Analysis of “Fighting for breath”

Read the text „Fighting for breath“ in Tim Skerns „Writing Scientific English“ (p. 50f) and analyze its adherence to the aspects of good style.

The text “Fighting for breath” was written by Dr. Mark Porter and published in the BBC Radio Times in the year 1999. The author discusses the influence of air pollution on health problems.

We learned about good style with guidelines what were sometimes specific to scientific writing. While the given text seems to be a newspaper article, many of those rules apply here, too.
Still, I left out some negative criticism. For instance, I would point out the lack of citations in a scientific paper, but this does not seem appropriate in this case.

There is not much to criticize about this text but some minor flaws. For example, the title does not clearly state the topic and tries to be catchy. Furthermore, there are some parts of sentences that could be removed.
Additionally some words in the text were in italics, which was irritating, because it placed emphasis on words that didn’t need it. However, I am not certain if this use of cursive was intended by the original author or added later by Tim Skern.

The text showcases a lot of properties of good style. In my opinion the variety of sentence and paragraph length as well as of the sentence structure was appropriate. The active voice and the correct tenses were employed. Moreover, jargon was not used.

All in all, the author adheres to the aspects of good style.

One thought on “Analysis of “Fighting for breath”

  1. Josi says:

    Hi Norman,

    thanks for this in-depth analysis 🙂 You mentioned that the text actually is not scientific which is the main point for the analysis. You also stated correctly that there would have been some points missing if it had been a scientific article. I am still undecided if you are right with your statement that many of the good style rules would also apply for newspaper articles.

    But when I follow your argumentation from that standpoint you very well found some points that are missing and some that are fine in this text. I actually thought exactly the same with the words in italics and also assume that Tim Skern may have manipulated that a bit 😉

    Another thing I noticed is the use of parentheses, which makes the text harder to read and should be avoided. The author also used an exclamation mark, which would not be proper in a scientific text. The same applies to metaphors and comparisons (e.g. e.g. as thick as pea soup, political minefield, uphill struggle). This makes the text pleasant to read but does not belong in a scientific text.

    Now good luck with writing your paper and see you on Thursday 🙂

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