Some of the most common mistakes academics make are also the easiest to fix. One example involves spelling errors that spell-check will not find. Most academics know well enough that they need to run spell-check before submitting a paper. And, they also know that even though jargon such as neoliberalization or mestizaje might not pass muster in spell check, they are acceptable words in academic writing. Instead, the mistakes I see time and time again in academic writing are those that spell-check will not pick up because they are legitimate words; they just are not being used in the proper way.
Here are five of the most common mistakes I see in academic writing.
Mistake #1: Lead/ledProper usage: Some people may be led to believe that pencils are made of lead.
“Led” is the past tense of the verb “to lead.” “Lead” is the substance we used to put in pencils.
Mistake #2: Pour/pore or Pouring/poringProper usage: While I was poring over my book, my daughter began to pour coffee on it.
“To pour” means to spill a liquid on something. “To pore” means to read intensively.
Mistake #3: Lose/looseProper usage: You might lose your pants if they are too loose.
“To lose” is a verb that refers to something that you no longer can find. “Loose” means something is not tight.
Mistake #4: Eek/ekeProper usage: Having to eke out a living as a farm worker might make me scream “eek!”
“To eke” is a verb usually used to refer to stretching out scant resources. “Eek” is something you scream.
Mistake #5: Compliment/complementProper usage: She complimented me on how well my pants complemented my shirt.
“To compliment” means to give praise. “To complement” refers to something matching something else.
These are the five mistakes I see most frequently. Avoiding them will enhance your credibility. What are some mistakes you see?
"Baited breath" is painful--not just a misspelling but an unnecessary cliché!ReplyDelete
Yes. And, unfortunate imagery as well...ReplyDelete
Maybe it's because I teach high school, but I often see much simpler homonym confusion. I see your and you're, there and their, and to and too confused regularly.ReplyDelete
Ian: I see that too, especially in my students' papers. I am at a coffee shop and just saw one I am always tempted to point out: Columbia for Colombia.ReplyDelete
My Colombian friends who go to Columbia actually pronounce the difference, which is nice.ReplyDelete
One spelling mistake that drives me crazy is writing "then" when one should be writing "than".ReplyDelete
Of course their, there & they're... and your & you're are common mistakes, but how did you miss > it's (it is) & its (possessive) < Gotta be a major part of the English population that believes you can make ITS possessive by adding an apostrophe! YOU CAN'T :)ReplyDelete
affect versus effect....argh!ReplyDelete
I have been on the Editorial Boards of several international, scientific journals. I have also been on the Technical Program Committees of a large number of international scientific conferences, a job that requires reading and editing numerous papers. And I've also been on multiple proposal review committees for the National Scientific Foundation. Neither I nor any other editor/reviewer would have gotten away with rejecting a paper or proposal due to spelling errors -- unless, of course, there were so many that reading the paper/proposal was nearly impossible due to those errors. We do *not* look for just any reason to reject a paper or proposal. Usually, we have the opposite problem -- finding a sufficient number of reasons to accept the thing! Furthermore, all our accept/reject decisions have to be justified to the other board/committee members; I can assure you that rejecting a paper due to spelling errors would result in a hearty guffaw from the others.ReplyDelete
But your point about small acceptance rates is definitely true, but I've never, ever seen spelling errors be a cause for rejection.
I want to mention that I thoroughly agree with your stand on the importance of spelling, and most of the examples cited above seriously grieve me as well.