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Writing During Research

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From Research to Manuscript
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Research winds and backtracks. Experiments go in unanticipated directions, irregular and peculiar data pop up and threaten to derail what you thought were well-laid plans, and technical complications monopolize your attention. New questions materialize, your ideas change, you have second thoughts, and you doubt your hypotheses. Disorder constantly gnaws at the daily life of an experimental scientist.

Writing drafts of your scientific paper while you are experimenting helps to keep your day-to-day research orderly. Writing can keep your efforts and your ideas connected and clear, because:

  • When you put your ideas into sentences, you have to face their logic (or lack of logic).

  • When you sort your data into tables, you can see the holes that remain in your results.

  • When you commit your recipes to the page, you are forced to record all the details.

  • When you look at a skimpy or lopsided reference list writ large in black and white, you are embarrassed into doing more background research.

In addition, the skeleton of a developing scientific paper is an effective blueprint. It is a guide for pulling together a coherent story from the disparate activities that go into real world research. You will make more progress and operate more efficiently if you write while you work.

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© 2009 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg

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(2009). Writing During Research. In: From Research to Manuscript. Springer, Dordrecht.

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