Scientific research involves more than just lab work and experiments. One of the most important tasks for researchers is effectively communicating results to the appropriate target audience. Although other media (e.g., videos and podcasts) are increasing in popularity, written content remains the most important and common method of scientific communication.
Articles, blogs and other formats featuring the written word have several key advantages over today’s digital media, including ease of access and the ability for the reader to quickly skim ahead to sections of interest. Therefore, the challenge is how best to create original written content that is informative, interesting and effective at communicating your message. Below we’ve provided seven tips to ensure your written content accomplishes these goals.
1. Identify your Audience
As a first step, it is critically important to consider your intended audience, as this can dictate how technical or specific the writing should be. For example, if you are describing new findings to scientists working in the field, a detailed description of methods and results may be expected. However, a review summarizing recent advances for a non-scientific audience may require some background information, and ultimately be focused on the potential societal impact. Considering the reader at the outset helps ensure that the material is adapted appropriately.
2. Identify your Goals
An important consideration when planning new content is identifying its purpose. Essentially, ask yourself, “What do I hope to achieve?” An application for funding or other support may require detailed plans and justification for each key point, whereas an educational article may provide more general context and breadth rather than detail. As is the case when considering the intended audience, writing with specific goals in mind will help refine the content and tone of your new material.
3. Create an Outline
Before getting started, establishing an outline or structure can also be very helpful. In addition to laying the organizational groundwork for your content, it can serve to identify possible gaps and also allow you to make progress by beginning with more familiar sections. For example, it is often easier to start with something other than the introduction than to write the very first sentence. Remember, most written content follows some version of a common formula: introduction or background, methods and results or arguments, discussion and conclusions. Beginning with this template, or another appropriate foundation, helps ensure that your content is telling a complete story.
4. Create Visuals
Regardless of audience or goal, supplementing your written work with images is a great way to increase engagement and help get your message across. Consider creating meaningful images, infographics or graphs to accompany your article. You can do so by getting familiar with programs like CorelDraw or Canva.
5. Avoid Jargon
Try to stick to terms that make more sense to a wide audience. If more advanced scientific terminology is necessary, provide some context and background information. It may also be tempting to use abbreviations or acronyms in your article or report, but keep in mind that a common abbreviation in your field may mean something different in another. When using abbreviations or acronyms, make sure you define them first or spell them out.
6. Tie it all together with the big picture
Most readers appreciate some version of a take-home message. Why did you conduct this study or write this review? How can your work be applied in the real world? How are your methods different from those that have already been published? Address the novelty and applications of your work in your introduction and conclusion, then finish strong with a clear and concise summary.
7. Revise, Revise, Revise
Revision can feel like a never-ending process, but it’s always a good idea to have at least one more pair of eyes on your work to catch any typos or awkward sentences. Asking a peer or colleague to proofread can also give you feedback on how readable your content is to a non-expert in the field. Regardless of whether you choose to incorporate any feedback, additional perspectives are often very informative and can help you identify potential blind spots.
Ultimately, writing is a great way to provide content for scientific and non-scientific audiences alike. With extensive research, writing and marketing experience, our writing team is here to provide you with white glove services, regardless of your goals, target audience or subject matter. Click here to learn more about our custom scientific writing services!
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