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Scientific Writing: A Friendly Guide (Tuan V. Nguyen)

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Scientific Writing: A Friendly Guide
Tuan V. Nguyen
The primary purpose of scientific writing is to inform an audience of other clinicians
or scientists about an important issue, and to document the particular approach that was used
to investigate that issue. Bio-medical journals are a primary means by which clinicians and
scientists convey their information. The information is usually presented in the form of a
research article, which is written in a very specific structure. Scientific writing is, therefore,
an essential skill for the successful clinician and scientist. This guide is aimed at giving some
simple and practical advice on the preparation of a research manuscript. It includes a
suggested structure and a guide to what should go in each section. It also explains the
practicalities of English grammar. The guide was originally written for research students in
medicine and biological science, and most of the specific examples given are taken from those
disciplines.

Part One. Contents of a Scientific Paper
A scientific paper normally consists of the following sections: Introduction, Methods,
Results, and Discussion. This is commonly referred to as the IMRAD structure. However,
each original scientific papers always include an Abstract section to summarize all aspects of
the research project.

I. The Abstract
There are two kinds of abstracts: unstructured and structured abstracts. The former is
a one-paragraph summary of the study. The latter is a summary of major aspects of the entire
paper in a prescribed sequence such as Background, Aims, Methods, Outcome Measurements,
Results, and Conclusions. However, whether it is structured or unstructured, an abstract must
convey the following information:
•

The question(s) you investigated (or purpose). State the purpose very clearly in the
first or second sentence. It is also a good idea to include a single lead sentence to state
the critical background to provide context for the work.

•

The experimental design or methods used. Clearly state the basic design of the study
(treatments, controls, replication, sampling scheme, etc). Clearly explain the basic
methodology used without going into excessive detail - be sure to indicate the key
techniques used.

•

The major findings including key numerical results. Report those results which
answer the questions you were asking; identify trends, relative change or differences,
etc.

•

A brief summary of your interpretations and conclusions.
implications of the...
1
Scientific Writing: A Friendly Guide
Tuan V. Nguyen
The primary purpose of scientific writing is to inform an audience of other clinicians
or scientists about an important issue, and to document the particular approach that was used
to investigate that issue. Bio-medical journals are a primary means by which clinicians and
scientists convey their information. The information is usually presented in the form of a
research article, which is written in a very specific structure. Scientific writing is, therefore,
an essential skill for the successful clinician and scientist. This guide is aimed at giving some
simple and practical advice on the preparation of a research manuscript. It includes a
suggested structure and a guide to what should go in each section. It also explains the
practicalities of English grammar. The guide was originally written for research students in
medicine and biological science, and most of the specific examples given are taken from those
disciplines.
Part One. Contents of a Scientific Paper
A scientific paper normally consists of the following sections: Introduction, Methods,
Results, and Discussion. This is commonly referred to as the IMRAD structure. However,
each original scientific papers always include an Abstract section to summarize all aspects of
the research project.
I. The Abstract
There are two kinds of abstracts: unstructured and structured abstracts. The former is
a one-paragraph summary of the study. The latter is a summary of major aspects of the entire
paper in a prescribed sequence such as Background, Aims, Methods, Outcome Measurements,
Results, and Conclusions. However, whether it is structured or unstructured, an abstract must
convey the following information:
The question(s) you investigated (or purpose). State the purpose very clearly in the
first or second sentence. It is also a good idea to include a single lead sentence to state
the critical background to provide context for the work.
The experimental design or methods used. Clearly state the basic design of the study
(treatments, controls, replication, sampling scheme, etc). Clearly explain the basic
methodology used without going into excessive detail - be sure to indicate the key
techniques used.
The major findings including key numerical results. Report those results which
answer the questions you were asking; identify trends, relative change or differences,
etc.
A brief summary of your interpretations and conclusions. Clearly state the
implications of the answers your results gave you.
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