9.6 Acronyms and abbreviations - 9 Academic and scientific conventions

Academic Writing for International Students of Science - Jane Bottomley 2015

9.6 Acronyms and abbreviations
9 Academic and scientific conventions

Acronyms and abbreviations can be useful in academic scientific writing.

Acronyms are formed using the first letter of each word in a phrase, capitalised, e.g.

The UN (United Nations)

The RSC (Royal Society of Chemistry)

Abbreviations are formed by shortening a word, e.g.

esp. (especially)

etc. (from the Latin et cetera, meaning ’and others’)

Explorative Task (i)

Look at the text and complete the rule which follows about using acronyms by choosing the correct option.

The recent uptake of mobile phones has been accompanied by some concern about possible health risks.1 In the general population, the health effects most often attributed to mobile phone use are non-specific symptoms. Excluding sensations of mild warmth, the most commonly reported symptoms are headache, burning, dizziness, fatigue, and tingling.2 Mechanisms to explain these phenomena remain speculative, and, although the pulsing nature of ’global system for mobile communication’ (GSM) signals has been suggested to be partly to blame,3 experiments that have exposed healthy adults to GSM signals under blind conditions have not found any significant effects on the reporting of symptoms.4

(Rubin, 2006)

Rule for acronym use

When mentioning a term for the first time, use the full term/the acronym/either and put the full term/the acronym/either in brackets afterwards. After this, always use the full/term/the acronym/either.


Rewrite the text with correct use of acronyms.

GM foods are becoming more widely available. Many see the increased production of GM (genetically modified) crops as an important tool in the fight against world hunger. However, others are concerned by the possible effects of these foods on health.

Model Text 12, Appendix 4

Explorative Task (ii)

Identify the abbreviations in these sentences and complete the table below.

1) The report recommends encouraging higher consumption of legumes, e.g. lentils and chickpeas.

2) Atmospheric nitrogen needs to be ’fixed’, i.e. converted into a form that can be used by plants.

3) The chapter outlines common garden experiments (cf. contrasting garden experiments, pp. 457).

4) N.B. Protective clothing must be worn at all times.




sentence 1

exempli gratia

sentence 2

id est

sentence 3


sentence 4

nota bene