It cannot be omitted. It is a matter of grammar.
Academic articles are written under hard word limit restrictions. Acceptance rate can be low, and it is important to be informative in order not to lose in the competition with other submissions. At the same time, the language must be correct as well. So, the challenge is to find ways to be brief, and omitting articles can save many words.
"The semi-structured interviews were done on a voluntary basis"
Can 'a' be omitted in this case? If not, why? Is it a matter of style or grammar?
Last edited by postdeborinite; 01-Sep-2015 at 11:12.
The semi-structured interviews were done voluntarily.
You can change wordings to make your writing short.
..to lose in the competition..
I am not a teacher.
Rather than lose the articles, tedmc's suggestion is a good one; look to tighten up other sections of your sentences, or if necessary restructure and rephrase them in order to reduce the word count.
(BrE first language speaker.)
I more or less agree, but you have to admit that we are almost as redundant as the French in our use of articles. Indian English, for example, does just fine with a lot less of them. In most cases, I can't see any good reason for them, except that they sound 'normal'.
They may not serve much purpose, but academic writing is not the place to start the rebellion. If you used with volunteers, you would save two words, be grammatical and lose little in the way of meaning. They would have to volunteer if it is done on a voluntary basis. There are certainly better ways of saving words than breaking grammar rules.
Academic articles have hard limits on word count. To be among the few accepted, it is important to be informative and use correct language. Being concise can be challenging; omitting articles could save many words. 35 words.
You need an editor.
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.
haha, Barb. I will hire you next time I write a forum post. I can write tighter, but it takes time.
Anyway, the feedback from native speakers above has been very helpful - this is the kind of feedback that is hard to come by for us non-natives.
Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.