Dear Nurse–Author,

If a reviewer of a paper you have written tells you that your paper lacks “flow,” you may be uncertain about what this diagnosis signifies and what treatment entails.  Do not be discouraged! You are not alone in encountering the dreaded Lack of Flow syndrome (LFS).  In early drafts of most academic papers—including papers written by accomplished authors—the prevalence of LFS is 100%.  Fortunately, LFS is 100% curable.

Flow: the diagnosis.  When reviewers comment that a paper lacks “flow,” they often simply mean that the paper is difficult to read. Thus, the criticism that “This paper lacks flow” is as specific as the diagnosis “This person has an illness.”*

Flow: the etiology.  Most reviewers know that paragraph construction is a determinant of a paper’s “flow.” However, deficient paragraph construction is only a one factor in LFS. A paper’s elevated risk for LFS may result from any of over 120 types of deficiency in a paper’s scientific writing style and mechanics. These deficiencies are broadly categorized as problems of work choice, phrase and sentence grammar, punctuation, syntax and sentence logic, paragraph construction (as just mentioned), and section construction. Because most readers of health science literature are not formally trained in scientific writing, they may have difficulty identifying all of the causes of a paper’s lack of flow; however, every reader knows when a paper is difficult to read.

Flow: the cure.  Again, LFS is 100% curable.  Through our collaboration on successive drafts of your paper, we will rectify every deficiency that may contribute to your paper’s lack of flow.

IMPORTANT:  As an editor and instructor of scientific writing for the nursing sciences, I am as interested in supporting your writing productivity as I am in examining your paper’s grammar.  Do not hesitate to contact me if you are uncertain about how to proceed with any writing issue—large or small.

*  Similarly, the instruction that an author should “use APA style” is as specific as the recommendation that people should have a healthy lifestyle.  APA style comprises literally thousands of explicit and implicit rules, conventions, and principles.