Date: 2017-04-04 03:51
Short, true, but accomplishes a good deal in a slim volume. If you were to choose only one of the books listed here, this would probably be your best bet. Covers almost all aspects of writing in the sciences in some detail-not as thoroughly as some of the specialty guides such as Briscoe’s or Davis’s, though. Targets primarily upper-level undergraduates and beginning researchers.
It is important to write clearly and concisely . Make sure that every paragraph has a clear topic sentence and that the paragraph content supports the topic. The goal is to report your findings and conclusions clearly, and with as few words as necessary. Your audience (other scientists usually) are not interested in flowery prose, they want to know your findings. Remember: Writing and thinking are closely linked enterprises - many people have noted that, fuzzy writing reflects fuzzy thinking. When people have difficulty translating their ideas into words, they generally do not know the material as well as they think.
Present the results of your experiment(s) in a sequence that will logically support (or provide evidence against) the hypothesis, or answer the question, stated in the Introduction. For example, in reporting a study of the effect of an experimental diet on the skeletal mass of the rat, consider first giving the data on skeletal mass for the rats fed the control diet and then give the data for the rats fed the experimental diet.
In understanding how to read a paper, we need to start at the beginning with a few preliminaries. We then address the main questions that will enable you to understand and evaluate the paper.
First I read very fast: The point of the first reading is simply to see whether the paper is interesting for me. If it is I read it a second time, slower and with more attention to detail.
What question did you ask in your experiment? Why is it interesting? The introduction summarizes the relevant literature so that the reader will understand why you were interested in the question you asked. One to fo ur paragraphs should be enough. End with a sentence explaining the specific question you asked in this experiment.
If the topic is not one I know well, I usually read the introduction much more carefully so that the study is placed into context for me. Then I skim the figures and tables and read the results.
The abstract is a summary of the paper. It usually highlights the main question(s) the authors investigated, provides the key results of their experiments, and gives an overview of the authors' conclusions. Reading the abstract will help you decide if the article was what you were looking for, or not, without spending a long time reading the whole paper. Abstracts are usually accessible for free either online at journals' websites or in scientific literature databases.
Third , importantly, you need to distinguish between what the data show and what the authors say they show. The latter is really an interpretation on the authors' part, though it is generally not stated to be an interpretation. Papers usually state something like "the data in Fig. x show that.". This is the authors' interpretation of the data. Do you interpret it the same way? You need to look carefully at the data to ensure that they really do show what the authors say they do. You can only do this effectively if you understand the methods and their limitations.
7. If you had a complicated protocol, it may helpful to include a diagram, table or flowchart to explain the methods you used.