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Let’s Talk About Scientific Writing


How do you communicate complicated concepts clearly and effectively? Whether you're writing a lab report or a research paper, mastering the art of scientific writing will help you convey ideas so that others can build on your work. Writing skills are required to achieve success in scientific environments, but these same skills apply to any setting that requires concise language.


Structure & Organization

Scientific writing follows a concise format. Start with an introduction that outlines the purpose and significance of your work. Then, present your methods, results, and conclusions in a well-organized manner. Remember to connect your discoveries to other literature in the field, discussing how your contributions both validate and complement pre-existing data.


Purpose:

In 2–3 sentences, introduce the context of your topic broadly, then narrow to your project’s specific niche. Briefly describe how your study will address this niche.


Significance:

Building off of your purpose statement, provide evidence for how your study addresses a real-world problem. In the larger picture, what will your study specifically contribute to solving said problem?


Methods:

List all tools you are using in this project. This includes chemical reagents, computer programs, cell lines, statistical interpretive methods, and more. While performing experiments, you must make note of conditions that contribute to results. This may include factors like temperature, speed, reagent brand names, program version numbers, and any other contributing variables.


Results:

What information have you gathered that supports your overall project goal you described in the purpose section? Structure this section in a logical fashion. Graphics and tables must be presented accessibly to your target audience. Present data objectively, using descriptive rather than interpretative language. Make sure that each core takeaway is supported by citing your data figures.


Conclusions:

Rather than summarizing the results section, the conclusion interprets your data and applies it to a larger ideological model. How has your data addressed your stated purpose? Remind the audience about the most important data and its relevance to your significance statement.


Language & Jargon

The purpose of scientific writing is not to impress others with complex jargon, but rather to convey information in a way that anyone can understand. Consider your target audience’s knowledge base and adjust your language choices accordingly. Define any technical terms, abbreviations, or acronyms you use, and be consistent in their usage throughout your paper. This ensures that your audience can easily comprehend the concepts you are presenting.


A Picture is Worth a Thousand Datum

Use images to illustrate your ideas and make complex data understandable. Thoughtful use of graphs, tables, and figures can significantly enhance the clarity of your communication. Labeling is often overlooked by beginners, so ensure that your audience can identify each component, unit, and ideological contribution to your project scheme.


Rachel Hohe graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. in Biochemistry and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine at Case Western Reserve University.

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