This will be obvious and second nature to many of you, but I see it often enough to justify an entry.
Let’s take this extract from a fictitious article intended for a health magazine:
When I spoke to dietitian Victoria Plum on the telephone, and asked her what she thought of the study into the nutritional properties of the long-forgotten fnoogleberry, she said, “Its extremely high vitamin Q content means it may help ease the symptoms of Boggle’s Disease.”
Later that day, a helpful local librarian used an online search to find me an earlier study published in the Herbal Tymes, which told me that the berry has aphrodisiac properties too.
The problems should be obvious to you. Your readers are unlikely to care which questions you ask an interviewee, or what medium you use to do so, or when you learn a fact, or who helps you locate it, or how. Your research should remain hidden to them. They merely want its results. So:
Dietitian Victoria Plum is an international authority on rare fruit. “The fnoogleberry’s extremely high vitamin Q content means it may help ease the symptoms of Boggle’s Disease,” she says.
And that’s not all. According to a study published in the Herbal Tymes in 1964, the berry has aphrodisiac properties too.
Don’t mention yourself at all. Say what you need to say and say no more.
I’ve exaggerated for effect, of course, and I’m sure you’re thinking you’d never make such mistakes, but sometimes the slip-up can be so much subtler and therefore easily done and easily missed:
A quick look in An Encyclopaedia of Fruit Facts confirms fnoogleberries have only 14 calories per 100g.
Again, the reader doesn’t need to know that all it took was ‘a quick look’. Instead:
According to An Encyclopaedia of Fruit Facts, fnoogleberries have only 14 calories per 100g.
I’ve been trying to come up with an everyday or uncontrived example where ignoring this advice may be acceptable or even preferable. But I can’t. Over to you.
Labels: Mistakes, Research