Words to avoid

Hyndsight

According to Andrew Gelman, we should avoid these words in research writing:

  • Note that

  • Interestingly

  • Obviously

  • It is clear that

  • It is interesting to note that

  • very

  • quite

  • of course

  • Notice that

I agree with him that all of these are overused, but that doesn’t mean they should be banned.  The words “very” and “quite” are useful for conveying the strength of a statement. Similarly, “of course” and “it is clear that” are occasionally useful, although they are frequently used to cover holes in an argument or even to bolster a weak argument.

I have been working hard on eliminating “Note that”, “Notice that”, “It is interesting to note that” and other variations from my own writing. The phrases don’t add anything and are easily deleted. However, using these phrases seems to be a deeply ingrained habit, and going cold turkey is tough!

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