The core features of the scientific writing style

As stressed throughout The JEPS Bulletin, an important part of research is writing the report to acquaint the public with your findings. Such publications serve as a platform for academic communication and exchange of opinions. It is very important to follow certain standards and writing style if you intend to cultivate further research based on your results. Here’s what you should keep in mind when forming your message to the scientific community.

Writing a scientific paper assumes knowledge of the purposes of your work as well its intended audience, expertise and knowledge of methodology, and last but not least, a good scientific style (Milas, 2005). What is style in general? It’s “an author’s way of writing” (Klaić, 1983, p. 1267). A text can follow a number of ways of writing – poetical, romantic, informative. The characteristics of a scientific writing style derive from the intention of communicating scientific information (Silobrčić, 1998). Simply put, a good scientific style is one that fulfils the purpose of providing its reader unambiguous comprehensibility of its content. The aim of any publication is to cover the background, the procedure and results and meaning of the research.

To prevent misinterpretations, scientific writing requires clarity and precision, together with logical sequence of presentation of ideas and viewpoints (Milas, 2005; Silobrčić, 1998). Avoiding excessive stylistic flourish and unnecessary details, which extend the text or reduce its clarity, is a prerequisite. The use of abstract and vague expressions blurs legibility and penetrability of the text, as does wrong selection of words. Also, personal attitudes, mitigation or exaggeration of your claims easily lead to misunderstandings and confusion. In any case, the complexity of the subject in no case justifies ambiguity and incomprehensibility of the text (Barzun & Graff, 1957; Silobrčić, 1998).

Weigh the meaning of the words you use. Careless expression of your thoughts may lead to nonsense.

Take an example: ‘Although this book differs from Harisse’s on Columbus, it is also important’. At least three words here are improper and darken understanding: ‘although’, ‘differs’, and ‘also’. Taken together, ‘although’ and ‘also’ imply that the book which ‘differs’ from a certain other book is unimportant. And ‘differs’ by itself is an absurdity, since every work differs from every other. (Barzun &Graff, 1957, p. 250).

Finally, integrity is an essential characteristic of every work. Each thought should follow a logical path and be supported by evidence or be pointed out as a hypothesis. Such presentation of ideas allows the reader to follow and grasp the text with ease.

Of course, the abovementioned features are not the only ones important for a nice flowing scientific text. In addition, proper implementation of the general linguistic principles contributes considerably to the quality of the text. May this be the topic of our future post.

Summary: tips to follow

  1. Keep the purpose and audience of the text in mind – who will read it? Why will they read it?
  2. Make sure your text can be understood unambiguously.
  3. Show where you ideas derive from.
  4. Is your message to the world salient? What are the main results of your work? What is noteworthy about them? Compare your work with previous research done by others.
  5. Spell-check!

Barzun, J., and Graff, H., F. (1957). The Modern Researcher. New York: A Harbinger Book.
Klaić, B. (1983). Rječnik stranih riječi. Zagreb: Nakladni zavod Matice hrvatske.
Milas, G. (2005). Istraživačke metode u psihologiji i drugim društvenim znanostima. Jastrebarsko: Naklada Slap.
Silobrčić, V. (1998). Kako sastaviti, objaviti i ocijeniti znanstveno djelo. Zagreb: Medicinska Naklada.

Edited by: Maris Vainre