'Good' Writing Practice in Science
will have to write practical assignments and answers to examination
questions during your Science studies.
English language is important (correct grammar and spelling do matter!)
but here are a few more tips:
|Look at the number of marks that
have been allocated for the question. This will guide you as
to how many points you will need to incorporate in your answer.
In pencil jot down the same number of 'keywords' (words that examiners
will want you to show that you know!) and then incorporate them
into a coherent answer.
|Answer the question you have been
asked. Sometimes it's tempting to answer the question that you
wish you'd been asked, rather than the one in front of you.
But responses that go off the point don't get you marks. What you
say has to be relevant... and on the mark scheme!
|Be concise and precise. Writing
is not like speaking, you need to avoid padding out the sentences
and 'waffling' about related (but not relevant) topics. Remember
that no question is an invitation to 'write all you know about'
unless that is what you have been asked to do (a very unlikely occurrence!).
|Plan your work. Make notes
of key words that you need to incorporate in your work. In an examination,
imagine the words that will appear on the teacher's mark scheme.
Note them down in pencil, order them carefully and then expand them
into your answer.
|Be your own proof-reader. I
know the feeling of finishing some writing with a sigh of relief
and 'switching off' without further thought but this is not good
practice. Always read back through your work and revise it as necessary.
|Support your arguments. A clear
'point of view' has to be presented. Your arguments need to be reasoned,
with coherent statements supported logically by relevant facts.
Always relate your ideas to scientific laws and principles if you
|Avoid plagiarism. Wholesale
copying of material is not allowed. It is classed as cheating, and
the penalties are severe. You can use the words of others,
but you must attribute them. Whenever you do quote, cite the reference
Use paragraphs. Paragraphs
bring together related sentences that cover a coherent set of
thoughts. Their use helps the reader enormously.
Keep within the word limit.
A word limit is set because it helps you decide what level of
detail is needed. Sometimes only the words up to the limit are
marked and you lose a lot of marks because some of your points
are made in the section that it not read by the assessor!
|Develop a sense of audience. Assume
an intelligent audience, but one who has not been taught the new
concepts you have met in the course at this level.
Keep sentences short. Don't
fall into the trap of believing that long sentences reflect profound
thoughts. In general, short sentences are more conducive to clear,
logical argument and help keep pretentiousness to a minimum.
have a vocabulary all of their own! Click
here to jump to a list of words that are commonly found in
examination questions and their meanings.