is also on topic on the Writers Stack Exchange, which could use more non-fiction questions. – Paul A. Clayton Feb 26 '15 at 22:46
  • Thanks, I didn't know about Writers. My question would probably have been even more on topic there than here. Accepting this, because this answer contains the most concrete advice. – Johannes Bauer Feb 27 '15 at 13:29
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There are many synonyms that a thesaurus of your choice will be quick to provide. However, consider this:

There is no reason to have the thuses in there in the first place. Remove them completely, and you're still conveying the same information. It is quite obvious that each of the sentences logically flows from the previous one.

Later in life, neural responses to sensory input become highly differentiated, as do overt reactions. It can be assumed that neurons adapt their responses mediated by experience...

The neural responses used by the SC to localize stimuli are stochastic. The SC’s task can be described as a statistical inference problem: ...

You don't need to expressly connect each and every sentence with its predecessor — it already is connected simply by means of being the next sentence in the same paragraph.

Generally speaking, whenever you wish to avoid using any particular word, start by simply not using it and then see what it gets you. More often than not, it will be enough.

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    There's a point to these "thus's"; they show cause and effect. But by rewriting, you can use "because" and "since" for the same thing, which are less stuffy words. – Peter Shor Feb 26 '15 at 12:10
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    @Peter I'll give you the second one perhaps. In the first case, the cause and effect are obvious to me either way. But yeah, if you think there really is a point to using a word, then there is no way to avoid using it without losing that point. More obvious stuff. And I have to assume that things like "because" and "since" have long crossed the author's mind. – RegDwigнt Feb 26 '15 at 12:18
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    That's a good suggestion, and I'll see where I can use it. However, I'm with Peter in that somethimes, there's a good reason to mark causality. Often, I don't just write 'a, therefore b', but 'a, b, c, therefore d.' Unless I mark it, the causal structure does not become clear from the sequential structure of the paragraphs. – Johannes Bauer Feb 26 '15 at 13:37
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    I have to disagree. The logic in your examples is much less clear, because it's no longer clear whether the second sentences follow from the first ones or are additional claims, which would not be uncommon. The logic of "A. Also B. Therefore C." is quite different from that of "A. Therefore B. Therefore C." Scientific writing should strive for clarity. You don't want your reader to become hung up on what your reason for claiming "It can be assumed that neurons..." is. That said, if the implication is really very clear or direct, that's a different story. – aes Feb 26 '15 at 18:52
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    I fully agree with @aes. While it is true that in a sequence of statements, each follows from something, it is not at all clear that it should follow from the previous statement. Maybe it is a general fact of life, or maybe it is mentioned half a page earlier. In scientific writing, it is (imho) best to make it as easy as possible to figure out why each statement is true, and omitting "thus" actually makes it more difficult. – Jakub Konieczny Feb 26 '15 at 21:49
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Later in life, neural responses to sensory input become highly differentiated, as do overt reactions. Because of this increased differentiation, it can be assumed that neurons adapt their responses mediated by experience...

Or

Later in life, neural responses to sensory input become highly differentiated, as do overt reactions. This increased differentiation suggests that neurons adapt their responses mediated by experience...

That is, summarize the first sentence, or its essence, and express it as part of the second sentence.

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Don't write it, show it, were Francine Prose's words, I believe (albeit regarding prose writing). However, if your argument form isn't the focus, then perhaps, by clearly describing the premise-consequence relationship in terms of the material itself, when possible, may help to engage the reader and keep them there.

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