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Scientific Writing

A guide to writing papers in a scientific manner, and how to present scientific material.

The Editing Process

Step 1: Purpose of Paper

Before you begin this step, think to yourself: "what is the goal of this paper?" Now, write down your answer to that question. In your introduction, try to point out the exact sentence you answer that question. Could you find it? If so, great! If not, how could you add a sentence or two to explain your goal in this paper?

Step 2: Organization

Try creating an outline of your paper by summarizing each individual paragraph, starting with your introduction, into one sentence each. When you read through all of these sentences in order, do you feel your paper makes sense? If so, great! If not, how could you rearrange your ideas or add more information in order to create a more clear organization?

Step 3: Development of Each Paragraph

Try reading through each paragraph individually, and see if you feel each paragraph's main idea is sufficiently developed. If they are, great! If not, you may want to consider adding more information.

Step 4: Grammar

Now that the content has been addressed, try reading through the paper and seeing if there's anything you think someone might have trouble understanding. It may help to try reading aloud, or have someone else read your paper.

Editing/Proofreading Tips

  • Absolutely do not try to complete your proofreading all at once!

Editing/proofreading can often be the most intensive portion of the writing process, and because of that, it is extremely easy to overlook errors while editing if you try to fix everything at once. Break the editing process off into blocks. For example: try working on one section of the paper at a time, or try working only on one issue at a time (e.g., punctuation, sentence clarity, etc.) Make sure to take breaks in between, as working for too long increases the likelihood of you missing an important error.

  • If you can, try to get a peer to read through your paper, and ask them if they see any issues

It's always easier for a person with no relation to the paper to find errors in it, so try to find someone who has some experience with the type of paper you are writing to help you go through the paper.

  • Find the most effective method for reading your paper

Some people find it easier to work on a printed copy of their paper, while others find a digital copy easier.

  • Read your paper aloud

When you read your paper aloud, you are less likely to instinctively correct any errors on the paper in your head, and therefore are more likely to spot potential errors.

  • Try changing the appearance of your document before reading it

Changing the font, size, and/or color of your text can help distract your mind from the familiarity of the document, which may help in noticing errors in the paper.

How do I Peer Review?