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Unformatted text preview: A Guide to Scientific Writing Neal Lerner Marilee Ogren-Balkama Massachusetts Institute of Technology Introductions Whats an Introduction? An introduction is a method to familiarize and orient your readers. The content of an introduction depends on its purpose and the audience . All models share a direct approach . Dont hide your main point or save it until the end of the paper. Whats the Purpose of an Introduction in Scientific Writing? Provide the context of your work (create your research space, define gap in knowledge, set up the direction youll take in your discussion section). State your focus (hypothesis, question). Provide justification for your work (how your work can answer the question). What are Some Common Pitfalls of an Introduction Section? Including unnecessary background or being repetitive. Exaggerating (or understating) the importance of your work. Using lackluster openers and weak follow-through in the body of your introduction. Not grounding the work in a context that will be important to your reader. Not focusing on a clear and compelling research question or hypothesis. Guidelines for Introductions from Two Scientific Organizations From the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors : State the purpose of the article and summarize the rationale for the study or observation. Give only strictly pertinent references and do not include data or conclusions from the work being reported. From the American Society for Microbiology : The introduction should supply sufficient background information to allow the reader to understand and evaluate the results of the present study without referring to previous publications on the topic. The introduction should also provide the hypothesis that was addressed or the rationale for the present study. Use only those references required to provide the most salient background rather than an exhaustive review of the topic. Methods What are Some Goals of a Methods Section? Present the experimental design. Provide enough detail to allow readers to interpret your results . Cite as: Angela Belcher, Drew Endy, Natalie Kuldell and Agi Stachowiak. Course materials for 20.109 Laboratory Fundamentals in Biological Engineering, Fall 2007. MIT OpenCourseWare (http://ocw.mit.edu), Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Downloaded on [DD Month YYYY]. Lerner & Ogren, A Guide to Scientific Writing p. 2 Give enough detail for readers to replicate your work. The key to a successful Methods section is to include the right amount of detail--too much, and it begins to sound like a laboratory manual; too little, and no one can repeat what was done. Successful Scientific Writing, 2nd ed....
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- Spring '06