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Experiment!: Planning, Implementing and Interpreting by Oivind Andersson

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12.4 Writing a Scientific Paper

The last step of the analysis phase is to write a scientific paper. This may seem like a separate activity but you will soon realize that explaining your results to others is essential for your own understanding. The most important thing to make clear is that a scientific paper is not a laboratory report – it is a scientific argument. You are not writing a summary of activities carried out in a laboratory to demonstrate that you master a technique or a piece of theory. You are not expected to give a full account of everything that you did in the laboratory – mistakes, detours, troubleshooting, and so on – unless they have bearing on the conclusions and contribute to formulating a coherent scientific argument. The readers will not be interested in how difficult it was for you to arrive at your conclusions. They read to take part of the conclusions and want to see the evidence for them.

Writing is part of the analysis phase because it is a way to explain to yourself, as well as others, how your conclusions are connected with your data. If you cannot explain this, the analysis is not complete. Writing also involves putting your findings in relation to the knowledge in your field. As a result of your experiment this knowledge will have changed, if only a little, and your paper should make this change clear. Writing thereby also marks the beginning of the synthesis phase: that of adding a specific piece of research to the general scientific knowledge. ...

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