Scientific writing Style-Guide

The following are some resources that may help you with your scientific writing. Scientific writing can be a challenge even for native writers, so don’t despair. Practice makes perfect and you have to write to learn to write.

If you have to write a report, please use a template and submit your report with double line spacing for easier correction. I propose the template from JACS for MS Word or Latex.

To master structure and style, please refer to the relevant Style Guides. Here is a short 1-page cheat sheet to help you getting started: Writing_in_english_(1-page_for_koreans). Also look at the style guide of the American Institute of Physics for more extensive guidelines on the structure and style of scientific reports. You can find an excerpt from the AIP style guide at AIP_Style_4thed_extract or you can download the full guide from here. The ACS offers an exhaustive style guide at pubs.acs.org/styleguide.

Use dictionaries to find the right words (e.g.: www.merriam-webster.com (US-English), www.oxforddictionaries.com (British-English)). Use a spell checker to avoid unnecessary spelling mistakes.

If you are a non-native speaker, please make an extra effort to check your articles. Here is a very short primer about article placement in the English language:

  • “a” (also: “one”): Indefinite article. Always use when referring to one object that the reader does not yet know about.
  • “the” (also: “that”, “this”): Definite article. Always use when referring to one or multiple objects that the reader already knows about.
  • “” (no article): Plural indefinite article for objects that the reader did not yet know about, or for general statements about objects.

E.g.: I teach in a University. (You didn’t know about it yet.) The University is new. (I talk about the same University, so you already know about it.) I like a University. (Now I talk about a different University that you don’t know about.) Universities are cool. (I make a general statement about all Universities.)

And finally, read English books or English newspapers to improve your English style and vocabulary. There are lots of exciting English texts out there and reading is the easiest way to learn!

Here is some specific feedback for the 2016 Lab course reports: report_feedback.

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