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Common Mistakes

Mistakes commonly made in Oshkosh Scholar submissions.

Undefined Jargon

Define terms. You know what you’re talking about, but would someone in a different field understand your article? Keep this in mind when you’re using terms that are specific to your discipline.


Don’t use three words to state what could be said in one. Here’s a list of 10 common wordy phrases:

Don’t Say…


based on the fact that


at the present time


for the purpose of


any particular type

any type

the present study

this study

there were several students who answered

several students answered

demonstrate a preference for


in spite of the fact that


in order to


has the ability to



Don’t use extra words to emphasize your point. Just say what you mean! Here’s a list of common redundancies:

Don’t Say…


really/very prominent


both alike


a total of 50 students

50 students

seven different people

seven people

exactly the same

the same

absolutely essential


previously researched


large in size


in close proximity


completely gone


period of time



Simple pronouns can cause confusion among readers. Be specific when you write this, that, these, those. Write, “This experiment,” or “those formulas” to remove ambiguity.

Use First Person

Change sentences from this, “The experimenters discussed the effects of the…” to “We discussed...” In this case “we” refers to you and your coauthors only; any use of “we” beyond that meaning causes ambiguity. Use “I” if you are the author.

Use Active Voice

Passive Voice
Active Voice
The experiment was completed in a lab.
We completed the experiment in a lab.
Twenty aptitude tests were designed by Carter (2008). Carter (2008) designed 20 aptitude tests.
Participants were asked by the experimenters to… We asked participants to…

However, when you want the focus on the recipient of the action, use the passive voice:

Active Voice
Passive Voice
We attached the tubes to the bottom and top of the chair. The tubes were attached to the top and bottom of the chair.
John Smith shot the president. (emphasizes who did the shooting The president was shot. (emphasizes who was shot)
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by Reinke, Heidi L last modified Jan 21, 2011 02:48 PM
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