Scientific Writing/Research Report.

  • Scientific/technical writing is about science and technology and is for other scientists and domain experts. It is sometimes also called ‘academic writing’.
  • There are general guidelines but are also specific style guidelines.
  • It’s needed for scientific communication in articles, papers, presentations, reports.
  • It’s NOT newspapers, magazines and journals.
  • The goal is to write simply, plainly and accurately. It’s not about making it interesting, it’s about making it true and easy to understand.
  • It has a formal style and layout – often depends on the domain, conferences and journals have their own stye guides that need to be followed. It has chapters with specific content.
  • It’s written scientifically.
  • Use italics for emphasis and bold for strong emphasis (try and avoid using bold). Use bold for headings and italics for scales e.g. not at all. Don’t use italics for foreign words and abbreviations.
  • Use a figure to depict a trend. Use a table to present exact numbers. Table caption at the top, figure caption at the bottom.
  • Each figure needs number, a caption, and needs to be referenced in the text.
  • When possible cite statistical tests, tables and figures at the ends of sentences, this placement avoids breaks in reading the text.

Elements:

  • Title – 10 words long, 12 max. Be specific. Don’t use creative/poetic/idiomatic titles
  • Names of author – If style guide allows, add institution where work was performed
  • Abstract – Paragraph summarising the piece
  • Keywords – Not compulsory, abstract should have keywords in it
  • Introduction – Can be the ‘most interesting’ part of the paper for non-specialists. Provides the link of your work to the real world. It makes it clear why your work is important. It points out unsolved problems which your work can help solve. Why you’ve chosen it.
  • State of the art and related work – Showing context of previous scientific investigation, existing literature. Shows limits of existing knowledge. Identify the concrete gap in knowledge. Describe similar approaches to your and explain why yours is different and why you chose a different path than others.
  • Empirical techniques: materials and methods – Reader of paper should be able to repeat the observations. Therefore your description of your methodology needs to be thorough. Must provide all relevant details. If possible, refer the reader to a reference of a particular technique rather than provide a step-by-step description of the whole process. Always include the dates of each sampling period. Use subheadings to organise lengthy segments.
  • Results – Needs to be accurate and concise. Emphasise the main points of the data. Report the summary data, not just summary statistics.
  • Analysis and discussion – really important – Interpretation of results, comparison to previous work or related studies. Critical view on validity and limits. Argumentation needs to be sound – needs to convince reader. Make the paper come full circle by discussing the data in the context of the justification and objectives stated in the introduction.
  • Conclusion – Summary of findings. Concluding remarks. Possible outlook to the future, was there more that could’ve been done? Did your results raise questions that were not asked before? Did they exceed the scope of your work.
  • References – List of all cited literature. Each reference needs to be cited in the text.

General recommendations:

  • Make it clear, concise and simple writing.
  • Needs to be in paragraphs.
  • First sentence sets the topic for that paragraph.
  • Don’t have anything unlinked.
  • Focus your thoughts by writing the summary first.
  • Get your ideas in a sensible sequence.
  • Try to make the ideas flow in each section. Don’t put things in the wrong section or subsection.
  • Keep the order of ideas the same in different sections of the article.
  • Check that you don’t contradict or repeat things.
  • Aim for precision. E.g. don’t say ‘some’ when you know it’s one person.
  • If you have several options of phrases, always use the shorter one.
  • Decide if we’re writing for an expert or everyone. Usually best to write it for everyone and they too can become experts.

With this particular lecture, I was fairly confused with its content. I understand that research report writing needs to be very specific but I did not expect it to be entirely scientific. As I have decided to not include questionnaires and more interview based I feel that my results from my research will be more opinion based than statistical data; therefore I feel a little worried as to how I will analyse on something that will purely be experimental. However, I am sure that through more research and the planning my project pitch that my decisions on how to collect my findings will be subject to change, but only time can tell.

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