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It may not be easy to write a scientific paper, but there are some tried and true tricks to help you through the process. Here are five of them:

  1. Evaluate your audience
  2. Organize your information
  3. Summarize your paper
  4. Don’t overcomplicate things
  5. Finish early

  1. Evaluate your audience
  2. To whom are you writing? To scientists? To fellow students? Or to non-specialists? Knowing your audience will help you tailor your writing. If you’re writing to scientists, it would be a waste of time to explain basic principles or terms. If you’re writing to a general audience, however, you may have to clarify many points that may seem simple to you. Write so that your audience can understand the topic.

  3. Organize your information
  4. Whether you use an outline or notecards, whether you organize before you start writing or whether you start writing in order to gain focus, you need to have a clear structure in mind. Scientific papers in particular require attention to structure and organization. Even if you’re the kind of writer who likes to start writing in order to get the juices flowing, you should stop at some point and come up with a clearly defined structure.

  5. Summarize your paper
  6. An abstract, a short summary of an academic paper, is typically written after a paper is finished. Try writing one earlier. Summarizing your whole paper in a few simple sentences will tell you if your idea is well-formulated and your thoughts well-organized. This is especially helpful if you get stuck at some point during the writing process. Stating an overview of your paper in simple terms will often reset your focus on what’s important.

  7. Don’t overcomplicate things
  8. Science can be complicated enough on its own. There’s no need to make it more so. Keep you writing simple. Keep it clear. Use technical jargon only when necessary. Remember: arcane sentences don’t necessarily indicate greater intelligence. However complicated your topic, try to present it in a way that gets across clearly to your readers.

  9. Finish early
  10. Set a clear deadline for a working draft. This deadline should be earlier than your hard due date. That way you’ll have plenty of time to reread your paper and correct mistakes or clean up poor writing. Rewriting is an essential part of writing. Never hand in a first draft if you can help it.

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