The Art of Writing a Scientific Document

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The most difficult, boring and important part of a project is not the project work but it’s the documentation.

Young early career researchers need to write a research paper and often find themselves lost and confused as to where to start and how to proceed with it.

Research guides do not have the time or the interest to go through a half baked research documentation.

Here are some tips on how to deal with the challenge.

1. Reading a Scientific Document

  1. Read what other researchers have done that relates to your idea to gauge the state of the art. This will help you to build your idea on the stepping stones of their work.
  2. Use tools like Google scholar advanced search, researchgate to find published works.
  3. The most important part of the paper is it’s abstract, do not skip it. You can skip certain parts of Introduction, Related Works/State-Of-The-Art, Conclusion.
  4. I suggest making a State of the Art (SOTA) table table with 3 columns [Title/paper link; Main summary of paper in your own words(limit to 60 words); Relevance Score on 10 (A score you decide on how relevant a paper is to your work)].

2. Templates for Your Document

  1. Different publication houses have different templates available on their website.
  2. I prefer using LaTeX, a good online platform is Overleaf.com they generate the format automatically and also makes maintaining reference very easy using BibTeX.

3. Writing Your Scientific Document

First lets understand what are the different sections your paper should have and what they mean.

3.1 Title and Abstract

  1. Title defines your work, and creates the first impression. Make it short, crisp, and interesting.
  2. Abstract — A summary of what your paper. Don’t cross 200 words for an abstract.
  3. Keywords- Keywords are the words with which your paper can be found when searched, add 4–5 relevant keywords.

3.2 Introduction

  1. Introduction should include the basic knowledge one must have to understand the rest of the paper. Focus on what, where, any classifications, what did you do, and what impact it had. Keep it limited to 4–5 paragraphs.
  2. Improve readability of your work with a guiding last paragraph. For example, The rest of the paper is organised as follows Section 2 speaks of the state of the art, Our methodology is discussed in Section 3, the experiments and results are discussed in Section 4 and the paper is concluded in Section 5.

3.3 Related Works

  1. For the Related works/State-of-the-Art- Remember I advised you to make a table for SOTA before, from that check the relevancy score and start copy pasting the summary you wrote in your own words.
  2. Do not forget to add citations.

3.4 Your Work

  1. Put a suitable section heading and make sure to use subsections without crunching everything in one section.
  2. Add enough original pictures of good quality and with captions and text reference.
  3. Use Architectures, Flowcharts, Algorithms, or whichever is applicable. Use bigger fonts and light background colour.

3.5 Experiments, Results and Discussion

  1. Here you list down the different experiments you have conducted and use tables to list down the parameters of your experiments.
  2. Chart the results for comparison purposes with other works. 4
  3. Have a detailed discussion in the discussion section on how your results are better and more impactful. How novel is your work and how it can be improved in your view.

3.6 Conclusion

  1. Conclude your paper within 200 words. Summarise your work in 2–3 sentences and then add the results in a line and add if you are looking to improve your work in future.

3.7 Reference

  1. The last section is the reference. It’s a bit of a tedious job to type references according to the different formats. So, I suggest using the Overleaf platform for your scientific documents.

4. Tips and Advices for Writing a Good Document

  1. Plagiarism is a punishable offence and the publication houses have plagiarism checking softwares that can even detect a single copied sentence. A plagiarized score over 35% can ban you from publishing for 10 years.
  2. Try using language which is easier to understand.
  3. Clean and bold images/figures.
  4. Good amount of related work to base your work.
  5. A readable format of writing and follow a proper flow chart so that by the end of the paper your goal should be clear to the reader.
  6. Do not forget to proofread your paper before sending it for review.

My research profile in google scholar: Link

About the author:

Tanmay is a digital transformation strategist and consultant, capable of solving tough business challenges with technology, innovation, creativity, and building relationships.

Read his previous medium articles on blockchain and logbook technology, here; are baking sector jobs at risk, here; Gecko: Cylindrical mobile robot for search and exploration, here.

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