Use of parentheses in scientific writing
Thread poster: patyjs

patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 20:46
Spanish to English
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Nov 5, 2018

I'm looking for opinions on whether the use of parentheses in the following sentence is necessary:

The range of the Igeo values were as follow: for Cd (-2.54 to 2.40); for Cu (-2.40 to 6.99); for Cr (-3.15 to 1.76); for Pb (-3.22 to 4.76); for Ni (-2.61 to 1.07); for Fe (-1.68 to 1.06) and for Zn (-1.59 to 2.02) (Table 3).


Thanks


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
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No Nov 5, 2018

No, it’s wrong to use them like that. Better with comma or colon, or ideally listed on separate lines. The grammar ain’t too hot either.

Kevin Clayton, PhD
B D Finch
Rachel Fell
 

Kaspars Melkis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:46
English to Latvian
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why not? Nov 6, 2018

I suppose that using parenthesis here helps a reader to clearly see values for each element separately. I understand this data is also later presented in the table but there might be a reason to give the same data in the text.

Punctuation is not something we have to use in order to follow certain linguistic rules but rather to guide a reader and improve readability, visual and aesthetic perception. Consistency is important in standard cases but in less common situations it is ok to
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I suppose that using parenthesis here helps a reader to clearly see values for each element separately. I understand this data is also later presented in the table but there might be a reason to give the same data in the text.

Punctuation is not something we have to use in order to follow certain linguistic rules but rather to guide a reader and improve readability, visual and aesthetic perception. Consistency is important in standard cases but in less common situations it is ok to experiment with new, betters ways how it is presented.
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neilmac
 

Daniel Frisano
Switzerland
Local time: 03:46
Member (2008)
English to Italian
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Not necessary Nov 6, 2018

It is not necessary, nor advisable. The idea is that you should be able to remove all parentheses and their content with the sentence still making sense, which is not the case here. It is not written in stone though - here the use of parentheses is perhaps improper, but not an actual error.

Commas works better here. Colons too, except that they would be nested inside the colon after "as follows", which again is not recommendable style-wise.

I would also use a semicolon
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It is not necessary, nor advisable. The idea is that you should be able to remove all parentheses and their content with the sentence still making sense, which is not the case here. It is not written in stone though - here the use of parentheses is perhaps improper, but not an actual error.

Commas works better here. Colons too, except that they would be nested inside the colon after "as follows", which again is not recommendable style-wise.

I would also use a semicolon before "and for Zn".

Finally, it is advisable to use a minus sign (–) rather than a regular dash (-) for negative values.

[Edited at 2018-11-06 12:19 GMT]
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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 03:46
Spanish to English
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It depends Nov 6, 2018

Many journals (but not all) will have set guidelines for this type of thing.
Numbers, stats and figures have never been my strong point, and as this kind of issue usually crops up in academic or technical texts written by authors who should know what they're doing, I tend to leave this kind of thing the way they drafted it and stick to dealing with what I know about, i.e. the words.

If the way they have drafted the figures/stats does not meet the journal's standards, the pape
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Many journals (but not all) will have set guidelines for this type of thing.
Numbers, stats and figures have never been my strong point, and as this kind of issue usually crops up in academic or technical texts written by authors who should know what they're doing, I tend to leave this kind of thing the way they drafted it and stick to dealing with what I know about, i.e. the words.

If the way they have drafted the figures/stats does not meet the journal's standards, the paper will usually be sent back to the authors, specifying modifications that the authors need to make before it will be considered for publication, and that is where I would expect to see this kind of issue arising.

[Edited at 2018-11-06 11:38 GMT]
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Vesa Korhonen
 

B D Finch  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:46
Member (2006)
French to English
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It might not be for a journal Nov 6, 2018

neilmac wrote:

Many journals (but not all) will have set guidelines for this type of thing.
Numbers, stats and figures have never been my strong point, and as this kind of issue usually crops up in academic or technical texts written by authors who should know what they're doing, I tend to leave this kind of thing the way they drafted it and stick to dealing with what I know about, i.e. the words.

If the way they have drafted the figures/stats does not meet the journal's standards, the paper will usually be sent back to the authors, specifying modifications that the authors need to make before it will be considered for publication, and that is where I would expect to see this kind of issue arising.

[Edited at 2018-11-06 11:38 GMT]


It shouldn't be assumed that the translation is intended for an English language journal. If, as I believe is the case, the parentheses are wrong, then that should be corrected, as should the grammar of "The range of the Igeo values were as follow".

The ranges of values are directly referred to and so they absolutely shouldn't be in parentheses. I disagree with Kaspars comment:

Kaspars wrote:
"Punctuation is not something we have to use in order to follow certain linguistic rules but rather to guide a reader and improve readability, visual and aesthetic perception. Consistency is important in standard cases but in less common situations it is ok to experiment with new, betters ways how it is presented."


This is not literature or poetry, where one can experiment. In this sort of context, rules about how punctuation is used should be followed, so that the meaning is clear and the reader isn't left trying to guess at it.

[Edited at 2018-11-06 14:46 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-11-06 14:46 GMT]


Kevin Clayton, PhD
 

Kaspars Melkis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:46
English to Latvian
+ ...
what are the rules? Nov 6, 2018

B D Finch wrote:
This is not literature or poetry, where one can experiment. In this sort of context, rules about how punctuation is used should be followed, so that the meaning is clear and the reader isn't left trying to guess at it.

[Edited at 2018-11-06 14:46 GMT]

[Edited at 2018-11-06 14:46 GMT]


The presentation of the study results is important, however, I haven't seen the style guide of a scientific journal that specifies every minor detail of punctuation. It is a matter of conventions, accepted practice, pragmatics and readability. I don't know but maybe in fact it is an generally accepted way to present data in this way for this field.

The question here is what is improved if you remove parenthesis and use colons as suggested above? I find it much harder to find the value I am looking for if I am interested in a specific element. It is subjective but see for yourself.

The range of the Igeo values were as follow: for: Cd: –2.54 to 2.40; for Cu: –2.40 to 6.99; for Cr: –3.15 to 1.76; for Pb: –3.22 to 4.76; for Ni: –2.61 to 1.07; for Fe: –1.68 to 1.06; and for Zn: –1.59 to 2.02 (Table 3).

compared to

The range of the Igeo values were as follow: for Cd (-2.54 to 2.40); for Cu (-2.40 to 6.99); for Cr (-3.15 to 1.76); for Pb (-3.22 to 4.76); for Ni (-2.61 to 1.07); for Fe (-1.68 to 1.06) and for Zn (-1.59 to 2.02) (Table 3).


neilmac
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
The rules Nov 6, 2018

Kaspars Melkis wrote:
The question here is what is improved if you remove parenthesis and use colons as suggested above? I find it much harder to find the value I am looking for if I am interested in a specific element. It is subjective but see for yourself


This is simply not the grammatical purpose of brackets. Consider the very meaning of parenthesis. Something incidental. These figures are not.

The mathematical use of brackets is also different.

If you want clarity, how about:

Cu 2.3 to 2.5
Bg 2.5 to 2.7


 

patyjs  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 20:46
Spanish to English
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TOPIC STARTER
I took them out. Nov 6, 2018

I was given the paper as a revision and decided to take the parentheses out. I always wonder why scientific articles invariably include a textual account of the results that are presented more readably in table form at the end. They are difficult to read and anyone needing to scan for information would undoubtedly head straight for the tables.

Thanks for all the input.


 

Philip Lees  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 04:46
Member (2008)
Greek to English
Scientific authors Nov 7, 2018

patyjs wrote:

I always wonder why scientific articles invariably include a textual account of the results that are presented more readably in table form at the end.


Because they can't think what else to write. Many scientific researchers find it difficult to write up their studies intelligibly, even in their own native language.

This also probably explains the redundant parentheses, although some journals prefer that ranges of values be expressed in that way - confidence intervals, for example - though that does not apply here.


neilmac
Jacek Sierakowski
 

Kaspars Melkis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:46
English to Latvian
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That is my question exactly Nov 7, 2018

Chris S wrote:

This is simply not the grammatical purpose of brackets. Consider the very meaning of parenthesis.


What is the grammatical purpose of brackets? I don't believe that there is one fixed purpose. For pragmatic reasons we use parenthesis to separate information to improve its presentation. The most traditional case would be to include synonyms or explanations, or additions, not necessarily something that can be omitted without losing sense. Also used to indicate a list, such as 1), 2), 3). You could also use double parenthesis (1), (2), (3) or even something else 1., 2. or 1/, 2/ etc. depending on typographic choices. Parenthesis are often used for references, like, see (1).

In statistics parenthesis are often used to indicate confidence intervals.

If you want clarity, how about:

Cu 2.3 to 2.5
Bg 2.5 to 2.7


That would the best but might not be possible due to the need to keep this part short and present in the table later. If the author had written something like: “The range of the Igeo values was found for the following elements: Cu (2.3 to 2.5); … ” would someone had complained about parenthesis then?


Chris S
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Exactly! Nov 7, 2018

Kaspars Melkis wrote:
If the author had written something like: “The range of the Igeo values was found for the following elements: Cu (2.3 to 2.5); … ” would someone had complained about parenthesis then?

No. Because that makes sense


Kaspars Melkis
 

Eliza Hall
United States
Local time: 21:46
Member (2018)
French to English
+ ...
Yes, normal Nov 7, 2018

patyjs wrote:

I'm looking for opinions on whether the use of parentheses in the following sentence is necessary:

The range of the Igeo values were as follow: for Cd (-2.54 to 2.40); for Cu (-2.40 to 6.99); for Cr (-3.15 to 1.76); for Pb (-3.22 to 4.76); for Ni (-2.61 to 1.07); for Fe (-1.68 to 1.06) and for Zn (-1.59 to 2.02) (Table 3).


Thanks


Yes, that's absolutely normal. Look at any scientific paper on PubMed -- this is the normal way to express values and statistical spreads. For instance: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30399625

Click on any link there to any study abstract and you'll see the same thing


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Er, not quite Nov 7, 2018

Eliza Hall wrote:
Yes, that's absolutely normal. Look at any scientific paper on PubMed -- this is the normal way to express values and statistical spreads. For instance: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30399625

Click on any link there to any study abstract and you'll see the same thing


I clicked on your link and four more and all I found was grammatically correct use of brackets to show incidental information

[Edited at 2018-11-07 17:10 GMT]


 


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Use of parentheses in scientific writing

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