37.1 Introduction

All students in scientific, engineering and health professions need to read the research of others; that’s how to stay up-to-date with the discipline. Some students will also need to write about their own research or the research of others. To do so, understanding the language of research is important.

One of the most important points about writing in the scientific disciplines is to write carefully and precisely:

  • Think carefully about the words you use: You do not want to just be understood, you need to make sure that you can’t be misunderstood.
  • Use the correct, technical words, and use them correctly.
  • Write what you mean.
  • Mean what you write.
  • Be careful using words whose meaning are lexically ambiguous (Richardson et al. 2013; Dunn et al. 2016): Words with different meanings in science and in every-day use (Sect. 37.10).

Formal approaches to writing and reporting research exist, for experimental (CONSORT) and for observational studies (STROBE). We will not delve into these specifically (partly because of the wide range of disciplines adopting this book), but these websites are useful resources.

Some information in this chapter is based on Dr. Michael Lufaso’s notes (http://www.unf.edu/~michael.lufaso/chem4931/lecture3.pdf) and Prof. Tony Roberts (http://www.maths.adelaide.edu.au/anthony.roberts/LaTeX/ltxwrite.php) notes.


Dunn PK, Carey MD, Richardson AM, McDonald C. Learning the language of statistics: Challenges and teaching approaches. Statistics Education Research Journal. 2016;15(1).
Richardson AM, Dunn PK, Hutchins R. Identification and definition of lexically ambiguous words in statistics by tutors and students. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology. Taylor & Francis; 2013;44(7):1007–19.