Creating a science essay: what style to use

Typically when writing an essay for a course in the sciences, you’ll need to adopt a different writing style than you would for a liberal arts course. This is due to several different things. There are practical considerations which require different stylistic choices when writing in the sciences, and there are also accepted writing conventions which are preferred by those that work in the sciences. There are also formatting styles to take into consideration.

Uniform Styles of Formatting

Most formal essays you are assigned for a science class will require a certain formatting style. Typically in the sciences, APA style formatting is preferred, but some instructors or institutions will require a different format style. While this may seem to be a hassle at first, in the end it can be very convenient because it saves you from having to spend time determining the best way to present certain information. Instead, the formatting style may well have a prescribed manner of presentation for you to follow.

Quantifying vs. Qualifying

In terms of writing style, if you’re new to writing scientific essays you may overuse qualifying adverbs and adjectives, or you may tend to use qualifiers rather than quantifying terms when writing. This is acceptable, and even preferable when writing other types of essays, but when writing a scientific essay, it’s frowned upon. Science essays are often graded harshly for the use of qualifiers because they are imprecise or even misleading. Qualifiers can include adjectives like good, bad, few, and many. Instead of using a qualifier, use a term that quantifies what you’re saying. This could be a number, or a more precise description. Whenever possible, however, using a numerical designator is usually best.

Expressing Opinions

In many liberal arts disciplines, expressing your opinion in your essays is not only encouraged but required. This is not the case in science essays. If your opinion is required or can add something useful to your essay, be certain to state it in such a way that the reader is clear on the fact that it’s an opinion. Doing otherwise will likely lower your grade as mere speculation isn’t usually encouraged without something to back it up. Make sure that if you do include speculation or an opinion that it adds something useful to your essay or expect to lose points for doing so. Each and every word of your essay should add something important.

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