In my paper I am writing a couple of times

We contribute ...

for example

First, we contribute a new definition for the problem and then a formula for xy.

My editor has removed all the "contribute" and replaced them with the verb "present". I have also seen such sentences with "introduce" or "propose".

I chose "contribute", because I wanted to make clear what our new contributions to the topic are what is not. E.g. I am repeating some formulas from other papers.

Is "we contribute ..." bad style and if so, why?

  • 1
    As a matter of English, there isn’t a whole lot of difference, especially since you include the word “new”. If the question was asked on Academia, you might get more feedback regarding norms and nuances of such terms in academia.
    – Lawrence
    Oct 10, 2021 at 11:00
  • 1
    I think that it is poor style and possibly wrong. Your paper is offered for assessment, yet you are claiming a contribution to something - this would mean that the contribution is indeed the truth. You are not doing this. You are introducing a concept to the reader or proposing something to the reader.
    – Greybeard
    Oct 10, 2021 at 11:03
  • @Lawrence: Thanks for the tip. I just looked, seems Academia has a tag "writing-style".
    – Make42
    Oct 10, 2021 at 11:09
  • @Greybeard: Convincing point, thanks! But, why do we then have a section "Contributions" in each paper, instead of "Propositions" or something like that?
    – Make42
    Oct 10, 2021 at 11:11
  • 1
    No. I would still avoid it. Your accepted paper is still new to each new reader who should be allowed to judge it on its merits.
    – Greybeard
    Oct 10, 2021 at 11:38

1 Answer 1


The word contribute has particular meaning in scientific publications. It is important to use the words expected in academic articles. Someone scanning your paper may be looking out for the word "contribution" as this is the keyword that states the motivation for you publishing your paper. I would just reword it to: "this work's main contribution is".

  • In conclusion, you think, one should avoid using "we contribute", but rephrase to "... contribution..."? Doesn't that make the text more clunky? Note, that in the introduction I have a section "Contribution". I was using "we contribute" additionally throughout the main, theoretical part later.
    – Make42
    Oct 10, 2021 at 12:15
  • If you have already highlighted your contribution in the introduction, then I agree with the other posters. There is no reason to keep using the word "contribute" throughout.
    – diyImma
    Oct 11, 2021 at 8:24

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