An ambiguity is a word, phrase, or sentence that can be interpreted in more than one way. Whereas poets win awards for ambiguity, engineers and scientists are sued for ambiguities. This lesson teaches you to be sensitive to four common sources of ambiguity in scientific writing: word choice, word order, pronouns (particularly it and this), and missing punctuation.
Overall perspective on avoiding ambiguity.
Avoiding ambiguity, particularly with word choice and word order.
Avoiding ambiguity, particularly with pronouns and punctuation.
In the following excerpts, circle the words that cause ambiguities. For each excerpt, identify the source of ambiguity: (1) improper word order, (2) missing punctuation, or (3) unclear pronoun reference. Where possible, correct the error.
For the academic year 2019-2020, we are collecting comments, criticisms, and suggestions for the films, text, exercises, and quizzes of each lesson on scientific writing. To help us assess your input, would please let us know whether you are a student, professional, or faculty member, what your discipline is, and what your institution is?