Science requires disseminating new, intriguing findings to a wide range of audiences. Since successful writing is an iterative process, with feedback leading to new ideas and experimental follow-up, the writing process can also help to refine the study. Many argumentative topics can be chosen to create an impactful piece.
We have got some of the best tips to help you write for the public if you want to share your scientific work or any other experience below:
16 Tips for Scientists Writing for the General Public
The 16 tips for scientific writing for the general public are:
1. Your Opening Line Must be Flawless
Make an excellent first impression. Many academics begin their work similarly to how they would in a journal article with a remark about the field’s broader consequences or a clear fundamental idea.
However, if you start your essay by reminding readers of something they already know, they may conclude that you have nothing new to add. Many of your viewers will miss any news of significant breakthroughs in your piece.
2. Have a Plan Before Telling the Reader Where You Are Going
Please give them a tale on the first page that explains the issue and lays the groundwork for your thesis. There are many other things for your reader to read, and they are busy. They won’t read your article unless you tell them why they should right away, and using excellent prose is one of the easiest methods to get their attention.
3. Your Narrative Requires a Thrilling Section
You have not created a narrative if you simply connect together factual paragraphs. Despite what professors may tell their students, you have created a textbook, and textbooks are dull. The plot must contain some action that either resolves or glaringly fails to resolve. Things can be amusing.
It may be severe. It can be humorous, serious, and humorous once more, but it must occur (Conspicuously, I have given this advice in a post in which absolutely nothing happens).
4. Stay Relevant
Scientists are educated to research unimportant subjects. A Ph.D. candidate will inevitably retreat into the rainforest to conduct a specialized research project if you suggest they concentrate on a widely relevant species.
Perhaps it makes sense for scientists to concentrate on the unimportant; in the margins, we look for significant findings that others may have missed. It is not reasonable for authors unless the reader sees a more prominent tale relevant to millions of people in that obscure.
5. Don’t Include Questions as Topic Sentences
It can be challenging to overcome the habit of phrasing the topic as a question. Asking testable questions is the foundation of the scientific process, and scientists are frequently taught to start lectures and journal articles with their inquiries.
However, in narrative nonfiction, addressing questions rather than outlining the topic runs the risk of omitting critical details, such as the identity of the asker, their motivation for raising the issue, and how it was initially brought up. In most science stories, it’s crucial to explain how the particular line of inquiry came to be.
6. Transition Your Ideas in Flow
A section’s conclusion should explain why the next one is following. After reading the manuscript several times, one step I take in the editing process is to read over the transitions between subsections, skipping the text to determine if the transitions feel natural. Good transitions rarely exist in a first draft; therefore, this read-through and redesigning is a crucial step in polishing.
7. Don’t List Things
Determine the story that connects the list’s fragments. Lists are a common and effective technique to communicate ideas or variables in academic and official writing. However, they are dull and can make reading them a chore. They all too frequently turn into the point at which readers’ attention wanders, causing them to shift to another page of the magazine or resume their social media scrolling.
Talking about the relationships between the items on the list is a more logical method to express these concepts. The reader will understand and remember the principles more efficiently, even if it means adding one or two sentences.
8. Write in the First-Person Narrative
A scientist is frequently the main character when discussing their research. Text that is essentially autobiographical but avoids the first person doesn’t necessarily sound humble, even though the urge to avoid the first person often stems from a sense of humility. It simply sounds cold.
If the characters or settings in the story don’t resonate with the reader, they will stop reading quickly. When used effectively, the first person does not come across as arrogant or immature; instead, it provides readers with insight into the personal side of research, revealing what scientists find compelling and what motivates them.
9. Use the Language of Your Audience
Just the terminology necessary for your story should be introduced; nothing more. Even phrases like “dynamics” or “mitigate,” which readers are likely to be familiar with, should be avoided because they seem jargony and can have several meanings depending on the field. Look for more straightforward options.
Do not, however, speak condescendingly to your audience. Most readers find it quite off-putting when scientists make such an effort to get everyone on board that they occasionally sound like they’re speaking to middle schoolers.
10. Make Use of Triggers
You can change your attitude toward writing and lessen anxiety about how to begin the end, and make your workflow by upholding a solid habit. Use triggers to start that automatic impulse to write, such as going for a brisk walk before writing or brewing a pot of your preferred tea, to guarantee that your habit forms. After your department’s weekly research class, you might decide to write.
In moderation, and as long as it doesn’t demand too much of your attention, music can also serve as a good trigger. To encourage you to write frequently, take some time to identify a few powerful triggers and arrange them thoughtfully before your writing time. Make writing a habit, like brushing your teeth, so that you continue to do it even when you don’t feel like it.
11. Create an Effective Workplace
Where are you most likely to hunker down and write without interruptions from the outside world? Some folks are most productive in a coffee shop or on a plane. Some people must work in the utter stillness and are most productive in libraries. Once you have determined your ideal writing environment, practice distraction control, and start a running “to make” list.
Attend it at the end of your writing session if you find yourself being distracted by things like that email you need to send or the urgent need to acquire an antibody for a forthcoming experiment. A quick email or other minor work should be avoided because it will only lead to further possibilities for procrastination.
12. Write First, the Make Edits
Write throughout the allotted writing time! To avoid being sidetracked by trying to make it flawless, if you feel stuck, try writing whatever comes to mind for the first five minutes, and compose your thoughts.
The act of writing anything down will inspire creativity. Your objective is to write without restraint, so ignore your internal editor when it gets in the way. Editing and polishing should come after the evaluative part.
13. Be Responsible
Any new habit is difficult to establish without responsibility. How can you make sure you follow it the best? You can use incentives by allowing yourself to watch a quick video, read a chapter in your favorite new book, or have a second cup of coffee after you finish your writing session.
For instance, once a time has been set, you can text or email your colleague to let them know you are starting and then get in touch with them again when you are finished. You can stay on track by just sharing your habit with others.
14. Write Confidently
Your readers will appreciate you for saying what you mean. Writing in plain English and with clarity can be a little unsettling, especially if you are from a group that discourages expressing a strong opinion. However, it will enable you to establish yourself as a thought leader and ensure that a larger audience is exposed to your work.
15. Use Active Voice
Use the active voice instead of the passive one wherever possible. Write “we tested the reactions of various metals” rather than “the reactions of various metals were tested.” The document becomes more intimate by including the phrase “we.” When drafting reports for non-scientists, don’t be scared to utilize the word “you.” Active, conversational language succeeds in capturing the reader’s attention, which is the goal.
16. Ask for What You Want and Get Feedback
Sharing your drafts and getting feedback can be intimidating, but writing well does not have to be done alone. Someone will eventually read what you wrote, and you may make it a positive experience for them. You should and can ask for comments from various people like any scientific American or expert in the field.
Early on and frequently, seek input from other graduate students or postdocs, coworkers or collaborators, and research mentors from inside and beyond your field of study. Non-scientists can also offer insightful criticism on how well-articulated your thoughts are. Give the reader a sense of where you are in the writing process when you share a draft and what kinds of feedback you are looking for.
One of the most significant activities for scientists is writing because it is essential to communicate the results inside and beyond the study community. Using the tips mentioned above, you can create fantastic works for the general audience.
Gillian Ward is an academic writer with more than 5 years of experience, specializing in critical thinking and inspirational writing.