Scientific Writing

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A reader submitted this paragraph for free proofreading:
The experiments had been carried out on “18th, 19th, and 20th” June 2005; using two receivers “Ashtech Z12 at the base station and Ashtech X-TREME at the rover station”. The orientation of the base line “its length ≈ 49.0 m” is approximately north east with an azimuth of 41o.
Figure (1) demonstrates the location of both base and rover stations, and harsh environment around the antennas, which are possible sources of background multi-path. For the whole days, the base antenna remained centered and kept fixed, while the rover antenna kept fixed during the first two days, and then a sudden small movement was applied to it by amount of “2.7 cm ± 0.5 mm” in the southeast direction in the third day after ≈40 minutes from first observation. The induced movement magnitude and direction are defined by terrestrial measurements using total station equipment .The data collected for approximately 1.45 hours with observation rate of 0.5 Hz for all data sessions [Faried 2007].
In this paper, the direction of movement is defined precisely by terrestrial measurement as mentioned above, as it is the key factor to assess the movement magnitude correctly. In real environment, the direction of deformation could be guessed based on the structure behavior (for example: dam deformed in lateral direction due the water load and so on).

Suggested changes are below in red. My comments are in italics.

The first error I see is the quotation marks. People often put quotation marks in for material they consider important. However, this is wrong. Quotation marks are used for a specific purpose: to show words taken from somewhere else. I eliminated quotation marks in the first sentence as there did not seem to be any grammatical need for them. If words are quoted for a particular reason, then the source of the quotation should be included for reference. Unfortunately scientific symbols do not transmit properly in this text mode, so I’ve had to make a few guesses.

The experiments were carried out on the 18th, 19th, and 20th of June 2005, using two receivers: Ashtech Z12 at the base station and Ashtech X-TREME at the rover station. The orientation of the base line with its length of 49.0 m is approximately north east with an azimuth of 41o.

Another problem with this first sentence is the use of a semi-colon. Use a semicolon for sentences with parallel structure; each side of the semi-colon is grammatically equivalent. Use a colon for to introduce a list or to emphasize a point.

Figure (1) demonstrates the location of both base and rover stations, and the harsh environment around the antennas, which are possible sources of background multi-path. For whole days, the base antenna remained centered and kept fixed, while the rover antenna kept fixed during the first two days. A sudden small movement was applied to it by amount of 2.7 cm ± 0.5 mm in the southeast direction on the third day after 40 minutes from first observation. The induced movement magnitude and direction are defined by terrestrial measurements using total station equipment. The data was collected for approximately 1.45 hours with an observation rate of 0.5 Hz for all data sessions (Faried, 2007).

The square brackets were changed to normal parentheses. We use square brackets to indicate where material might be changed slightly to fix grammar. An example might be to add a word [the] to a sentence to clarify. It acknowledges to the reader that a small change has been made to quoted material. The reader can go and find the original if he is concerned that the meaning has been changed. For citations, use parentheses with the name of the author and the date separated by a comma. (This may vary depending on the reference style.)

In this paper, the direction of movement is defined precisely by terrestrial measurement as mentioned above, as it is the key factor to assess the movement magnitude correctly. In the real environment, the direction of deformation could be guessed, based on the structural behavior (for example: a dam deformed in a lateral direction due the water load and so on).

The passive voice is used in scientific writing, as it is in much other academic writing. I have yet to find a software solution that takes into account the use of passive voice in academic writing. When I edit material, I often run it through MS Word’s grammar checker as a last check before I return the work and it consistently flags passive voice constructions as incorrect. However, these are absolutely correct in most cases. It is especially true in scientific writing that the writing should be done to eliminate the personal. I am aware that there is a shift and that some writing is being accepted into scientific journals that is more active, as long as it sticks to the principle that all steps in the process are described so they can be reproduced. I’ve also used WhiteSmoke’s grammar checker, and it also flags passive voice constructions. In the end, I think there is no substitution for a real live editor.