SCIENTIFIC WRITING BY GENRE

How to Write for Specific Genres

Scientists utilize multiple avenues for sharing their work, including seeking funding for it in the form of a research proposal, publishing it as an article in a journal, or sharing it with a close group of colleagues through a poster or presentation. The general writing techniques you should utilize in each of these genres of writing are the same and are outlined in the Essentials section of this site.

More specific details of what to include and how best to do so will vary across most genres, however. For example, in a research proposal you will likely need to include information on the projected timeline of your project, for which you would implement the future tense. However, when recording the results of this project in a journal article (using the past tense), an outline of the time it took you to conduct your experiments is not valuable and shouldn’t be mentioned.

Throughout this section, we will attempt to answer questions such as the following:

  • Who is my audience?
  • What is my purpose in writing this type of paper?
  • What is the appropriate writing style for this genre?
  • What are the most common conventions adopted in this genre?
  • What is the best way to organize my paper? 
  • How should I organize my thoughts in subsections?

Most likely, most of the papers you write for your classes will not fit perfectly into a specific professional writing genre. Some undergraduate work replicates previous work or is narrower in scope or is subject to more specific requirements and expectations of your instructor. Therefore, most of your undergraduate writing is not likely to be appropriate for submission as a true peer-reviewed research article or as a true grant proposal. Regardless of some differences in the content and context of your writing as compared to professional scientific writing, there will be abundant commonalities among the genres we describe here and your writing assignments. All of your writing will only improve by understanding and beginning to emulate professional writing. 

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