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Hi,
Is that true that the use of apostrophes indicating the possessive case is not recomended when writing an academic/ scientific manuscript?
I saw this rule somewhere in an online grammar and ever since this got stuck in my mind.
ANy suggestions?
Thank you!
Comments  
I don't think its when used in the possessive (or genitive) case - I think you mean contracted forms.
For example, you wouldn't say "it's" or "doesn't". Instead, you would write 'it is' or 'does not'.
Anonymousthe use of apostrophes indicating the possessive case is not recomended when writing an academic/ scientific manuscript
I've never heard that, but it makes sense. Can you give an example of a case where you would even want to or need to use possessives in scientific or academic writing (not counting quotations, of course)?

CJ
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Hi Calif,
Here are two examples: (Not sure if they are right, however. I think that the use of definite articles is not quite right here.) Thank you!

Learning experience meaningfulness and the teacher’s importance

The length of the student’s narratives varied from a short statement (2 words) to a complete occurrence description (61 words)
OK. Now I understand what you're saying.

I don't see anything objectionable in the usage you show in those examples. When you are describing an experiment (or similar situation) involving people as subjects of study, you will naturally find a few cases where the use of the possessive is convenient. I see no reason for any awkward circumlocution to avoid it.

If you are still in doubt, ask your teacher if he or she objects to that usage, but personally I don't see a reason for raising any objections.

the is correct, by the way.

Also, you need ... of the students' narratives .... Be careful of the placement of the apostrophe!

CJ
Thanks a lot! Emotion: smile
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As a scientist who writes and publishes, I just want to make clear that the use of the possessive in science writing is pretty much universally frowned upon, with just a few exceptions (see e.g. http://www.scienceeditingexperts.com/use-of-apostrophes-in-scientific-writing). It may seem daft, but it is part of the whole issue of writing with clarity and without ambiguity. Given the general confusion over the use of apostrophes (see discussion above and the link above), it is better to avoid them.

As a scientific and technical editor, I agree that there is a tendency to "frown upon" the use of the apostrophe in possessives, but I don't believe the arguments against using them are very strong, and I don't agree that clarity is the problem. What's unclear about "the students' narratives" in the example provided? Indeed, what often leads to ambiguity (and stilted prose) is avoiding them by resorting to awkward prepositional phrases (e.g., "the narratives by [of] the students"). Sentences composed largely of long strings of prepositional phrases are all too common in scientific and other formal writing. A well-chosen possessive using an apostrophe can break these up and improve clarity and readability. It is perfectly acceptable formal English and can be used for inanimate objects (which possess properties, after all) as well as people.