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LAB Guide to Publishing and Open Science: Tips for Writing

Academic writing

The IMRaD format has been widely adopted as a prominent structure for scientific journal articles.

I = Introduction
M = Methods
R = Results
D = Discussion

In addition, referencing is always used and the articles include a bibliography. These will, among other things, help the reader to evaluate both the coverage and the currency of the sources used.

An abstract at the beginning of the article provides an overview of the contents.

Scientific journals are usually peer-reviewed.

Psst! LAB student!

Interested in showing your know-how and telling the world something interesting about a project you're working on? Or maybe you just published your thesis and feel like there's still more to say on the topic? Then why not write an article about it together with your teacher!

Co-writing is a rewarding process to both student and teacher and will prepare students for their future working life as experts in their chosen fields, giving them an opportunity to practice another type of professional communication.

How to get started

So you want to write an article, but are not quite sure where to begin? Worry not! To help you get started, we've listed some basic questions that will help you with drafting.

What would you like to tell your readers?

  • decide the topic: what new or interesting have you been up to lately, that would be worth sharing?
  • a good topic is compactly narrowed, well-founded and suitable for the chosen target group
  • remember that the topic should be connected to your work in LAB

To whom are you writing?

  • consider your target group when planning the content, length and style of your article
  • general public (popular), colleagues (professional) or the academic community (scientific, possibly peer-reviewed)

Where would you wish to publish?

  • once you have decided on your topic and target audience, you need to find a suitable publishing channel for your article
  • once you have chosen the publication channel, take time to familiarize with the publication's writing instructions and then comply to them (this will further the publication process considerably)
  • it is always a good idea to take a glance at the previously published articles to get an overview of what is expected

And last but not least,  remember that writing is like any other skill - you're not born with it, you acquire it by practising!

How to compile your article

Main heading

  • this is the first thing people see and it can either spark or kill their interest to read further, so take time to think it over
  • a good header is informative, compact and thought provoking, for example a declarative sentence

Introductory paragraph

  • consists of two or three sentences that explain the purpose and content of the article
  • avoid going into details such as exact dates or numbers
  • references are not used in the introductory paragraph

Body text

  • pay attention to narrative and structure (beginning, middle and end)
  • don't link the reader away from your text (eg. by presuming they must suddenly read another text before continuing to read yours)
  • avoid using long and complicated sentences, indirect word order and repetition, as these can make the text burdensome to read

Sub-headings

  • use sub-headings to outline your text and make it more readable
  • make your sub-headings informative and interesting, avoid using generic sub-headings such as "Introduction" or "In conclusion"
  • the number of sub-headings depends on the overall length of your article, but they should be used even in the shortest writings (always add at least 2-3 sub-headings)

The significance of discussion

  • this is usually the most interesting part of the article
  • sum up the issues discussed in the article and reflect on their significance and possible follow-ups (future actions such as implementation, further studies or new initiatives/projects)

Grammatical correctedness

  • grammatically correct and carefully written text gives a reliable and competent impression of both you and your text

Citing and the list of references

  • you need to reference all the resources you have used in your article, according to the referencing system used by your chosen publication
  • a reference consists of two parts: in-text citation and bibliographic reference (aka list of references, bibliography)
  • reserve enough time to learn the chosen publication's referencing system so you can apply it correctly
  • keep in mind that references also give readers an overview of the quality and reliability of your work
  • more information on citation and the Harvard system used in LAB publications, please visit the Citation Guide for LAB Publications

Professional publications

Scientific journals

Or maybe a video instead?

As an alternative to writing, you can also showcase the results of your project by making a video. Videos and podcasts can also be reported as publications and thus be included in the annual Ministry of Education and Culture’s publication data collecting, as long as they meet the ministry's criteria. Here are the basic things you need to consider in order to be able to report your video as a publication.

  • Before you start making a video, make sure you have enough professional content. If you could write a short article based on the content you're planning for the video, then you're probably good to go.
  • Give your viewers enough background on the project and it's results to bring out your own expertise. This is especially important when doing interviews.
  • Add proper credits with affiliations and roles (eg. script, filming, editing), preferably as final credits at the end of the video.
  • Make sure to have an outside publisher for your video (for example LAB Focus -blog).