Scientific Writing: Why and How?

Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”; it’s true!

Why writing?

One of the main methods to communicate academically is through writing. Thus, the main goal of an author is to deliver information correctly and clearly by writing in a specific way, which ensures unambiguity and comprehensibility. There are many styles of writing, mainly depending on one’s way of thinking and expressing those thoughts.

How is it done?

Reading improves your ability to write.

The following are general tips referring to prominent points that would be helpful if kept in mind and used. As with other things, it is good and enriching to try different tips and apply those that suit you the most.

As already known, reading improves your ability to write. What is beneficial is that reading a specific type of texts makes you a good writer of that specific type. In my experience, reading scientific articles lets you acquire the style of scientific writing consciously, as well as unconsciously. With the latter I mean that you get a linguistic instinct, which is priceless.

Be precise and concise!

Things that are good to keep in mind when writing a scientific text are to be precise and concise. Delivering information in a simple way is essential for an author, because it is then ensured that the reader will not be confused or find any difficulty in receiving the information conveyed. You don’t want your article to be complicated; you want it to be clear and informative. Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”; it’s true!

Moreover, it is essential that you are exact and precise with the words you use so that all chances of misunderstanding are minimized. By doing that, your text becomes logical, and that is, of course, a quality!

If you find any difficulty when explaining a specific matter when you are writing, take a moment and make sure that you really know what you exactly want the reader to know, and then start reformulating again!

…and then start reformulating again!

Reading and revising

Read, write and revise! Photo: Magnus Hjalmarsson, © 2014 Uppsala universitetsbibliotek

On the way to a finished text, last touches

It is better that you revise each part of the text when you have finished writing it. By doing that, I was able to save a lot of time when I wrote my thesis. If you, on the other hand, choose to revise each part for the first time at the very end, it becomes very time consuming and the risk for inadequacies in the text increases.

When you have finished writing the whole text, you can start with the process of examining the text carefully to detect potential grammatical errors or insufficient wording. It is very likely that you want to entirely reformulate some sentences and correct your wording when you are reading for the second time; you are making progress then!

When you become so accustomed to your text that you are “blind” for the remaining inadequacies, take this opportunity to relax or even to leave the text for a short while and then return later to revise it again!

Think in the language you are writing!

If you are bilingual or trilingual as myself, it is very beneficial that you think in the language you are writing, because that facilitates the process of remembering words in the language you are writing. Otherwise, it might be difficult to be fluent in writing when you are translating everything you are thinking into the language you are writing.

As a multilingual person, you have the advantage of switching languages and trying out different formulations of a sentence until you pick the one you “like” most, especially in cases when you have a difficulty to present information in the way you wish in the foreign language you are writing in.

At the end…

In summary, you need to know that being concise, precise and transparent is a key method to write scientific texts of better quality. Also, keep in mind that writing is a dynamic process and that it is essential to allocate time for revising and editing your text.

Enjoy the whole process of writing to ensure that you produce a high quality scientific text!

Finally, when you are writing a scientific text, e.g. a thesis, you will, as I have, notice that the text itself will get more mature with time. Therefore, it is as important to enjoy the whole process of writing to ensure that you produce a high quality scientific text.

About the author

Ali AbdulrasulMy name is Ali Abdulrasul and I am currently studying the last semester of the Master of Science Programme in Pharmacy. Last year, I did my degree project on neurodegenerative mechanisms and neuroprotective neurosteroids.