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Scientific Writing - Basic Skills and Tools

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Scientific Writing - Basic Skills and Tools

  1. 1. Introduction To Scientific writing Dr Ahmed-Refat AG Refat Professor; Community & Family Medicine Department
  2. 2. Learning Objectives By the end of this presentation , the students will be able to: 1. Describe the main features of scientific writing 2. Identify the elements of the scientific writing . 3. Discuss the function, structure and writing style of each element of scientific paper 4. Respect the academic integrity, honesty and ethics of scientific writing .
  3. 3. Characteristics of scientific writing
  4. 4. Characteristics of scientific writing Good scientific writing is: (1) • Clear - it avoids unnecessary detail; • Simple - it uses direct language, avoiding vague or complicated sentences. • Avoid Technical terms and jargon are used only when they are necessary for accuracy;
  5. 5. Characteristics of scientific writing Good scientific writing is: (2) • Neutral - it avoids making assumptions (Everyone knows that ...) and unproven statements (It can never be proved that ...). • It presents how and where data were collected and supports its conclusions with evidence;
  6. 6. Characteristics of scientific writing Good scientific writing is: (3) • Structured logically - ideas and processes are expressed in a logical order. • The text is divided into sections with clear headings; • Accurate - it avoids vague and ambiguous language such as about, approximately, almost;
  7. 7. Characteristics of scientific writing Good scientific writing is: (4) • objective - statements and ideas are supported by appropriate evidence that demonstrates how conclusions have been drawn as well as acknowledging the work of others.
  8. 8. Elements of the Scientific Paper
  9. 9. Elements of the Scientific Paper 1. Title 2. Abstract / summary 3. Introduction 4. Methods 5. Results 6. Discussion 7. Works Cited 8. Appendices
  10. 10. Poster Layout
  11. 11. 1- Title Function: Your poster should begin with a Title that briefly describes the contents of the paper. Format: · The title should be centered at the top of the poster
  12. 12. 1-Title -cont’ • Informative and specific • Concise • Understandable • Has important words first • Has no abbreviations
  13. 13. 1-Title -cont’ • Identify study variables and the relationship between them • Indentify population(s) used in research –if any • Do not include the words "method and results" (put them in the abstract) • Do not have redundancies such as "study of" or "an experimental investigation of" at the beginning of a title • Avoid using a "yes-no" question as a title
  14. 14. 1-Title-cont’ • The title is descriptive and concise • All nouns are capitalized in the title • The title is centered on the page • Your names and date appear below the title
  15. 15. 2-Abstract/ summary • 1. Function: An abstract summarizes the major aspects of the entire poster . • 2- Style: • The abstract is a one paragraph summary of the work, including the question investigated, the methods used, the principal results and conclusions. • Use the active voice when possible • Write your Abstract using concise sentences. • Use past tense.
  16. 16. 2-Abstract/ summary • Contents • Brief background/context • Aim of study • How you will go about the research • The information the research will provide.
  17. 17. 2-Lay Abstract • Lay summaries are short accounts of research that are targeted at a general non-expert audience. • Begin writing the abstract/summary after you have finished writing your paper • Short, simple sentences. Sentences should be less than 25 words long. • Don’t use a long word where a short one will do. Examples: endeavour… try, facilitate… help, consequently… so, advantageous… helpful
  18. 18. 3-Introduction The introduction is a brief section designed to inform the reader of the relevance of your work and includes a relevant background.
  19. 19. 3-Introduction -cont’ • Provide a clear statement of the rationale for your approach to the problem studied • Outlines your main objectives.
  20. 20. 3-Introduction-cont’ • Introductions usually follow a funnel style, starting broadly and then narrowing. • • Funnels from: • Known (the big picture significance and previous work) to…..<<< • Unknown (the specific gap in knowledge) to …..< • Question (this should be important, specific, and unresolved).
  21. 21. 4-Objectives / Study Question • Several ways can be used to signal the research question , e.g., • “To determine whether ………” • “The purpose of this study was to …….” • This study tested the hypothesis that ……” • “This study was undertaken to ……”
  22. 22. SMART Objectives SMART Objectives are • Specific, • Measurable, • Achievable, • Realistic • and Time-bound
  23. 23. 5- Methods 1. Function: In this section you explain clearly how you carried out your study The Methods section chronologically describes the process you undertook to complete the research.
  24. 24. 6- Results Function: The function of the Results section is to objectively present your key results, without interpretation, in an orderly and logical sequence using both text and illustrative materials (Tables and Figures).
  25. 25. The Anatomy of a Table
  26. 26. When to use Tables
  27. 27. Guidelines for Tables : • 1. The title clearly describes what the table is about. • 2. The column heads are descriptive and clearly indicate the nature of the data presented. • 3. The data is divided into categories for clarity. • 4. It is self-contained. • 5. Sufficient spacing is present between columns and rows; • 6. the layout is clean; and the font is legible.
  28. 28. The Anatomy of a Figure
  29. 29. When to use Line Graphs
  30. 30. When to use Bar Charts
  31. 31. When to use Pie Chart
  32. 32. When to use Drawings/ Photographs
  33. 33. Guidelines for figures: • . Ensure image clarity: • . A figure legend at the bottom draws the reader’s attention to the graph's key points. • . Label all important parts: • . The informative title that immediately tells the reader •The axes are labeled clearly. •A note at the bottom acknowledges the source.
  34. 34. Poster is an illustrated abstract • The success of a poster directly relates to the clarity of the illustrations and tables. • Self-explanatory graphics should dominate the poster. • A minimal amount of text materials should supplement the graphic materials. • Graphic materials should be visible easily from a minimum distance of 5 feet. • Restrained use of 2 - 3 colors for emphasis is valuable; overuse is not.
  35. 35. 8- Discussion • This section offers your interpretations and conclusions about your findings. • How do your results relate to the goals of the study, and how do they relate to the results that might have been expected from background information obtained in lectures, Demonstrate your ability to synthesize, analyze, evaluate, interpret, and reason effectively
  36. 36. 8- Discussion – cont’ • Interpret your results: • Explain key limitations • Discuss agreement or contrast with previously published work • Offer general conclusions, • Recommend areas for future study .
  37. 37. 8- Discussion – cont’ Discussion (like a good story) has a beginning, middle, and end.
  38. 38. 8- Discussion – cont’ • BEGINNING: States answer and summarizes main findings. • MIDDLE: Explains answer and how it fits in with previous work. • END: Gives final conclusion(s).
  39. 39. Conclusion Two standard ways to conclude: 1) Restate answer and/or 2) Indicate importance of work by stating implications, applications, suggest future work.
  40. 40. 9- Referencing • Importance of referencing : 1. to support your opinion 2. to add credibility to the information you present 3. to enable the reader to trace the source you used 4. to avoid possible accusations of plagiarism
  41. 41. 9- Citation and Referencing • You should include a reference for all the sources of information that you use when writing • WHAT IS A CITATION? • When you use another person’s work in your own work, either by referring to their ideas, • or by including a direct quotation, you must acknowledge this in the text of your work. • This acknowledgement is called a citation
  42. 42. Citationtypes Citations can be of two basic types: A- Information-prominent citations B- Author-prominent citation
  43. 43. Writing Tips-1 Use Active Voice
  44. 44. Active vs Passive Voice -cont’ • The active voice emphasizes the performer (or agent) of the action: • The active voice is direct , clear, and concise. • The reader knows who is responsible for the action. • Ex. • Smith et al. investigated the relationship. • We have analyzed the results.
  45. 45. • The passive voice, in contrast, emphasizes the receiver (or product) of the action: • The passive voice is and can be weak, awkward, and wordy. • Ex. • The relationship was investigated [by Smith et al]. • The results have been analyzed [by us]. Active vs Passive Voice
  46. 46. • ACTIVE: "the mouse consumed oxygen at a higher rate..." • PASSIVE: "oxygen was consumed by the mouse at a higher rate.." • The clarity and effectiveness of your writing will improve dramatically as you increase the use of the active voice. Active vs Passive Voice
  47. 47. Writing Tips-2 Using Tenses In Scientific Writing
  48. 48. Using Tenses In Scientific Writing • Abstract This usually refers to your unpublished results and uses the past tense.
  49. 49. • Introduction • Include background information which is generally accepted as fact. It is usually presented in the present tense. • Ex. Genomics provides crucial information for rational drug design • Present perfect tense to report research • Ex. A great deal of research has been conducted Using Tenses In Scientific Writing
  50. 50. •Methods • Past tense to describe what was done • In your methods section it is customary to use a form of the simple past tense to describe what you did in your study. Using Tenses In Scientific Writing-cont’
  51. 51. •Results • Past tense for results obtained • In the results section, use the past tense to detail the results you obtained • Present tense to refer to figures, tables and graphs Using Tenses In Scientific Writing-cont’
  52. 52. •Discussion • Present tense to explain significance of results • Past tense to summarise findings, with present tense to interpret results Using Tenses In Scientific Writing-cont’
  53. 53. • Conclusion • A combination of tenses to highlight past research and future directions • Ex.( Although the study found evidence of …. Further studies are therefore necessary to determine the effects of…… on ……...) Using Tenses In Scientific Writing-cont’
  54. 54. •Citations Using Tenses In Scientific Writing- cont’
  55. 55. Thank You
  56. 56. Resources & further readings 1. Jenkins S 1995 How to write a paper for a scientific journal. Australian Journal of Physiotherapy 41(4): 285 – 289 2. Stanford University. Writing in Science http://online.stanford.edu/courses. 3. Erren TC, Bourne PE (2007) Ten simple rules for a good poster presentation. PLoS Comput Biol 3(5): e102. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.0030102 4. Swales, J. M. & Feak, C. B. (2004). Academic Writing for Graduate Students. (2nd ed.). Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. .

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