Science Writing – Organization

If you read most scientific or technical papers, they tell you the information three times: they tell you “what they are going to tell you” in the introduction or a summary of the article called an abstract; they “tell you” – this is the body of the document; and they “tell you what they told you” in the form of a concluding section or paragraph.

Scientists, like most busy people, don’t have time to read everything that they come across when they are doing their work.  By reading the introduction, looking at the figures, and reading the conclusion, they can determine whether the article has the information they are interested in learning about.  If it does, they read the entire article, if not they move on.  This is a good habit to have no matter what career you may choose to follow.

So, for science class, longer writing assignments are expected to have all three parts.  Often this is spelled out in the rubric or checklist that is given when the paper is assigned, but even if it is not, a good science paper should include all three parts.

Research and Longer Papers

Introduction – Sometimes called a “Summary” or “Abstract”, but for our class will usually consist of one good paragraph.  Its purpose is to inform the reader about the general topic that is being covered, and give a brief outline of the type of information that is included in the body of the paper.

Body – This is where all the detail is given.  It may consist of one or more paragraphs, which are written and organized in a logical flow and give the information about the topic. For example, if you are writing a paper about a famous scientist, you usually start with some background information such as the years they were alive, where they lived, what type of education they had, and what jobs they held.  Next you could include the important work they did in their field, research they conducted, discoveries they made, or things they found out because of mistakes of accidents.  The last part of the body of the paper might explain why these findings are important to us, what impact they have on science and our lives.

Conclusion – Formal science papers have an entire section called “Conclusion” but for class, a paragraph will be enough.  The conclusion is similar to the introduction in that it explains the purpose of the paper, but it usually includes the important points that were made.  For example, in a paper on a scientist, the conclusion would include why this person is considered to be important enough to write a paper about them.

References – If you used information from other sources to write your paper, you need to give credit to the people who did the original work.  These are usually listed in a Reference or Bibliography at the end of the paper.  All citations should include the Author, Title, Date, URL, book, or magazine.  Use the format that Mrs. Degi expects you to use in language arts.

Experimental Conclusions

The conclusion format that we use in science class is to write your Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning.  This three-part format is similar to the structure used for longer papers.

Claim – This is a statement that answers the question that was being asked. This should be written in third person – no “I claim that” should be included.  Sometimes you were not able to answer the question, so the claim would state that the answer was not found. The claim is like the introduction, it tells what the conclusion is about.

Evidence – Like the body of a longer paper, it includes the data that was gathered, or information that was found that was used to answer the question being studied.  This is usually the longest part of the conclusion, and may consist of multiple sentences.  All the data should be included, if there are outliers they should be mentioned and explanations given as to why they are or are not included with the rest of the data. If you have quantitative data, it is usually given as a range or as a mean with the uncertainty.  The number of trials that were conducted should be included as well.

Reasoning – Often the most difficult part of a conclusion for students to write, it too may consist of several sentences. Here you are explaining the science behind your findings.  For example, if you found that a low friction car stayed at a constant speed over a given time, your reasoning could be that there were no outside forces acting on it, so by Newton’s First Law of Motion, objects in motion stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force.