As you write, think of the shortest, most direct way of expressing your meanings. When you have finished your first draft, review it and condense it by cutting out unnecessary words. Your two objectives in a scientific work are clarity and conciseness (English literature and journalism have other objectives). This means: present your work in as few words as you can while being totally clear about the meaning. Use short words, not long ones, when the short words do the job. Don't use complicated scientific expressions (jargon) when simple words explain just as well. Most examples below come from students' writing. Look for occurrence of any of the following words/expressions in your writing and change them as needed: they are over-used in bad scientific writing:
1.01 "at this point in time"
- this is hot air from 1970s politicians -- it means "now", so write "now" and save space.
1.02 "a number ... were"
- don't write "a number [of something] were" -- this is bad grammar [a number (the subject) must take a verb in the singular - was not were] and also suggests precision when none is specified -- write instead "some ... were" or "several ... were" or, better, specify the number.
1.03 "a total of ... were"
- again, this is bad grammar. Write instead simply "xxx were" or, to avoid beginning a sentence with numerals "In total, xxx were", where xxx is a number.
1.04 "a variety of ... were"
- this is even worse than "a number ... were" not only because it is bad grammar [SEE 1.02 and 1.03], but because the word "variety" has special meaning in biology (an infra-subspecific category) whereas it is used by journalists in an altogether other sense. If you mean "various [something] were" then write various [something] were.
- the word "both" is redundant in the expression "Both adults and larvae are predatory", and in many other expressions, so omit it and save space.
- the verb comprise means "to consist of", as in "the genus comprises 10 species." It is wrong to write "the genus is comprised of 10 species." In most sentences you may write "has" instead of "comprises", and you should do this.
- far too many people write such things as "five different species occurred in the habitat" - the word "different" serves no useful purpose here and should be omitted.
- this is early 1990s jargon, meaning "effect" - so write "effect" and reserve the word "impact" for the striking of one body against another (SEE CBE Style Manual).
1.09 "irregardless" (no such word)
- perhaps you mean regardless, or irrespective.
1.10 "on a .... basis"
- expressions "on a daily basis", "on a monthly basis", "on a annual basis", "on a weekly basis" are hot air and should be written instead as daily, monthly, annually or yearly, and weekly (e.g., the routine was used daily). Instead of "on a biweekly basis" write fortnightly if you mean once every 2 weeks, and if you mean "twice a week" then write twice a week. Instead of "on an ongoing basis" write continually.
- this word has nothing to do with predation - it means antedate, not prey on.
- look at the sentence you wrote -- if you mean "now" you can probably omit the word "presently" with no loss of meaning, although in a very small percentage of uses you will have to write "now" (not presently); if, however, you mean "soon" (which was the meaning of the word "presently" in Darwin's time and still is correct), you would do better to write "soon" (SEE CBE Style Manual).
1.13 "the majority"
- don't write "the majority were...", write instead "most were..." Why? Because the latter expression is shorter.
- this is a silly error from the 1980s - it should be written "under way" (two words, meaning "in progress") -- "underway" must mean some kind of subterranean tunnel.
- would you write "Joe utilized a bottle opener to open his beer"? - of course not, so don't use those words in scientific writing - write instead use/ used/ use.
1.16 "feel like"
- "I feel cold" is a straightforward expression in which the writer or speaker announces that he has the sense of being cold (and most probably his skin would feel cold to the touch). There is no justification for writing "I feel like I'm cold" instead. The word "like" is redundant and overused in this and many other expressions.
1.17 "off of"
- in country-and-western songs and in real life you may have heard expressions such as "he got off of his horse." There is no need here or anywhere else to write "off of" --- write "off" alone because adding "of" in these expressions is redundant.
1.18 "outside of", "inside of"
- these expressions are redundant. Write simply "inside" or "outside".
1.19 words ending in -ogy
- the word biology is defined in dictionaries as, for example, "the scientific study of the life and structure of living things." Thus, titles of works such as "A study of the biology of fruit flies" are saying "A study of the study of fruit flies" which is nonsense unless the objective of the work is a history of the science. What the author probably meant was "A biology of fruit flies", meaning that he or she studied the life and/or structure of fruit flies. Other words ending in -ogy (- "the study of...") are similarly often misused. Ecology means "the study of living things in relation to one another and to the environment", but it has been wrongly used by the popular press to mean "the environment." Technology is "the study of techniques in applied engineering", but it is commonly used by bureaucrats, the press, and others to mean "techniques" or "devices" -- computer science is a technology but a computer is not a technology -- genetic engineering is a technology but genetically-engineered corn is not a technology!
1.20 "rate of speed"
- how often have you read in a newspaper a statement from the police charging that a person was "driving at a high rate of speed"? It seems almost to be standard police jargon, but is unnecessary because speed is implicitly a rate. The simplest way of saying it is that the person was "driving at high speed."
- in physics, the word "rate" is implicitly a speed (something per unit of time), such as reactions per nanosecond, drops per second, revolutions per minute (RPM), miles per hour (MPH), or distance travelled per light-year. Unfortunately, in common English, the word "rate" has come to mean almost any sort of ratio such as exchange rate (number of yen per dollar), or mortgage rate (annual interest paid as a percentage of loans for the purchase of "real estate").
- to the general public, this word is a synonym of important, remarkable, and "notable." However, it has a special meaning in statistics. Therefore it is better, in any manuscript that includes results of statistical tests, not to use the word significant in the general sense - use one of the synonyms instead.
1.23 "there are"
- take care when you use this expression. Avoid writing such sentences as "There are numerous books that already do this." Why? It uses too many words, and could be rewritten as "Many books already do this."
It is noteworthy that application of chemicals to humans or other organisms, expressed as a unit per kg of body mass of the recipient (e.g., mg per kg) should be called a "dose" instead of a "rate." In scientific terms (physics) such an action is not a "rate", and "dose" is an appropriate expression. This concept of "dose" logically could be extended to the application of chemicals to agricultural crops to control pests (pounds per acre, or kg per ha). Unfortunately, farmers (and entomologists) have adopted the common English expression "rate" to express use of agricultural chemicals. They write about pounds per acre as being a "rate" whereas it would be more appropriate to call such applications (pounds per acre) a dose.
If there still are ways to reduce the number of words or shorten your text, do it.
Council of Biological Editors. 1994. Scientific Style and Format. The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers. Cambridge Univ. Press; Cambridge, UK. 6th edition.