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Read your research article out loud

Remember when you were little and were learning to read and write, or when you just started to learn a second language? You were asked to read passages in text books out loud. Now you are learning to write scientific research papers in English, a language that’s not your own. My advice to you is to use the old trick—read them out loud. What I mean is, when you read your reference articles, read them out loud. When you edit your own writing before submitting a paper to a journal, read them out loud.

Reading good reference papers out loud will help you develop a feeling for the English language that you might not get when you only read silently, because it forces you to pay attention to every word, every syllable, and the punctuation. When you read silently, all your effort is spent on understanding the meaning of the texts, so all you notice are the main words, not how the sentence structure differs from your own language. Do you notice the comma before the word “respectively”? Or the word “the” before the name of an organ (for example, the heart)? Or that it’s always “research shows” not “researches show”? You are much more likely to pick up on these usages if you read out loud. It’s definitely not possible to read every one of your reference papers out loud; it slows you down considerably. But there must be some well-written papers you come back to often, perhaps a comprehensive review paper in your field. These can be the “text books” you read out loud.

Reading your own paper out loud will help you find errors that you might otherwise miss. You notice more things when you read the sentences out loud. Also, the feeling for English you have developed by reading reference papers out loud will help you sense whether the sentence you write sounds correct or awkward. Further, you will know why we always suggest writing shorter sentences. If you are out of breath before finishing reading a very long sentence, then you know you need to break it into multiple sentences, or use commas, semicolons, or other punctuation marks to add breaks into the sentence.

An added benefit of reading out loud is that you will know how to pronounce the words you come across in your research. When you read silently, you might mentally replace a word you don’t know how to pronounce with “the disease/molecule/compound I’m studying.” Many online dictionaries can pronounce the word for you, so look it up and learn to pronounce it. This way, when you go to international meetings, communicating with researchers from other countries will be much easier because you are more comfortable about speaking English out loud and you can pronounce those difficult words with ease.

Text for the recording:

Remember when you were little and were learning to read and write, or when you just started to learn a second language? You read passages in text books out loud. Now you are learning to write research papers in English. My advice is to use the old trick—read them out loud.
Pick some well-written reference papers, perhaps a comprehensive review paper that you check often, and use them as the “text books” to read out loud. This will help you develop a feeling for the English language that you might not get when you only read silently, because it forces you to pay attention to every word, every syllable, and the punctuation.

After you finish writing your own paper, also try reading it out loud. This will help you find errors that you might otherwise miss. Additionally, the feeling you have developed by reading reference papers will help you sense whether the sentence you write sounds correct or awkward.

An added benefit of reading out loud is that you will know how to pronounce the words you come across in your research. This way, when you go to international meetings, communicating with researchers from other countries will be much easier, because you are more comfortable about speaking English out loud and you can pronounce those difficult words with ease.


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