Skip to Main Content

Physical Geography: Scientific Writing

This research guide will help you with Morrell's weather project

Parts of a Scientific Paper

Title: Specific but concise; includes location of study area

Authors: You!

Abstract: Paragraph summarizing your paper; writing your abstract should be the last step in finishing your paper

Introduction: Explains your hypothesis / purpose / why you are studying this; give background or overview of any previous relevant research conducted by others

Methods: Describe how did you collected your data, instruments used, timing, etc.; give enough detail to enable someone else to replicate your study

Results: Data, figures, tables; just the facts; briefly describe your results

Discussion: Bring it back to the hypothesis/purpose in your introduction. How do you interpret your results? What is the significance? How do your data compare to other studies? Put it in context, but without making generalizations that cannot be supported by the research.

Conclusion: Summarize your study for the reader; you may also discuss limitations of your study and possibilities for future research

References: Your list of sources used; pick a citation style and stick with it

Scientific Writing Style

Scientific writing style is not the same as other writing styles that may be more familiar to you. For instance, unlike a persuasive paper on global warming you may have written in English class, you are not trying to persuade your audience here. You are simply relating the facts in as efficient and concise a manner as possible. Creative writing is fun, but this is not the place to get creative. Report your findings objectively.

Edit your paper! Good scientific writers do extensive editing. Don't be long-winded or repetitive. Wherever you can eliminate a sentence, or a word from a sentence, and still convey your meaning, do so. Your readers are busy scientists; don't waste their time.