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Write your results first!

You’ve completed your experiments, have a great story to tell and have a rough idea of your conclusions. You now want to write it all up and submit it- journal or thesis. For some researchers writing the manuscript or thesis is an uninteresting, if not a cumbersome task; it takes time away from what they enjoy doing the most, research. But it needs doing- for funding, for recognition or for a degree. A tip to make the task easier, more interesting and to help get your thoughts together is to write your results first. For some people it might be stating the obvious, but there are others out there that miss this fundamental trick!

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“Why results?” you may ask. “Why not introduction? Surely that should come first since it is the start of the paper.” 

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Even though the introduction is the start of the paper, I would write it in the end. Although I may have a rough idea of my story and conclusions, and know the general status of the field, I might want to ‘spin’ it differently, which would only become clear after writing the other parts of the paper.

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“Well ok. I know what my results mean, so why not conclusions?”

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Similar reasons. For one, writing-up results will collate all your data. You may be working on your experiments for a several months if not a couple of years, making it a challenge to remember every single detail; well at least I would not! Writing results also helps provide a structure; you can decide how the manuscript should flow. Although you may have a rough idea of your manuscript’s structure before your writing task, it would help tweak the story. Writing up the results also gathers your thoughts, helps with your hypothesis generation, and helps develop your discussion and conclusions.

So if I were you I would write my manuscript in the following way Results->Discussion->Conclusions->Introduction

By | 2014-08-22T11:36:29+00:00 August 22nd, 2014|Categories: Scientific Writing Tips|Tags: , , |Comments Off on Write your results first!

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