How to become a
GOOD Theoretical Physicist


English is a prerequisite. If you haven’t mastered it yet, learn it. You must be able to read, write, speak and understand English, but you don’t have to be perfect here. The lousy English used in this text is mine. That’s enough. All publications are in English. Note the importance of being able to write in English. Sooner or later you will wish to publish your results. People must be able to read and understand your stuff.

French, German, Spanish and Italian may be useful too, but they are not at all necessary. They are nowhere near the foundations of our sky-scraper, so don’t worry. You do need the Greek alphabet. Greek letters are used a lot. Learn their names, otherwise you make a fool of yourself when giving an oral presentation.

If you have managed to read and follow this webpage so far, you probably don't need a first course in English. However, you want to be precise in your academic publications. You never want to be misunderstood, after all. Below, you will find several resources that are intended to be helpful for readers of various levels and with various requirements.

Dictionaries Grammar Vocabulary Punctuation Writing Pronunciation

Academic Writing Some useful pages and exercises here. The sections on paragraphs are especially good.

Overcoming Writer’s Block Overcoming Writer’s Block.

Plagiarism and Referencing

How to avoid plagiarism Clear and useful information on how to avoid plagiarism can be found on this web site. Also check the links on that page for information on quoting or paraphrasing and successful paraphrasing.

MLA Style MLA Style

APA Style APA Style

Chicago Style Chicago Style

CBE Style CBE Style

Harvard The Harvard referencing format.

More info on the stylesheets Less extensive (and therefore sometimes clearer) information on these and even more formats can be found on the web site of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Style Issues: Information

Using unbiased language Using unbiased language

Parallel forms Parallel forms

Various aspects of style Various aspects of style (e.g. wordiness, parallel forms, avoiding loose sentences).

Wordiness Wordiness

Wordiness 2 More information on wordiness (most positively called conciseness here).

Eliminating unnecessary words Advice on Eliminating unnecessary words.

Changing phrases Changing phrases to avoid wordiness.

Avoid wordiness Some more advice on how to avoid wordiness.

Parallelism Use parallel or symmetrical structures when writing.

Style Issues: Practice Material

Avoiding wordiness 1 Avoiding wordiness 1.

Avoiding wordiness 2 Avoiding wordiness 2 (somewhat simpler).

Avoiding wordiness 3 Avoiding wordiness 3 (rewriting overly formal, pompous and wordy sentences).

Linkers Linkers (not very difficult…).

Linking exercise A slightly more difficult linking exercise.

Linking exercise A rather short linking exercise.

Parallel forms 1 Parallel forms 1.

Parallel forms 2 Parallel forms 2.

Sexually neutral language Sexually neutral language.

Academic Vocabulary

The Academic Word List (AWL) The Academic Word List (AWL) will help you to learn and use core academic vocabulary. These 570 word families will not only improve your comprehension of academic texts but also your ability to write assignments in an academic style.

The Academic Phrase Bank The Academic Phrasebank of The University of Manchester provides a comprehensive selection of phrases to use in your writing to: describe methods, report results, discuss findings and write conclusions. General Functions, in the side menu, has phrases for giving examples, classifying and listing, explaining cause and effect, comparing and contrasting, describing trends, describing quantities.The Academic Phrase Bank will help you to learn and use core academic vocabulary. The phrases are divided into sections, based on their function in an academic paper.