I have a student who is trying to write a scientific paper - her text is littered with a particular sentence construction that I find very awkward to read, but I'm not sure how to describe it to her in a way that will allow her to stop using it (she is a native German speaker). Examples:

"Integrating multiple datasets facilitates exploring a broad set of problems"

Different one:

"Addressing research questions requires integrating multiple observation types".

I've simplified a bit, but that is the core of the problem sentences. In each case, I would usually substitute in the "-tion" form for one or more of the gerunds, as in "Integration of multiple datasets is critical to...."

Any advice would be appreciated!

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    Her text is fine, grammatically. You could suggest that she uses a few more words to make her points clearer, but there's nothing "wrong" with it. If you want some more specific advice you should ask an actual question - asking for advice is too vague. Jun 21, 2016 at 10:35
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    The problem here is not grammar but semantics. To the extent that these sentences say anything coherent, they're probably wrong. What does it mean to "integrate multiple datasets"? Combine the data from different experiments? That's dangerous. Facilitates means makes easier. Is that the goal? How can I tell if a set of problems is "broad"? And do you want to explore problems or solve them? A.T. below is correct that this is a disease, but it's one of thinking, not of writing scientific papers. I don't think his solution is a cure, either.
    – deadrat
    Jun 21, 2016 at 17:33

1 Answer 1


That's the disease of scientific papers. Very little can be done if a person (and the scientific environment) tend to be very formal in their texts.

The drastic solution is to introduce a bit of informality: "When we integrate multiple datasets this allows us to explore a broader set of problems than if ...". In fact, this makes reading much easier.

The question is - will this not be frowned upon by the intended readers of such a paper...

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