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Published: Friday 25th of January 2013

Scientist Essay Writing Guide: Tips and Example

This article has everything you need to know about the universal guidelines that apply to scientific essays.
  1. Organization: Any academic paper ought to convey an argument. When writing your essay, the ideas you expose need to have a meaning. Furthermore, you must arrive at a particular conclusion, even if that conclusion only makes for speculation. Your target is to persuade your audience that your arguments are accurate. It is without any doubt that this constitutes the essential guideline that one needs to follow when writing an academic paper. This will aid you in devising an adequate structure and writing a high-quality essay. The coherence of your ideas and arguments offers the foundation required to write an essay logically. As such, your ideas need to stick to a coherent development, using information or proof to substantiate every phase of your argument, up to the point where you arrive at a coherent conclusion.
What can one define as an adequate argument or a firm conclusion? Here you may have the opportunity of being creative and making use of your imagination, depending on the subject at hand. To answer the question above, it would be simpler to tell you what you must avoid if you want to reach a firm conclusion. For instance, you must steer clear of approaches such as reviewing a research paper or several research papers and writing that “additional studies are needed." Extra research is always needed, regardless of the particular field of study, and YOUR objective when writing the paper is to conclude the paper in a way that provides more substance. Merely summing up a couple of studies without providing any firm conclusion is not an adequate manner of writing a scientific essay, regardless of the degree of accuracy of the information. Assert the main idea of your paper in the introductory section, by using the first person (I think, I consider, etc.). For instance: “I would like to advocate that the dissatisfaction/hostility theory originates in a superficial and inefficient psychological pattern. As such, it cannot explain the majority of situations of inequality that have been assessed”.
  1. It is of pivotal importance to substantiate every one of your essential arguments with data. You need to do more than just quote the research. You must succinctly explain its essential findings in one or two phrases. Furthermore, you need to provide a comprehensive explanation as to why this backs up your argument. One ought to link every assertion that refers to a non-evident fact (for instance, “primates know how to follow gaze," or “the organism needs dopamine to function properly”) to a source (this could even be a textbook).
You ought to reference every particular piece of information at the adequate location in your point (rather than being mentioned too many times at different less adequate locations). Steer clear of any useless information. Data like the number of specimens that can be found in a particular place or the food they eat is generally unnecessary. Particular statistical factors, such as means or p values, must virtually always be avoided. Furthermore, avoid explaining the entirety of the particulars of a study. You should solely present the details that are appropriate for your topic. However, you must ALWAYS make references to appropriate information. If a piece of information applies to your topic, you need to quote it (even if that it contradicts your ideas!). Last but not least, avoid sentences like “This method seemed to be inefficient." Either it had an impact that was statistically important (case in which you could write “it exerted a substantial influence on x”), or it lacked such an impact (“there was no substantial influence on y”).
  1. Evidence: At this point, you ought to remark that the reasoning of scientific studies involves listing out probabilities (advancing theories), followed by conducting trials to assay them. The next phase entails disproving incorrect theories, instead of demonstrating valid hypotheses. In case the entirety of the rational theories was disproved apart from one, one should regard the hypothesis that wasn’t disproved as the most credible one. However, one must not regard that theory as credible, except for the situation in which a substantial quantity of data, gathered in a lot of laboratories and with a lot of distinct methods, points to it as the only probability left standing. As such, it is highly improbable for unique experiential research to demonstrate a specific theory. While it’s possible for the study to be in line with that theory, it cannot demonstrate it.
Consequently, you could write something like “the result disproves the theory that x” or “the result is in line with the theory that y." Researchers tend to avoid using the term “evidence” unless the coherent situation is genuinely indisputable. Similarly, an inadequate or methodologically inaccurate trial cannot demonstrate (or reject) a hypothesis (apart from the clumsiness of those who conducted it).
  1. Being analytical amounts to attentively scrutinizing the veridical foundation of an assertion. Merely disputing research (for instance, for not studying more than one species, for using a specific approach, or for not introducing enough statistical data) doesn’t indicate an analytical approach. Science involves distinguishing between the essential and inconsequential agents. It’s better not to say anything, rather than disproving incidentals. Being over-analytical regarding insignificant factors is just as inadequate (perhaps even more inadequate) than being unanalytical.
So, for example, making use of a method that is imperfect, or doesn’t have enough conditions, or doesn’t study more than one species, do not constitute well-grounded reasons of being critical. One could mention such ideas when taking into account the outcomes of research. However, they do not constitute “weak points." Weak points comprise undirected analytical aspects, inadequately-explained techniques, erroneous statistical data or disregarded theories that imply that the findings of the study are imprecise. Pondering on substitute theories that may account for the scrutinized information in a distinct manner represents one of the most imaginative elements of psychological studies. Furthermore, this approach can be both demanding and entertaining.
  1. Be succinct. Steer clear of figurative phrases like “it is considered" or “researchers think” or “the unanimous opinion appears to be …” (which is probably an even worse wording, as science doesn’t rely on popularity!). Instead, you could write something like “Johnson (2010) asserted (especially if you are in disagreement with their opinion)/demonstrated (especially if you agree)/implied (in case of theories) that x”. In case you are conveying a personal idea, simply write “I propose” (avoid formulations like “the author proposes”).
Use a straightforward and coherent (steer clear of long phrases) phrase organization. Last but not least, don’t use conversational or unofficial phrases like “lots of," “find the right choice," or overstatements (“this outstanding and fascinating research."
  1. Avoid using scientific words that a general specialist would not be familiar with without explaining them. We’re talking about words like “metarepresentation," “intentionality” or “phoneme," which have specialized meanings that must be succinctly defined.
  2. Latin denominations of species must be written in italics. While the subfamily must always be written in capital letters, the species must not be capitalized (Homo sapiens, Canis familiaris). In case you want to write about an unidentified species, write Naja sp. (singular). On the other hand, when you wish to approach numerous species of the same family, you should write Naja spp. (plural). These guidelines apply to the entirety of species.
However, when mentioning universal denominations of animals, you don’t need to use capital letters, except for the situation in which the name also includes a location (we write “Alaskan brown bears," rather than “alaskan brown bears”).
  1. Citations: The entirety of the sources on which you base your arguments must get proper references. Make sure you cite all of the materials you’ve used in the bibliography section, which you need to add on the last page of your essay. Furthermore, in-text references must include the name(s) of the writer(s), as well as the issuing date. For instance: Johnson and Andrews (2004); Anderson, Walters, and Griffin (2011). In case the material you want to refer to was written by more than two people, you can use a shortened form when you are required to cite it again. For instance: Anderson et al (2011). If your source has at least six writers, you ought to use “et al” even in the initial reference.
You should remember that there are at least two distinct ways of citing a material, as illustrated below: “Johnson and Andrews (2004) offer proof regarding the discrepancies between …” “The discrepancies between these two maladies have been demonstrated by … (Johnson and Andrews, 2004)” Rather than referring to a material that you haven’t examined yourself, you should write something like “(Johnson (1985), as referenced in Anderson et al)”. Afterwards, make sure to include the reference to Anderson et al, not to Johnson (1985), in your bibliography section.
  1. Here are a couple of widespread errors regarding specialized terms/shortened forms:
    • The shortened form for et alia (which can be translated from Latin as “and others”) is et al. As such, you ought to write “Anderson et al., 2004”. Never make use of this abbreviation when there are no more than two authors. For instance, “Johnson and Andrews (2004)” can never be written as “Johnson et al (2004).
    • The singular of the word “stimuli” is “stimulus." Never write “one stimuli”!
    • The word “data” is always a plural form. Rather than using the singular form, “datum," you could talk about one “data point."
    • The plural of the word “ganglion” is “ganglia." For instance: “the basal ganglia represent …”. Similarly, the plural of “criterion” is “criteria," and the plural of “phenomenon” is “phenomena."
    • Overstatements such as “colossal," “astonishing," “mighty” or “magnificent” as well as punctuation marks such as “!” must almost always be avoided.
    • Formulations like “the work of certain researchers”refer to their entire scientific activity or a subsection of it, and not to a singular piece of writing. In case you want to talk about a single piece of writing, use the word “study."
    • Replication: a research paper that tries to replicate a previous one uses the same techniques as the initial research. The term of “replication” denotes a study that has achieved the same outcomes as a previous one. If the outcomes are different, it means that the study failed to replicate the original. In case the techniques are different, the research cannot possibly be regarded as a replication.
  1. Last but not least, a lot of students are confused about abbreviations as well as possessive forms. To write a singular possessive, just add ‘s. For instance: a beast’s nourishment. To write a possessive form of a regular plural (which ends with an s), just add an apostrophe after the s. For instance: the beasts’ prey. In case of irregular plurals, make use of the same rule as that of singular possessives.
KEEP IN MIND: Devise an argument and arrive at a conclusion. You need to assert your argument needs in the introduction. The other sections must persuade the audience that your ideas are reasonable, coherent and factual. It is essential to advocate a particular idea: rather than merely defining your point, state its pros and cons.
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