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Writing for a scientific audience

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Writing for a scientific audience

  1. 1. Writing for a Scientific Audience How to Write An Effective Scientific Research Article, Proposal, an d Paper Kirsten Kung, Ph.D. Sophia J. Tsai, Ph.D. July 1, 2013 AEP Summer Research Program
  2. 2. Abstract? Proposal? Paper? Proposal  Outlines the research project to be done  Written in future tense  Focus on literature review, specific aims, and methods  May include preliminary results Paper  Describes the research project and what has been accomplished  Written in past tense  Focus on results and discussion
  3. 3. Abstract – Four Basic Elements  Research focus  Research methods  Results  Main conclusions Usually 100-200 words Summarizes key points Typically can be viewed as stand- alone, enough to understand the basic concept
  4. 4. Proposal – Six Basic Elements  Abstract  Background & Significance  Literature Review  Materials & Methods  Specific Aims/Hypotheses & Expected Results  Preliminary Results  References
  5. 5. Background & Significance  Overview of literature relevant to your study questions  Establish context  States the purpose of the work  Explains rationale & potential outcomes Active voice Inverted Triangle
  6. 6. Inverted Triangle  Start general A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…  General aspects of the topic It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.
  7. 7. Inverted Triangle  Narrow toward the more specific topical information that provides context During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the Empire's ultimate weapon, the Death Star, an armored space station with enough power to destroy an entire planet.
  8. 8. Inverted Triangle  Finally arriving at your statement of purpose and rationale Pursued by the Empire's sinister agents, Princess Leia races home aboard her starship, custodian of the stolen plans that can save her people and restore freedom to the galaxy....
  9. 9. Materials & Methods  Organism(s) studied  Specific experimental or sampling design  Protocol for collecting data  How the data was analyzed  Including how statistics were carried out Past tense
  10. 10. Specific Aims  Starts with brief problem statement and introduces your research question.  Why is your work important?  Usually 2-3 main ideas to test your hypothesis  Goals are specific, measurable, and realistic  Not inter-dependent, but support one another
  11. 11. Paper - Six Basic Elements  Abstract  Introduction  Materials & Methods  Results  Discussion/Conclusion  References
  12. 12. Additional Elements  Acknowledgements  Mention any funding sources, look into how certain grants like to be acknowledged This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health under Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (number) from the (name of NIH IC).  Tables & Figures
  13. 13. Order of Operations  Develop an outline/list of major points  Do a balanced literature review  Both primary articles as well as review articles  Write Introduction  Give context for why this research is important through background information and citing relevant literature  Design & conduct the experiment  Write the Materials & Methods section once your experiments are completed
  14. 14. Order of Operations  Analyze & interpret results  Summarize data, lay out figures and tables  Write figure & table legends – each should have 1-2 key points  Write the Results section  Use the figures and tables to guide the reader through your key results  No interpretation of results. “Just the facts, ma’am.”  Write the Discussion  Interpretation of results, including how it fits in with the context of what was known before.  Connect back to introduction
  15. 15. Order of Operations  Write the Abstract & Title  Intended to be a summary, so best written last  Clear statement of aims, brief descriptions of methods, key findings, and interpretation of key results.  Self-revise the paper  Look for logical flow; rearrange if necessary  Shorten long sentences for clarity  Grammar, punctuation, other basic editing  Are tables and figures able to stand on their own?
  16. 16. Order of Operations  Peer review  Have knowledgeable people critically look at your writing  Check data over with collaborators and other contributing authors  Prepare final draft  Look for proper citations according to requirements  Check formatting
  17. 17. Additional Resources General & subject-specific writing tips http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/ Biology-specific http://tinyurl.com/BatesBioWriting

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