If you stay in science or not, learning the skills of critical thinking, analysis, synthesis and writing are probably the most important ones you will acquire in college. If you go into a science-oriented career, you will soon find that you will be asked to write reports, synthesize the scientific literature on a particular subject, and be required to write proposals, technical reports and manuscripts for refereed journals.
Even the greatest writers struggle with revision after revision, and will tell you the best way to write well is to practice. Since many science classes in college do not offer you the opportunity to learn this important skill, take the opportunity to learn to write “scientifically” in this class. Remember this is for you and your future success, so do not cut corners or leave it to the last moment-It will show! We use software that checks for plagiarism to make it is fair for everyone who tries hard and writes his/her own research paper.
All good writers also start with an outline to help organize their thoughts; this outline should be very detailed, to the point where someone will know what information you are going to cover in each paragraph.
The outline will help you write faster and keep you from getting writers block by staring at a blank page.
Most word processing programs have an outline format (see bullets & numbering or use your help). Your outline should be 1 page, single spaced and with 1 inch margins.
Good luck and approach this exercise as an important skill you are developing for yourself! Pick a topic you are interested in so that you will enjoy the process.
Learn to access electronic databases of the primary literature (Scientific Journals). Most books have information that is already 4-5 years old or older.
Read original research, understand results, and evaluate conclusions based on research. Be critical! Ask yourself: do their results really support conclusions?
Synthesize information from various studies and present different and/or similar points of view on a topic. Science is not straightforward. For example, most scientists will agree that CO2 is increasing in the atmosphere causing global warming and sea level rise, but a lot of debate exists on the rates of sea level rise and local effects. What are the different points of view? What kind of data and results bring different scientists to different conclusions?
Scientific writing is VERY different than English composition. Scientific writing is more direct, based on facts, uses data and logic to make sound points & conclusions. There is no room for “your opinion” unless you are an expert and then you can only use the 3 P words: possibly, probably and potentially to present your “expert opinion”. Science is not a “belief”.
Writing composition is still VERY important even in scientific writing-if you are writing a proposal, the reviewer is more likely to give you the money if your proposal has not only sound science and is creative, but is a comfortable read. If you know that your writing is weak-pick up some scientific and technical writing books TODAY-you can get used ones for very cheap on the web.