Formula for Writing

I like math. It’s straightforward, it’s easy, it goes from a-x in a straightforward formula and there’s a right or a wrong answer. As a child I’d love getting math homework, because I’d finish all of it in class. I’d be able to do the majority of the questions in my head. I’d typically only show my work for exams or tests. The numbers literally form in my mind and I am able to arrange them into the answer. I wish writing was like that for me.

I took my math brain and tried to make writing slightly easier for myself, by creating a formula. This formula is always adapting and improving as I learn. The formula has also incorporated much of other peoples advice and styles, so I do not take full credit. This formula specifically applies to scientific writing.

I think of writing as an hour glass.

Hourglass Wallpaper (63+ images)
Starting broad, ending broad, with the specifics in the middle. Starting catchy, ending catchy, with the boring bits in the middle.

Please note: I include examples, but they are not scientifically correct or well done. They are just to give one an idea for the structure.

Introduction

I start my introduction with writing out my question, hypotheses, and predictions.

In our study we wanted to see if tulips need the sun to grow. We hypothesize that the sun is essential for photosynthesis, and without the sun tulips will not grow. We predict that in our dark trial our tulips will not grow, in our light/dark trial the tulips will go well, and in our light trial the tulips will grow but not as well as the light/dark trial.

Your first paragraph is the catchy opening that addresses the big question. The big question is not the one you specifically answered, but your research is that one piece of the 1000 piece puzzle.

The giver of life, the sun. What can it not do? Well perhaps not grow plants. Who knows, does the sun even grow plants, or does it does just get very hot and give you an awesome tan?

Now write out the different paragraphs that relate back to your hypotheses. I personally like to plan this out with topic and conclusion sentences that transition from one paragraph to the next. And then just fill in the middle paragraphs with the research.

Topic: The sun is essential for photosynthesis for many plants. Conclusion: Sugars and other essential nutrients are needed for growth.

Topic: Photosynthesis provides the essential nutrients for the plant to grow. Conclusion: However, some plants may adapt to a different method of nutrient conversion if there is too much sun.

Topic: Many desert plants like the cacti have adapted to environments where the sun may be damaging. Conclusion: However, many flowering plants, like tulips are found in less harsh environments and may not adapt quick enough to the changing climate.

Topic: Tulips are pretty and could die if the climate gets too warm. Conclusion: Without tulips you couldn’t make really nice bouquets.

Methods

I love writing the methods, it’s a step-by-step of what you did! It’s so easy. Write the methods while you are doing the experiment or take really good notes.

Results

Again, a fairly easy section. Remember: do not interpret your results, just write them out. And make sure your figure and text align. They must compliment each other and must be able to stand separately – they should not rely on each other for the full picture. A good results section will describe what you found, the stats to accompany these results, and refer to the figure for the overall picture.

The birds in the experimentally fed trial (5 eggs +- 2 eggs) laid significantly more eggs than the birds in the naturally fed trial (1 egg +-1 egg; t=1.23, p=0.02; Figure 1).

Discussion

First summarize your overall results.

We found that frogs that sing in a deeper register were larger than males that sang in a high register and frequently attracted more females (Figure 2).

And then critically analyze these results. Use the topic sentence and conclusion structure. Remember the hourglass: more specific to broad.

Topic: Larger frogs of the same species commonly sing in lower register. Conclusion: The lower register can travel further and may be why they also attract more females.

Topic: Larger females seem to prefer larger male frogs. Conclusion: Larger males also have an advantage of having more offspring.

Topic: While larger males have more offspring, their offspring may not necessarily be as large as their father. Conclusion: Larger fathers may also be more susceptible to predators.

Topic: Having a sound that travels further attracts females, but also predators. Conclusion: Furthermore, climate change can naturally select for smaller males.

Topic: Will females be more attracted to smaller males overtime due to climate change? Conclusion: Climate change sucks and kills frogs.

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