From Research to Manuscript: A Guide to Scientific Writing

From Research to Manuscript : a Guide to Scientific Writing
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Abstract : If the title is interesting, the reader will probably read the abstract. In other words, only a minority ever read the full paper. Introduction : Those who progress beyond the abstract will pay most attention to the first and last paragraphs of the introduction. Materials and methods, and results sections : Most readers ignore these sections. These sections are read by referees, by students, and researchers engaged in similar work.

Occasionally they are read by those writing critical reviews of the literature. Discussion : As with the introduction, readers pay greatest attention to the first and last paragraphs of the discussion.

Few, other than graduate students, the editor and referees, will look at anything else that you've written in the paper. Many readers will, however, also look at the references to see whether you have cited their papers - although most will deny that they do so. This is the way that most of us consume the literature. With so much published every day, we have little choice.

You should try using this technique of 'speed reading'. You will be surprised how efficient a method it is for screening the literature for those papers that really are worth spending time on.

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Make sure when you write that the most important message is contained in those parts of the paper that are most likely to be read by a large number of people. And make sure each paragraph starts with the key message sentence. This part, if included, combines the information which in a book or report is contained in a preface or foreword with essential information on the international, national and local institutional framework political, administrative, financial, infrastructural, personal within which the project originated and progressed, the purpose for which the project was originally conceived, approved, planned and executed.

It may include information on resources used and on supporting and funding institutions. The introduction should be as brief and focussed as possible without loss of information which is essential for the assessment of the political, institutional and administrative background of the paper. The idea of the introduction is to lead the reader into your work so that by the time you discuss your activities the reader can understand what you are doing and why. In this part, project-related and relevant conditions of nature environment, resources, ecology and culture technology, economics, political, social, ethnic etc.

The situation description precedes and prepares the analysis, identification and definition of the problems with which the paper is concerned or the project intends to solve. This can apply to natural or cultural ecosystems, ecosystem hierarchies, or to the intellectual, political, social and material sectors of the ecosystems. Situation and problem must never be confused or mingled; a clear-cut distinction is essential for the logical development of any project plan, execution and assessment, particularly for a convincing and plausible report on work done and results achieved.

In writing about the situation you should attempt to ease the reader into your work. Don't expect them to be as familiar with the setting as you are. Summarize previous work.

Think of the most important and pertinent references to cite and use them. Don't be tempted to fill the introduction with a large number of obscure references. Remember that a situation is not a problem per se but creates the conditions for a problem to arise. The problem statement defines the specific problem s which the paper is about to answer or the research project to solve.

The problem definition is a pivotal point in the logical structure of the thought process. Therefore, the problem s must be prominently stated in a precise, candid and succinct manner, it must be coherently and comprehensively argued and evidenced. Make sure that the problem statement leads logically from the situation. This is immediately followed by an equally precise and succinct statement of the hypotheses that are to be tested.

Publishing in the Sciences

For example, the problem statement:. Recent analysis of pre land use data revealed that there were fundamental effort in the data used in the s,. State the objective or the hypothesis of your study. Is it a logical response to the question? What did you do to try and answer the question? In other words, summarise in a sentence or two the investigation or study that you carried out to obtain an answer.

State your main message. Check that it is a response to the most important question provoked by the problem. Materials and methods. The objective of this section is to give the reader a report of how the work was carried out. This part gives the necessary but brief description of the materials involved or used, followed by a critical review of possible methodological options, discussion of benefits and problems of the various options, and the reason for the specific choice and precise description of the essential features of the selected methodology.

It is important to maintain brevity in this section and remember that your audience is your peers, not someone with no scientific knowledge. Write with your audience in mind. Remember to include descriptions of relevant and essential details of the progress of work, problems and experiences in data collection and processing, particularly where problems have occurred.

The important point to be aware of in this section is that results should be succinctly described but not assessed and discussed yet. The text should contain adequate reference to tables and figures that contain all information, including statistical parameters, required to support the stated results as well as inform and convince the reader, but not more.

Do not be tempted to report all your results and analysis. This is a common mistake amongst novice authors but one that journal editors will spot straight away. If you include unnecessary data, tables and analysis it will appear that you are not focusing on the main theme of your research, and maybe that you don't really know what you are writing about. Referees and journal editors expect brevity and if you include every piece of analysis that you carried out your paper will not get very far.

Refer back to your key statement and consider which results are needed to justify your conclusions. Be brutal with your pruning and remember the word limit on the article set by the journal. In this section the results should be critically analysed, compared and discussed in relation to the originally stated problem, hypotheses, and methods. The results are usually contributing new knowledge which should be compared with the previous knowledge stated in the Situation. The critical comparison may vindicate the results, but also reveal deficiencies and contradictions, which is scientifically of equal value.

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The critical discussion and evaluation of any accord, contradiction or knowledge gap and the assessment of their relevance and probable consequences for the science and art of environmental management is an indispensable step before proceeding to the Conclusion.

Opening paragraph. This section gives a precise and summarising statement of the results and, if relevant, the prospects for application of the results in the various political, social and technical arenas are assessed. In addition, if appropriate, proposals for further actions in research, management and politics are made.

The section should begin with a clear statement of the principal findings. Authors commonly make the mistake of hiding this message deep within the Conclusions section. Your readers will want to be hit with the main findings in the first line. Of course, the conclusion of your research will be more complicated than can be explained in one line but think of it rather like an advertising 'strap line'.

Ingram, Editor-in-Chief of AGE "Overall, Katz provides a pleasant overview of the research-science report process for both first-time science research authors and seasoned professionals.

Authorship

Achuthsankar S. Nair, University of Kerala. Scientific Words, Sentences, and Paragraphs Pages Writing Scientific Text Pages Presenting Numerical Data Pages Constructing Scientific Figures Pages Writing During Research Pages Composing the Sections of a Research Paper Pages Choosing a Journal Pages A Final Rewrite Pages Preparing and Submitting the Manuscript Pages Responding to Editors and Referees Pages Show next xx.

Manuscript and citation style

Read this book on SpringerLink. Recommended for you. PAGE 1.