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This creates a disconnect between structure and meaning — the intended action is no longer found in the verb.
Most readers expect the main action of a clause to be found in a verb. This is because verbs inherently convey action, and nouns do not. If you fail to put your intended action in a verb, your reader must work to determine where the action is. In the first example, the verb is to perform, but the intended action is probably to analyze hidden in the nominalization analysis.
The point of this sentence probably has nothing to do with performance. But a reader of the first example has to consider this possibility if subconsiouslywhile the reader of the second clearly understands the action.
This is a trivial example, but the point is more important in complex sentences see examples below. Scientific writing regularly disguises the main actions in nouns, costing reader energy.
If you overuse nominalizations, you can improve your writing by restructuring your sentences to capture actions in verbs. Revision Technique Go through your manuscript and underline all nominalizations.
Take a closer look at these words to see if they should be changed to verbs. Or, it may be easier to do the opposite: Go through the manuscript and underline all the verbs. For each verb, ask yourself this question: Does this verb capture the action in the sentence?
Nominalizations are sometimes useful; for example, when they summarize the action of the previous sentence. In such a case, a nominalization is a good way to form a backwards link to something already familiar to the reader.
We analyzed the data. This analysis demonstrated the need for additional experiments. Put characters in subjects The character is the actor the entity performing the action. Readers expect the main character in a clause to be found in the subject.
Characters can be and often are abstract nouns, like expression level or exon usage. Here are some examples. Imagine these sentences in a paragraph discussing bacteria.
Here are two examples that use the subjects differently. In the first example, there is a disconnect between subject and intended main character: The movement in the liquid medium of the bacteria was accomplished by microflagella.
In the second version, the content is the same, but the structure is changed. The main character is now found in the subject: The bacteria move themselves in the liquid medium with microflagella. In the first sentence, the grammatical subject was an abstract noun movementwhich is really describing the action of the main character.
The second example is clearer because the intended actor what's the sentence about? The grammatical subject of the sentence should be the answer to the question: What is this sentence about?
I don't think this is usually as big of a problem in scientific writing, and it is usually fixed at the sentence level by revising for verb-action agreement.
More importantly, science writing often has the problem of subject shifting — when subjects change erratically throughout a paragraph.
It's fine to change the grammatical subject from one sentence to the next if you intend to change the topic. But often, writers intend to discuss a particular topic for several sentences the topic doesn't changebut change the grammatical subjects. Writing is easier to follow when the string of subjects in a paragraph reflects the topics.
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