Scientific writing

Scientific writing is writing for science.[1]


Scientific writing in English started in the 14th century.[2]

The Royal Society established good practice for scientific writing. Founder member Thomas Sprat wrote on the importance of plain and accurate description rather than rhetorical flourishes in his History of the Royal Society of London. Robert Boyle emphasized the importance of not boring the reader with a dull, flat style.[1]

Because most scientific journals accept manuscripts only in English, an entire industry has developed to help non-native English speaking authors improve their text before submission. It is just now becoming an accepted practice to utilize the benefits of these services. This is making it easier for scientists to focus on their research and still get published in top journals.

Besides the customary readability tests, software tools relying on Natural Language Processing to analyze text help writer scientists evaluate the quality of their manuscripts prior to submission to a journal. SWAN, a Java app written by researchers from the University of Eastern Finland is such a tool.[3]

Writing style guides

Publication of research results is the global measure used by all disciplines to gauge a scientist's level of success.

Different fields have different conventions for writing style, and individual journals within a field usually have their own style guides. Some issues of scientific writing style include:

  • Some style guides for scientific writing recommend against use of the passive voice, while some encourage it.[4][5] In the mathematical sciences, it is customary to report in the present tense.[6]
  • Some journals prefer using "we" rather than "I" as personal pronoun. Note that "we" sometimes includes the reader, for example in mathematical deductions.

These two simplistic "rules" are not sufficient for effective scientific writing. In practice, scientific writing is much more complex and shifts of tense and person reflect subtle changes in the section of the scientific journal article. Additionally, the use of passive voice allows the writer to focus on the subject being studied (the focus of the communication in science) rather than the author. Similarly, some use of first-person pronouns is acceptable (such as "we" or "I," which depends on the number of authors). The best thing to do is to look at recent examples of published articles in the field.

In the chemical sciences, drawing chemistry is as fundamental as writing chemistry. The point is clearly made by 1981 Nobel Prize-winning chemist Roald Hoffmann.[7]

See also


  1. ^ a b Joseph E. Harmon, Alan G. Gross (2007-05-15), "On Early English Scientific Writing", The scientific literature, ISBN 9780226316567
  2. ^ Irma Taavitsainen, Päivi Pahta, Medical and scientific writing in late medieval English
  3. ^ "Scientific Writing Assistant". April 2012.
  4. ^ Day, Robert; Sakaduski, Nancy (30 June 2011). Scientific English: A Guide for Scientists and Other Professionals, Third Edition. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-39173-6.
  5. ^ Dawson, Chris (2007). "Prescriptions and proscriptions. The three Ps of scientific writing – past, passive and personal". Teaching Science: the Journal of the Australian Science Teachers Association. 53 (2): 36–38.
  6. ^ Nicholas J. Higham, 1998. Handbook of writing for the mathematical sciences, Second Edition. Philadelphia: Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. p. 56
  7. ^ Hoffmann, Roald (2002). "Writing (and Drawing) Chemistry". In Jonathan Monroe. Writing and Revising the Disciplines (PDF). Cornell University Press. pp. 29–53. Retrieved 2012-12-20.
ACS style

The ACS style is a set of standards for writing documents relating to chemistry, including a standard method of citation in academic publications, developed by the American Chemical Society (ACS). The printed versions of the ACS style manual are entitled ACS Style Guide: Effective Communication of Scientific Information, 3rd ed. (2006), edited by Anne M. Coghill and Lorrin R. Garson, and ACS Style Guide: A Manual for Authors and Editors (1997).

AMA Manual of Style

AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors is the style guide of the American Medical Association. It is written by the editors of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) and the Archives journals and is most recently published by Oxford University Press. It specifies the writing and citation styles for use in the journals published by the American Medical Association. The manual was first published in 1962, and its current edition, the 10th, came out in 2007. It covers a breadth of topics for authors and editors in medicine and related health fields. The online edition also has updates (style points that have changed since the last print edition), a blog, monthly tips from the editors, quizzes, and an SI unit conversion calculator.

AMA style is widely used, either entirely or with modifications, by hundreds of other scientific journals (including medical and other public health journals), in many textbooks, and in academia (for papers written in classes). Along with APA style and CSE style, it is one of the major style regimes for such work. Many publications have small local style guides that cascade over AMA, APA, or CSE style (for example, "follow AMA style unless otherwise specified herein" or "for issues not addressed herein, follow AMA style").

Academic publishing in China

Today in China, there are more than 8,000 academic journals, of which more than 4,600 can be considered scientific. About 1,400 cover health science (medicine and public health).

Ad hoc

Ad hoc is a Latin phrase meaning literally "for this". In English, it generally signifies a solution designed for a specific problem or task, non-generalizable, and not intended to be able to be adapted to other purposes (compare with a priori).

Common examples are ad hoc committees, and commissions created at the national or international level for a specific task. In other fields, the term could refer, for example, to a military unit created under special circumstances, a tailor-made suit, a handcrafted network protocol (e.g., ad hoc network), a temporary banding together of geographically-linked franchise locations (of a given national brand) to issue advertising coupons, or a purpose-specific equation.

Ad hoc can also be an adjective describing the temporary, provisional, or improvised methods to deal with a particular problem, the tendency of which has given rise to the noun Adhocism. It also could mean shifting contexts to create new meanings or inadequate planning.

Citing Medicine

Citing Medicine: The NLM Style Guide for Authors, Editors, and Publishers is the style guide of the United States National Library of Medicine (NLM). Its main focus is citation style and bibliographic style. The citation style of Citing Medicine is the current incarnation of the Vancouver system, per the References > Style and Format section of the ICMJE Recommendations (formerly called the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals). Citing Medicine style is the style used by MEDLINE and PubMed.The introduction section of Citing Medicine explains that "three major sources are utilized in compiling Citing Medicine: the MEDLARS Indexing Manual of the National Library of Medicine (NLM); pertinent NISO standards, primarily ANSI/NISO Z39.29-2005 Bibliographic References; and relevant standards from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), primarily ISO 690 Documentation - Bibliographic References."

EASE Guidelines for Authors and Translators of Scientific Articles

EASE Guidelines for Authors and Translators of Scientific Articles to be Published in English (often shortened to EASE Guidelines for Authors and Translators or EASE Guidelines) were first published by the European Association of Science Editors (EASE) in 2010. Updated versions are periodically released at the EASE Guidelines page of the EASE website. EASE Guidelines summarize the most important editorial recommendations, aiming to make international scientific communication more efficient and to aid in preventing scientific misconduct. They also support the global initiative Healthcare Information For All by 2015 by advising authors to make abstracts of their papers highly informative, reliable, and easily understandable. The document has been translated into many languages (Arabic, Bangla, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Turkish, and Vietnamese), to facilitate its popularization worldwide and help scientists from non-Anglophone countries.

Elegant variation

Elegant variation is the unnecessary and sometimes misleading use of synonyms to denote a single thing. It often comes from the belief that simple parallel structure is monotonous or harms euphony or compositional tone. Elegant variation can produce problems including loss of clarity, muddled metaphor, and inadvertent humor.

Henry Watson Fowler (1858–1933) coined the name elegant variation for this phenomenon. The term may be seen in journalism if word variation, such as the replacement of the word "fire" with "blaze" or "conflagration", draws attention to itself. It is considered particularly problematic in legal writing, scientific writing, and other technical writing, where the avoidance of ambiguity is essential. Alternatives to synonymy include repetition and the use of pro-forms.

English passive voice

The passive voice is a grammatical "voice". The noun or noun phrase that would be the object of a corresponding active sentence (such as "Our troops defeated the enemy") appears as the subject of a sentence or clause in the passive voice ("The enemy was defeated by our troops").

The subject of a sentence or clause featuring the passive voice typically denotes the recipient of the action (the patient) rather than the performer (the agent). Verbs in the passive voice in English are formed using several parts (periphrastically): the usual construction uses the auxiliary verbs to be or to get together with the past participle of the main verb.

For example, Caesar was stabbed by Brutus is in the passive voice. The subject, Caesar, indicates the person acted upon. The agent is expressed here with the phrase by Brutus, but this can be omitted. The equivalent sentence in the active voice is Brutus stabbed Caesar, in which the subject denotes the doer, or agent, Brutus. A sentence featuring the passive voice is sometimes called a passive sentence, and a verb phrase in passive voice is sometimes called a passive verb.English allows a number of passive constructions which are not possible in many of the other languages with similar passive formation. These include promotion of an indirect object to subject (as in Tom was given a bag) and promotion of the complement of a preposition (as in Sue was operated on, leaving a stranded preposition).Use of the passive in English varies with writing style and field. It is generally much less used than the active voice but is more prevalent in scientific writing than in other prose. Contemporary style guides discourage excessive use of the passive but appropriate use is generally accepted, for instance where the patient is the topic, the agent is unimportant (and therefore omitted), or the agent is to be highlighted (and therefore placed toward the end).

Gloss (annotation)

A gloss (from Latin glossa; from Greek, Modern γλῶσσα glōssa, meaning 'language') is a brief notation, especially a marginal one or an interlinear one, of the meaning of a word or wording in a text. It may be in the language of the text, or in the reader's language if that is different.

A collection of glosses is a glossary. A collection of medieval legal glosses, made by glossators, is called an apparatus. The compilation of glosses into glossaries was the beginning of lexicography, and the glossaries so compiled were in fact the first dictionaries. In modern times a glossary, as opposed to a dictionary, is typically found in a text as an appendix of specialized terms that the typical reader may find unfamiliar. Also, satirical explanations of words and events are called glosses. The German Romantic movement used the expression of gloss for poems commenting on a given other piece of poetry, often in the Spanish Décima style.

Glosses were originally notes made in the margin or between the lines of a text in a classical language; the meaning of a word or passage is explained by the gloss. As such, glosses vary in thoroughness and complexity, from simple marginal notations of words one reader found difficult or obscure, to interlinear translations of a text with cross references to similar passages. Today parenthetical explanations in scientific writing and technical writing are also often called glosses. Hyperlinks to a glossary sometimes supersede them.

ICMJE recommendations

The ICMJE recommendations (full title, Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals) are a set of guidelines produced by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors for standardising the ethics, preparation and formatting of manuscripts submitted for publication by biomedical journals. Compliance with the ICMJE Recommendations is required by most leading biomedical journals. As of 2017, over ~3274 journals worldwide followed the Uniform Requirements.The recommendations were formerly called the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals (abbreviated URMs and often shortened to Uniform Requirements).

IEEE style

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) style is a widely accepted format for writing research papers, commonly used in technical fields, particularly in computer science. IEEE style is based on the Chicago Style. In IEEE style, citations are numbered, but citation numbers are included in the text in square brackets rather than as superscripts. All bibliographical information is exclusively included in the list of references at the end of the document, next to the respective citation number.

IFTM University

IFTM University (Institute of Foreign Trade and Management) is a Private university located in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh, India.

IFTM University was granted University status by UP government vide IFTM University Act No. 24 of 2010. It was established in 1996 and located at a distance of 12 km from Moradabad city on Lucknow - Delhi National Highway (NH-24).

IFTM University was granted University status by UP government vide IFTM University Act No. 24 of 2010. It has been the pioneer in bringing technical and professional education to the city of Moradabad in 1996. It has expanded into a huge ~51.74 acres campus offering courses in various disciplines and programmes. It is located at a distance of 12 km from Moradabad city on Lucknow-Delhi National Highway (NH-24).

IFTM University offers more than 70 programs of Diploma, Undergraduate, Postgraduate and Doctoral level in Engineering, Business Management, Pharmacy, Biotechnology, Microbiology, Arts, Sciences, Law, Education, Journalism and Mass Communication, Social Science, Computer Application, etc.

School of Biotechnology (SBT) offers lectures, laboratory-based exercises with linked discussions, Journal Clubs and Experimental Design sessions with the help of highly qualified, experienced and well trained faculty members. The overall goal of the School of Biotechnology is to make basic and translational researches that impact our understanding of the biological sciences and human health and to train the researchers, educators and health care professionals of the future. The previous experience of the SBT states that it provides the students with tremendous opportunity for hands on training in research. The theory and practical exposure to students develops the habit of research including the habit of scientific reading, research methodology, analytical ability, organizational capability, independent thinking and scientific writing. SBT provides a platform for strong learning environment that nurtures and enhances the personality of our students. SBT regularly organizes seminars and guest lectures by experts of National and International repute to a repertoire of scientific areas and scientific methodology. The SBT believes that students are best served when programs focus on the development of durable, translatable skills and fundamental knowledge rather than the rote accumulation of detailed facts. The SBT is currently engaged in innovative themes of work including nonmaterial Synthesis, Advanced functional materials, Structural Biology and Biochemistry.


In scientific writing, IMRAD or IMRaD () (Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion) is a common organizational structure (a document format). IMRaD is the most prominent norm for the structure of a scientific journal article of the original research type.

Jean-Paul Marat

Jean-Paul Marat (French: [ʒɑ̃pɔl maʁa]; 24 May 1743 – 13 July 1793) was a French political theorist, physician, and scientist. He was a journalist and politician during the French Revolution.

He was a vigorous defender of the sans-culottes and seen as a radical voice. He published his views in pamphlets, placards and newspapers. His periodical L'Ami du peuple (Friend of the People) made him an unofficial link with the radical republican Jacobin group that came to power after June 1793.

Through his journalism, renowned for its fierce tone, advocacy of basic human rights for the poorest members of society, and uncompromising stance towards the new leaders and institutions of the revolution, he called for prisoners of the Revolution to be killed before they could be freed in the September Massacres.Marat was assassinated by Charlotte Corday, a Girondin sympathizer, while taking a medicinal bath for his debilitating skin condition. Corday was executed four days later for his assassination, on 17 July 1793.

In death, Marat became an icon to the Jacobins as a revolutionary martyr. He is portrayed in Jacques-Louis David's famous painting, The Death of Marat.

Microsoft Manual of Style

The Microsoft Manual of Style: Your Everyday Guide to Usage, Terminology, and Style for Professional Technical Communications (MSTP), in former editions the Microsoft Manual of Style for Technical Publications, is a style guide published by Microsoft. The fourth edition, ISBN 0-7356-4871-9, was published on January 15, 2012. Microsoft employees and partners can also access a Microsoft Compressed HTML Help (CHM) version of the MSTP.

In 2018, the book was replaced by a website, the Microsoft Writing Style Guide, joining other online guides like the Apple Style Guide and Google Developer Documentation Style Guide.

Scientific journal

In academic publishing, a scientific journal is a periodical publication intended to further the progress of science, usually by reporting new research.

Scientific romance

Scientific romance is an archaic term for the genre of fiction now commonly known as science fiction. The term originated in the 1850s to describe both fiction and elements of scientific writing, but has since come to refer to the science fiction of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, primarily that of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle. In recent years, the term has come to be applied to science fiction written in a deliberately anachronistic style, as a homage to or pastiche of the original scientific romances.

Specific name (zoology)

In zoological nomenclature, the specific name (also specific epithet or species epithet) is the second part (the second name) within the scientific name of a species (a binomen). The first part of the name of a species is the name of the genus or the generic name. The rules and regulations governing the giving of a new species name are explained in the article species description.


The scientific name for humans is Homo sapiens, which is the species name, consisting of two names: Homo is the "generic name" (the name of the genus) and sapiens is the "specific name".

Technical writing

Technical writing is writing or drafting technical communication used in technical and occupational fields, such as computer hardware and software, engineering, chemistry, aeronautics, robotics, finance, medical, consumer electronics, biotechnology and forestry. Technical writing encompasses the largest sub-field within technical communication.The Society for Technical Communication defines technical communication as any form of communication that exhibits one or more of the following characteristics: "(1) communicating about technical or specialized topics, such as computer applications, medical procedures, or environmental regulations; (2) communicating by using technology, such as web pages, help files, or social media sites; or (3) providing instructions about how to do something, regardless of how technical the task is".

Other types of publication
Impact and ranking
Indexes and search engines
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