Lacuna, hope and other words to avoid

Here are five common writing mistakes gleaned from a wide variety of real life grant applications:

1. Fancy synonyms such as ‘lacuna’, ‘felicitous’ and ‘finitude’ make your proposals both harder to read and harder to understand.
2. The language of uncertainty (‘hope’, ‘would’, or ‘intend’) implies that you cannot deliver your proposed project and  leave assessors less convinced by your plans. Use ‘will’ instead.
3. Equally, over-use of ‘generally’, approximately’ or ‘tentatively’ makes your project look poorly designed rather than honestly described.
4. Sweeping statements such as ‘the general consensus’ or ‘it is agreed’ are likely to annoy those assessors who do not form part of the consensus and who do not agree with your point.
5. References to ‘the academy’ or ‘the faculty’ may lead assessors to query the importance and relevance of your research both within and beyond these vaguely-defined groups.
This post is the first in a series and thanks to my colleague Sarah Slowe for her contributions to this one.  Further suggestions welcome.

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