11 June 2014
Newbie mistakes in scientific writing
New scientific writers often shorten lists of three or more authors by writing “et al”, with no period at the end.
This is a newbie mistake. “et al.” is short for the Latin phrase, “et alia”, which translates as “and others.” It’s an abbreviation, so it always has a period at the end. Also, neither word is capitalized.
People write this wrong so often, I have often thought that we should replace the obscure “et al.” with an English phrase (“and others”, “and colleagues”) or symbol (“&o”?).
In biology, another newbie mistake is not italicizing species names, or capitalizing the second word in a species name.
Any other newbie mistakes in other fields? Leave your examples in the comments!
Picture by Anne on Flickr; used under a Creative Commons license.