6 Essential Science Writing Skills and How to Effectively Improve Them

Science Writing
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Many think that science and writing aren’t intimately connected. Well, they actually are. Science writing is something that most in the scientific field use in order to discuss findings and further information. But, how can one get better at this? What skills does one need to create amazing science writing? Well, there are a few important items to keep in mind.

This article will discuss these skills, and how to improve them to make your science writing the best it can be.

1. Get to the Point

In science writing, it’s important that the point is immediately met. This means that any unnecessary fluff is axed from the paper whenever it can happen.

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This is often a huge part of science writing. What this means is to start reducing the presence of “it is” and “there are.” This also includes contractions.

Apostrophes are used way too much in written English, especially “it’s” and “there’s”, and these actually don’t improve one’s scientific writing. It’s best to start reducing the presence of these apostrophes, or putting them in the correct place.

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Instead of using “it is” all the time, try to use “our” in its stead. Also, begin to omit any lines that say, “it’s important”,” “it’s predicted that,” “there’s evidence suggesting that,” etc. These sound wordy, and they don’t really make you sound persuasive or concise, and it drags the paper on.

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2. Begin with Correct Questions

A common mistake many who get into science writing is they don’t ask the correct questions. But, these questions are how one creates a clear structure. Start to center the ideas of each of your papers with the six questions: who, what, where, when, how, and why. By having each of these clearly delineated, laying it all out at the beginning, you can have a great start.

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Once done, start to expand on each of these, going into detail within the document. Make sure that the purpose and intent are there as well.

Typically, a thesis statement is a good way to communicate intent, and a way to create an effective document as well.

3. Focus on the Person Reading This

With science papers, it’s important to consider who is actually going to read the document. Does the reader know about detailed subjects within the realm of science, such as thermodynamics, or are they looking at how science affects the area?

By asking who’s going to read it, what they know about it, the experience and attitude, or even their involvement and interest, you can craft a paper that is interesting, and fitting for the reader. Chances are that if they’re not that involved, they don’t want to hear you talk on and on about a topic they don’t understand. With that, it’s better to give an introduction to the topic, and then get to the point.

4. Use Active Voice

The active voice is something almost all academic papers need to have, especially science ones. Active voice showcases that the person is doing something. For example, “the cat chased the mouse” is an active voice, whereas “the cat was chasing the mouse” is passive.

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The active voice sounds more interesting in science papers, but there is an old belief that passive voice is what you need for them, to create a sort of “distance.” That’s not true at all, and it actually creates messy sentence structures, and the writing sounds dull. Also, avoid using first-person narration, but instead create an active third-person voice.

5. Avoid Jargon

Remember, you’re a scientist, so you know your way around all of the little abbreviations and such. But, the reader might not. This can create a lot of confusion, and it might make the reader not want to read the essay.

It’s important that these acronyms, abbreviations, and the like are what people in your community know. If you’re writing for the community, you don’t have to avoid this as much, but if it’s for the general reader, just remember to choose things they know, and provide a definition as needed. It’s often overestimated how much people know, and soon, a reader has to go through different words and phrases that are technical, and sometimes confusing.

So, use your discretion with this. Give it to someone similar to the reader, and ask them if they understand the material. Then, you can spot where you need to fix the presentation of the issue.

6. The Opening Matters

You need a catchy opening. You want something that pulls the reader in and gets them to focus.

You can paint a scene, show the reason for this essay, or the like. This will suck the reader in.

Also, do make sure that at the end of the essay, you put the conclusions and recommendations. The last thing that you want is to bury the reader with recommendations in the middle because chances are they’ll be pulled off the course and never finish the essay.

These tips will allow you to create a scientific essay or dissertation that you can be proud of. They’re simple things, but they can make a difference in the nature of the paper. Remember, you do need writing skills for science writing, and while it is a bit different, it is still a form of writing at the core of it all, and important to understand.

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Paschal Okafor is NaijaTechGuide Team Lead. The article 6 Essential Science Writing Skills and How to Effectively Improve Them was written by Paschal Okafor. The article was last modified: April 21st, 2018

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