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Occasionally students are tempted to impress supervisors with obscure words and phrases which do not lend clarity to their writing or suit their current style. Sophistication of argument and expression will develop; at this stage the important point is to answer the question as clearly and concisely as possible.

Consider the vocabulary used in this passage (.pdf) taken from a supervision essay, Compare and contrast prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Keep the following questions in mind as you read and highlight any notable phrases:

  • Is it consistently formal? 
  • Are there any interesting words or phrases which aid or impede clarity?



Click here for detailed commentary (pdf).

The language in this extract is inconsistent, ranging from sophisticated, adventurous phrases and compound words to more conversational, informal phrases.

Repetition of some words, such as ‘cytoskeleton’ could be avoided by effective use of pronouns (it, them, those, these, this etc).

Repetition, unnecessary detail and inconsistent vocabulary hints at plagiarism. This essay is in fact mostly constructed from cut and pasted sections from the internet, confirmed by the number of footnotes.