Writing Tips


When we begin our scientific career, most of us are clueless about how to write a scientific article.  The article concerned could be a term paper or a dissertation or a research paper. I will be discussing few tips here and providing links where you can get more information.

Term paper: A term paper is essentially a review article. You, as a writer, are supposed to read the relevant papers in the field and write a comprehensive summary of the field in your words.

Dissertation: A dissertation is the presentation of the original work that you have performed either as a M.Sc. project student or a Ph.D. student. The dissertation typically consists of an Abstract, Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion, and Future perspectives.   

Research paper:  The major purpose of a research paper is to disseminate your results to the wider scientific community via a journal.  The research paper will typically contain only a small portion of your work. It is organized into summary/abstract, introduction, materials and methods, results and discussion.

All three forms of scientific writing include references which are cited within the text and expanded at the end of the document as bibiliography.

Essential features:

Avoid plagiarism.  The article should be written in your own words.  You are not allowed to copy verbatim from any source, including internet. If you are going to copy verbatim, then you need to put it within quotes and cite the article. Very often journal articles are copyrighted, which means unless you have the written permission of the author/journal, you cannot copy.

  1. The same hold true for figures. Draw your own figures. It is fun because you can exercise your imagination.  However, if you cannot draw, then take permission from the author/journal before using it in your term paper/dissertation/research paper.
  2. Pay attention to grammar. This is very critical since sloppy sentence structure and insufficient attention to the tenses can make the document painful to read.  Remember, you are writing the document for others to read and you don’t want your reader to trash your work just because you were too lazy to pay attention to the grammar.  Therefore, keep a grammar book besides you if you are unsure of it. Consult the book as and when required.  Make sure your friends/lab mates read it before you submit it for evaluation.
  3. Pay attention to spelling. Consult a dictionary if you are unsure how a word is spelt. The lazy way is to depend on the spell check of Microsoft Word.  But this is not sufficient. Therefore, a good dictionary is essential. You can also use the dictionaries available online.
  4. Do not use SMS language. I know how tempting it is to use shortcuts. But the proper place for using SMS language is the cell phone when you text your friends. This form of language is not acceptable to use in formal documents. Remember, many of us who are going to read your documents belong to the letter-writing age and do not know the abbreviations that you use.
  5. Cite.  This is absolutely essential. While writing term papers/Introduction, you are collating information.  You have to cite the authors who contributed to that information.  Think about it like this: If you discovered something novel and people used that discovery without acknowledging you, how would you feel?

Links to help you with writing:

Plagiarism:  The Oxford dictionary defines plagiarism as taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing it off as one’s own.  Simply put it means that cut and paste or copy and paste are unacceptable.  The UGC in its guidelines defines as a punishable offence.  The following sites will help you to understand about plagiarism and its consequences.



Grammar: I cannot overemphasis about grammar.  Incorrectly written sentences are a headache to the reader and your work might be ignored if it is incorrectly written.  Some of these sites might help you to understand about the importance of grammar:



Citing references:  Each journal has its own style.  You have to consult the journal web page to determine the style favoured by the journal.   Some general tips are:


Writing tips:  Some of the following sites might help you to write better: