Nouns: Singular vs. Plural

A few nouns are often misused in scientific writing. For example, the word data is plural while datum is singular. Although data can be used to indicate information in general, in scientific writing it is almost always used as a plural. It is correct to write, “These data indicate…” as opposed to “This data indicates…” The words bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and media are plural while bacterium, protozoan, fungus, and medium are singular. Species and yeast can be used both as singular and plural nouns.


Be sure that pronouns refer to preceding words, phrases, or clauses. For example, in the statement, "Sometimes viruses are in white blood cells but they are hard to find," does "they" refer to the viruses or the white blood cells?

Paragraph/Sentence Structure

Be sure to divide paragraphs correctly and to use starting and ending sentences that indicate the purpose of the paragraph. A report or a section of a report should not be one long paragraph.

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