Guidelines for Writing a Scientific Paper by KkzmD52

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									Principles of Ecology — BSC 320                       Dr. Jeffrey D. May: 378 Science Bldg; 696-3637; may@marshall.edu
Marshall University — Fall Semester 2010



                                      FUNDAMENTAL COMPOSITION SKILLS
         Although the ideas in student papers may be good—even excellent, they are too often
diluted or obscured by inconsistent organization and development of ideas, awkward phrasing,
wordiness, and/or confusion of concepts. If you make a focused effort with each writing
exercise you perform, regardless of the subject matter, you will find that your writing skills
improve over time. Take advantage of every opportunity that arises (and this paper is one such
opportunity) to work at improving your skills. Here are some suggestions for a methodical
approach:

  (1) What’s the big idea? The big ideas of each section come first. Write them down initially
  in whatever structure they come to you. Don’t get bogged down with the wording at this point.

  (2) Building on a good foundation: Organize and develop your ideas. Now go back and look
  carefully at the organization and development of your ideas. Do the ideas contribute
  importantly to the overall aim of the paper? Are they presented in a logical order? Flesh out
  the details needed to support your ideas and observations and to clarify your line of reasoning.
  Reconsider the content of each section. Should some of the ideas be moved to another section,
  e.g., from your Introduction to your Methods section? Are your ideas within each section
  developed in a clear and logical sequence? Are they also organized into logical paragraphs?
  (3) Effective paragraph construction. Within each section, reconsider each paragraph. Does
  it contribute significantly to the section? Are the ideas within the paragraph developed
  logically; that is, do the organization and sequence of ideas make sense within the paragraph?
  (4) Making sentences make sense. Then reconsider each sentence. Is this sentence
  necessary? Does it contribute to the logic and flow of ideas in this section?
  (5) Say it like you mean it—words and phrases that tell your story. Consider the wording—
  each phrase and word—of each sentence. Does the wording clearly and succinctly express the
  idea you wish to get across? Could it be said more clearly, more simply, more directly?
  (6) Now, once more—from the top. When you’re all done, go back and reread the whole thing.
  Read it aloud to yourself. Better yet, get someone to read it aloud to you. Listen to it and ask
  them to listen, too. Do the thoughts and wording flow logically and smoothly, so that your ideas
  develop with clarity? Are there awkward or convoluted phrases or sentences that could be
  simplified and thereby clarified?




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