Writing the Scientific Paper

Achieving the Scientific Voice

Eight tips will help you match your style for most scientific publications.

  1. Develop a precise vocabulary: read the literature to become fluent, or at least familiar with, the sort of language that is standard to describe what you're trying to describe.
  2. Be as precise as possible: limit language.
    • Once you've labeled an activity, a condition, or a period of time, use that label consistently throughout the paper. Consistency is more important than creativity.
    • Define your terms and your assumptions.
  3. Be honest about the limitations of your knowledge or your research: give the reader enough information to come to the same conclusions that you did (or to come to different conclusions)
    • Include all the information the reader needs to interpret your data.
    • Remember, the key to all scientific discourse is that it be reproducible. Have you presented enough information clearly enough that the reader could reproduce your experiment, your research, or your investigation?
  4. When describing an activity, break it down into elements that can be described and labeled, and then present them in the order they occurred.
  5. When you use numbers, use them effectively. Don't present them so that they cause more work for the reader.
  6. Include details before conclusions, but only include those details you have been able to observe by the methods you have described. Do not include your feelings, attitudes, impressions, or opinions.
  7. Research your format and citations: do these match what have been used in current relevant journals?
  8. Run a spellcheck and proofread carefully. Read your paper out loud, and/ or have a friend look over it for misspelled words, missing words, etc.

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Introduction