A scientific paper is an essential part of each respectable scientist’s career. Such an important undertaking requires a lot of time, effort, mental energy, and, of course, sufficient writing skills. Unfortunately, many scientists do not consider themselves to be good writers. If you don’t know where to start and how to structure your paper, this article is a perfect place to look for answers. Read on and find out how to write a scientific manuscript properly.
Writing a Scientific Paper: Where to Start?
To organize your paper properly and coherently, equip yourself with a plan and follow it. It will ensure that each important aspect of your work is properly taken care of and prevent you from getting lost in all the data.
Before you embark on writing the scientific paper, you should consider a few key points at the initial stage:
- your hypothesis and objectives should be clearly defined in the introduction. The topic you chose to explore should be the primary issue you solve in the paper.
- go through the literature that is relevant to your topic and pick some sources you would like to cite in the paper.
- remember that each publisher has its own set of rules and preferences in regards to style and format, so always check your publisher’s guidelines.
How to Use Tables and Figures
Sometimes, one figure is worth a few pages of text. Such illustrative material as tables and figures is a very efficient way to share your findings with the audience. A scientific paper will not be complete without these elements. Can’t decide whether you should present your results with tables or with figures? Tables are better if you want to present the actual experimental findings. In the case of figures, you can use them to compare experimental findings with results from other projects or with theoretical values.
Whatever you decide upon, keep in mind that your illustration should not repeat the data you included in the paper, even in another form (text, photo, etc.). Make sure that your tables or figures are self-explanatory.
When it comes to illustrations, appearances matter, so here are more things to consider:
- use no more than four data sets per figure; otherwise, your plot will be overcrowded;
- make sure that the size of your axis label is fitting;
- use clear symbols and easily distinguishable data sets;
- ensure that all the fonts are big enough and legible;
- don’t stuff your text with long and boring tables. If you have a table that is too lengthy but essential, include it as supplementary material.
How to Describe Methods
The methods section is supposed to be the explanation of how you studied the issue. If you propose a new method in your manuscript, include precise information to enable your potential readers to repeat the experiment. If the method you use is established, there is no need to describe it in detail. You can use references and supplementary material to inform about these procedures. Do not use incomplete method descriptions. Identify all chemicals, species, and measurement units using the standard established systems.
Register your methods in the same order as in the Results, logically, according to the research process:
- Site description.
- Surveys and experiments description, including dates.
- Laboratory methods description (sample separation, analytical methods, biomonitors, etc.).
- Statistical methods description.
How to Report Results
Explain what you have found. Include only representative findings from your experiment that are crucial for discussion. For secondary information, consider using the Supporting Materials section, usually offered by many journals.
Your data should be introduced as one coherent story that is clear and easy to understand. Present only your results and don’t include any references in this section. Referring to others means discussing the findings, so leave it for the Discussion part. Here are some important rules:
- if you present numbers, use only two significant digits (5.09 instead of 5.0889439) unless such precision is crucial.
- don’t use percentage for small numbers. For example, do not represent “one out of two” as 50%.
- skewed data should be presented using the median and interpercentile range.
How to Write a Scientific Research Paper Discussion
In this section, your task is to report what your results mean. This part seems like the easiest to write, but in reality, it may be challenging. After all, it is the most important section of your whole manuscript that allows you to sell your data. Tons of scientific papers get rejections because publishers find the Discussion part too weak.
Your goal is to make the discussion correspond to your Results section without restating the findings. What you should do is compare your results with your colleagues’. Works that are in disagreement with your findings should not be ignored. Instead, confront them and try to persuade the reader to your standpoint. Here are some helpful tips:
- do not include statements that cannot be supported by the results;
- avoid vague terms like “low temperature” and so on. What you need here are quantitative descriptions.
- do not introduce new ideas or terms in the Discussion section;
- make sure that your speculations on possible interpretations are rooted in facts.
How to Write Scientific Manuscript Conclusion
In this section, you should explain how your project advanced the field. Some journals don’t have a separate section for this, in which case your conclusion would be a part of the Discussion segment. One way or another, a clear conclusion is a must-have for a scientific paper. Without it, the readers and publishers won’t be able to assess the project properly.
The most important thing is to avoid mere reiteration of the abstract or listing your findings. The conclusion is not the place for trivial statements. Your goal is to come up with a proper scientific justification, as well as indicate extensions and uses where possible. A great option is suggesting future experiments in this field.
How to Write Scientific Paper Introduction
Convince the audience that your work is worthy of attention. Explain what problem you chose to address its possible solutions, limitations, and expectations. Here are some tips on the introduction:
- be concise, and avoid unnecessary information. With a long introduction, you will immediately lose the audience’s interest;
- give the readers the whole picture;
- avoid mixing your introduction with the results and discussion;
- at the introduction’s end, clearly state your hypothesis and objectives.
How to Write Abstract to Your Paper
Tell the audience what your undertaking was and what important findings you gained. Think of the abstract as an advertisement for your project or a brief description of your paper’s purpose. The reader should be able to understand what your paper is about without reading it in full. Your abstract determines whether a publisher will consider your research worthy.
Here is what you should keep in mind why writing the abstract:
- don’t use confusing abbreviations or references here;
- carefully choose the words that convey precise meaning;
- keep it under 250 words;
- focus on the “what”: what has been done, what are the findings?
How to Write a Scientific Research Paper Title
Think of the title as a brief explanation of your paper. This is your chance to grab the reader’s attention. If the title is not compelling, a reader or publisher might not feel like reading your paper. Besides, your audience consists of potential authors of new manuscripts in which your work may be cited.
It is impossible to read all the science papers out there, so readers have to be selective. The title is the first thing their choice will be based on. Reviewers will assess whether your title is clear and specific and whether your paper’s key idea is reflected in it. You should make it descriptive while keeping it short. Don’t use any technical jargon or abbreviations, especially if they are uncommon. Coming up with a title takes time and a lot of thought, so don’t rush. Consider discussing the title with your colleagues or co-authors.
How to Write Acknowledgements
The acknowledgments section allows you to thank people who made a contribution to your research. Consider including those who helped you with technical matters or proofread your manuscript. Don’t forget about the funding agency or the organization that gave you a fellowship or a grant.
How to Write References
A reference section usually contains the most mistakes in comparison to other parts of a scientific paper and causes a lot of problems for editors. We recommend using special tools to avoid any errors.
Cite all the publications your project is based on in the text. Avoid overstuffing your work with too many references – it won’t make your research better. Also, make sure that you cite publications from different regions. It is better not to cite unpublished articles and observations, grey literature, articles that weren’t published in English, etc.
Such software as Mendeley or EndNote would be a great helper in the process of formatting and referencing. In the case with most journals, they allow you to download a file with the proper reference format, so changes will be made automatically.
Always check the Guide for Authors to make sure that your citations and the reference list fulfill all the requirements. Preparing proper references is your responsibility, so approach it attentively. Editors will appreciate your efforts, as it will make their work easier.
With this guide, you will be able to write a science paper that is worthy of attention. If you need help with any part of your manuscript, consider getting professional paper editing assistance from our skilled writers and editors who know how to write a scientific paper without flaws. Don’t let your groundbreaking research go unnoticed because of a few mistakes.