Opinion: How can we boost the impact of publications? Try better writing (PNAS)

Writing is one of the most important of a scientist’s skills but often overlooked during their training. As Freeling et al. observe, good writing takes time, both to learn and to teach, so what’s the incentive? In this Opinion article, they make an effort to quantify the impact (measured by citation numbers) of “good writing”. They conclude that there is a correlation between better writing and more citations. “Good writing” is of course very hard to quantify, which is the limitation of this study. However, the factors that they have specified as signaling “good writing” are useful to note (after all, they correlate with higher citations!). These include: signposting, consistent language, parallel phrasing, punctuation, and avoidance of noun chunks, as explained in the article. Have a look – we can’t promise that writing better will increase your citation rate, but it can’t hurt! (Summary by Mary Williams) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 10.1073/pnas.1819937116