Paper writing aids

One of the more crucial skills a young scientist  has to learn is writing a good paper. This is a tricky task and requires a precise choice of words as well as a good general understanding of the English language. This is an especially hard task for the non-native English speakers. I have experienced that the hard way, twice! This is why I attended a scientific writing workshop where I got a lot of useful input that I want to share with the community.

In the following, I have compiled two lists, first some online resources for phrases and phrasing and second, some books that were recommended during the workshop.

  • A Thesaurus is always helpful to avoid word repetitions.
  • www.merriam-webster.com feels like a fusion of a dictionary and Thesaurus. It includes the origin of the word and gives additional examples how it is used inside of a sentence.
  • www.springerexemplar.com is a service provided by the publisher Springer. It searches for a word or phrase in all journals and books belonging to Springer. The results list the usage of the word or phrase in the publications together with all kinds of statistics, such as in which scientific fields the phrase is used or the origin of the author who used the phrase. The results only show how a phrase is used within the scientific community and not if it is grammatically correct. This is a powerful tool to identify Germanisms (search for „in a first step“ and you will see) or the equivalents in other languages.
  • owl.english.purdue.edu/sitemap/ is a fully fledged guide for writing papers and there like. It is very detailed list with multiple subchapters which should guide people through the writing process.

And now the books…

  • English Communication for Scientists is an eBook / online resource created in collaboration with Nature and is targeted at native and non-native English speakers alike with the intention to teach the skills to write high-impact papers.
  • Writing Scientific Research Articles: Strategy and Steps by M. Cargille and P. O’Connor 2009 is for „junior researchers“, again for native and non-native English speakers. It also highlights the publication process in more detail.
  • Writing in English: A Guide for Advanced Learners by D. Siepmann, J. D. Gallagher, M. Hannay and J. L. Mackenzie 2008 is a general guide and targeted specifically at German-speaking scientists. It address common problems German speaking people might face when they start to write papers in English.
  • Enjoy Writing Your Thesis or Dissertation by E. Fisher and R. Thompson is written for PhD students and gives recommendations about all steps when writing your thesis, such as planning, writing and binding.

I hope, this was helpful for you. Happy writing!

If you have further recommendations for the community, please post them in the comments :)

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