Six Websites to Jumpstart your Research and Scientific Writing Projects

By Kelly Tabbutt

Science and research writing can be painful. But it doesn’t have to be. #scicomm #writingtips #writingadvice #fancycomma

Writing is arguably both the most rewarding and challenging aspect of being a researcher. Writer’s block is inevitable, and at times, every sentence can feel like pulling teeth. The hardest part of writing is knowing where to begin (and where to go next) — which means knowing what you are trying to say and how to say it.

The following guides provide insight and instruction on a spectrum of research writing styles for different purposes, audiences, and research fields – including guides applicable across disciplines to ease this painful process.

General Writing

Research Writing: Elements and Steps (SUNY Empire State College)

This guide by SUNY Empire State College provides general step-by-step instruction on writing a research paper for any field. Readers of this helpful guide can expect an invaluable breakdown of the steps involved in research writing — beginning from the pre-research stage of compiling and making sense of data sources, all the way to the post-research stage of perfecting the presentation of your research and findings in a written report. This article provides a perspective on research writing that interweaves conducting a research project and developing a research report, providing guidance on constructing and documenting relevant information at all stages of these dual processes.

Discipline-Specific Writing

Guide to Scientific Writing (MIT)

This checklist from MIT provides a meticulous guide to writing for a scientific audience, telling you all you need to know to structure and write a scientific paper. Many guides to science writing are embedded within a discussion of the academic and social significance of each stage of the research and research writing process. In contrast, this checklist is structured to focus, instead, on a thorough accounting of all components of each section of a scientific paper, including explanations and examples that illustrate good and bad research writing techniques. The checklist style of this guide makes it an excellent resource for those who are new to scientific research writing for a scientific audience.

Professional Writing in Political Science: A Highly Opinionated Essay (University of North Carolina – Charlotte)

James Stimson provides an editorialized, but nonetheless accurate and thorough, discussion-style guide to writing in Political Science. Specifically, this polemical piece takes aim at what the author deems to be the key downfalls of political science writing. Stimson mentions many of the common pitfalls of political science writing: the lack of clarity, conciseness, and organization; informational and methodological transparency; methodological and analytical accuracy; and argumentative persuasiveness. While this piece is primarily aimed at pointing out common deficiencies – how not to write – the author does not simply problematize political science writing, but also offers a solution, providing clear guidance on how political scientists should write.

How to Write a Social Science Research Paper Quickly (PapersOwl)

This short guide from PapersOwl focuses on the structure and approach to writing research papers in the social sciences. This simplified guide offers an overview of the components of a social sciences research paper, links to examples of research topics, and tips for writing efficiently without sacrificing quality. The overall focus of this guide is to provide an understanding of the key components and purpose of social science research papers so that the writer can effectively focus their time and energy on these key aspects, and avoid getting distracted by minutia or delayed by creating unnecessary steps in the writing process.

Lay Summaries

How to Write a Lay Summary (UK)

In this piece, Monica Duke provides a guide to constructing lay summaries of research projects and research findings. She explains that lay summaries are intended to provide accessibility to non-academic and non-scientifically oriented audiences. In this piece, she provides an overview of what a lay summary is, who it is intended to serve, and how to write a lay summary effectively. This guide is highly approachable, and framed within the larger discussion regarding academics’ responsibility to make their research and findings accessible to the general public and stakeholders who may otherwise find your research indecipherable. 

Grant Writing

Planning and Writing a Grant Proposal: The Basics (University of Wisconsin – Madison)

This University of Wisconsin – Madison guide to grant proposal writing offers a detailed overview of the key aspects of a grant proposal and instruction on how to write your own effective proposal. This guide includes a focus on how to seamlessly tailor your writing to interest your audience, illustrate your expertise, and demonstrate your ability to fulfill grant expectations, all within the context of expressing your research purpose. This guide also provides a host of helpful links to additional grant writing resources including sample proposals. This detailed instruction will guide you toward completing a compelling and persuasive research grant proposal.

Conclusion

Tailoring your writing to your audience, demonstrating that you’ve fulfilled your research purpose, illustrating the significance of your research, and legitimating yourself as a researcher – while sacrificing neither conciseness nor eloquence – can make research writing an excruciating task. Guides such as those mentioned above provide an invaluable and accessible salve to ease the process.

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