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Ten tips for scientific writing

In scientific writing, it is unusual to use direct quotations: you would normally only do so if you wanted to comment on the exact wording of the quotation.  Instead, you would paraphrase the information: this means formulating the idea in your own way.  When reading journal articles or scientific textbooks, you may have noticed that many writers tend to paraphrase information they are drawing on to support their ideas rather than directly quote from the source and you may like to apply this approach to your writing.  However, paraphrasing an idea or another person's work can take time as you need to find the appropriate wording and structure to make sure that your writing accurately reflects the source material.

Paraphrasing is more than just using alternative words.

Indeed, there will always be some terms that cannot be altered as they are the fixed technical terminology in this area - e.g. species name, specific alloys, CAS numbers, etc - or there may be terms that have few alternative ways of expression, e.g. cell death and apoptosis.  Changing such technical terminology would change the meaning of the idea.

Consider your reader…scientific or technical terms can help provide clarity and reduce ambiguity in your writing and you have to consider the readership level of the audience to ensure that your wiring is at the correct academic level.  Do make sure that you use these terms when necessary and refrain from adding non-essential jargon.

You can use technical abbreviations - e.g. HPLC - in your writing but you should ensure you define them the first time you mention them your essay. For example -  High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC).  You should follow standard practices within your field for presenting names, e.g. chemical compound formulae.

Do remember that you need to reference the information you use. For example, the source of the paraphrased information needs a citation and a reference

Try not to be too reliant upon a small number of sources which might lead to the appearance of plagiarism and reduce the evidence of learning.