Anonymous12
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Dec 23, 2013 4:00 pm
Occupation: Student: 12th Grade

Writing a research paper

Postby Anonymous12 » Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:02 pm

I've been working on something for awhile now on my free time, a research project...let's call it that.

If I wanted to present my findings in a logical way, how exactly would I go about it in the form of a paper?

Not counting the abstract, I understand that there tends to be an introduction to the topic of the paper before a shift where evidence and findings are presented along with their respective sources before a concluding section and later bibliography and/or foot notes section. However, I am not entirely sure if that would even suffice, given that I only have some experience writing in the sort of way a researcher might do with their findings.

I suppose the actual question is what is the mindset of a scientist when they write research papers? What method do they actually go about when they want to propose a theory, or even just a minor discovery?

This isn't for any contest really, I just wanted to know purely out of curiosity and the question didn't seem to fit in to well with the other boards. I personally think it would be reasonable for me to put my ideas into a paper despite it only really being for myself to see.

tdaly
Former Expert
Posts: 1415
Joined: Sat Nov 08, 2003 11:27 pm
Occupation: Planetary Scientist

Re: Writing a research paper

Postby tdaly » Fri Jan 03, 2014 7:41 pm

Hi Anonymous2,

It's definitely worthwhile to put your ideas into a paper. I find that putting ideas to paper clarifies them in my head, which is definitely helpful. And, scientists have to write up their findings all the time--for grant reports, conference abstracts, journal articles, outreach articles, etc. Kudos to you for wanting to write up your findings.

It sounds like you have a pretty good sense for the typical format of a journal article. The following Science Buddies article is primarily about reading scientific papers, but the majority of the information applies to writing papers as well. Check it out, if you haven't already.

http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... aper.shtml

A more detailed guide to writing scientific papers (and it's actually quite good) was put together by Nature, which is one of the premier science journals. If you're looking for a step-by-step guide to writing your paper, this is a stellar resource.

http://www.nature.com/scitable/ebooks/e ... s-14239285

When I write up my research, my goal is to (1) make sure readers know what I did and what I found and (2) make sure readers understand why the work I did is important. Note my emphasis on helping the reader understand. In order to understand why a particular bit of research is important, you have to set the small problem you addressed within a broader context. For example, I am working on a paper about asteroid 4 Vesta. The small question I'm addressing on Vesta has implications for the rest of the asteroid belt; it's important that I help the reader understand the link between your work and the big questions in the field.
All the best,
Terik


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