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  1. #1
    vincent_t is offline Newbie
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    Idioms in academic papers

    Hi!

    I would like to ask if it is OK to use idioms in academic essays. The reason why I ask this is because sometimes you may come across idiomatic phrases in academic textbooks(e.g. economics etc) but when tutored on how to write essays, every teacher emphasizes the importance of using clear, concise, and formal language (which I think leaves the essay a bit dull).

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Idioms in academic papers

    Quote Originally Posted by vincent_t View Post
    Hi!

    I would like to ask if it is OK to use idioms in academic essays. The reason why I ask this is because sometimes you may come across idiomatic phrases in academic textbooks(e.g. economics etc) but when tutored on how to write essays, every teacher emphasizes the importance of using clear, concise, and formal language (which I think leaves the essay a bit dull).

    Thank you!
    Yes it is. But there are different types of idiom. Academic idioms are fine. Vulgar idioms are not. In general, I'd choose "investigate" over "look into" - is that what you mean?
    What sort of phrases are you thinking about?

  3. #3
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Idioms in academic papers

    It may seem dull, but academic writing has a purpose and colouring it up too much with idioms may detract.

  4. #4
    vincent_t is offline Newbie
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    Re: Idioms in academic papers

    No, definitely not vulgar . What I meant was an idiom like this for example:

    In the vitamin case it was not the European Commission who discovered the conspiracy but it was Rhone-Poulenc who approached the Commission with documentary evidence with amnesty hopes. Once Rhone-Poulenc had supplied the evidence, revealing all the infringements on the competition law, it was followed suit by Hoffman-La Roche and BASF. By then it was already clear that the cartel's days were numbered.

  5. #5
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    Re: Idioms in academic papers

    I personally abhor "academic" writing. I agree with clear and concise. I don't agree with boring. Even academics are human (purportedly) so using something like "its days were numbered" makes for far more interesting reading.

    I do business writing for a living, and we're business-to-business (so I"m not writing for the general consumer). I use fragments deliberately, I use a conversational tone, and I'd consider using something like "days were numbered" instead of "it was clear that it would soon no longer be in existence."
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Idioms in academic papers

    I can't see anything wrong with days were numbered either.

  7. #7
    Raymott's Avatar
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    Re: Idioms in academic papers

    Quote Originally Posted by vincent_t View Post
    No, definitely not vulgar . What I meant was an idiom like this for example:

    In the vitamin case it was not the European Commission who discovered the conspiracy but it was Rhone-Poulenc who approached the Commission with documentary evidence with amnesty hopes. Once Rhone-Poulenc had supplied the evidence, revealing all the infringements on the competition law, it was followed suit by Hoffman-La Roche and BASF. By then it was already clear that the cartel's days were numbered.
    Yes, that's OK. I wouldn't use it in a scientific paper though - which is what I had in mind.

    "Having established the toxicity of the compound as being 2.33 mg per day, we knew that the experimental rats' days were numbered." I think this would be sent back for revision.

    Different idioms work in different academic disciplines.
    Last edited by Raymott; 19-Dec-2011 at 08:26. Reason: spelling

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