Recognising academic style

Session 2
Recognising Academic Style

Exercise 1

Look at the following sentences. Discuss how you might rewrite the text to make it more academically acceptable.

The dieters destined for failure

(1) It’s something that most dieters will have experienced – losing all those pounds only to put them all back on later.

(2) Now doctors have discovered why it is so hard to maintain weight loss. It’s all because of our hormones.

(3) A study looked at the effects of the hormone leptin, which plays a key role in regulating our metabolism and tells our body when it has had too much food.

(4) The researchers found that when we lose weight, our levels of leptin also fall, making it harder to burn off the calories and sending our weight creeping back up.

(5) The findings could explain why 85 per cent of dieters fail to keep to their target weight – and could also pave the way for new leptin-based dieting drugs.

(6) Dr Michael Rosenbaum, who led the research funded by First Great Pharmaceuticals in New York, said the key to maintaining weight loss is to keep our leptin levels high.

(7) ‘Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows that you never lose as much as you should for what you are eating,’ he said.

(8) ‘And even if you reach a weight you are happy with, you are never able to sustain that level of thinness.

(9) ‘Leptin fools your body into being happy with a lower weight. It won’t help you lose weight but it should help you keep weight off once you have lost it.’

(10) Dr Rosenbaum’s team looked at the effect of leptin on healthy volunteers.

(11) As the men and women lost weight, their leptin levels fell. But giving them leptin allowed them to keep to their new weight, the study, published in a US journal, found.

(12) Previous studies have shown that leptin acts as an appetite suppressant.

(13) Research last year showed that when we don’t get enough sleep, our levels of leptin fall and we feel the urge to eat more.

(14) Leptin is one of many chemicals released during sleep and it is thought that losing just an hour or two of sleep a night might be enough to cause a significant dip in levels of the hormone.

(15) The findings suggested those who regularly have too little sleep, such as night-shift workers, are at very high risk of becoming obese.

Exercise 2

Transform the style of the sentences below to make them more academically acceptable:

a) I subjected the mean score for the two trials to multivariate analysis.


b) Many women feel that they are under a lot of social pressure to conform to a
certain physical shape.


c) The subjects didn’t have much trouble with the task.


d) People say passive smoking causes lung cancer.


e) You could clearly see the difference between these two processes.


i) So what is the relationship between the nurse and the patient?


j) It’s a challenge to gain information about the different ways that the
wards are managed and the care given.


k) People tell me there’s lots of racism in the health service.


Exercise 3: Achieving clarity

Look at the two descriptions of an experiment. Both were submitted to 1,580 scientists from industry and the academic world. Based on the evidence of the text alone, 75% of the scientists surveyed concluded that one of the writers had a better organised mind and was more competent as a researcher than the other. Sixty nine percent also found the same text more interesting and stimulating. Which one is it?

Text A

In the first experiment of the series using mice it was discovered that total removal of the adrenal glands effects reduction of aggressiveness and that aggressiveness in adrenalectomized mice is re storable to the level of intact mice by treatment with corticosterone. These results point to the indispensability of the adrenals for the full expression of aggression. Nevertheless, since adrenalectomy is followed by an increase in the release of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), and since ACTH has been reported (Brain, 1972) to decrease the aggressiveness of intact mice, it is possible that the effects of adrenalectomy on aggressiveness are a function of the concurrent increased levels of ACTH. However, high levels of ACTH, in addition to causing increases in glucocorticoids (which possibly accounts for the depression of aggression in intact mice by ACTH), also result in decreased androgen levels. In view of the fact that animals with low androgen levels are characterised by decreased aggressiveness the possibility exists that adrenalectomy, rather than affecting aggression directly, has the effect of reducing aggressiveness by producing an ACTH-mediated condition of decreased androgen levels.

Text B

The first experiment in our series with mice showed that total removal of the adrenal glands reduces aggressiveness. Moreover, when treated with corticosterone, mice that had their adrenals taken out became as aggressive as intact animals again. These findings suggest that the adrenals are necessary for animals to show full aggressiveness.

Nevertheless removal of the adrenals raises the levels of adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH), and Brain2 found that ACTH lowers the aggressiveness of intact mice. Thus the reduction of aggressiveness after this operation might be due to the higher levels of ACTH which accompany it.

However, high levels of ACTH have two effects. First, the levels of glucocorticoids rise, which might account for Brain’s results. Second, the levels of androgen fall. Since animals with low levels of androgen are less aggressive, it is possible that removal of the adrenals reduces aggressiveness only indirectly: by raising the levels of ACTH it causes androgen levels to drop.

Turk, C. & Kirkman, J. (1989). Effective writing. London: E. & F. N. Spon.


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