Parallelism

Unlike other languages, English is not very highly inflected, and as such, the order of the words in a sentence is much more rigid. Paradoxically, while this can constrain the writer on one hand, it can also offer more room for invention when repeating similar sentences. For example,

Group A was found to have a mean content of 30g. The mean content of Group B, however, was found to be 40g. Finally, 50g was found to be contained within Group C.

While this is grammatically correct, its much harder to read than a set of parallel sentences:

Group A was found to have a mean content of 30g, while Group B had 40g and Group C 50g.

Because a frame is set by the first sentence, that is copied by the parallel second and third sentence, it’s possible to omit the similar words and only include the ones that are different. This way, the reader’s attention is focussed on them more quickly.

This highlights an important point about articles – they are not written to be read like a novel, i.e. starting with the abstract, developing through the Methods and Results and finally reaching an ending in the Discussion and Conclusion. Most parts of the article need to be written so that the reader can quickly identify relevant information – not so that they can be enjoyed as pieces of prose.

Generally then, particularly in the Results section , parallel structures can be used very effectively to organise sentences and clauses to draw the eye to new data items, and make lists easier to follow.