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Scientific Writing

A guide to writing papers in a scientific manner, and how to present scientific material.

Complete Sentences vs Fragment Examples

Examples of Sentence Fragments
The treatment is effective. As the results showed.
Our professor asked us about our project. Hoping that our research would be effective.
Jasmine asked the test subject about any supplemental drugs they were taking. Worrying that our experiment had been compromised.
The drug has some mild side effects. For example, sneezing, eye irritation, or coughing.
Jerry acted like he knew everything about Organic Chemistry. But got an F because he never went to class.
We ran an inconclusive test. Which we hoped would help create a new drug.

 

Examples of Complete Sentences
 As the results showed, the treatment is effective.
Our professor asked us about our project, hoping that our research would be effective.
Jasmine asked the test subject about any supplemental drugs they were taking, worrying that our experiment had been compromised.
The drug has some mild side effects, for example, sneezing, eye irritation, or coughing.
Jerry acted like he knew everything about Organic Chemistry, but got an F because he never went to class.
We ran an inconclusive test, which we hoped would help create a new drug. Alternatively: We ran a test, which we hoped would help create a new drug, but it was inconclusive.

 

 

Examples of Run-on Sentences
Eric is a good doctor he loves his patients.
Brittany loves working with children she finds working with adults stressful.
It was a beautiful day there was not a cloud in the sky.
John worked on his tan Sue went swimming.
I love to write papers I would write one every day if I had the time.

 

Examples of Complete Sentences
Eric is a good doctor. He loves his patients.
Brittany loves working with children, but she finds working with adults stressful.
It was a beautiful day; there was not a cloud in the sky.
John worked on his tan, while Sue went swimming.
I love to write papers. I would write one every day if I had the time.

 

Avoiding Fragments

A sentence fragment occurs when a sentence is missing one of the key parts necessary for it to be a complete sentence. Typically, a fragment lacks a subject-verb relationship.

For example, these are a few sentence fragments:

During the night

Notice that this clause locates something in time/space, but doesn't tell us what is happening.

Some of the students working in the lab.

This clause identifies a subject, but doesn't explain what the subject is doing. Remember, for an -ing verb to be an action, it must be immediately preceded by another verb (e.g., we are working).

Even though he worked tirelessly

This fragment actually contains a subject-verb relationship (he worked), but the phrase "even though" makes it clear that this is a subordinate clause*, and therefore it needs another clause to complete the sentence.

*A subordinate clause almost always will begin with a prepositional phrase (e.g., "even though", "despite", "although")


Now that we have looked at these sentences as fragments, let's take a look at how they would look completed

During the night, our cat ran away.

We now know what occurred during the time specified by "During the night".

Some of the students working in the lab found extra supplies.

Now our sentence has a verb to match our subject ("the students... found").

Even though he worked tirelessly, he failed to complete his paper.

Notice that now we have added an independent clause (a clause that can stand as a sentence on its own) to this sentence. Now we know what the initial clause ("Even though...") is subordinate to. 

Run on sentences: How much is too much?

Contrary to popular belief, a run-on sentence is not a sentence that simply goes on too long. A run-on sentence is a sentence where two different ideas are in a sentence, but there is no punctuation or conjunction to separate them.

The following is an example of a run-on sentence:

I went to the store I bought some milk.

Notice that there are two different clauses in this sentence: "I went to the store" and "I bought some milk." We need to add something between these two clauses to make clearer where one ends and the other begins.

In this sentence, we have two options for correcting the run-on:

  1. I went to the store. I bought some milk
  2. I went to the store, and I bought some milk.

We can choose to separate these two clauses into two separate sentences, or we can add a comma and a conjunction (in this case, "and").