Tips for a high school student writing a scientific paper are invaluable, especially if students need to submit an academic scientific paper for the first time. The main purpose of writing tips or guidelines is to provide more clarity for students when it comes to the overall pre-writing, writing, and post-writing process.
Beginner researchers and scientists face numerous difficulties when they get an assignment to conduct a research and write an analytical or critical analysis of the findings. In this article, we provide tips for a high school student writing a scientific paper and we place particular emphasis on the aspects of paper organization, citation styles, discussion of findings, and the usage of credible sources. Moreover, we will shed light on how you can avoid frequently made mistakes and pitfalls. Further, we will pinpoint to specific recommendations how to engage with proofreaders, editors, and reviewers for your own benefit.
The Main Paper Organizational Tips for a High School Student Writing a Scientific Paper
- Writing an effective abstract
The underlying purpose of an abstract in any research or scientific paper is to provide an overview, or a synopsis, of what you plan to discuss or analyze in your research. In other words, you need to acquaint your target readers with the purpose of conducting the research, what it deals with, what its topic is, etc. Another purpose of the abstract is to attract the relevant target audience. In other words, when looking through an abstract, a reader will understand whether the paper will be interesting for him/ her and what topic it will deal with in particular. When writing an abstract, it is important to keep in mind that the abstract is limited in length. As a rule, the word count is 150 – 250 words. As such, for many writers, it can be rather challenging to fit all information in one paragraph.
Great tips to take into account when writing an abstract:
- Consider what your target audience is and what their interests are. Try to put yourself in the shoes of your readers. If you were them, what would you expect to read and know about? Always remember about it in order to adhere to their expectations.
- Express the information clearly. The main aim of the abstract is to provide basic information about the research without delving into details and providing too many descriptions. Make sure you provide the core information that will be easily accessible for the reader without urging him/ her to read the whole article. Clarity of writing denotes expressing yourself in plain and understandable language without using jargons, acronyms, abbreviations, unknown or specific terms, etc. A student writing a scientific paper for the first time is frequently tempted to use overly sophisticated vocabulary but the thing is it does not bring clarity but only leads to confusion.
- Be precise. Make sure that the vocabulary you choose directly expresses the meaning of your intended message. Upon completion of the abstract, look through it once again and check whether all terms and expressions are understandable. If there are some confusing words or specific professional jargon, make sure to express the main idea in a more clear way.
- Remember about the core purpose of abstract writing. When writing an abstract, make sure you know its central purpose. Usually, an abstract is the very first part of your research paper a reader will, so make sure it is interesting and attractive. Provide information that will provide a general picture of what your study is about and that will outline the core outcomes and findings.
- Writing an introduction
An effective introduction means that you have provided sufficient context information that makes it clear why the research is valuable and significant and what it plans to prove. Another point in writing an introduction is to outline the main objectives of the research. Any high school student writing a scientific paper should understand a clear difference between the aims and objectives. Moreover, describe your research realistically and avoid such clichéd phrases as “groundbreaking research” whatsoever since they may simply annoy readers as such phrases are frequently met almost in any scientific paper. A good strategy for making your introduction effective is to restate the main aim and hypothesis of your research at the end of the introductory paragraph. Regarding the length of an introduction in research papers, it can take up to four paragraphs. This length is optimal for you to cover all the important information and provide not only background information but also aims, objectives, and hypotheses.
- Providing appropriate citations
It is vital to adhere to the required citation format when citing outside sources. Referring to expert opinion is of utmost importance when you work on a research. Whenever you put forward any claims or arguments, it is vital to support them with credible research in the adjacent field. Still, the most important aspect to consider is to be sure that the citations relate to your topic and are relevant.
- Language choice
It makes a huge difference whether you are writing for a wider audience or for a specific audience, particularly for specialists in a specific sphere of research. As such, when you are writing a paper for academic purposes, make sure to strike a balance between informal and formal writing. Actually, the language you choose and the sentence structures you write in are decisive for the overall comprehension of the text of your research. Make sure you ask yourself the following questions before submitting or publishing your scientific paper:
- Will the message be understandable for your target audience?
- Is there a lesson/ message/ idea/ concept/ outcome that your target audience will take with them after reading?
- Have you managed to put an emphasis on the core points/ ideas of the study?
It is essential to go further than a widely known approach and view your research from a broader area, such as from writing a published scientific paper. Look at your paper as if you were a proofreader, a scientific journalist or an editor. Would you change something? Would you be able to get the general idea of the paper? Would you grasp the key concepts after reading the abstract and the introduction? Is the message conveyed in a clear way? Finally, pay attention to the clarity of your language and check whether your writing is free from grammar and punctuation mistakes. If you want to improve your writing style or fluency in grammar, you may read the book Elements of Style for Writing Scientific Papers written by S. M. Griffies.
- Composing a discussion section and a conclusive paragraph
When working on your discussion section, you need to highlight how the results were obtained and how they work. Pinpoint to how your study findings contribute to the progress in your study field and how significant they are for the overall research. At the same time, make sure you do not sound arrogant when presenting your results. If you support your arguments and results with credible facts and expert opinion, it will have a more objective meaning.
A Few Useful Tips on Content
- Provide a thorough and detailed discussion of your paper significance. Make sure you pinpoint to the exact facts that make your study stand out from the rest in adjacent field. However, do not restate them all the time. Mention the connection to the research in general. Precise results will be presented in a separate section.
- Can an undergraduate student cope with a conflicting research? Sure, he/ she can. Everything that is required is to find a study that contradicts your findings, analyze the results and pinpoint to why your research is also credible and what exactly it proves.
- Make sure to reiterate your objectives in the conclusion that were previously mentioned in the introduction. However, in this case, you need to pinpoint to whether they were attained.