How to Write a Scientific Essay

How to write a scientific essay

When writing any essay it’s important to always keep the end goal in mind. You want to produce a document that is detailed, factual, about the subject matter and most importantly to the point.

Writing scientific essays will always be slightly different to when you write an essay for say English Literature . You need to be more analytical and precise when answering your questions. To help achieve this, you need to keep three golden rules in mind.

  • Analysing the question, so that you know exactly what you have to do

Planning your answer

  • Writing the essay

Now, let’s look at these steps in more detail to help you fully understand how to apply the three golden rules.

Analysing the question

  • Start by looking at the instruction. Essays need to be written out in continuous prose. You shouldn’t be using bullet points or writing in note form.
  • If it helps to make a particular point, however, you can use a diagram providing it is relevant and adequately explained.
  • Look at the topic you are required to write about. The wording of the essay title tells you what you should confine your answer to – there is no place for interesting facts about other areas.

The next step is to plan your answer. What we are going to try to do is show you how to produce an effective plan in a very short time. You need a framework to show your knowledge otherwise it is too easy to concentrate on only a few aspects.

For example, when writing an essay on biology we can divide the topic up in a number of different ways. So, if you have to answer a question like ‘Outline the main properties of life and system reproduction’

The steps for planning are simple. Firstly, define the main terms within the question that need to be addressed. Then list the properties asked for and lastly, roughly assess how many words of your word count you are going to allocate to each term.

Writing the Essay

The final step (you’re almost there), now you have your plan in place for the essay, it’s time to get it all down in black and white. Follow your plan for answering the question, making sure you stick to the word count, check your spelling and grammar and give credit where credit’s (always reference your sources).

How Tutors Breakdown Essays

An exceptional essay

  • reflects the detail that could be expected from a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of relevant parts of the specification
  • is free from fundamental errors
  • maintains appropriate depth and accuracy throughout
  • includes two or more paragraphs of material that indicates greater depth or breadth of study

A good essay

An average essay

  • contains a significant amount of material that reflects the detail that could be expected from a knowledge and understanding of relevant parts of the specification.

In practice this will amount to about half the essay.

  • is likely to reflect limited knowledge of some areas and to be patchy in quality
  • demonstrates a good understanding of basic principles with some errors and evidence of misunderstanding

A poor essay

  • contains much material which is below the level expected of a candidate who has completed the course
  • Contains fundamental errors reflecting a poor grasp of basic principles and concepts

best way to write scientific essays

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10 Simple Steps to Writing a Scientific Paper

Flowchart of the writing process

At any given time, Andrea Armani ’s lab at the University of Southern California has up to 15 PhD students, a couple of postdocs, nine undergrads, and an occasional high school student, all busy developing new materials for diagnostic and telecommunications devices.

When conducting scientific research, Armani believes it’s important to test a hypothesis—not prove it. She recruits students who are willing to adopt that “testing” mentality, and are excited to explore the unknown. “I want them to push themselves a little bit, push the field a little bit, and not be afraid to fail,” she says. “And, know that even if they fail, they can still learn something from it.”

Armani often coaches students through the process of writing their first scientific paper. Her 10-step formula for writing a scientific paper could be useful to anyone who has concluded a study and feels the dread of the blank page looming.

1. Write a Vision Statement

What is the key message of your paper? Be able to articulate it in one sentence, because it's a sentence you'll come back to a few times throughout the paper. Think of your paper as a press release: what would the subhead be? If you can't articulate the key discovery or accomplishment in a single sentence, then you're not ready to write a paper.

The vision statement should guide your next important decision: where are you submitting? Every journal has a different style and ordering of sections. Making this decision before you write a single word will save you a lot of time later on. Once you choose a journal, check the website for requirements with regards to formatting, length limits, and figures.

2. Don't Start at the Beginning

Logically, it makes sense to start a paper with the abstract, or, at least, the introduction. Don't. You often end up telling a completely different story than the one you thought you were going to tell. If you start with the introduction, by the time everything else is written, you will likely have to rewrite both sections.

3. Storyboard the Figures

Figures are the best place to start, because they form the backbone of your paper. Unlike you, the reader hasn't been living this research for a year or more. So, the first figure should inspire them to want to learn about your discovery.

A classic organizational approach used by writers is "storyboarding" where all figures are laid out on boards. This can be done using software like PowerPoint, Prezi, or Keynote. One approach is to put the vision statement on the first slide, and all of your results on subsequent slides. To start, simply include all data, without concern for order or importance. Subsequent passes can evaluate consolidation of data sets (e.g., forming panel figures) and relative importance (e.g., main text vs. supplement). The figures should be arranged in a logical order to support your hypothesis statement. Notably, this order may or may not be the order in which you took the data. If you're missing data, it should become obvious at this point.

4. Write the Methods Section

Of all the sections, the methods section is simultaneously the easiest and the most important section to write accurately. Any results in your paper should be replicable based on the methods section, so if you've developed an entirely new experimental method, write it out in excruciating detail, including setup, controls, and protocols, also manufacturers and part numbers, if appropriate. If you're building on a previous study, there's no need to repeat all of those details; that's what references are for.

One common mistake when writing a methods section is the inclusion of results. The methods section is simply a record of what you did.

The methods section is one example of where knowing the journal is important. Some journals integrate the methods section in between the introduction and the results; other journals place the methods section at the end of the article. Depending on the location of the methods section, the contents of the results and discussion section may vary slightly.

5. Write the Results and Discussion Section

In a few journals, results and discussion are separate sections. However, the trend is to merge these two sections. This section should form the bulk of your paper-by storyboarding your figures, you already have an outline!

A good place to start is to write a few paragraphs about each figure, explaining: 1. the result (this should be void of interpretation), 2. the relevance of the result to your hypothesis statement (interpretation is beginning to appear), and 3. the relevance to the field (this is completely your opinion). Whenever possible, you should be quantitative and specific, especially when comparing to prior work. Additionally, any experimental errors should be calculated and error bars should be included on experimental results along with replicate analysis.

You can use this section to help readers understand how your research fits in the context of other ongoing work and explain how your study adds to the body of knowledge. This section should smoothly transition into the conclusion.

6. Write the Conclusion

In the conclusion, summarize everything you have already written. Emphasize the most important findings from your study and restate why they matter. State what you learned and end with the most important thing you want the reader to take away from the paper-again, your vision statement. From the conclusion, a reader should be able to understand the gist of your whole study, including your results and their significance.

7. Now Write the Introduction

The introduction sets the stage for your article. If it was a fictional story, the introduction would be the exposition, where the characters, setting, time period, and main conflict are introduced.

Scientific papers follow a similar formula. The introduction gives a view of your research from 30,000 feet: it defines the problem in the context of a larger field; it reviews what other research groups have done to move forward on the problem (the literature review); and it lays out your hypothesis, which may include your expectations about what the study will contribute to the body of knowledge. The majority of your references will be located in the introduction.

8. Assemble References

The first thing that any new writer should do is pick a good electronic reference manager. There are many free ones available, but often research groups (or PIs) have a favorite one. Editing will be easier if everyone is using the same manager.

References serve multiple roles in a manuscript:

1) To enable a reader to get more detailed information on a topic that has been previously published. For example: "The device was fabricated using a standard method." You need to reference that method. One common mistake is to reference a paper that doesn't contain the protocol, resulting in readers being sent down a virtual rabbit hole in search of the protocol.

2) To support statements that are not common knowledge or may be contentious. For example: "Previous work has shown that vanilla is better than chocolate." You need a reference here. Frequently, there are several papers that could be used, and it is up to you to choose.

3) To recognize others working in the field, such as those who came before you and laid the groundwork for your work as well as more recent discoveries. The selection of these papers is where you need to be particularly conscientious. Don't get in the habit of citing the same couple of papers from the same couple of groups. New papers are published every day-literally. You need to make sure that your references include both foundational papers as well as recent works.

9. Write the Abstract

The abstract is the elevator pitch for your article. Most abstracts are 150–300 words, which translates to approximately 10–20 sentences. Like any good pitch, it should describe the importance of the field, the challenge that your research addresses, how your research solves the challenge, and its potential future impact. It should include any key quantitative metrics. It is important to remember that abstracts are included in search engine results.

10. The Title Comes Last

The title should capture the essence of the paper. If someone was interested in your topic, what phrase or keywords would they type into a search engine? Make sure those words are included in your title.

Andrea Martin Armani is an SPIE Fellow and the Ray Irani Chair in Engineering and Materials Science and Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

best way to write scientific essays

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  • CAREER FEATURE
  • 28 February 2018
  • Correction 16 March 2018

How to write a first-class paper

  • Virginia Gewin 0

Virginia Gewin is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon.

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Manuscripts may have a rigidly defined structure, but there’s still room to tell a compelling story — one that clearly communicates the science and is a pleasure to read. Scientist-authors and editors debate the importance and meaning of creativity and offer tips on how to write a top paper.

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doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-018-02404-4

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Updates & Corrections

Correction 16 March 2018 : This article should have made clear that Altmetric is part of Digital Science, a company owned by Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, which is also the majority shareholder in Nature’s publisher, Springer Nature. Nature Research Editing Services is also owned by Springer Nature.

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  • v.7(5); 2012 Oct

HOW TO WRITE A SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE

Barbara j. hoogenboom.

1 Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, MI, USA

Robert C. Manske

2 University of Wichita, Wichita, KS, USA

Successful production of a written product for submission to a peer‐reviewed scientific journal requires substantial effort. Such an effort can be maximized by following a few simple suggestions when composing/creating the product for submission. By following some suggested guidelines and avoiding common errors, the process can be streamlined and success realized for even beginning/novice authors as they negotiate the publication process. The purpose of this invited commentary is to offer practical suggestions for achieving success when writing and submitting manuscripts to The International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy and other professional journals.

INTRODUCTION

“The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking” Albert Einstein

Conducting scientific and clinical research is only the beginning of the scholarship of discovery. In order for the results of research to be accessible to other professionals and have a potential effect on the greater scientific community, it must be written and published. Most clinical and scientific discovery is published in peer‐reviewed journals, which are those that utilize a process by which an author's peers, or experts in the content area, evaluate the manuscript. Following this review the manuscript is recommended for publication, revision or rejection. It is the rigor of this review process that makes scientific journals the primary source of new information that impacts clinical decision‐making and practice. 1 , 2

The task of writing a scientific paper and submitting it to a journal for publication is a time‐consuming and often daunting task. 3 , 4 Barriers to effective writing include lack of experience, poor writing habits, writing anxiety, unfamiliarity with the requirements of scholarly writing, lack of confidence in writing ability, fear of failure, and resistance to feedback. 5 However, the very process of writing can be a helpful tool for promoting the process of scientific thinking, 6 , 7 and effective writing skills allow professionals to participate in broader scientific conversations. Furthermore, peer review manuscript publication systems requiring these technical writing skills can be developed and improved with practice. 8 Having an understanding of the process and structure used to produce a peer‐reviewed publication will surely improve the likelihood that a submitted manuscript will result in a successful publication.

Clear communication of the findings of research is essential to the growth and development of science 3 and professional practice. The culmination of the publication process provides not only satisfaction for the researcher and protection of intellectual property, but also the important function of dissemination of research results, new ideas, and alternate thought; which ultimately facilitates scholarly discourse. In short, publication of scientific papers is one way to advance evidence‐based practice in many disciplines, including sports physical therapy. Failure to publish important findings significantly diminishes the potential impact that those findings may have on clinical practice. 9

BASICS OF MANUSCRIPT PREPARATION & GENERAL WRITING TIPS

To begin it might be interesting to learn why reviewers accept manuscripts! Reviewers consider the following five criteria to be the most important in decisions about whether to accept manuscripts for publication: 1) the importance, timeliness, relevance, and prevalence of the problem addressed; 2) the quality of the writing style (i.e., that it is well‐written, clear, straightforward, easy to follow, and logical); 3) the study design applied (i.e., that the design was appropriate, rigorous, and comprehensive); 4) the degree to which the literature review was thoughtful, focused, and up‐to‐date; and 5) the use of a sufficiently large sample. 10 For these statements to be true there are also reasons that reviewers reject manuscripts. The following are the top five reasons for rejecting papers: 1) inappropriate, incomplete, or insufficiently described statistics; 2) over‐interpretation of results; 3) use of inappropriate, suboptimal, or insufficiently described populations or instruments; 4) small or biased samples; and 5) text that is poorly written or difficult to follow. 10 , 11 With these reasons for acceptance or rejection in mind, it is time to review basics and general writing tips to be used when performing manuscript preparation.

“Begin with the end in mind” . When you begin writing about your research, begin with a specific target journal in mind. 12 Every scientific journal should have specific lists of manuscript categories that are preferred for their readership. The IJSPT seeks to provide readership with current information to enhance the practice of sports physical therapy. Therefore the manuscript categories accepted by IJSPT include: Original research; Systematic reviews of literature; Clinical commentary and Current concept reviews; Case reports; Clinical suggestions and unique practice techniques; and Technical notes. Once a decision has been made to write a manuscript, compose an outline that complies with the requirements of the target submission journal and has each of the suggested sections. This means carefully checking the submission criteria and preparing your paper in the exact format of the journal to which you intend to submit. Be thoughtful about the distinction between content (what you are reporting) and structure (where it goes in the manuscript). Poor placement of content confuses the reader (reviewer) and may cause misinterpretation of content. 3 , 5

It may be helpful to follow the IMRaD format for writing scientific manuscripts. This acronym stands for the sections contained within the article: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. Each of these areas of the manuscript will be addressed in this commentary.

Many accomplished authors write their results first, followed by an introduction and discussion, in an attempt to “stay true” to their results and not stray into additional areas. Typically the last two portions to be written are the conclusion and the abstract.

The ability to accurately describe ideas, protocols/procedures, and outcomes are the pillars of scientific writing . Accurate and clear expression of your thoughts and research information should be the primary goal of scientific writing. 12 Remember that accuracy and clarity are even more important when trying to get complicated ideas across. Contain your literature review, ideas, and discussions to your topic, theme, model, review, commentary, or case. Avoid vague terminology and too much prose. Use short rather than long sentences. If jargon has to be utilized keep it to a minimum and explain the terms you do use clearly. 13

Write with a measure of formality, using scientific language and avoiding conjunctions, slang, and discipline or regionally specific nomenclature or terms (e.g. exercise nicknames). For example, replace the term “Monster walks” with “closed‐chain hip abduction with elastic resistance around the thighs”. You may later refer to the exercise as “also known as Monster walks” if you desire.

Avoid first person language and instead write using third person language. Some journals do not ascribe to this requirement, and allow first person references, however, IJSPT prefers use of third person. For example, replace “We determined that…” with “The authors determined that….”.

For novice writers, it is really helpful to seek a reading mentor that will help you pre‐read your submission. Problems such as improper use of grammar, tense, and spelling are often a cause of rejection by reviewers. Despite the content of the study these easily fixed errors suggest that the authors created the manuscript with less thought leading reviewers to think that the manuscript may also potentially have erroneous findings as well. A review from a second set of trained eyes will often catch these errors missed by the original authors. If English is not your first language, the editorial staff at IJSPT suggests that you consult with someone with the relevant expertise to give you guidance on English writing conventions, verb tense, and grammar. Excellent writing in English is hard, even for those of us for whom it is our first language!

Use figures and graphics to your advantage . ‐ Consider the use of graphic/figure representation of data and important procedures or exercises. Tables should be able to stand alone and be completely understandable at a quick glance. Understanding a table should not require careful review of the manuscript! Figures dramatically enhance the graphic appeal of a scientific paper. Many formats for graphic presentation are acceptable, including graphs, charts, tables, and pictures or videos. Photographs should be clear, free of clutter or extraneous background distractions and be taken with models wearing simple clothing. Color photographs are preferred. Digital figures (Scans or existing files as well as new photographs) must be at least 300dpi. All photographs should be provided as separate files (jpeg or tif preferred) and not be embedded in the paper. Quality and clarity of figures are essential for reproduction purposes and should be considered before taking images for the manuscript.

A video of an exercise or procedure speaks a thousand words. Please consider using short video clips as descriptive additions to your paper. They will be placed on the IJSPT website and accompany your paper. The video clips must be submitted in MPEG‐1, MPEG‐2, Quicktime (.mov), or Audio/Video Interface (.avi) formats. Maximum cumulative length of videos is 5 minutes. Each video segment may not exceed 50 MB, and each video clip must be saved as a separate file and clearly identified. Formulate descriptive figure/video and Table/chart/graph titles and place them on a figure legend document. Carefully consider placement of, naming of, and location of figures. It makes the job of the editors much easier!

Avoid Plagiarism and inadvertent lack of citations. Finally, use citations to your benefit. Cite frequently in order to avoid any plagiarism. The bottom line: If it is not your original idea, give credit where credit is due . When using direct quotations, provide not only the number of the citation, but the page where the quote was found. All citations should appear in text as a superscripted number followed by punctuation. It is the authors' responsibility to fully ensure all references are cited in completed form, in an accurate location. Please carefully follow the instructions for citations and check that all references in your reference list are cited in the paper and that all citations in the paper appear correctly in the reference list. Please go to IJSPT submission guidelines for full information on the format for citations.

Sometimes written as an afterthought, the abstract is of extreme importance as in many instances this section is what is initially previewed by readership to determine if the remainder of the article is worth reading. This is the authors opportunity to draw the reader into the study and entice them to read the rest of the article. The abstract is a summary of the article or study written in 3 rd person allowing the readers to get a quick glance of what the contents of the article include. Writing an abstract is rather challenging as being brief, accurate and concise are requisite. The headings and structure for an abstract are usually provided in the instructions for authors. In some instances, the abstract may change slightly pending content revisions required during the peer review process. Therefore it often works well to complete this portion of the manuscript last. Remember the abstract should be able to stand alone and should be as succinct as possible. 14

Introduction and Review of Literature

The introduction is one of the more difficult portions of the manuscript to write. Past studies are used to set the stage or provide the reader with information regarding the necessity of the represented project. For an introduction to work properly, the reader must feel that the research question is clear, concise, and worthy of study.

A competent introduction should include at least four key concepts: 1) significance of the topic, 2) the information gap in the available literature associated with the topic, 3) a literature review in support of the key questions, 4) subsequently developed purposes/objectives and hypotheses. 9

When constructing a review of the literature, be attentive to “sticking” or “staying true” to your topic at hand. Don't reach or include too broad of a literature review. For example, do not include extraneous information about performance or prevention if your research does not actually address those things. The literature review of a scientific paper is not an exhaustive review of all available knowledge in a given field of study. That type of thorough review should be left to review articles or textbook chapters. Throughout the introduction (and later in the discussion!) remind yourself that a paper, existing evidence, or results of a paper cannot draw conclusions, demonstrate, describe, or make judgments, only PEOPLE (authors) can. “The evidence demonstrates that” should be stated, “Smith and Jones, demonstrated that….”

Conclude your introduction with a solid statement of your purpose(s) and your hypothesis(es), as appropriate. The purpose and objectives should clearly relate to the information gap associated with the given manuscript topic discussed earlier in the introduction section. This may seem repetitive, but it actually is helpful to ensure the reader clearly sees the evolution, importance, and critical aspects of the study at hand See Table 1 for examples of well‐stated purposes.

Examples of well-stated purposes by submission type.

The methods section should clearly describe the specific design of the study and provide clear and concise description of the procedures that were performed. The purpose of sufficient detail in the methods section is so that an appropriately trained person would be able to replicate your experiments. 15 There should be complete transparency when describing the study. To assist in writing and manuscript preparation there are several checklists or guidelines that are available on the IJSPT website. The CONSORT guidelines can be used when developing and reporting a randomized controlled trial. 16 The STARD checklist was developed for designing a diagnostic accuracy study. 17 The PRISMA checklist was developed for use when performing a meta‐analyses or systematic review. 18 A clear methods section should contain the following information: 1) the population and equipment used in the study, 2) how the population and equipment were prepared and what was done during the study, 3) the protocol used, 4) the outcomes and how they were measured, 5) the methods used for data analysis. Initially a brief paragraph should explain the overall procedures and study design. Within this first paragraph there is generally a description of inclusion and exclusion criteria which help the reader understand the population used. Paragraphs that follow should describe in more detail the procedures followed for the study. A clear description of how data was gathered is also helpful. For example were data gathered prospectively or retrospectively? Who if anyone was blinded, and where and when was the actual data collected?

Although it is a good idea for the authors to have justification and a rationale for their procedures, these should be saved for inclusion into the discussion section, not to be discussed in the methods section. However, occasionally studies supporting components of the methods section such as reliability of tests, or validation of outcome measures may be included in the methods section.

The final portion of the methods section will include the statistical methods used to analyze the data. 19 This does not mean that the actual results should be discussed in the methods section, as they have an entire section of their own!

Most scientific journals support the need for all projects involving humans or animals to have up‐to‐date documentation of ethical approval. 20 The methods section should include a clear statement that the researchers have obtained approval from an appropriate institutional review board.

Results, Discussion, and Conclusions

In most journals the results section is separate from the discussion section. It is important that you clearly distinguish your results from your discussion. The results section should describe the results only. The discussion section should put those results into a broader context. Report your results neutrally, as you “found them”. Again, be thoughtful about content and structure. Think carefully about where content is placed in the overall structure of your paper. It is not appropriate to bring up additional results, not discussed in the results section, in the discussion. All results must first be described/presented and then discussed. Thus, the discussion should not simply be a repeat of the results section. Carefully discuss where your information is similar or different from other published evidence and why this might be so. What was different in methods or analysis, what was similar?

As previously stated, stick to your topic at hand, and do not overstretch your discussion! One of the major pitfalls in writing the discussion section is overstating the significance of your findings 4 or making very strong statements. For example, it is better to say: “Findings of the current study support….” or “these findings suggest…” than, “Findings of the current study prove that…” or “this means that….”. Maintain a sense of humbleness, as nothing is without question in the outcomes of any type of research, in any discipline! Use words like “possibly”, “likely” or “suggests” to soften findings. 12

Do not discuss extraneous ideas, concepts, or information not covered by your topic/paper/commentary. Be sure to carefully address all relevant results, not just the statistically significant ones or the ones that support your hypotheses. When you must resort to speculation or opinion, be certain to state that up front using phrases such as “we therefore speculate” or “in the authors' opinion”.

Remember, just as in the introduction and literature review, evidence or results cannot draw conclusions, just as previously stated, only people, scientists, researchers, and authors can!

Finish with a concise, 3‐5 sentence conclusion paragraph. This is not just a restatement of your results, rather is comprised of some final, summative statements that reflect the flow and outcomes of the entire paper. Do not include speculative statements or additional material; however, based upon your findings a statement about potential changes in clinical practice or future research opportunities can be provided here.

CONCLUSIONS

Writing for publication can be a challenging yet satisfying endeavor. The ability to examine, relate, and interlink evidence, as well as to provide a peer‐reviewed, disseminated product of your research labors can be rewarding. A few suggestions have been offered in this commentary that may assist the novice or the developing writer to attempt, polish, and perfect their approach to scholarly writing.

Student sat writing at a table. Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

Essay and dissertation writing skills

Planning your essay

Writing your introduction

Structuring your essay

  • Writing essays in science subjects
  • Brief video guides to support essay planning and writing
  • Writing extended essays and dissertations
  • Planning your dissertation writing time

Structuring your dissertation

  • Top tips for writing longer pieces of work

Advice on planning and writing essays and dissertations

University essays differ from school essays in that they are less concerned with what you know and more concerned with how you construct an argument to answer the question. This means that the starting point for writing a strong essay is to first unpick the question and to then use this to plan your essay before you start putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).

A really good starting point for you are these short, downloadable Tips for Successful Essay Writing and Answering the Question resources. Both resources will help you to plan your essay, as well as giving you guidance on how to distinguish between different sorts of essay questions. 

You may find it helpful to watch this seven-minute video on six tips for essay writing which outlines how to interpret essay questions, as well as giving advice on planning and structuring your writing:

Different disciplines will have different expectations for essay structure and you should always refer to your Faculty or Department student handbook or course Canvas site for more specific guidance.

However, broadly speaking, all essays share the following features:

Essays need an introduction to establish and focus the parameters of the discussion that will follow. You may find it helpful to divide the introduction into areas to demonstrate your breadth and engagement with the essay question. You might define specific terms in the introduction to show your engagement with the essay question; for example, ‘This is a large topic which has been variously discussed by many scientists and commentators. The principle tension is between the views of X and Y who define the main issues as…’ Breadth might be demonstrated by showing the range of viewpoints from which the essay question could be considered; for example, ‘A variety of factors including economic, social and political, influence A and B. This essay will focus on the social and economic aspects, with particular emphasis on…..’

Watch this two-minute video to learn more about how to plan and structure an introduction:

The main body of the essay should elaborate on the issues raised in the introduction and develop an argument(s) that answers the question. It should consist of a number of self-contained paragraphs each of which makes a specific point and provides some form of evidence to support the argument being made. Remember that a clear argument requires that each paragraph explicitly relates back to the essay question or the developing argument.

  • Conclusion: An essay should end with a conclusion that reiterates the argument in light of the evidence you have provided; you shouldn’t use the conclusion to introduce new information.
  • References: You need to include references to the materials you’ve used to write your essay. These might be in the form of footnotes, in-text citations, or a bibliography at the end. Different systems exist for citing references and different disciplines will use various approaches to citation. Ask your tutor which method(s) you should be using for your essay and also consult your Department or Faculty webpages for specific guidance in your discipline. 

Essay writing in science subjects

If you are writing an essay for a science subject you may need to consider additional areas, such as how to present data or diagrams. This five-minute video gives you some advice on how to approach your reading list, planning which information to include in your answer and how to write for your scientific audience – the video is available here:

A PDF providing further guidance on writing science essays for tutorials is available to download.

Short videos to support your essay writing skills

There are many other resources at Oxford that can help support your essay writing skills and if you are short on time, the Oxford Study Skills Centre has produced a number of short (2-minute) videos covering different aspects of essay writing, including:

  • Approaching different types of essay questions  
  • Structuring your essay  
  • Writing an introduction  
  • Making use of evidence in your essay writing  
  • Writing your conclusion

Extended essays and dissertations

Longer pieces of writing like extended essays and dissertations may seem like quite a challenge from your regular essay writing. The important point is to start with a plan and to focus on what the question is asking. A PDF providing further guidance on planning Humanities and Social Science dissertations is available to download.

Planning your time effectively

Try not to leave the writing until close to your deadline, instead start as soon as you have some ideas to put down onto paper. Your early drafts may never end up in the final work, but the work of committing your ideas to paper helps to formulate not only your ideas, but the method of structuring your writing to read well and conclude firmly.

Although many students and tutors will say that the introduction is often written last, it is a good idea to begin to think about what will go into it early on. For example, the first draft of your introduction should set out your argument, the information you have, and your methods, and it should give a structure to the chapters and sections you will write. Your introduction will probably change as time goes on but it will stand as a guide to your entire extended essay or dissertation and it will help you to keep focused.

The structure of  extended essays or dissertations will vary depending on the question and discipline, but may include some or all of the following:

  • The background information to - and context for - your research. This often takes the form of a literature review.
  • Explanation of the focus of your work.
  • Explanation of the value of this work to scholarship on the topic.
  • List of the aims and objectives of the work and also the issues which will not be covered because they are outside its scope.

The main body of your extended essay or dissertation will probably include your methodology, the results of research, and your argument(s) based on your findings.

The conclusion is to summarise the value your research has added to the topic, and any further lines of research you would undertake given more time or resources. 

Tips on writing longer pieces of work

Approaching each chapter of a dissertation as a shorter essay can make the task of writing a dissertation seem less overwhelming. Each chapter will have an introduction, a main body where the argument is developed and substantiated with evidence, and a conclusion to tie things together. Unlike in a regular essay, chapter conclusions may also introduce the chapter that will follow, indicating how the chapters are connected to one another and how the argument will develop through your dissertation.

For further guidance, watch this two-minute video on writing longer pieces of work . 

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Science Essay

Betty P.

Learn How to Write an A+ Science Essay

11 min read

Published on: Jan 5, 2023

Last updated on: Sep 28, 2023

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Did you ever imagine that essay writing was just for students in the Humanities? Well, think again! 

For science students, tackling a science essay might seem challenging, as it not only demands a deep understanding of the subject but also strong writing skills. 

However, fret not because we've got your back!

With the right steps and tips, you can write an engaging and informative science essay easily!

This blog will take you through all the important steps of writing a science essay, from choosing a topic to presenting the final work.

So, let's get into it!

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What Is a Science Essay?

A science essay is an academic paper focusing on a scientific topic from physics, chemistry, biology, or any other scientific field.

Science essays are mostly expository. That is, they require you to explain your chosen topic in detail. However, they can also be descriptive and exploratory.

A descriptive science essay aims to describe a certain scientific phenomenon according to established knowledge.

On the other hand, the exploratory science essay requires you to go beyond the current theories and explore new interpretations.

So before you set out to write your essay, always check out the instructions given by your instructor. Whether a science essay is expository or exploratory must be clear from the start. Or, if you face any difficulty, you can take help from a science essay writer as well. 

Moreover, check out this video to understand scientific writing in detail.

Now that you know what it is, let's look at the steps you need to take to write a science essay. 

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How To Write a Science Essay?

Writing a science essay is not as complex as it may seem. All you need to do is follow the right steps to create an impressive piece of work that meets the assigned criteria.

Here's what you need to do:

Choose Your Topic

A good topic forms the foundation for an engaging and well-written essay. Therefore, you should ensure that you pick something interesting or relevant to your field of study. 

To choose a good topic, you can brainstorm ideas relating to the subject matter. You may also find inspiration from other science essays or articles about the same topic.

Conduct Research

Once you have chosen your topic, start researching it thoroughly to develop a strong argument or discussion in your essay. 

Make sure you use reliable sources and cite them properly . You should also make notes while conducting your research so that you can reference them easily when writing the essay. Or, you can get expert assistance from an essay writing service to manage your citations. 

Create an Outline

A good essay outline helps to organize the ideas in your paper. It serves as a guide throughout the writing process and ensures you don’t miss out on important points.

An outline makes it easier to write a well-structured paper that flows logically. It should be detailed enough to guide you through the entire writing process.

However, your outline should be flexible, and it's sometimes better to change it along the way to improve your structure.

Start Writing

Once you have a good outline, start writing the essay by following your plan.

The first step in writing any essay is to draft it. This means putting your thoughts down on paper in a rough form without worrying about grammar or spelling mistakes.

So begin your essay by introducing the topic, then carefully explain it using evidence and examples to support your argument.

Don't worry if your first draft isn't perfect - it's just the starting point!

Proofread & Edit

After finishing your first draft, take time to proofread and edit it for grammar and spelling mistakes.

Proofreading is the process of checking for grammatical mistakes. It should be done after you have finished writing your essay.

Editing, on the other hand, involves reviewing the structure and organization of your essay and its content. It should be done before you submit your final work.

Both proofreading and editing are essential for producing a high-quality essay. Make sure to give yourself enough time to do them properly!

After revising the essay, you should format it according to the guidelines given by your instructor. This could involve using a specific font size, page margins, or citation style.

Most science essays are written in Times New Roman font with 12-point size and double spacing. The margins should be 1 inch on all sides, and the text should be justified.

In addition, you must cite your sources properly using a recognized citation style such as APA , Chicago , or Harvard . Make sure to follow the guidelines closely so that your essay looks professional.

Following these steps will help you create an informative and well-structured science essay that meets the given criteria.

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How to Structure a Science Essay?

A basic science essay structure includes an introduction, body, and conclusion. 

Let's look at each of these briefly.

  • Introduction

Your essay introduction should introduce your topic and provide a brief overview of what you will discuss in the essay. It should also state your thesis or main argument.

For instance, a thesis statement for a science essay could be, 

"The human body is capable of incredible feats, as evidenced by the many athletes who have competed in the Olympic games."

The body of your essay will contain the bulk of your argument or discussion. It should be divided into paragraphs, each discussing a different point.

For instance, imagine you were writing about sports and the human body. 

Your first paragraph can discuss the physical capabilities of the human body. 

The second paragraph may be about the physical benefits of competing in sports. 

Similarly, in the third paragraph, you can present one or two case studies of specific athletes to support your point. 

Once you have explained all your points in the body, it’s time to conclude the essay.

Your essay conclusion should summarize the main points of your essay and leave the reader with a sense of closure.

In the conclusion, you reiterate your thesis and sum up your arguments. You can also suggest implications or potential applications of the ideas discussed in the essay. 

By following this structure, you will create a well-organized essay.

Check out a few example essays to see this structure in practice.

Science Essay Examples

A great way to get inspired when writing a science essay is to look at other examples of successful essays written by others. 

Here are some examples that will give you an idea of how to write your essay.

Science Essay About Genetics - Science Essay Example

Environmental Science Essay Example | PDF Sample

The Science of Nanotechnology

Science, Non-Science, and Pseudo-Science

The Science Of Science Education

Science in our Daily Lives

Short Science Essay Example

Let’s take a look at a short science essay: 

Want to read more essay examples? Here, you can find more science essay examples to learn from.

How to Choose the Right Science Essay Topic

Choosing the right science essay topic is a critical first step in crafting a compelling and engaging essay. Here's a concise guide on how to make this decision wisely:

  • Consider Your Interests: Start by reflecting on your personal interests within the realm of science. Selecting a topic that genuinely fascinates you will make the research and writing process more enjoyable and motivated.
  • Relevance to the Course: Ensure that your chosen topic aligns with your course or assignment requirements. Read the assignment guidelines carefully to understand the scope and focus expected by your instructor.
  • Current Trends and Issues: Stay updated with the latest scientific developments and trends. Opting for a topic that addresses contemporary issues not only makes your essay relevant but also demonstrates your awareness of current events in the field.
  • Narrow Down the Scope: Science is vast, so narrow your topic to a manageable scope. Instead of a broad subject like "Climate Change," consider a more specific angle like "The Impact of Melting Arctic Ice on Global Sea Levels."
  • Available Resources: Ensure that there are sufficient credible sources and research materials available for your chosen topic. A lack of resources can hinder your research efforts.
  • Discuss with Your Instructor: If you're uncertain about your topic choice, don't hesitate to consult your instructor or professor. They can provide valuable guidance and may even suggest specific topics based on your academic goals.

Science Essay Topics

Choosing an appropriate topic for a science essay is one of the first steps in writing a successful paper.

Here are a few science essay topics to get you started:

  • How space exploration affects our daily lives?
  • How has technology changed our understanding of medicine?
  • Are there ethical considerations to consider when conducting scientific research?
  • How does climate change affect the biodiversity of different parts of the world?
  • How can artificial intelligence be used in medicine?
  • What impact have vaccines had on global health?
  • What is the future of renewable energy?
  • How do we ensure that genetically modified organisms are safe for humans and the environment?
  • The influence of social media on human behavior: A social science perspective
  • What are the potential risks and benefits of stem cell therapy?

Important science topics can cover anything from space exploration to chemistry and biology. So you can choose any topic according to your interests!

Need more topics? We have gathered 100+ science essay topics to help you find a great topic!

Continue reading to find some tips to help you write a successful science essay. 

Science Essay Writing Tips

Once you have chosen a topic and looked at examples, it's time to start writing the science essay.

Here are some key tips for a successful essay:

  • Research thoroughly

Make sure you do extensive research before you begin writing your paper. This will ensure that the facts and figures you include are accurate and supported by reliable sources.

  • Use clear language

Avoid using jargon or overly technical language when writing your essay. Plain language is easier to understand and more engaging for readers.

  • Referencing

Always provide references for any information you include in your essay. This will demonstrate that you acknowledge other people's work and show that the evidence you use is credible.

Make sure to follow the basic structure of an essay and organize your thoughts into clear sections. This will improve the flow and make your essay easier to read.

  • Ask someone to proofread

It’s also a good idea to get someone else to proofread your work as they may spot mistakes that you have missed.

These few tips will help ensure that your science essay is well-written and informative!

You've learned the steps to writing a successful science essay and looked at some examples and topics to get you started. 

Make sure you thoroughly research, use clear language, structure your thoughts, and proofread your essay. With these tips, you’re sure to write a great science essay! 

Do you still need expert help writing a science essay? Our science essay writing service is here to help. With our team of professional writers, you can rest assured that your essay will be written to the highest standards.

Contact our online writing service now to get started!

Also, do not forget to try our essay typer tool for quick and cost-free aid with your essays!

Betty P. (Natural Sciences, Life Sciences)

Betty is a freelance writer and researcher. She has a Masters in literature and enjoys providing writing services to her clients. Betty is an avid reader and loves learning new things. She has provided writing services to clients from all academic levels and related academic fields.

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  • Research paper

Writing a Research Paper Introduction | Step-by-Step Guide

Published on September 24, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on March 27, 2023.

Writing a Research Paper Introduction

The introduction to a research paper is where you set up your topic and approach for the reader. It has several key goals:

  • Present your topic and get the reader interested
  • Provide background or summarize existing research
  • Position your own approach
  • Detail your specific research problem and problem statement
  • Give an overview of the paper’s structure

The introduction looks slightly different depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or constructs an argument by engaging with a variety of sources.

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Table of contents

Step 1: introduce your topic, step 2: describe the background, step 3: establish your research problem, step 4: specify your objective(s), step 5: map out your paper, research paper introduction examples, frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.

The first job of the introduction is to tell the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening hook.

The hook is a striking opening sentence that clearly conveys the relevance of your topic. Think of an interesting fact or statistic, a strong statement, a question, or a brief anecdote that will get the reader wondering about your topic.

For example, the following could be an effective hook for an argumentative paper about the environmental impact of cattle farming:

A more empirical paper investigating the relationship of Instagram use with body image issues in adolescent girls might use the following hook:

Don’t feel that your hook necessarily has to be deeply impressive or creative. Clarity and relevance are still more important than catchiness. The key thing is to guide the reader into your topic and situate your ideas.

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This part of the introduction differs depending on what approach your paper is taking.

In a more argumentative paper, you’ll explore some general background here. In a more empirical paper, this is the place to review previous research and establish how yours fits in.

Argumentative paper: Background information

After you’ve caught your reader’s attention, specify a bit more, providing context and narrowing down your topic.

Provide only the most relevant background information. The introduction isn’t the place to get too in-depth; if more background is essential to your paper, it can appear in the body .

Empirical paper: Describing previous research

For a paper describing original research, you’ll instead provide an overview of the most relevant research that has already been conducted. This is a sort of miniature literature review —a sketch of the current state of research into your topic, boiled down to a few sentences.

This should be informed by genuine engagement with the literature. Your search can be less extensive than in a full literature review, but a clear sense of the relevant research is crucial to inform your own work.

Begin by establishing the kinds of research that have been done, and end with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to respond to.

The next step is to clarify how your own research fits in and what problem it addresses.

Argumentative paper: Emphasize importance

In an argumentative research paper, you can simply state the problem you intend to discuss, and what is original or important about your argument.

Empirical paper: Relate to the literature

In an empirical research paper, try to lead into the problem on the basis of your discussion of the literature. Think in terms of these questions:

  • What research gap is your work intended to fill?
  • What limitations in previous work does it address?
  • What contribution to knowledge does it make?

You can make the connection between your problem and the existing research using phrases like the following.

Now you’ll get into the specifics of what you intend to find out or express in your research paper.

The way you frame your research objectives varies. An argumentative paper presents a thesis statement, while an empirical paper generally poses a research question (sometimes with a hypothesis as to the answer).

Argumentative paper: Thesis statement

The thesis statement expresses the position that the rest of the paper will present evidence and arguments for. It can be presented in one or two sentences, and should state your position clearly and directly, without providing specific arguments for it at this point.

Empirical paper: Research question and hypothesis

The research question is the question you want to answer in an empirical research paper.

Present your research question clearly and directly, with a minimum of discussion at this point. The rest of the paper will be taken up with discussing and investigating this question; here you just need to express it.

A research question can be framed either directly or indirectly.

  • This study set out to answer the following question: What effects does daily use of Instagram have on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls?
  • We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls.

If your research involved testing hypotheses , these should be stated along with your research question. They are usually presented in the past tense, since the hypothesis will already have been tested by the time you are writing up your paper.

For example, the following hypothesis might respond to the research question above:

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The final part of the introduction is often dedicated to a brief overview of the rest of the paper.

In a paper structured using the standard scientific “introduction, methods, results, discussion” format, this isn’t always necessary. But if your paper is structured in a less predictable way, it’s important to describe the shape of it for the reader.

If included, the overview should be concise, direct, and written in the present tense.

  • This paper will first discuss several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then will go on to …
  • This paper first discusses several examples of survey-based research into adolescent social media use, then goes on to …

Full examples of research paper introductions are shown in the tabs below: one for an argumentative paper, the other for an empirical paper.

  • Argumentative paper
  • Empirical paper

Are cows responsible for climate change? A recent study (RIVM, 2019) shows that cattle farmers account for two thirds of agricultural nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands. These emissions result from nitrogen in manure, which can degrade into ammonia and enter the atmosphere. The study’s calculations show that agriculture is the main source of nitrogen pollution, accounting for 46% of the country’s total emissions. By comparison, road traffic and households are responsible for 6.1% each, the industrial sector for 1%. While efforts are being made to mitigate these emissions, policymakers are reluctant to reckon with the scale of the problem. The approach presented here is a radical one, but commensurate with the issue. This paper argues that the Dutch government must stimulate and subsidize livestock farmers, especially cattle farmers, to transition to sustainable vegetable farming. It first establishes the inadequacy of current mitigation measures, then discusses the various advantages of the results proposed, and finally addresses potential objections to the plan on economic grounds.

The rise of social media has been accompanied by a sharp increase in the prevalence of body image issues among women and girls. This correlation has received significant academic attention: Various empirical studies have been conducted into Facebook usage among adolescent girls (Tiggermann & Slater, 2013; Meier & Gray, 2014). These studies have consistently found that the visual and interactive aspects of the platform have the greatest influence on body image issues. Despite this, highly visual social media (HVSM) such as Instagram have yet to be robustly researched. This paper sets out to address this research gap. We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls. It was hypothesized that daily Instagram use would be associated with an increase in body image concerns and a decrease in self-esteem ratings.

The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:

  • A hook to catch the reader’s interest
  • Relevant background on the topic
  • Details of your research problem

and your problem statement

  • A thesis statement or research question
  • Sometimes an overview of the paper

Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.

This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

Cite this Scribbr article

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Caulfield, J. (2023, March 27). Writing a Research Paper Introduction | Step-by-Step Guide. Scribbr. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/research-paper/research-paper-introduction/

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What is a "good" title?

"title checklist" from: how to write a good scientific paper. chris a. mack. spie. 2018., other hints for writing a title.

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The title will be read by many people. Only a few will read the entire paper, therefore all words in the title should be chosen with care. Too short a title is not helpful to the potential reader. However too long a title can sometimes be even less meaningful. Remember a title is not an abstract. Also a title is not a sentence.

Goals: • Fewest possible words that describe the contents of the paper. • Avoid waste words like "Studies on", or "Investigations on" • Use specific terms rather than general • Watch your word order and syntax • Avoid abbreviations and jargon

 The title should be clear and informative, and should reflect the aim and approach of the work.

 The title should be as specific as possible while still describing the full range of the work. Does the title, seen in isolation, give a full yet concise and specific indication of the work reported?

 Do not mention results or conclusions in the title.

 Avoid: overly clever or punny titles that will not fare well with search engines or international audiences; titles that are too short to be descriptive or too long to be read; jargon, acronyms, or trademarked terms. 

  • Whenever possible, use a declarative rather than a neutral title
  • Don't end your title with a question mark?
  • Begin with the keywords
  • Use verbs instead of abstract nouns
  • Avoid abbrev. in the title

From: How to Write and Illustrate a Scientific Paper (2008)

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How to successfully write a scientific essay.

Posted by Cody Rhodes

If you are undertaking a course which relates to science, you are more or less apt to write an essay on science. You need to know how to write a science essay irrespective of whether your professor gives you a topic or you come up with one. Additionally, you need to have an end objective in mind. Writing a science essay necessitates that you produce an article which has all the details and facts about the subject matter and it ought to be to the point. Also, you need to know and understand that science essays are more or less different from other types of essays. They require you to be analytical and precise when answering questions. Hence, this can be quite challenging and tiresome. However, that should not deter you from learning how to write your paper. You can always inquire for pre-written research papers for sale from writing services like EssayZoo.

Also, you can read other people’s articles and find out how they produce and develop unique and high-quality papers. Moreover, this will help you understand how to approach your essays in different ways. Nonetheless, if you want to learn how to write a scientific paper in a successful manner, consider the following tips.

How to successfully write a scientific essay

Select a topic for your article Like any other type of essay, you need to have a topic before you start the actual writing process. Your professor or instructor may give you a science essay topic to write about or ask you to come up with yours. When selecting a topic for your paper, ensure that you choose one you can write about. Do not pick a complex topic which can make the writing process boring and infuriating for you. Instead, choose one that you are familiar with. Select a topic you will not struggle gathering information about. Also, you need to have an interest in it. If you are unable to come up with a good topic, trying reading other people’s articles. This will help you develop a topic with ease.

Draft a plan After selecting a topic, the next step is drafting a plan or an outline. An outline is fundamental in writing a scientific essay as it is the foundation on which your paper is built. Additionally, it acts as a road map for your article. Hence, you need to incorporate all the thoughts and ideas you will include in your essay in the outline. You need to know what you will include in the introduction, the body, and the conclusion. Drafting a plan helps you save a lot of time when writing your paper. Also, it helps you to keep track of the primary objective of your article.

Start writing the article After drafting a plan, you can begin the writing process. Writing your paper will be smooth and easier as you have an outline which helps simplify the writing process. When writing your article, begin with a strong hook for your introduction. Dictate the direction your paper will take. Provide some background information and state the issue you will discuss as well as the solutions you have come up with. Arrange the body of your article according to the essay structure you will use to guide you. Also, ensure that you use transitory sentences to show the relationship between the paragraphs of your article. Conclude your essay by summarizing all the key points. Also, highlight the practical potential of our findings and their impacts.

Proofread and check for errors in the paper Before submitting or forwarding your article, it is fundamental that you proofread and correct all the errors that you come across. Delivering a paper that is full of mistakes can affect your overall performance in a negative manner. Thus, it is essential you revise your paper and check for errors. Correct all of them. Ask a friend to proofread your paper. He or she may spot some of the mistakes you did not come across.

In conclusion, writing a scientific essay differs from writing other types of papers. A scientific essay requires you to produce an article which has all the information and facts about the subject matter and it ought to be to the point. Nonetheless, the scientific essay formats similar to the format of any other essay: introduction, body, and conclusion. You need to use your outline to guide you through the writing process. To learn how to write a scientific essay in a successful manner, consider the tips above.

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Article Contents

Introduction, selection of a topic, scientific literature search and analysis, structure of a scientific review article, tips for success, acknowledgments, conflict of interest statement.

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Scientific Review Article

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Manisha Bahl, A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Scientific Review Article, Journal of Breast Imaging , Volume 5, Issue 4, July/August 2023, Pages 480–485, https://doi.org/10.1093/jbi/wbad028

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Scientific review articles are comprehensive, focused reviews of the scientific literature written by subject matter experts. The task of writing a scientific review article can seem overwhelming; however, it can be managed by using an organized approach and devoting sufficient time to the process. The process involves selecting a topic about which the authors are knowledgeable and enthusiastic, conducting a literature search and critical analysis of the literature, and writing the article, which is composed of an abstract, introduction, body, and conclusion, with accompanying tables and figures. This article, which focuses on the narrative or traditional literature review, is intended to serve as a guide with practical steps for new writers. Tips for success are also discussed, including selecting a focused topic, maintaining objectivity and balance while writing, avoiding tedious data presentation in a laundry list format, moving from descriptions of the literature to critical analysis, avoiding simplistic conclusions, and budgeting time for the overall process.

Scientific review articles provide a focused and comprehensive review of the available evidence about a subject, explain the current state of knowledge, and identify gaps that could be topics for potential future research.

Detailed tables reviewing the relevant scientific literature are important components of high-quality scientific review articles.

Tips for success include selecting a focused topic, maintaining objectivity and balance, avoiding tedious data presentation, providing a critical analysis rather than only a description of the literature, avoiding simplistic conclusions, and budgeting time for the overall process.

The process of researching and writing a scientific review article can be a seemingly daunting task but can be made manageable, and even enjoyable, if an organized approach is used and a reasonable timeline is given. Scientific review articles provide authors with an opportunity to synthesize the available evidence about a specific subject, contribute their insights to the field, and identify opportunities for future research. The authors, in turn, gain recognition as subject matter experts and thought leaders in the field. An additional benefit to the authors is that high-quality review articles can often be cited many years after publication ( 1 , 2 ). The reader of a scientific review article should gain an understanding of the current state of knowledge on the subject, points of controversy, and research questions that have yet to be answered ( 3 ).

There are two types of review articles, narrative or traditional literature reviews and systematic reviews, which may or may not be accompanied by a meta-analysis ( 4 ). This article, which focuses on the narrative or traditional literature review, is intended to serve as a guide with practical steps for new writers. It is geared toward breast imaging radiologists who are preparing to write a scientific review article for the Journal of Breast Imaging but can also be used by any writer, reviewer, or reader. In the narrative or traditional literature review, the available scientific literature is synthesized and no new data are presented. This article first discusses the process of selecting an appropriate topic. Then, practical tips for conducting a literature search and analyzing the literature are provided. The structure of a scientific review article is outlined and tips for success are described.

Scientific review articles are often solicited by journal editors and written by experts in the field. For solicited or invited articles, a senior expert in the field may be contacted and, in turn, may ask junior faculty or trainees to help with the literature search and writing process. Most journals also consider proposals for review article topics. The journal’s editorial office can be contacted via e-mail with a topic proposal, ideally with an accompanying outline or an extended abstract to help explain the proposal.

When selecting a topic for a scientific review article, the following considerations should be taken into account: The authors should be knowledgeable about and interested in the topic; the journal’s audience should be interested in the topic; and the topic should be focused, with a sufficient number of current research studies ( Figure 1 ). For the Journal of Breast Imaging , a scientific review article on breast MRI would be too broad in scope. Examples of more focused topics include abbreviated breast MRI ( 5 ), concerns about gadolinium deposition in the setting of screening MRI ( 6 ), Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) 3 assessments on MRI ( 7 , 8 ), the science of background parenchymal enhancement ( 9 ), and screening MRI in women at intermediate risk ( 10 ).

Summary of the factors to consider when selecting a topic for a scientific review article. Adapted with permission from Dhillon et al (2).

Summary of the factors to consider when selecting a topic for a scientific review article. Adapted with permission from Dhillon et al ( 2 ).

Once a well-defined topic is selected, the next step is to conduct a literature search. There are multiple indexing databases that can be used for a literature search, including PubMed, SCOPUS, and Web of Science ( 11–13 ). A list of databases with links can be found on the National Institutes of Health website ( 14 ). It is advised to keep track of the search terms that are used so that the search could be replicated if needed.

While reading articles, taking notes and keeping track of findings in a spreadsheet or database can be helpful. The following points should be considered for each article: What is the purpose of the article, and is it relevant to the review article topic? What was the study design (eg, retrospective analysis, randomized controlled trial)? Are the conclusions that are drawn based on the presented data valid and reasonable? What are the strengths and limitations of the study? In the discussion section, do the authors discuss other literature that both supports and contradicts their findings? It can also be helpful to read accompanying editorials, if available, that are written by experts to explain the importance of the original scientific article in the context of other work in the field.

If previous review articles on the same topic are discovered during the literature search, then the following strategies could be considered: discussing approaches used and limitations of past reviews, identifying a new angle that has not been previously covered, and/or focusing on new research that has been published since the most recent reviews on the topic ( 3 ). It is highly encouraged to create an outline and solicit feedback from co-authors before writing begins.

Writing a high-quality scientific review article is “a balancing act between the scientific rigor needed to select and critically appraise original studies, and the art of telling a story by providing context, exploring the known and the unknown, and pointing the way forward” ( 15 ). The ideal scientific review article is balanced and authoritative and serves as a definitive reference on the topic. Review articles tend to be 4000 to 5000 words in length, with 80% to 90% devoted to the body.

When preparing a scientific review article, writers can consider using the Scale for the Assessment of Narrative Review Articles, which has been proposed as a critical appraisal tool to help editors, reviewers, and readers assess non–systematic review articles ( 16 ). It is composed of the following six items, which are rated from 0 to 2 (with 0 being low quality and 2 being high quality): explanation of why the article is important, statement of aims or questions to be addressed, description of the literature search strategy, inclusion of appropriate references, scientific reasoning, and appropriate data presentation. In a study with three raters each reviewing 30 articles, the scale was felt to be feasible in daily editorial work and had high inter-rater reliability.

The components of a scientific review article include the abstract, introduction, body, conclusion, references, tables, and figures, which are described below.

Abstracts are typically structured as a single paragraph, ranging from 200 to 250 words in length. The abstract briefly explains why the topic is important, provides a summary of the main conclusions that are being drawn based on the research studies that were included and analyzed in the review article, and describes how the article is organized ( 17 ). Because the abstract should provide a summary of the main conclusions being drawn, it is often written last, after the other sections of the article have been completed. It does not include references.

The introduction provides detailed background about the topic and outlines the objectives of the review article. It is important to explain why the literature on that topic should be reviewed (eg, no prior reviews, different angle from prior reviews, new published research). The problem-gap-hook approach can be used, in which the topic is introduced, the gap is explained (eg, lack of published synthesis), and the hook (or why it matters) is provided ( 18 ). If there are prior review articles on the topic, particularly recent ones, then the authors are encouraged to justify how their review contributes to the existing literature. The content in the introduction section should be supported with references, but specific findings from recent research studies are typically not described, instead being discussed in depth in the body.

In a traditional or narrative review article, a methods section is optional. The methods section should include a list of the databases and years that were searched, search terms that were used, and a summary of the inclusion and exclusion criteria for articles ( 17 , 19 ).

The body can take different forms depending on the topic but should be organized into sections with subheadings, with each subsection having an independent introduction and conclusion. In the body, published studies should be reviewed in detail and in an organized fashion. In general, each paragraph should begin with a thesis statement or main point, and the sentences that follow it should consist of supporting evidence drawn from the literature. Research studies need not be discussed in chronological order, and the results from one research study may be discussed in different sections of the body. For example, if writing a scientific review article on screening digital breast tomosynthesis, cancer detection rates reported in one study may be discussed in a separate paragraph from the false-positive rates that were reported in the same study.

Emphasis should be placed on the significance of the study results in the broader context of the subject. The strengths and weaknesses of individual studies should be discussed. An example of this type of discussion is as follows: “Smith et al found no differences in re-excision rates among breast cancer patients who did and did not undergo preoperative MRI. However, there were several important limitations of this study. The radiologists were not required to have breast MRI interpretation experience, nor was it required that MRI-detected findings undergo biopsy prior to surgery.” Other examples of phrases that can be used for constructive criticism are available online ( 20 ).

The conclusion section ties everything together and clearly states the conclusions that are being drawn based on the research studies included and analyzed in the article. The authors are also encouraged to provide their views on future research, important challenges, and unanswered questions.

Scientific review articles tend to have a large number of supporting references (up to 100). When possible, referencing the original article (rather than a review article referring to the original article) is preferred. The use of a reference manager, such as EndNote (Clarivate, London, UK) ( 21 ), Mendeley Desktop (Elsevier, Amsterdam, the Netherlands) ( 22 ), Paperpile (Paperpile LLC, Cambridge, MA) ( 23 ), RefWorks (ProQuest, Ann Arbor, MI) ( 24 ), or Zotero (Corporation for Digital Scholarship, Fairfax, VA) ( 25 ), is highly encouraged, as it ensures appropriate reference ordering even when text is moved or added and can facilitate the switching of formats based on journal requirements ( 26 ).

Tables and Figures

The inclusion of tables and figures can improve the readability of the review. Detailed tables that review the scientific literature are expected ( Table 1 ). A table listing gaps in knowledge as potential areas for future research may also be included ( 17 ). Although scientific review articles are not expected to be as figure-rich as educational review articles, figures can be beneficial to illustrate complex concepts and summarize or synthesize relevant data ( Figure 2 ). Of note, if nonoriginal figures are used, permission from the copyright owner must be obtained.

Example of an Effective Table From a Scientific Review Article About Screening MRI in Women at Intermediate Risk of Breast Cancer.

Abbreviations: ADH, atypical ductal hyperplasia; ALH, atypical lobular hyperplasia; CDR, cancer detection rate; LCIS, lobular carcinoma in situ; NR, not reported; PPV, positive predictive value. NOTE: The Detailed Table Provides a Summary of the Relevant Scientific Literature on Screening MRI in women with lobular neoplasia or ADH. Adapted with permission from Bahl ( 10 ).

a The reported CDR is an incremental CDR in the studies by Friedlander et al and Chikarmane et al. In all studies, some, but not all, included patients had a prior MRI examination, so the reported CDR represents a combination of both the prevalent and incident CDRs.

b This study included 455 patients with LCIS (some of whom had concurrent ALH or ADH). Twenty-nine cancers were MRI-detected, and 115 benign biopsies were prompted by MRI findings.

Example of an effective figure from a scientific review article about breast cancer risk assessment. The figure provides a risk assessment algorithm for breast cancer. Reprinted with permission from Kim et al (28).

Example of an effective figure from a scientific review article about breast cancer risk assessment. The figure provides a risk assessment algorithm for breast cancer. Reprinted with permission from Kim et al ( 28 ).

Select a Focused but Broad Enough Topic

A common pitfall is to be too ambitious in scope, resulting in a very time-consuming literature search and superficial coverage of some aspects of the topic. The ideal topic should be focused enough to be manageable but with a large enough body of available research to justify the need for a review article. One article on the topic of scientific reviews suggests that at least 15 to 20 relevant research papers published within the previous five years should be easily identifiable to warrant writing a review article ( 2 ).

Provide a Summary of Main Conclusions in the Abstract

Another common pitfall is to only introduce the topic and provide a roadmap for the article in the abstract. The abstract should also provide a summary of the main conclusions that are being drawn based on the research studies that were included and analyzed in the review article.

Be Objective

The content and key points of the article should be based on the published scientific literature and not biased toward one’s personal opinion.

Avoid Tedious Data Presentation

Extensive lists of statements about the findings of other authors (eg, author A found Z, author B found Y, while author C found X, etc) make it difficult for the reader to understand and follow the article. It is best for the writing to be thematic based on research findings rather than author-centered ( 27 ). Each paragraph in the body should begin with a thesis statement or main point, and the sentences that follow should consist of supporting evidence drawn from the literature. For example, in a scientific review article about artificial intelligence (AI) for screening mammography, one approach would be to write that article A found a higher cancer detection rate, higher efficiency, and a lower false-positive rate with use of the AI algorithm and article B found a similar cancer detection rate and higher efficiency, while article C found a higher cancer detection rate and higher false-positive rate. Rather, a better approach would be to write one or more paragraphs summarizing the literature on cancer detection rates, one or more paragraphs on false-positive rates, and one or more paragraphs on efficiency. The results from one study (eg, article A) need not all be discussed in the same paragraph.

Move from Description (Summary) to Analysis

A common pitfall is to describe and summarize the published literature without providing a critical analysis. The purpose of the narrative or traditional review article is not only to summarize relevant discoveries but also to synthesize the literature, discuss its limitations and implications, and speculate on the future.

Avoid Simplistic Conclusions

The scientific review article’s conclusions should consider the complexity of the topic and the quality of the evidence. When describing a study’s findings, it is best to use language that reflects the quality of the evidence rather than making definitive statements. For example, rather than stating that “The use of preoperative breast MRI leads to a reduction in re-excision rates,” the following comments could be made: “Two single-institution retrospective studies found that preoperative MRI was associated with lower rates of positive surgical margins, which suggests that preoperative MRI may lead to reduced re-excision rates. Larger studies with randomization of patients are needed to validate these findings.”

Budget Time for Researching, Synthesizing, and Writing

The amount of time necessary to write a high-quality scientific review article can easily be underestimated. The process of searching for and synthesizing the scientific literature on a topic can take weeks to months to complete depending on the number of authors involved in this process.

Scientific review articles are common in the medical literature and can serve as definitive references on the topic for other scientists, clinicians, and trainees. The first step in the process of preparing a scientific review article is to select a focused topic. This step is followed by a literature search and critical analysis of the published data. The components of the article include an abstract, introduction, body, and conclusion, with the majority devoted to the body, in which the relevant literature is reviewed in detail. The article should be objective and balanced, with summaries and critical analysis of the available evidence. Budgeting time for researching, synthesizing, and writing; taking advantage of the resources listed in this article and available online; and soliciting feedback from co-authors at various stages of the process (eg, after an outline is created) can help new writers produce high-quality scientific review articles.

The author thanks Susanne L. Loomis (Medical and Scientific Communications, Strategic Communications, Department of Radiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA) for creating Figure 1 in this article.

None declared.

M.B. is a consultant for Lunit (medical AI software company) and an expert panelist for 2nd.MD (a digital health company). She also receives funding from the National Institutes of Health (K08CA241365). M.B. is an associate editor of the Journal of Breast Imaging . As such, she was excluded from the editorial process.

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The main aim of a scientific paper is to communicate the work that has been carried out and the results that were obtained. However, simply robotically listing methods and findings is likely to put a reader off and reduce their engagement with your work, even if it makes an important contribution to the field.

One common way to improve the flow of a paper  is by linking, contrasting or just introducing your sentences with some common words or phrases . However, many of these words or phrases are often misunderstood and misused, particularly by those whose first language isn’t English ; there are also a few that should preferably be avoided altogether. This article takes a look at some of the most common such words and phrases and gives a few pointers for avoiding their pitfalls.

Continuations

If you’d like to add more information to a sentence but extending it would make it too long , then you can use a continuing word or phrase instead, such as:

The measured decrease in density suggested a significant loss of mass. Furthermore , this was also confirmed by the spectrometry results.

The word ‘ furthermore ’ usually indicates a simple addition of information. Here, you could also use ‘ additionally ’, ‘ in addition ’ or simply ‘ further ’. 

The word ‘ moreover ’ can be used in a very similar way, but it is worth noting that this can also imply that what follows reinforces the previous sentence , perhaps suggesting that it may be even more important:

To replicate these experiments would be difficult. Moreover , it would serve no practical purpose.

In scientific papers, it can be common to misuse ‘ at the same time ’ or ‘ meanwhile ’ as simple continuations similar to those above. Informally, they can both be used in this manner, but i n a scientific context, it is better if they are only used literally , i.e. meaning ‘simultaneously’:

During the reaction, a large peak appeared in the spectrum. At the same time , the pressure in the chamber increased by a factor of two.

The word ‘ however ’ is a very common way to highlight a contrast between two pieces of information:

Almost all the samples survived the impact intact. However , one shattered completely.

Other words and phrases can be applied in similar ways. For example, ‘ nonetheless ’ can be used to mean ‘despite what has just been said’:

The overall efficiency of this method is low. Nonetheless , it remains a popular approach to the problem.

The word ‘ nevertheless ’ has the same meaning as ‘nonetheless’, and they can be used interchangeably. A slightly less formal but acceptable way of saying this is ‘ even so ’. 

However, you should preferably avoid using words like ‘ anyhow ’, ‘ still ’ or ‘ all the same ’ in the same way, as they are a bit too informal.

The phrase ‘ in contrast ’ is useful for highlighting differences between results :

The males spent on average 36% of their time engaged in territorial disputes. In contrast , the females showed no interest in these quarrels.

The word ‘ conversely ’ can also be used in place of ‘in contrast’ here. 

It is worth noting here that the similar phrase ‘ on the other hand ’ tends to be very much overused. It is preferable to avoid it altogether , particularly when it is not paired with the preceding phrase ‘ on the one hand ’.

One phrase that is commonly misused is ‘ on the contrary ’; authors often use it with the belief that it has the same meaning as ‘in contrast’. Note that the former broadly means ‘opposite to what was expected’. For example:

The reaction rate did not increase with temperature; on the contrary , it was found to decrease.

Other phrases and words to avoid in scientific writing

There are a few other introductory words and phrases that are best avoided in a scientific paper.

While it is not strictly in the same category as those listed above, the top offender here is ‘ in order to ’: there is rarely (if ever) a situation in which this cannot be replaced with a simple ‘to’. Shortening this phrase will help make your paper easier to read.

Even where it is technically correct, the word ‘ nowadays ’ is somewhat colloquial. Instead, consider being more specific : try phrases like ‘in the last three years’, ‘since 2010’ or simply ‘currently’.

The phrase ‘ what’s more ’ is again too informal for a paper, and it can usually be replaced with one of the continuations listed above, such as ‘moreover’ or ‘in addition’. This is also true of ‘ besides ’, which (at least in this context) could be described as an informal version of ‘moreover’.

It may be tempting to use a thesaurus to vary your introductory words and phrases, but it is worth remembering that there can be subtle differences in their meanings and levels of formality; not everything listed next to a word in a thesaurus can be used as a simple replacement for it. It is often beneficial to find examples of how a particular word or phrase is used ; this should help you to see if it will work in the context of your paper. If you are still not sure, perhaps seek advice from someone whose first language is English .

Read next (third) in series:  Scientific writing in English as an Additional Language (EAL): Avoiding Repetition

Read previous (first) in series:  Scientific writing in English as an Additional Language (EAL): Avoiding common mistakes with Tenses

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How To Write The Perfect Essay

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If you decide to study English or a subject within Arts and Humanities at university, it’s going to involve a lot of essay writing. It’s a challenging skill to master because it requires both creativity and logical planning, but if you ensure you do the following whenever you write an essay, you should be on the way to success. This skill is also a key focus in our Oxford Summer Courses , where essay writing is honed to perfection.

Table of Contents

This may sound time-consuming, but if you make a really good plan you will actually save yourself time when it comes to writing the essay, as you’ll know where your answer is headed and won’t write yourself into a corner. Don’t worry if you’re stuck at first – jot down a few ideas anyway and chances are the rest will follow. I find it easiest to make a mind map, with each new ‘bubble’ representing one of my main paragraphs. I then write quotations which will be useful for my analysis around the bubble.

For example, if I was answering the question, ‘ To what extent is Curley’s wife portrayed as a victim in Of Mice and Men ? ’ I might begin a mind map which looks something like this:

An example mind map for writing an essay

Y ou can keep adding to this plan, crossing bits out and linking the different bubbles when you spot connections between them. Even though you won’t have time to make such a detailed plan under exam conditions, it can be helpful just to sketch a brief one, including a few key words, so that you don’t panic and go off topic when writing your essay. If you don’t like the mind map format, there are plenty of others to choose from: you could make a table, a flowchart, or simply a list of bullet points.

2. Have a clear structure

Think about this while you are planning. Your essay is like an argument or a speech – it needs to have a logical structure, with all your points coming together to answer the question. Start with the basics: it is best to choose a few major points which will become your main paragraphs. Three main paragraphs is a good number for an exam essay, since you will be under time pressure. Organise your points in a pattern of YES (agreement with the question) – AND (another ‘YES’ point) – BUT (disagreement or complication) if you agree with the question overall, or YES – BUT – AND if you disagree. This will ensure that you are always focused on your argument and don’t stray too far from the question.

For example, you could structure the Of Mice and Men sample question as follows:  

‘To what extent is Curley’s wife portrayed as a victim in Of Mice and Men?’

  • YES – descriptions of her appearance
  • AND – other people’s attitudes towards her
  • BUT – her position as the only woman on the ranch gives her power as she uses her femininity to advantage

If you wanted to write a longer essay, you could include additional paragraphs under the ‘YES/AND’ category, perhaps discussing the ways in which Curley’s wife reveals her vulnerability and insecurities and shares her dreams with the other characters; on the other hand, you could also lengthen your essay by including another ‘BUT’ paragraph about her cruel and manipulative streak.

Of course, this is not necessarily the only right way to answer this essay question: as long as you back up your points with evidence from the text, you can take any standpoint that makes sense.

3. Back up your points with well-analysed quotations

You wouldn’t write a scientific report without including evidence to support your findings, so why should it be any different with an essay? Even though you aren’t strictly required to substantiate every single point you make with a quotation, there’s no harm in trying. A close reading of your quotations can enrich your appreciation of the question and will be sure to impress examiners.</spanWhen selecting the best quotations to use in your essay, keep an eye out for specific literary techniques. For example, you could discuss Curley’s wife’s use of a rhetorical question when she says, ‘An’ what am I doin’? Standin’ here talking to a bunch of bindle stiffs’:

The rhetorical question “An’ what am I doin’?” signifies that Curley’s wife is very insecure; she seems to be questioning her own life choices. Moreover, the fact that she does not expect anyone to respond to her question highlights her loneliness.

Other literary techniques to look out for include:

  • Tricolon – a group of three words or phrases placed close together for emphasis
  • Tautology – using different words that mean the same thing, eg ‘frightening’ and ‘terrifying’
  • Parallelism – ABAB structure; often signifies movement from one concept to another
  • Chiasmus – ABBA structure; draws attention to that phrase
  • Polysyndeton – many conjunctions in a sentence
  • Asyndeton – lack of conjunctions; can speed up the pace of a sentence
  • Polyptoton – using the same word in different forms for emphasis, eg ‘done’ and ‘doing’
  • Alliteration – repetition of the same sound; different forms of alliteration include assonance (similar vowel sounds), plosive alliteration (‘b’, ‘d’ and ‘p’ sounds) and sibilance (‘s’ sounds)
  • Anaphora – repetition of words; often used to emphasise a particular point

Don’t worry if you can’t locate all of these literary devices in the work you’re analysing – you can also discuss more obvious effects, like metaphor, simile and onomatopoeia. It’s not a problem if you can’t remember all the long names – it’s far more important to explain the effect of the literary techniques and their relevance to the question than to use the correct terminology.

4. Be  creative and original right the way through

Anyone can write an essay using the tips above, but the thing that really makes it ‘perfect’ is your own unique take on the topic you’re discussing. If you’ve noticed something intriguing or unusual in your reading, point it out: if you find it interesting, chances are the examiner will too.

Creative writing and essay writing are more closely linked than you might imagine; keep the idea that you’re writing a speech or argument in mind, and you’re guaranteed to grab your reader’s attention.

It’s important to set out your line of argument in your introduction, introducing your main points and the general direction your essay will take, but don’t forget to keep something back for the conclusion, too. Yes, you need to summarise your main points, but if you’re just repeating the things you said in your introduction, the essay itself is rendered pointless.

Think of your conclusion as the climax of your speech, the bit everything else has been leading up to, rather than the boring plenary at the end of the interesting stuff.

To return to Of Mice and Men once more, here is an example of the ideal difference between an introduction and a conclusion:

Introduction:

In John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men , Curley’s wife is portrayed as an ambiguous character. She could be viewed either as a cruel, seductive temptress or a lonely woman who is a victim of her society’s attitudes. Though she does seem to wield a form of sexual power, it is clear that Curley’s wife is largely a victim. This interpretation is supported by Steinbeck’s description of her appearance, other people’s attitudes, her dreams, and her evident loneliness and insecurity.

Conclusion:

Overall, it is clear that Curley’s wife is a victim and is portrayed as such throughout the novel, in the descriptions of her appearance, her dreams, other people’s judgemental attitudes, and her loneliness and insecurities. However, a character who was a victim and nothing else would be one-dimensional and Curley’s wife is not. Although she suffers in many ways, she is shown to assert herself through the manipulation of her femininity – a small rebellion against the victimisation she experiences.

Both refer back consistently to the question and summarise the essay’s main points; however, the conclusion adds something new which has been established in the main body of the essay and yet complicates the simple summary which is found in the introduction.

To summarise:

  • Start by writing a thorough plan
  • Ensure your essay has a clear structure and overall argument
  • Try to back up each point you make with a quotation
  • Answer the question in your introduction and conclusion but remember to be creative too

Next Steps for Aspiring English Students

  • Challenge yourself and test your writing skills by signing up for top essay writing competitions , like the annual OxBright essay competition .
  • Start a book club or joining an existing one. This can provide a platform to discuss and analyze writing styles, themes, and authors, enhancing your understanding and appreciation of literature. It’s also a great way to get different perspectives on the same work, which can be invaluable in developing critical thinking and analytical skills.
  • Want to write for a living? Read our blog post on How to Become a Writer
  • Prepare for university and experience what it’s like studying on the Oxford University campus in one of our Oxford Summer Schools , like our Oxford writing program .

Want to learn more skills for academic success?

Summer Courses at the Oxford Scholastica Academy combine hands-on learning experiences with stimulating teaching and masterclasses, for an unforgettable summer amongst students from around the world.

Hannah Patient

Hannah Patient

Literature Editor

Hannah is an undergraduate English student at Somerville College, Oxford, and has a particular interest in postcolonial literature and the Gothic. She thinks literature is a crucial way of developing empathy and learning about the wider world, and is excited to be Scholastica Inspires’ Literature Editor! When she isn’t writing essays about 17th-century court masques, she enjoys acting, travelling and creative writing.

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The best way to rewatch Avatar: The Last Airbender is jumping right to season 2

Don’t knock it till you try it!

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A still from the Avatar: The Last Airbender animated tv series where Aang, Katara, and Sokka all look on Toph with disbelief with their mouths agape.

I feel a little guilty about the way I rewatch Avatar: The Last Airbender .

I count the show among my favorite television series ever. Even as an adult, I’m impressed by the way the showrunners used Aang’s journey to defeat the Fire Nation to thread together an entire tapestry of a world affected by violence and injustice. Its characters’ stories, like the redemption of Prince Zuko, become vessels to craft a story that’s all at once political and personal. Just the mere mention of Avatar can prompt a gush of positive thoughts of why I love the series and want more . But even given all this, I struggle to bring myself to watch a vast majority of the show each time I rewatch it, and I end up skipping a lot of it. Whenever I revisit the series, I start from Book 2, episode 6, an episode called “The Blind Bandit.”

Here is where I admit — somewhat embarrassingly — that I have started three rewatches from this exact point in the series. At first, it didn’t start as a conscious choice. I would rewatch that particular episode because I always loved Toph as a character and just wanted to rewatch the episode where she joins the gang. I loved the action sequences and the thrill that came with seeing Toph in action for the first time, but I also appreciated the way she breaks free from her parents’ idea that she’s a helpless child. The thing is, when you get on the Avatar rewatch train, even if it’s just for that episode, it’s kind of hard to get off.

A still from the Avatar: The Last Airbender animated tv series where Toph takes a fighting stance while Earthbending.

There’s just so much of the good stuff in this section of the series. Zuko struggles to figure out his own moral compass as he takes up shelter with an Earth Kingdom family and we get a window into his childhood life. Princess Azula pursues Aang on lizard-something-back and immediately brings a newfound sense of dread and breathlessness to Team Avatar. Aang finally learns how to earthbend. Before we know it, we’re at the spirit library episode, and you know I have to keep watching until Appa and Aang reunite. It’s truly banger after banger.

I’m not saying everything that comes before this is bad. Some of my favorite episodes arrive before season 2, episode 6. I love to see Sokka get his misogynistic ass kicked by the Kyoshi Warriors in the first season and Aang’s reunion with the bumbling King Bumi early in season 2. But I can’t help but feel that the showrunners really found the beating heart of the series. Aang’s mission to confront the Fire Nation comes with a stronger sense of direction as he learns earthbending and seeks to recruit comrades to fight during the upcoming solar eclipse. But even then, this portion of the series shows us what distinguishes Avatar as a truly great television series. Episodes like “The Tales of Ba Sing Se” don’t do much to develop the plot, but they enrich the world with emotional portrayals of its characters and creatures.

A still from the Avatar: The Last Airbender animated tv series showing a memory of Zuko as a child. He sits by a pond with his mom and she holds him as he laughs.

Given the importance of episodes like the aforementioned “Tales of Ba Sing Se” in Avatar , I do feel a bit of guilt skipping straight to the juicy stuff. But here’s the way I see it. Season 1 plants the seeds for many of the stories I love in the show and develops a much-needed foundation for understanding the world at large. The stories of characters like Zuko wouldn’t hit the same if we didn’t see him running around being an angry teen for so long, and I would never recommend a first-time viewer start in season 2.

However, by the second season, we have a strong idea of what the world is like by this point, and we really get to see the show flourish and bear the fruits of so many points set up earlier in the story, and even plant a few new seeds of its own! So now, whenever I start a rewatch, I will just start from there. I imagine I’d see something new if I rewatched it from the beginning of the series, but still, I can’t help but feel that maybe, just maybe, I intuitively stumbled onto the best way to rewatch Avatar .

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IMAGES

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  4. 😊 Scientific review article format. How To Write A Good Scientific

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VIDEO

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COMMENTS

  1. Scientific Writing Made Easy: A Step-by-Step Guide to Undergraduate Writing in the Biological Sciences

    Clear scientific writing generally follows a specific format with key sections: an introduction to a particular topic, hypotheses to be tested, a description of methods, key results, and finally, a discussion that ties these results to our broader knowledge of the topic (Day and Gastel 2012 ).

  2. PDF Tutorial Essays for Science Subjects

    Firstly it gives you a focus and a means of evolving and recording your analysis of a topic; secondly it gives your tutor an opportunity to assess your understanding; but most importantly, the content of your essay will form the basis for the discussion that you'll have in the tutorial.

  3. Successful Scientific Writing and Publishing: A Step-by-Step Approach

    Go to: Abstract Scientific writing and publication are essential to advancing knowledge and practice in public health, but prospective authors face substantial challenges. Authors can overcome barriers, such as lack of understanding about scientific writing and the publishing process, with training and resources.

  4. How to Write a Scientific Essay • Oxford Learning College

    Start by looking at the instruction. Essays need to be written out in continuous prose. You shouldn't be using bullet points or writing in note form. If it helps to make a particular point, however, you can use a diagram providing it is relevant and adequately explained. Look at the topic you are required to write about.

  5. PDF Guide to Scientific Writing

    Lerner & Ogren, A Guide to Scientific Writing p. 2 Give enough detail for readers to replicate your work. "The key to a successful Methods section is to include the right amount of detail--too much, and it begins to sound like a laboratory manual; too little, and no one can repeat what was done." Successful Scientific Writing, 2nd ed.

  6. 10 Simple Steps to Writing a Scientific Paper

    1. Write a Vision Statement What is the key message of your paper? Be able to articulate it in one sentence, because it's a sentence you'll come back to a few times throughout the paper. Think of your paper as a press release: what would the subhead be?

  7. PDF Principles of Scientific Writing

    Active voice is generally more effective in scientific writing It is direct and clear It demonstrates agency Passive voice is sometimes preferable When the action itself is more important than who performed the action

  8. How to write a first-class paper

    Find a new job Illustration adapted from Aron Vellekoop Leon/Getty Manuscripts may have a rigidly defined structure, but there's still room to tell a compelling story — one that clearly...

  9. PDF The BES publications Short Guide to Scientific Writing ...

    the way the data is collected. We may need to include more detail if we're writing a methods paper but even then, it's probably irrelevant whether the data were collected on a Tuesday rather than a Wednesday. We usually use a lot of conventions and jargon to keep the methods section concise but it should still be clear and comprehensible.

  10. PDF Strategies for Essay Writing

    understand why it's worth writing that essay. A strong thesis will be arguable rather than descriptive, and it will be the right scope for the essay you are writing. If your thesis is descriptive, then you will not need to convince your readers of anything—you will be naming or summarizing something your readers can already see for themselves.

  11. HOW TO WRITE A SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE

    Reviewers consider the following five criteria to be the most important in decisions about whether to accept manuscripts for publication: 1) the importance, timeliness, relevance, and prevalence of the problem addressed; 2) the quality of the writing style (i.e., that it is well‐written, clear, straightforward, easy to follow, and logical); 3) t...

  12. Essay and dissertation writing skills

    A PDF providing further guidance on writing science essays for tutorials is available to download.. Short videos to support your essay writing skills. There are many other resources at Oxford that can help support your essay writing skills and if you are short on time, the Oxford Study Skills Centre has produced a number of short (2-minute) videos covering different aspects of essay writing ...

  13. Writing a scientific article: A step-by-step guide for beginners

    1. Background Every researcher has been face to face with a blank page at some stage of their career, wondering where to start and what to write first. Describing one's research work in a format that is comprehensible to others, and acceptable for publication is no easy task.

  14. 5 Tips for Scientists Who Want to Become Science Writers

    The Best of the Best American Science Writing, ed. Jesse Cohen; 3. Learn how to pitch a story. Reading and writing are essential, but most writers also want to publish. As a scientist, you would complete the work, draft your paper, and submit it to a publication. In science writing, it can happen that way, but more commonly, articles are pitched.

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    1. What Is a Science Essay? 2. How To Write a Science Essay? 3. How to Structure a Science Essay? 4. Science Essay Examples 5. How to Choose the Right Science Essay Topic 6. Science Essay Topics 7. Science Essay Writing Tips What Is a Science Essay?

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    1. Introduction. Scientific essay writing has been recognized as a valuable tool for learning and assessment (Lavelle et al., 2013).Researchers (Helberget et al., 2021; Shields, 2010) have argued that scientific writing, like essay writing, can be a form of communication as well as stimulate students' learning and be a valuable tool for teachers to base their assessments on.

  17. Writing a Research Paper Introduction

    Step 1: Introduce your topic The first job of the introduction is to tell the reader what your topic is and why it's interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening hook. The hook is a striking opening sentence that clearly conveys the relevance of your topic.

  18. Research Guides: Writing a Scientific Paper: TITLE

    However too long a title can sometimes be even less meaningful. Remember a title is not an abstract. Also a title is not a sentence. Goals: • Fewest possible words that describe the contents of the paper. • Avoid waste words like "Studies on", or "Investigations on". • Use specific terms rather than general. • Watch your word order and ...

  19. How to successfully write a scientific essay

    A scientific essay is an article whereby you have to analyze a scientific issue or problem and then try to develop a solution on the basis of factual information and perhaps provide some of your opinions on the matter as well. Essays on science are different from other types of essays on the basis of the freedom they allow.

  20. A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing a Scientific Review Article

    Structure of a Scientific Review Article. Writing a high-quality scientific review article is "a balancing act between the scientific rigor needed to select and critically appraise original studies, and the art of telling a story by providing context, exploring the known and the unknown, and pointing the way forward" . The ideal scientific ...

  21. Scientific writing: Best tips for introductory words and phrases

    12 October, 2021 Scientific writing in English as an Additional Language (EAL): Avoiding common mistakes with Introductory Words and Phrases The main aim of a scientific paper is to communicate the work that has been carried out and the results that were obtained.

  22. Our top essays by scientists in 2021

    Our top essays by scientists in 2021 20 Dec 2021 10:50 AM ET By Katie Langin Robert Neubecker When I emailed Phil De Luna in March to ask whether he was OK with titling the essay he'd written for Science " After falling in love, I reimagined my career path—for the better ," I wasn't sure how he'd react to the "love" part.

  23. How To Write The Perfect Essay

    Start with the basics: it is best to choose a few major points which will become your main paragraphs. Three main paragraphs is a good number for an exam essay, since you will be under time pressure. Organise your points in a pattern of YES (agreement with the question) - AND (another 'YES' point) - BUT (disagreement or complication) if ...

  24. The best way to rewatch Avatar: The Last Airbender is jumping right to

    Princess Azula pursues Aang on lizard-something-back and immediately brings a newfound sense of dread and breathlessness to Team Avatar. Aang finally learns how to earthbend. Before we know it, we ...