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The following notes are essential Following these guide lines will make your paper more accessible to evaluators during the review process and then to readers once your paper is published.  It will also speed up the review and publication presses.

Sub-sections:  Prof ed | There etc | Clauses | dangling-modifiers | Permissions | Clauses-examples

See also the page entitled Mechanics.

Good writing has the following characteristics (among others).

  • precision
  • clarity
  • simple sentences
  • grounded in concrete experience
  • appropriate pace
  • use of transitional devices (rhetorical signposts)
  • appeal to senses
  • correct grammar and punctuation
  • demonstrates clear thinking
  • appropriate use of analogies that provide meaningful context

The immature writer holds every word sacred; the good writer will jump at opportunities to improve -- and this means revising, simplifying and shortening.

Be sure that the final manuscript that you send has been thoroughly checked for all points in this Guide.  Make sure that the final manuscript has been carefully proofread and spell checked.

You will find some professional editing services listed here.  Do not be ashamed of using them, even if you are a native speaker.  If you are a non-native, it will be a major boost to your ms.  You will save time and hassle; the money is well spent.  It could also make the cucial difference between having your ms accepted and rejected, and even getting your final ms accepted.  Cases have arisen where an author has gone through the long review process, revised (maybe several times), done a final version, and then had the final version refused because the quality of writing was not up to scratch.  The author then hires a profesional editor, and the ms breezes through.

Language clarity

Keep sentences short and simple.  Keep paragraphs short.  Use plenty of headings and sub-headings.  Use a topic sentence for every paragraph.

Simplicity and clarity of language are important in a journal that that is read around the world.  Before submitting your paper, get a friend or colleague (preferably one who is not familiar with the topic) to look at a draft and invite them to provide you with some honest and detailed feedback about both form and content, about what is essential and what is not.  Apart from increasing the chance of your paper being accepted for publication, this will also make your paper more accessible to readers -- which must be your primary concern.

If you are a non-native writer of English, it is essential that you get your early manuscript corrected by a native speaker.  Neither the editor nor the publisher can correct the writing of either native or non-native writers.  If a manuscript is not in correct English (i.e., corrected by a native speaker and written in native-speaker style), then it will simply be rejected.  Make sure that you ask a good native writer.  This means one who has already written and published academic articles, especially in good journals.

If English usage is incorrect, your manuscript will rejected (even if its contents are fine).  It is strongly suggested that both a colleague and a non-expert (naive) friend read the manuscript before it is submitted for review, in order to point out areas that need clarification.

Badly written manuscripts will be rejected outright, whether this is due to inacceptable non-native writing or to bad native writing.

Once you get to your final version, then seriously consider asking for professional help from an editing service - see bottom of this page.

Jargon, wording & avoiding verbosity

Keep in mind that the simulation/gaming community comprises professionals from a wide variety of disciplines and practices.  What may be perfectly clear to everyone in management may seem obscure to those in environmental planning; what is perfectly familiar to language teachers may be quite incomprehensible to computer scientists.

Although you should not take up space with a comprehensive survey of your field (unless it is a review article), you should explain unfamiliar or potentially opaque terms in a succinct periphrase within parentheses.  For example, on the first use of a technical term, you might write "... simulation is useful for receptive language skills (these are listening and reading) ...".  In other words, avoid jargon at all costs, and if technical words are necessary clarify them briefly (e.g., by a short explanation in parentheses, such as this one, or if greater explanation is needed, provide this in an endnote).  In addition, you might provide one or two basic references to your disciplinary area in addition to the more specialized items.

Avoid careless, vague or unnecessary wording.  Where appropriate, use Anglo-Saxon terms rather than words of Latin origin.

Avoid what Zinsser calls creeping nounism, "a new disease that strings two or three nouns together when one will do".  For example, precipitation activity can be called rain.

You must take particular care with style.  A well-written paper conveys its message and communicates its ideas more clearly and with greater force than a poorly written one.  As a general rule, this means using simple language, short sentences and clearly-structured paragraphing, rather than such things as complex, difficult-to-fathom, overly-complicated, polysemic, noun/adjective phrase-structure lexico-semantic cluster sets.

A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.  Strunk & White

Assumptions & attitudes

Be careful to avoid wording that may (even unintentionally) reflect questionable attitudes and assumptions about people, sex roles and social groups.  This not a question of trying to be so-called politically correct; it is simply a matter of showing respect for other groups.

Do not use the false generic "man" and its derivatives.  Instead, use people, humans, humanity; work force, staff; artificial, synthetic, manufactured; person-to-person, personally; staffed by; executive; chairperson, chair; fire fighter; supervisor; police officer; leader, politician; etc.

Do not use the false generic "he" and other masculine pronouns.  Do not try to get round this with a blanket disclaimer.  Instead, do the following:

  • Change to plural: A person learns that he ...  becomes  People learn that they ...
  • They as singular pronoun.  Ask each person to give their opinion.   [This is correct English, contrary to what some might hold (going back as far as Caxton in 1470).]
  • Use the second person. Each person must write his name  becomes You must write your name.
  • Use an article. Everyone gives an opinion  instead of  his opinion.
  • Use the passive. If he cannot answer the question  becomes If the question cannot be answered.
  • Other suggestions.  Ask questions about his family   becomes Ask questions about your partner's family.

The above notes are taken from Women in EFL Materials (1991).  On balance: Guidelines for the representation of women and men in English language teaching materials.  Didcot: Women in EFL Materials (c/o Place Farm House, Chilton nr Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 0SF, UK).  This publication also contains a useful bibliography.

See also Yahoo section on gender-neutral language.

Important points

There.  Avoid "There is / are" structures.  See the there page with examples.
   Instead of:  There are many different forms that written debriefing can take.
   Write  Written debriefing can take many different forms.

Do not use "But" or "And" or similar connectors at the start of sentences.  Instead use "However," or "In addition," or other suitable expressions.

Include "that" in subordinate clauses.  Write we think  that  it is …, and not  we think ^ it is ... .

Which of the policies you were asked to provide advice about did you find the most troubling and why? 

Which of the policies that you were asked to provide advice about did you find the most troubling and why? 

Of the policies about which you were asked to provide advice did you find the most troubling and why? 

Of the policies about which you were asked to provide advice did you find the most troubling and why? 


Which / that. Make sure of correct use of  comma + which for non-defining relative clause (we liked the COMMONS GAME, which was designed and  facilitated by Richard Powers),.and  that  for defining relative clause  (the game that we demonstrated was BAFA).  Use  who  for people (not that).  Be careful if you give your ms to a British corrector;  they often do not make the distinction, which is important, especially for a journal that [not which] is published in the USA.  I have had ms back from British correctors who flount the rule, and flatten everything to "no comma which", which often makes understanding difficult.  Be sure to study this page carefully.

Do not use different than or to, but rather  different from .

Do not attempt to carelessly and indiscriminately split infinitives; instead write with discernment.

Use  although  instead of though in most cases.  Do not use while for although.

Be very careful of dangling modifiers.  Pls be sure to go to this page, and correct any and all dangling modifiers that may be lurking in your ms

Avoid careless, vague or unnecessary wording.  Where appropriate, use Anglo-Saxon terms rather than words of Latin origin.  Avoid what Zinsser calls creeping nounism, "a new diseasee that strings two or three nouns together when one will do".  For example, precipitation activity can be called rain.

 Active /passive.  Prefer active sentences where possible.  Use a passive only when it is truly warranted, e.g., it is simpler than the active or it is necessary in the context used.

Use  first person .  Rather than saying the present author is of the opinion that, it is better to say I think that.

Use the "find" function in Word to find the instances, and then change.  For example, in many cases, you can simply do a search on "But", and replace with "However,".

Writing guides

You should definitely follow the recommendations in the Sage guide to help authors write so that their work will be discovered, read, used and cited:

All good writers should have a few writing reference books on their shelf.  You can do no better than:

  • Fowler, H. W.  A Dictionary of Modern English Usage.   Oxford University Press.

These too are excellent:

  • Bryson, B. The Penguin Dictionary of Troublesome Words.   Penguin.
  • Carey, G. V. Mind the Stop: A Brief Guide to Punctuation.   Penguin.
  • Gowers, E. The Complete Plain Words.  Penguin.
  • Hacker, D. A Writer’s Reference.  St Martin’s Press.
  • Manser, M. H. The Penguin Wordmaster Dictionary.   Penguin.
  • Strunk, W. & White, E. B.  The Elements of Style.   Macmillan.

On the web, you will find plenty of sites to help you write better articles.  For example

Web sites with useful advice on good writing include the following.

Remember to get a professional editing service if you have any doubt about your writing.

Finally, a word on etiquette, important in many areas of academia - Etiquette


You may wish to include material from elsewhere, for example, a diagram.  You may need to obtain permission to use this material in your paper. Permission is usually granted.  For more details go to the permissions page.