Scientific Writing

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Roald Dahl once said, “Good writing is essentially rewriting.” What is true of children’s books is true of scientific writing, too.

Even papers from seasoned scientists take countless revisions.

As professor Keith Baar noted in a viral tweet about writing (and receiving edits on) academic papers, “This is a process.

No one starts perfect.” In Jay’s first year as a faculty member, he struggled to find time to write amid his various new responsibilities, which included teaching, administration, mentoring, and parenting.

This small incentive—rarely more than a few dollars—was enough to keep us accountable.

In a few months, our writing group imposed structure on the rest of our activities.The same system works well at almost any career stage.Jay has now started a monthly writing group for his lab—only in this case, he picks up the bill for lunch when they all meet their goals.June, on the other hand, prefers the quiet of the morning alone at a coffee shop in her mountain college town.We propose that you act like a scientist and try these three simple writing “experiments” designed to enhance your writing effectiveness, efficiency, and even enthusiasm.By fate or luck, he stumbled upon Paul Silvia’s book , which lays out several concrete strategies for building a writing routine—including starting a writing group.Jay reached out to his junior colleagues in his department and three of them were willing to try it out.To avoid buying his colleagues coffee each meeting, Jay shifted his schedule to block off 2 hours every day to chip away at his writing.Writing eventually became a habit, and Jay started to automatically prioritize it over other tasks, opening a document and typing instead of getting buried under email.If a study is conducted and no one is able to read about it, does it make an impact?In most cases, the answer is a resounding “no.” Writing is what makes science real and usable to others.


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