Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Ten tips for scientific writing

Scientific writing is usually presented in a structured format, with the text divided into sections, clear headings indicating the start of each new section and with the information presented in a logical order. 

Laboratory reports are presented in a structure that provides a textual representation of the experimental process.  This usually consists of an introduction, details of the methods, the results and a discussion.  However, the exact format is not always the same and headings for each section can vary.  You should therefore check your assignment brief for details of the structure required, the headings you should use and any directions for what you need to include in each section. 

In contrast, for essay writing, there may not be any prescribed headings and subheadings.  However, it is usually still a good idea to break your work down into sections.  This helps anyone reading your work to navigate the text and follow the progression of your writing.  The overall structure of an essay is usually an introduction, the main body and a conclusion.  However, you would not actually have a section with the title 'main body'.  The main body would comprise a number of sections relating to the key aspects of your essay.  The text in each section will usually consist of one or more paragraphs, although there could be diagrams and tables, etc. as well. 

Below are some tips about structuring your text to make it easier for a reader to follow:

  • Present your points in a logical order - you may want to plan this before you start writing.
  • Make one main point in each paragraph, explaining the significance of the point and providing supporting evidence as appropriate.
  • Begin a paragraph with a sentence signposting what will follow in the rest of the paragraph.

Examples of signposting sentences

Signposting sentences can introduce a new idea or point.  Some examples are:

  • There is evidence that diet has an effect on…
  • Heat pipes have applications in a variety of…
  • There are several techniques which can be used for the structural elucidation of…

Alternatively, signposting sentences can indicate that you are building on points made in previous paragraphs.  Below are some examples:

  • To further understand the effects of…
  • Another significant factor is…
  • An alternative model is provided by…