How to make your scientific writing more effective?

Scientist making report on research findings

Scientist making report on research findings

The objective of writing this article is to benefit the scientific researcher who is an outstanding laboratory worker in terms of mastery over skills and has a sound knowledge over his field. At times he or she may face difficulty in communicating his findings because of little or no attention to development of written and communication skills.

The need to write and communicate research findings arises for the following reasons:

  • Making application for release of grants from funding bodies
  • Publication of papers in reputed scientific journals
  • Writing thesis or dissertation for award of a degree
  • Writing an article for a scientific magazine

Scientific writing is an art involving marketing skills which help you achieve your objectives. It is important for you to imagine yourself in the shoes of the reviewer or the reader and keep in mind his expectations as this will help you realize your desired objectives.

Application for funding of projects or scientific studies

You will be surprised to know that there is no dearth of funds available with bodies supporting scientific research projects. The problem arises because the majority of applications are not convincing enough or do not convey clearly the research objectives.

It is important to keep in mind that the funding authority is largely interested in knowing how the proposed study will be beneficial to society at large or to the scientific community. Among the concerns the main ones are alternate approaches to existing analysis procedures or manufacturing processes to help save time and make them more viable. Another main concern is contribution towards safety of the environment. Such proposals stand greater prospects of approval. Your objective of writing to such funding agencies should include a concluding paragraph on the usefulness of the project study in achieving such goals.

Publication of papers in scientific journals

Research publications in reputed journals provide the desired boost to your research career and bring a formal recognition to your department or institution as a centre for advanced research. The more the number of quality publications the greater will be the chances of your research thesis getting accepted by reviewers.

It is true that research activities are carried out in bits and parts but when you submit a paper for publication it is important to present the vast amount of data in a meaningful sequence. It is advised that you follow the following sequence:

  • Start with a brief abstract of the research study
  • Description of utilities including main instruments and chemicals used
  • Describe in detail methodology of analysis
  • Analysis and interpretation of data
  • Conclusion of the findings
  • Last but not least do not forget to acknowledge support and guidance provided by your research guide or other departmental colleagues.

Dissertation or thesis

The writing of a dissertation or thesis for award of a degree is not much different from drafting of paper for publication. Your write-up should serve as guidance for researchers who wish to carry forward the study from the point where you left it. Do not try to conceal negative results or findings as these are equally important as positive findings. These help others save time in exploring options that you found ineffective.

The thesis or dissertation should be structured on same lines as a research paper. Present your data through properly designed tables, use statistical tools for data analysis, make graphical presentations and incorporate useful pictures or diagrams so that your findings are easily understood by reviewers and those who refer to your findings for extension of your work.

Contributions to scientific magazines

Scientific magazines have a large readership base which includes undergraduates, post-graduates, research scholars as well as experts in the field. The article should be written in simple to understand language. At same time it should not be too technical and to make it more interesting you should include relevant pictures and graphics such as bar diagrams or pie charts. It is helpful to make a mention of important contributors to the topic in the very beginning and list out key benefits as part of the conclusion.

Scientific writing is a skilled activity which should appeal to both novices and experts. You should develop the ability to hold the attention of all your readers by presenting your findings just like a story unfolds itself and keeps the reader glued right up to the end of the article.

About Dr. Deepak Bhanot

Dr Deepak Bhanot is a seasoned professional having nearly 30 years expertise beginning from sales and product support of analytical instruments. After completing his graduation and post graduation from Delhi University and IIT Delhi he went on to Loughborough University of Technology, UK for doctorate research in analytical chemistry. His mission is to develop training programs on analytical techniques and share his experiences with broad spectrum of users ranging from professionals engaged in analytical development and research as well as young enthusiasts fresh from academics who wish to embark upon a career in analytical industry.

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