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I am writing a scientific journal article at the moment (biophysics). I am using the phrase "As we want to" in a sentence:

"As we want to focus on the assembly process, we implicitly average over all possible sequences."

Now my colleague told me not to use the phrase "as we want to" in scientific writing. Is that correct? Is it bad style? Why? And what is a good alternative?

  • I think this is essentially about accepted standards/styles in a certain area of writing (in this case scientific writing), so I'm not sure it's really on-topic here. That said, you could just drop the "As we want to" and start with "Focusing on the assembly process..." – KillingTime Apr 10 at 7:35
  • Thanks. In what forum would you ask the question? Maybe just in the physics StackExchange forum? – newandlost Apr 10 at 9:52
  • You could take a look at the Academia FAQ to see if it's on-topic there. – KillingTime Apr 10 at 10:00
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    Fine colleague, if he didn’t explain why or suggest a replacement. Sounds to me as if he’s repeating a superstition. It may be because scientific writing should be objective and the emotions of the writers are not. However presumably you made a choice to consider the assembly process, so it seems rather pedantic to have to substitute a personal decision with something like “As the concern of this work was…” Ask. – David Apr 10 at 13:01
  • What about 'As this journal focuses on...., to make it impersonal... – Ram Pillai Apr 12 at 1:17
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What the author wants or wishes is of little interest to the reader of the paper. For such papers the fewer words used to get the idea across the better. I certainly approve of it as a way of making your writing easier to read and more friendly but you could get by without it and should do in a scientific paper.

Rather try; "To focus on the assembly process..." or "In order to focus on the assembly process..."

Unless your friend can point to a style guide I think it is just an opinion. A good opinion but only that. Warner's English Grammar describes what type of usage is appropriate for various communications, personal and professional.

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    But then so is this answer, without supporting evidence. And really only worthy of a 'comment', not an 'answer' on ELU. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 10 at 14:14
  • Warner's English Grammar is evidence enough for this. – Elliot Apr 10 at 14:25
  • Elliot I also think using "as we want to" is easier to understand. I don't like it when thinks are implicit. @David I also have the feeling that people tend to have superstitions about what is a nogo and what not. – newandlost Apr 10 at 15:48
  • Put in the quote then, attributed and linked, and let your peers decide (a) whether or not you're using the reference the way it was intended and (b) whether or not they agree with Warner on these points. That's the way ELU is intended to work. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 10 at 16:37
  • Thanks for the instructions. – Elliot Apr 11 at 16:12

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