Conventions of Science Writing


When we write in science, it requires different conventions and rules than other types of writing. We try to be objective (without bias or opinion), and all of our conclusions have to be based on evidence. There are other rules that are conventions used by most scientists in their writing. In this course, we are working on the following:
  1. Use of headers
    • Each section should include a header.
    • This should be a word or two informing the reader what is found in that section.
    • Examples: Introduction, Purpose, Sources of Error, etc.
  2. Use of topic sentences
    • Each paragraph should include a sentence that indicates what the paragraph is about.
    • Example: The results of this investigation indicate a relationship exists between the distance and size of an object to the distance and size of the image created by a convex lens. The results of the experiment are compared to two predictions, sample calculations and ray diagrams.
  3. No personal pronouns
    • Avoid using I, we, my, us, our, etc. in your writing.
  4. Avoid informal language
    • No colloquial or slang language
  5. No contractions
    • Example: Say do not, not don’t
  6. Reference Tables and Figures in the text
    • Tables and Figures should be numbered in the order they appear in the lab.
    • Figures are any drawings, diagrams, or graphs.
    • Tables have a sequence of numbers, and Figures have a different sequence.
      1. Example: A lab could have Table 1, Table 2, and Figure 1, Figure 2
    • Any table or figure included in the lab needs to be referred to in the text (results, analysis, etc.)
    • In the paper they should be referred to as Table 1, Figure 1, etc.
    • Example: The ratios of distances (Di/Do) and sizes (Si, So) are equal for 5 of the 6 trials of the experimental data (see Table 1).

Resources

Affect vs. Effect

Grammar Girl's explanation via podcast
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