Guide on Writing a Successful Scientific Essay


Many students who study the sciences are more comfortable with numbers and data than with essay writing, and this is to be expected. Science is driven by data and focuses on the clear and concise reporting of factual information. By contrast, essay writing has more in common with the arts, particularly when it comes to the niceties of formatting, transitioning between paragraphs, and working with the elements of style. As a result, too many science students find the writing process to be stressful when it doesn’t have to be.

Illustration of DNA against students writing an essay

The good news is that there are some easy tips to help you write a successful scientific essay quickly and effectively. Let’s take a look:

  1. Treat your essay like a scientific experiment. When you run a science experiment, you have a strict protocol and need to follow all of the steps in order so that you can be sure that you achieve accurate results. Writing a scientific essay is very similar. The process follows distinct steps, and the content of the essay is essentially the data that you will be processing through the methodology of essay writing to deliver a powerful result—the final essay.
  2. Research your essay like you would a scientific research question. In order to formulate a research question, you need to know what previous researchers have done, and you need to understand how past experiments have approached the topic. In the case of essay writing, the same thing applies. You need to conduct thorough research and work through it to develop the data you need to write your scientific paper from scratch. You college or university library has the resources you need to conduct this literature review, so be sure to take advantage of the scientific databases and collections of journal articles that they offer in order to get the latest and best research.
  3. Use an outline like you would the methodology of an experiment. When investigating a scientific topic, you develop a methodology to let you conduct the experiment. The methodology outlines every step you till take before you perform them and allows you to anticipate the major events that will need to occur in order to generate data. An essay outline is similar in that it outlines each major point of your essay and allows you to work with key facts and elements before you start writing to make sure that your approach is sound. By knowing exactly what you are expected to write in each section of the essay, you can achieve a stronger overall final draft because you won’t have to stop and think about what the next step will be and can simply move from one section to the next.
  4. Think of proofreading like reviewing and checking your data. At the end of the experiment, you need to review the data and check for everything for accuracy. When you are done writing your essay, you are much the same boat. You need to go back and carefully review your paper for errors. The revising and proofreading process can seem a bit dull and perhaps unnecessary, but it’s important to carefully consider every potential source of error and eliminate mistakes when and where you find them. The cleaner the final draft is, the more likely you’ll be able to communicate your message clearly and accurately, with a minimum of confusion.

As you can see, the process of writing a scientific essay is actually quite similar to the process of conducting a science experiment. If you are able to think about your essay as its own kind of verbal science experiment, you’ll start to see even more parallels. The thesis statement, after all, is basically a hypothesis. The thesis statement explains what the essay will demonstrate or prove, while the hypothesis is the guess that an experiment will attempt to falsify. One obvious difference is that you already know the thesis is true, or else can modify it to make it true, but it serves the same purpose in your essay.

By thinking about your essay in scientific terms, you can begin to see a more exciting and interesting way to take on the challenge of writing scientific essays. And once you are excited and interested in the writing process, you’ll find that the entire task of writing an essay becomes much smoother and goes much faster. Take away the fear, and watch the essay practically write itself!

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