Writing a high quality scientific research paper is one of the most difficult and important aspects of science. The goal of this brief tutorial is to lay out some key concepts in the process of writing a scientific paper. We will not cover methods for any one field, but rather, provide a general approach to the process. For help with specifics within your field, your best bet is to ask your advisor or other members of your lab for assistance. .
When am I ready to write?.
The simple answer here is this: when you can prove something that is novel and important. You must have sufficient data to tell a story that reveals something new about nature that is also important. Obviously, you must have a thorough knowledge of the available literature to gauge your results. Additionally, it is essential that you are able to repeat your experiments and achieve the same results. Finally, your advisor will usually give you a "thumbs up" to write when the time is right. .
Ok, so I have a story. What do I do now?.
The first thing to do is to just get something down on paper. Don't worry too much about the quality of what you are writing at this point. It is critical to something written since it will help you to overcome writer's block. Once you have written your first paper you will find that constant revision is part of the writing process. Therefore, your mission is to get ideas down for each section so that you have something to mould into your final masterpiece. Typically, a scientific paper consists of the following sections (in order): title abstract, introduction, materials methods, results, discussion, conclusions, and references. Although this is the order in which the sections will appear in your paper, they are often written out of turn. For instance, your reference section will be worked on throughout the writing process. Oftentimes, the easiest section to start with is the materials and methods section.