The science of scientific writing!
Are you an early researcher? Writing your first paper for a scientific journal?
Does it sound like a daunting task? Scientific writing is a very specific genre of writing. You need to find the perfect balance between writing for the general scientific audience and catering to highly experienced scientific peers. You also need to ensure that your scientific paper gets noticed.
It’s your first publication and it is critical to take you to the next phase of your career. Therefore, you must make sure that you do it as best as you can.
In this article, we have listed everything you need to know about scientific writing. In short, you get to know all about the science of scientific writing here.
3 Key Steps of Scientific Writing
There are three basic principles of scientific writing. Following these principles can help you produce a concise and clear piece of writing.
1. Identify the Key Point
Just like all other writing styles, you need to have a clear point when it comes to scientific writing. Write from the perspective of the reader and always answer the main question of the reader, i.e., “what’s in it for me?”.
There are three elements when it comes to clear writing:
- A problem: something that readers care about.
- A gap: a gap in our understanding of the problem that needs to be addressed.
- Filling the Gap: contributing knowledge that could fill this gap.
You must identify the point and weave it intelligently throughout the writing so that the reader follows your point.
2. Write for the Readers
You may have a revolutionary point, but you are not going to get it through to your audience unless you write it for them. Don’t confuse the reader and don’t bore them. You need to keep things interesting, and you can only achieve that if you know who your target audience is.
Therefore, put yourself in the shoes of your readers and then write from their perspective. This will help you create the perfect scientific writing that your readers will be interested in.
3. Start Early
While everyone has their own writing journey, we suggest that you start writing as early as you can. This will give you a clear understanding of where you stand on the subject matter. You will also conduct a thorough literature review, which is the foundation of all scientific writings.
Once you are deep in your literature review, you will be able to find the best direction of your paper. It will help you write better and to the point, something that readers like when it comes to scientific writings.
Why Is Writing Clearly Important?
Many people believe that the standards of writing in science are not as high as they are in other subjects, such as plain English. Hence, why is writing clearly important when it comes to scientific writing?
Here are the objectives that you’ll achieve when you write clearly.
1. It Sells Your Ideas
Your scientific writing holds value if it is accepted by the readers. And, they won’t buy it unless you sell it well. If you write something for your publication, you must try your best to convince your audience that your ideas are worthy of their attention. You can only do it when you present your ideas clearly.
2. It Helps You Reach Your Reader
Science and communication go hand in hand. No matter how revolutionary your idea might be, it will not be worth anything if you are unable to communicate it well to your audience. Thus, you need to present your ideas as clearly and convincingly to your readers as you can.
3. Writing and Thinking are Interconnected
Gopen and Swann in their book, “The Science of Scientific Writing,” point to the fact that writing clearly also helps you think clearly. If you improve upon one thing, you will automatically improve upon the other.
Thus, writing clearly will help you improve your thinking. This will help you accomplish more.
4. Readers Don’t Like Unclear Writing
Your readers will not read your scientific writing unless they understand it clearly. Thus, you must make sure that you write as clearly as possible or your readers will just be annoyed and frustrated and will simply stop reading altogether.
Important Parts in Scientific Writing
Just like all other kinds of writings, scientific writing also has some definitive parts. You must pay attention to each of these parts when you are writing so that you can make the right impact on your readers. Let’s talk about each of these parts in detail.
Abstracts are of critical importance in scientific writing. They help readers understand your problem and the key findings in a succinct way. In addition to the title of your paper, the abstract can help you amplify and promote the reach of your scientific writing. It also helps you engage the relevant target audience.
But, there are a number of botched abstracts out there. Here are some key points that can help you draft the perfect abstract that gets you the desired results.
- Write for the Reader: Always think from the reader’s perspective and make sure that your abstract is engaging and interesting.
- Be Clear: The Abstract should be able to clearly convey the purpose and the key message of your scientific writing to your reader. They should get a synopsis of the entire writing from the abstract alone. Also, try to use active voice in the abstract to make a better impact on the reader.
- Be Precise: Don’t write long stories in the abstract. Keep it as concise as possible. It should convey the gist of your entire research, but should not give away everything.
Strong introductions are also necessary when it comes to scientific writings. They give content to your writing and tell the readers why it is valuable. You should use the introduction to layout your problem in front of the readers. Include citations as well. Include the limitations of previous works and researches and use that as a foundation to build up your entire scientific writing.
Another tip when writing introductions is to steer away from calling your research pioneering, groundbreaking, etc. It annoys the readers and you don’t want to do that. Keep things factual and also try to restate your main aim and hypotheses in the last sentence so that it stays in the mind of the reader when they move on to the next part.
Citations are very important when it comes to scientific writing. If your work is research-based, then citations are essential. However, don’t include irrelevant citations just for the sake of it. It will irritate not only the readers but also the editors.
Only add citations and their references if they are relevant to your work and will help the readers understand your point better. Citation forms also vary from journal to journal and from publication to publication. Therefore, make sure you understand the format before you begin with your citations.
You need to find a balance between writing for a wider audience and for your peers. The language you use has a profound impact on how your readers would understand your scientific writing. Think about your target reader and write for them. Use the language that you think they will be able to understand.
You also need to be careful about the language as it determines the message that you want them to take away from your writing. Don’t over-inflate your deductions. Always back everything up with data and make use of other people’s research as much as you can.
It is also important not to make any grammar and language errors while you are doing scientific writing. If you are not so sure about your language and grammar skills, make sure that an editor proofreads your work to ensure that it is free from all such small and big errors.
A conclusion is a very important part of any scientific writing. It is the section where you put all your results and deductions. It is important to use the right tone. Don’t sound too arrogant and also don’t sound too uncertain. Find a balance between the two.
Here are some things that you can include in your conclusion:
- Significance of Your Research: Discuss the importance of your research and results in the conclusion. Don’t just restate them. Write them in such a way that it ensures further discussion.
- Discuss Conflicting Research: Is there any research that contradicts your results? Discuss it here but make sure you do it constructively. Don’t lambast it and try to convince your readers why your work is an improvement in this regard.
- Reiterate Your Objectives: Reiterate back to your objectives in this section to ensure that your readers are on the same page as you are. This will make it easy for the readers to grasp your ideas and make the writing congruent for the reader.
Here are some bonus tips for scientific writing that can help you create the best pieces of writing:
- Refer back to the information you have been given in the beginning. This helps the readers link what has come before and what they should expect. It also lays the foundation for new ideas.
- Set the perspective early in the sentence. This helps the readers understand what information they should expect in the sentence.
- Start your sentences with the topic or else your reader will just be lost in the words.
- The subject should come before the verb and there should be some intervening words to complete the sentence.
- Don’t make more than one point per sentence. It leaves the readers confused.
- Make the end of the sentence exciting. Any new information or exciting news should be mentioned at the end of the sentence.
These simple yet effective tips on scientific writing can help you write better scientific pieces.