Write to the Point

The Learning Advisers working in our Griffith Sciences team often hear comments that Science writing is very different from areas such as Business or the Social Sciences. Certainly, there are many issues that need to be considered when constructing your writing in a science area but it must be remembered that the ultimate goal does not change – the written message must be clearly understood by the reader. Developing good writing skills is essential for any university student, and particularly for science students who aspire to become published researchers with a view to progress scientific thinking in their specific area. All research, be it undergraduate or postgraduate, should be presented to its best advantage; clearly and concisely in well-structured sentences.

Write_reducedTherefore, any chance to write should be considered as an opportunity to practise and apply writing skills to produce work that is coherent.The most common mistake for many writers (including those in the sciences) is the overuse of words when constructing a sentence. When a writer begins to gather their thoughts on a page, it is usual to end up with an excess of words. A good writer will always review their work critically and assess the intent of their message and how it has been conveyed. This takes a lot of practice and generally several rewrites.

Consider the following example:

‘Coagulation of the egg white protein occurred due to the fact that the water in the test tube was heated to boiling point before it was dropped in.’

This sentence certainly delivers the factual information but the message is weighed down by too many words. Sending a message that is concise and succinct is always the best course of action. It also keeps the reader interested. Following some basic principles of sentence construction will simplify the text, reduce the word count and send a clearer message. The previous sentence has now been reworked and the result is clear:

‘Egg white protein coagulated because the water in the test tube was heated to boiling point.’

Working with words takes time, effort, trial and error but the end result is worth it – and your readers will appreciate it!

Some basic tips for eliminating wordy phrases from text can be found here.

If you need further assistance with your writing and expression for your assignments on any topic in any discipline, you are welcome to book an appointment with a Learning Adviser.