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Introduction: How to Use Th is Book
Th ings should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler.
— Albert Einstein
Who is this book for?
Th is book is designed to help non-native speakers of English write science
research papers for publication in English. However, it can also be used as a
guide for native English speakers who would like support with their science
writing, and by science students who need to write a Master’s dissertation or
PhD thesis. It is a practical, rather than a theoretical book, and is intended
as a fast do-it-yourself manual for researchers and scientists.
Th e book is aimed at those whose English language ability is at
intermediate level or above. If you have taken an IELTS test, this is
equivalent to a score of above 6.0; if you have taken a TOEFL test then
this is approximately equivalent to a score above 550 (paper-based test) or
91 (iBT). However, if you have managed to read this far without using a
dictionary, you will be able to use this book, even if you don’t understand
Why do I need it?
Th e goal of scientifi c research is publication, but good scientists are not
always good writers and even native speakers of English sometimes have
diffi culty when they write up their research. Th e aim of this book is to give
you the information, vocabulary and skills you need quickly and easily so
that you can write confi dently using the style and structure you see in the
journals you read.
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vi Science Research Writing
As a science researcher, you are able to read and understand complex,
high-level material in your fi eld. However, you may fi nd it diffi cult to
produce written English which is at the same level as your reading. You
may feel that your English writing does not represent the content of your
work eff ectively or accurately. Th e aim of this book is to enable you to use
your reading ability and the material you read to develop the writing skills
your work requires.
Developing the skills to write up your own research is the only way to
join the international science community. If you depend on English speakers
to translate your writing, their translation may not represent exactly what
you intended. If you depend on proofreaders to correct your English they
may not notice some errors, because a sentence which is grammatically
correct is still ‘wrong’ if it does not mean what you intended. Also, a
proofreader may not check whether your writing fi ts the conventional
‘science research’ patterns. For example, you may have forgotten to justify
your choice of method or explain how your results relate to your original
question, and this could mean that an editor of a science journal rejects
your paper as unprofessional.
Writing and publishing a research paper is the best way to get your
career off the ground. If you can turn your thesis or research project into
a useful paper, your CV (Curriculum Vitae) will immediately look more
professional and will be more competitive internationally. You may feel
that you don’t have the time to improve your English, but you already
know most of what you need from the reading you have done over the
years. In order to write up your research for publication you don’t need to
learn much more English than you already know. Science writing is much
easier than it looks.
Most science research is written according to a fairly conventional
structure: fi rst the title, then the abstract, followed by an introduction, aft er
which there is a central section which describes what was done and what
was found and then a discussion and/or conclusion. At the end of the paper
or research article, acknowledgements and references are added. Th is
means that the structure of a research article will be quite similar for all
Because science writing is so conventional, the amount of grammar
and vocabulary you need to learn is quite small. For example, the non-
technical vocabulary used in scientifi c writing consists of a limited set of
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Introduction: How to Use This Book vii
words such as attempt, conduct, interpret, evaluate, determine, implement,
formulate, classify, correlate, enhance, which are used as a kind of ‘code’.
All the vocabulary you need to get started (apart from the specialised
vocabulary of your fi eld) is in this book.
What will this book teach me?
Th e book will show you how to discover the conventions of structure,
organisation, grammar and vocabulary in science writing in your fi eld and
will provide you with the tools to write in a similar way and at a similar
level. It will teach you how to turn your research into a paper that can be
submitted to a professional journal. You will also be able to use most of the
information in the book and all of the language and vocabulary if you are
writing a thesis in English.
I have been teaching English for Academic Purposes to science students
for over 30 years. For the past 15 years I have been teaching research writing
in the English Language Support Programme at Imperial College, London,
where I also work closely with individual research students and staff who
are writing a paper or thesis. Th is book is based on the most useful thing
I have learned: when your language skills are not perfect, organising your
information in a conventional way and using conventional language are
very important. If you write according to a conventional model, the reader
knows what you are trying to do because the model you are following is
familiar, and language errors are therefore less signifi cant. A researcher who
begins by writing according to a simple and conventional model will soon
develop higher level skills for writing independently and professionally. Th e
opposite is also true: researchers who do not begin by writing according to
a conventional model are less likely to develop these skills.
How does the book work?
Th e strategy in this book can be summed up as follows: carefully examine
good examples of the kind of writing you would like to produce, identify
and master the structure, grammar and vocabulary you see in these
examples and then apply them in your own writing.
Th e book is divided into fi ve units, each dealing with one section of a
research article. Unit 1 deals with the Introduction, Unit 2 the Methodology,
Unit 3 the Results, Unit 4 the Discussion or Conclusion and Unit 5 the
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viii Science Research Writing
Abstract and Title. Since the aim of this book is to enable you to write
in a conventional way, each unit is designed to help you discover what
the conventional model of that section of a research article looks like. In
each unit you will also be given support on the grammar and writing skills
needed to write that section of the research article and you will be guided
towards the appropriate vocabulary.
Each unit is similar . The unit on Introductions, for example, begins by
looking at a sample research article Introduction similar to those in science
journals, then there is a Grammar and Writing Skills section designed to
respond to frequently asked questions. Because you are probably working
hard on your research and don’t have time to do much grammar work,
there are very few grammar exercises in the Grammar and Writing Skills
sections. In any case, getting the answer right in a grammar exercise doesn’t
automatically mean you will produce the correct grammar when you write
about complex topics. Answering correctly can give you a false sense of
confi dence and security.
Aft er the Grammar and Writing Skills section you will create a model
or template for writing Introductions using the sample Introduction, and
this is followed by a detailed Key providing model descriptors, discussion
and answers to questions. Th e unit includes extracts from real Introductions
so that you can test the model and see how it works in the ‘real world’. Th ese
extracts are then used to fi nd the vocabulary which will help you operate the
model successfully. Th is is followed by a complete list of useful vocabulary
together with examples of how the words and phrases are used.
At this stage, you will have a robust model of an Introduction, a
grammar guide to deal with possible problems and a list of useful vocabulary
to make the model work. Towards the end of the unit, you will be ready to
test what you have learned by writing an Introduction. If you have done
the tasks, you should be able to put the model, the grammar/writing skills
and the vocabulary together, and a perfect Introduction will write itself
almost automatically So at the end of the unit on Introductions, you will
try out what you have learned: you will write an Introduction using the
model and the vocabulary list and then compare it with a sample answer
in the Key.
Th is pattern is repeated in the rest of the units. Ideally, you should
work through the book and do each task. If you read the book without
completing the tasks you will have an intellectual understanding of what to
do but you may fi nd it harder to put it into practice.
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Introduction: How to Use This Book ix
Do I need any other material or books?
No, but before you begin, you should collect three or four recent research
papers in your fi eld from the journals you usually read and photocopy
them. You will use these as target articles to help you adapt what you learn
here to your own work, and you will refer to them while reading this book
to see how the things you are learning are done in your research fi eld. Don’t
use chapters from books as target articles; they are not written according to
the same conventional structure as research papers and so will not help you
discover how a research paper or thesis in your fi eld is written.
Your target research articles should:
• be written by a researcher/research team based at an English-speaking
institution, ideally a native speaker of English.
• be reasonably short (less than 15 A4 sides including graphs and tables).
• deal with subject matter which is as close as possible to your own topic
and the kind of research you are doing.
• have clearly defi ned Introduction, Methodology, Results and Discussion/
Conclusion sections. It will help you if these are subtitled so that you can
locate them easily. Note that the subtitles may vary in diff erent fi elds and
even in diff erent journals in each fi eld; for example the Methodology
can be called ‘Procedure’, ‘Materials and Methods’, ‘Experimental’ or
some other variation.
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Unit 1 ✏ How to Write an Introduction
Until now, much of your science writing has focused on writing reports in
which you simply described what you did and what you found. Although
this will help you write the central ‘report’ sections (Methodology and
Results) of a research paper or thesis, it doesn’t prepare you for writing an
Introduction to a full-length research article; this is a new task that faces
you once you move on to research writing.
In practice, you will fi nd that you need to be certain about what you
have done and what you have found in order to write the Introduction, and
so the best time to write it will be aft er you have written, or at least draft ed,
the report sections. However, in this book, the structure of a research article
is presented in the order in which it appears in a paper/thesis so that you
can trace the connections between each part and see the sequence in which
information is presented to the reader.
You may want to start your Introduction by describing the problem
you are trying to solve, or the aim of your work, but as you will see
when you examine published work, this is not how most research papers
begin — and therefore it is not the best way for you to begin. In order
to help you write the Introduction to your own research, the model you
build must answer the following three questions:
• How do writers normally start the Introduction?
• What type of information should be in my Introduction, and in what
• How do writers normally end the Introduction?
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2 Science Research Writing
(what you did/used)
(what you found/saw)
Fig. 1. Th e shape of a research article or thesis.
Th e fi rst thing you may notice about Fig. 1 is that it is symmetrical.
Th is is because many of the things you need to do in the Introduction are
done — in reverse order — in the Discussion/Conclusion. For example,
you need to write an opening sentence which enables you and your reader
to ‘get in’ or start your paper/thesis and you also need to ‘get out’ at the
end of the Discussion/Conclusion by fi nding an acceptable way to end
the paper/thesis. In addition, you must look for a way to interface with
the central report section at the end of the Introduction, and again — in
reverse — when you move out of the central section to start the Discussion/
Something else you should notice about the shape of the diagram
is that it narrows towards the central report section, and widens aft er it.
Th is represents the way information is ordered in the Introduction and the
Discussion/Conclusion: in the Introduction you start out by being fairly
general and gradually narrow your focus, whereas the opposite is true in
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Introduction — Structure 3
Read the Introduction below. Don’t worry if the subject matter is not
familiar or if you have diffi culty understanding individual words, especially
technical terms like polylactide. Just try to get a general understanding at
this stage and familiarise yourself with the type of language used.
Th e synthesis of fl exible polymer blends from
polylactide and rubber
1 Polylactide (PLA) has received much attention in recent years
due to its biodegradable properties, which off er important economic
benefi ts. 2 PLA is a polymer obtained from corn and is produced
by the polymerisation of lactide. 3 It has many possible uses in
the biomedical fi eld and has also been investigated as a potential
engineering material. 4 However, it has been found to be too weak
under impact to be used commercially.
5 One way to toughen polymers is to incorporate a layer of rubber
particles and there has been extensive research regarding the rubber
modifi cation of PLA. 6 For example, Penney et al. showed that
PLA composites could be prepared using blending techniques and
more recently, Hillier established the toughness of such composites.
7 However, although the eff ect of the rubber particles on the
mechanical properties of copolymer systems was demonstrated over
two years ago, little attention has been paid to the selection of an
appropriate rubber component.
8 Th e present paper presents a set of criteria for selecting such a
component. 9 On the basis of these criteria it then describes the
preparation of a set of polymer blends using PLA and a hydrocarbon
rubber (PI). 10 Th is combination of two mechanistically distinct
polymerisations formed a novel copolymer in which the incorporation
of PI signifi cantly increased fl exibility.
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4 Science Research Writing
1.2 Grammar and Writing Skills
Th is section deals with four language areas which are important in the
1.2.1 Tense pairs
Present Simple/Present Continuous
In order to use tenses correctly in the Introduction, you fi rst need to look
at the diff erence between the way the Present Simple tense and the Present
Continuous tense are used.
Look at these two sentences:
(a) I live in Beijing. Present Simple
(b) I’m living in Beijing. Present Continuous
(a) describes a permanent situation and (b) describes a temporary situation.
Because of this, the Present Simple tense is used in science writing to state
accepted facts and truths — but what qualifi es as an accepted fact or truth
is oft en, surprisingly, your decision. Sometimes the writer considers that
research fi ndings have the status of a fact; in that case, s/he can decide
to state them in the Present Simple, usually followed by the appropriate
research reference. Here is an example from the Introduction in
5 One way to toughen polymers is to incorporate a layer of rubber
particles and there has been extensive research regarding the rubber
modifi cation of PLA.
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Introduction — Grammar and Writing Skills 5
Later on, in the Results section, you can even decide to state your own
fi ndings this way. Look at these two sentences which describe results:
(a) We found that the pressure increased as the temperature rose, which
indicated that temperature played a signifi cant role in the process.
(b) We found that the pressure increases as the temperature rises, which
indicates that temperature plays a signifi cant role in the process.
Which sentence is ‘stronger’? In (a), using the Past Simple tense
means that your fi ndings are linked only to your own research, and you do
not claim your deductions should be considered as accepted or established
facts, or even that another researcher will necessarily get the same results.
In (b), using the Present Simple tense means that you believe your fi ndings
and deductions are strong enough to be considered as facts or truths. Th e
Present Simple communicates this reliability and your readers will respond
to your work accordingly. Th ere will be more about this later, in the unit
Past Simple/Present Perfect
Another tense pair you need in the Introduction is the Past Simple tense
and the Present Perfect tense. You will need both, and you need to know
when and why to switch from one to the other. Look at these sentences:
(a) Past Simple:
I lived in Tokyo for fi ve years… but I don’t live there anymore.
(b) Present Perfect:
I have lived in Tokyo for
fi ve years… and I still live there NOW.
(c) Past Simple:
I broke my glasses… but it doesn’t matter/I repaired
(d) Present Perfect:
I have broken my glasses… and so I can’t see properly NOW.
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6 Science Research Writing
You probably learned the diff erence between (a) and (b) years ago:
that one of the diff erences between Past Simple and Present Perfect is the
‘time’ of the verb, i.e. when it happened. Th e diff erence between (c) and
(d) is harder to understand and more important for you as a writer of
In (c) and (d), ‘time’, i.e. when the verb happened, isn’t really what
separates the two sentences; it’s possible that both (c) and (d) happened last
month, this morning, or one nanosecond ago. What is important is that the
event in (d) is considered more relevant to the situation now than the event
in (c), which is why it is given in the Present Perfect. Why is this idea of
relevance useful when you write an Introduction? Look at these sentences
from the Introduction in Section 1.1:
For example, Penney et al. showed that PLA composites could be
prepared using blending techniques and more recently, Hillier
established the toughness of such composites. However, although
the eff ect of the rubber particles on the mechanical properties of
copolymer systems was demonstrated over two years ago, little
attention has been paid to the selection of an appropriate rubber
Note: a little means ‘a small amount’, but little means ‘virtually none’.
Where does the tense change? Why do you think the writer changes
from the Past Simple to the Present Perfect? Could it be because this
research article is NOW paying attention to the selection of an appropriate
Now look at what happens if the writer forgets to change tense and
continues in the Past Simple:
However, although the eff ect of the rubber particles on the mechanical
properties of copolymer systems was demonstrated over two years
ago, little attention was paid to the selection of an appropriate
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Introduction — Grammar and Writing Skills 7
Suddenly, the sentence means that little attention was paid THEN,
i.e. two years ago. Perhaps attention has been paid to this problem since
then; perhaps the problem has even been solved Tense changes are
always meaningful, and they always signal a change in the function of
the information — so don’t change tense randomly and make sure you
remember to change tense when you should.
Now check what you have learned about tenses by looking carefully at
the way the Past Simple and Present Perfect are used in the Introductions
of your target articles. Look in particular at the way the Past Simple tense
and the Present Perfect tense are used to refer to previous research.
1.2.2 Signalling language
One of the most common errors in writing is failing to connect one sentence
or idea to the next. Every time you end a sentence, your reader has no idea
what the next sentence is going to do or say. As a result, the space between
a full stop and the next capital letter is a dangerous space for you and your
reader. Perhaps you stopped for ten minutes aft er a sentence, and during
that time you thought about your work and your ideas developed. Perhaps
you turned off your computer and went home. When you start typing
again, if you don’t share the link between those sentences with your reader,
you create a gap in the text which will cause problems.
One of your tasks as a writer is to make sure that gap is closed, so that
your reader is carried carefully from one piece of information to the next.
Connecting sentences and concepts is good for you too, as it forces you to
develop your ideas logically.
One way to connect sentences is to overlap, meaning to repeat
something from the previous sentence:
Th e pattern of infl ammation during an asthma attack is diff erent
from that seen in stable asthma. In stable asthma the total number of
infl ammatory cells does not increase.
One way to toughen polymers is to incorporate a layer of rubber
particles. As a result, there has been extensive research regarding the
rubber modifi cation of PLA.
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8 Science Research Writing
Another way is to use a pronoun (it, they) or pro-form (this method,
these systems) to glue the sentences together:
Many researchers have suggested ways of reducing cost without
aff ecting the quality of the image. Th ese methods rely on data
structures built during a preprocessing step.
On the basis of these criteria it then describes the preparation of a set
of polymer blends using PLA and a hydrocarbon rubber (PI). Th is
combination of two mechanistically distinct polymerisations formed
a novel copolymer in which the incorporation of PI signifi cantly
increased fl exibility.
Th e third way is not to fi nish the sentence at all, but to join it to the next
sentence with a semicolon or a relative clause (a ‘which’ clause). Joining
sentences with a semicolon works well when two sentences are very closely
related and one of them is quite short:
Th e procedure for testing whether components are operationally safe
usually takes many hours; this means that tests are rarely repeated.
It has received much attention over the past few decades due to its
biodegradable properties, which off er important economic benefi ts.
Th e fourth way is to use a signalling sentence connector to indicate
the relationship between one sentence and the next, or one part of a
sentence and the next. You know how useful sentence connectors are from
your reading; when you see a word like therefore or however, you are able
to process the next piece of information in the sentence correctly even if
you don’t understand every word. Th is is because the sentence connector
signals the function of the information in the sentence. Th e opposite is
also true: when the writer does not signal the function of the information
with a connector, it is harder for the reader to process the information.
Even if the grammar is perfect and every word is correct, the reader still
may not be sure what the information is doing (Is it a result of the previous
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Introduction — Grammar and Writing Skills 9
sentence? An example? A cause?), and may interpret it diff erently from the
way the writer intended.
You already use words like therefore and however and one aim of this
subsection is to make sure that you are using them correctly. Another aim
is to expand your vocabulary of signalling words, because you can’t spend
the rest of your writing life using only therefore and however Here are some
examples of signalling language arranged according to their function. It is
not a long list because only those which are commonly used in science
writing have been included.
Th e experiment was unsuccessful ________ the measuring instruments were
Th e experiment was unsuccessful ________ the inaccuracy of the measuring
due to (the fact that) as
on account of (the fact that) because
in view of (the fact that) since
• Be careful when you use since; it is also oft en used to mean ‘from
that time’, so if there’s any possibility of confusion, choose a diff erent
• All these connectors can be used at the start of a sentence, even because
(Because the measuring instruments were inaccurate, the experiment was
Th e measuring instruments were calibrated accurately, ________ the
experiment was successful.
therefore as a result (of which)
consequently which is why
• Don’t start sentences with so to communicate a result; it’s too
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10 Science Research Writing
• You can sometimes use then, for example in sentences like ‘If x then
y’, but it won’t work in every sentence, which is why it has not been
included in this list.
British students are all vegetarians, __________ Norwegian students eat
meat every day.
however on the other hand
but by contrast
• on the contrary and conversely don’t fi t into this category because they
don’t only communicate diff erence; they communicate the fact that
‘exactly the opposite is true’, so you can’t use them in the sentence
above (because vegetarians and meat eaters aren’t opposites, they’re just
diff erent). However, you could use them in the following sentence: Some
experiments used uncalibrated instruments and succeeded; conversely,
other experiments used carefully calibrated instruments and failed.
• Be careful when you use while; it is also oft en used to mean ‘at that/the
same time’, so if there’s any possibility of confusion, choose a diff erent
(a) _______ it was diffi cult, a solution was eventually found.
(b) _______ the diffi culty, a solution was eventually found.
(c) It was diffi cult; ________ a solution was eventually found.
(a) Although (b) Despite (c) nevertheless
(a) Even though (b) In spite of (c) however
(a) Th ough (b) Regardless of (c) yet
(b) Notwithstanding (c) nonetheless
(c) even so
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Introduction — Grammar and Writing Skills 11
• Th ere are other connectors with the same meaning, such as still and
anyway, but they are more informal.
We used a batch processing system because it was more eff ective;
___________ it was faster.
in addition also
moreover secondly (etc.)
furthermore in the second place (etc.)
apart from that/which what is more
• besides has more or less the same meaning as the items in the list above,
but it’s more powerful and is therefore better used in more persuasive
Now check what you have learned by looking at the way sentences are
connected in the Introductions of your target articles.
Students oft en ask whether they can use we in their research articles. In the
Introduction you usually say what you will be doing or presenting in the
research article. You can use we to refer to your research group or team, but
do not use it to refer to people or humanity in general. If you are referring
to people in general, it’s better to use a construction with It (It is known/
thought that…) rather than We know/think that… It is also common to
use the passive instead of we, especially in the central ‘report’ section (was
measured, was added, etc.).
In a thesis, you are writing as an individual and you don’t have a
research group or team. Since you cannot write your thesis using I, you
will probably write in the passive. Use words like here and in this study to
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12 Science Research Writing
let your reader know when you are referring to your own work. You can
also use a ‘dummy’ subject to take the place of I or we:
Th is article describes an algorithm for clustering sequences into index
Th e present paper presents a set of criteria for selecting such a
Th e problem with using the passive in formal writing is that the agent
(the person who performed the action of the verb) is oft en not mentioned
in the sentence. In other words, we say that something was done or was
identifi ed but we don’t say ‘by me’ or ‘by other researchers’, so the reader
may not know who did it or who identifi ed it. Th is can cause confusion and
for that reason it is sometimes clearer to use a dummy subject (Th is article/
the present paper) in the Introduction rather than the ‘agentless’ passive
(x is presented). Now look at the way the passive and dummy subject are
used in the Introductions of your target articles.
Why is paragraphing important?
Paragraphs are an important visual aid to eff ective reading and writing.
Two common errors in paragraphing are clusters of short or single-
sentence paragraphs, and paragraphs that are too long. Both errors will
confuse readers and are signs of poorly-organised writing.
To understand how paragraphing works, imagine that you have won
a 24-hour trip to Paris. You have two options. Th e fi rst option is to fl y to
Paris, get off the plane and walk around the city. If you take that option, a
friend may ask you later if you saw the famous Louvre art gallery; you say:
‘Well, no, I got lost and spent hours walking around the industrial area by
mistake.’ You show your mother the clothes you bought in Paris and she
asks if you bought them in the famous Rue de la Paix shopping street, and
you say, ‘No, I bought them near my hotel. I didn’t know where the big
shopping area was.’ You begin to realise that you wasted a lot of time and
missed many important things.
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Introduction — Grammar and Writing Skills 13
Th e second option is to take a short helicopter ride over Paris before
you leave the airport. It’s a diffi cult decision because you are impatient; you
only have 24 hours and you don’t want to waste time, but you do it anyway.
Th e helicopter fl ies over Paris for half an hour in a grid pattern, aft er which
you begin your tour of Paris. You fi nd a well-situated hotel, which you saw
from the helicopter. You buy your clothes in the Rue de la Paix — which
you saw from the helicopter. You visit the Louvre and you have lunch in
one of the big parks near the centre … which you saw from the helicopter.
What is the connection between this and good paragraphing?
Let’s bring that idea to the skills of reading and writing. If you read the last
page of a murder mystery before you fi nish the book, the rest of the story is
less exciting — but you may fi nish the book faster. Th is is because you don’t
waste time wondering who the murderer is; you know it’s the husband, so
whenever his name is mentioned you concentrate and read carefully, but
you don’t bother to read the details about the other suspects. Th is enables
you to read faster by giving you the confi dence to ignore things which you
know are not relevant.
Th e more you know about what you are reading, the faster and more
eff ectively you read. So how can you fi nd out about a long article or chapter
before reading it? Th e answer is to skim it quickly before you begin to read.
Like the helicopter ride over Paris, skimming is done before reading, not
instead of reading. Your aim when you skim through a text is to fi nd out
quickly what it is about and where the various pieces of information are
located so that you can read it faster and more confi dently.
How do I skim effi ciently and quickly?
Most of the instructions in the box on the next page tell you just to ‘look
at’ or ‘check’ something. Skimming is a pre-reading technique and should
be done very fast; if it takes more than a few minutes you’re not skimming,
Skimming may help me read, but how does it help me to write?
Look at number 6 in the box: LOOK QUICKLY AT THE FIRST SENTENCE
OF EACH PARAGRAPH. A paragraph in academic writing oft en starts
with a topic sentence, which gives the main idea of the paragraph, and tells
the reader what the paragraph is about. Th e other sentences are related to
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14 Science Research Writing
1. READ THE TITLE
and try to predict the type of information you expect to see
2. LOOK AT THE NAME OF THE AUTHOR
What you know about the writer will help you predict and
evaluate the content.
3. CHECK THE DATE
and use it to help you assess the content.
4. READ THE ABSTRACT
to fi nd out what the researchers did and/or what they found
5. LOOK QUICKLY AT THE FIRST PARAGRAPH
without trying to understand all the words.
6. LOOK QUICKLY AT THE FIRST SENTENCE OF EACH
without trying to understand all the words
7. LOOK QUICKLY AT EACH FIGURE/TABLE AND READ ITS
to try and fi nd out what type of visual data is included
8. READ THE LAST PARAGRAPH
especially if it has a subtitle like ‘Summary’ or ‘Conclusion’
this idea; they discuss it, describe it, defi ne it in more detail, argue about it,
give examples of it, rephrase it, etc. When the ‘topic’ or idea moves too far
away from the fi rst sentence, the writer usually begins a new paragraph.
You can therefore get a good idea of the various topics covered in an
article — or in a chapter of a book — by reading the fi rst sentence of each
paragraph. And because it is a conventional way of writing paragraphs, it
is a safe way for you to write paragraphs too. Th e more aware you are of
the way other writers structure paragraphs, the easier it will be for you to
do it yourself.
As you know, paragraphs are marked either by indentation (starting
fi ve spaces in) or by a double space between lines. Over the years, you have
developed a very strong response to these visual signals. Th is means that
each time you begin a new paragraph, this conditioned response in your
brain prepares for a change or shift of some kind.
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