Ah, the glories of Twitter led me to this marvellous short handout by David Schulz titled “How to improve upon common errors in student science writing“. At only 7 pages long theres little excuse not to read this document and it helps me answer my colleagues questions on scientific english as well. So many small editorial aspects that I was never formally taught.
“For Critical Literature Reviews, dissertations, and other research papers, rather than just mentioning in passing the lack of consensus in the literature or the gap in the literature, motivate it in the introduction by describing how the lack of consensus is affecting the science. If there is a debate, provide enough evidence for and against to motivate your reader. The reader should understand your concerns. Can you provide an example? Can you quantify what the failure to address this issue is doing? Otherwise, readers may not get the sense from what you’ve written what the debate is all about and why they should care.”
David M. Schultz is a Professor of Synoptic Meteorology at the Centre for Atmospheric Science of the University of Manchester, Chief Editor for Monthly Weather Review, and author of “Eloquent Science: A Practical Guide to Becoming a Better Writer, Speaker, and Atmospheric Scientist“. His website http://eloquentscience.com is full of other tips and tricks.