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Cross all the ‘t’s and dot all the ‘i’s

Personal story submitted to us kindly by Snehal Jamalpure (she/her)

Yes!! You guessed correctly. My PhD experience is aptly described in the title. The one thing that I always remember is the phrase "Cross all the t's and dot all the i's," thanks to my meticulous supervisor. In a brief glance, my supervisor could spot all the alignment issues, grammatical errors, and sentence construction flaws. I used to wonder if Grammarly would take care of it. So, what's the big deal? As a result, my article was painted entirely in red. Anyone who has dealt with MS word track changes will understand. Every line of my report/proposal was highlighted, paraphrased, and improved to make it more concise. Throughout my research journey, I've had the impression that conducting well-designed experiments is more important than the technicality of how it's communicated. And I was completely wrong and naive. That's what I've finally realised.

Science communication, whether in the form of a technical article or a scientific paper, is akin to telling a story. Accuracy and simplicity are critical to science communication. I'd like to share some important lessons I've learned.

With the hope that this will assist newcomers in navigating their path in science writing.


Write succinctly, without ambiguity. You must hold your reader's hand and guide them nicely to what you have done and achieved.


Read aloud. My supervisor used to make me read every single line so that I could listen to it and decide whether or not it could be improved. This exercise helped me pay attention to every word and improved my clarity, fluency, and comprehension


The importance of introduction cannot be overstated. It's similar to showcasing a movie; if the opening is good enough, the audience will stay with you until the end.


Tense. This rule wins hands down. Understand when to use which tense. Don't mix it up.


Is there any agreement or disagreement with the previous work? Look for areas of agreement and disagreement with what others have done in your field. Agreements will strengthen your work, while disagreements will add an additional dimension to it. Both are beneficial. However, make the comparisons between your data and existing studies. When writing a paper, don’t just collate the data.


Nitty gritty details from your protocols are critical. Yes, indeed! I'm referring to materials, methods, and results. They are important for people who commend your work and want to replicate it. Take note of molarity, percentages or any metric system. Our peers may have difficulty reproducing the experiments if these minute details are not properly conveyed. Basically,the purpose of scientific writing is to communicate scientific information clearly. Having incorrect, ambiguous, wordy, and redundant protocol defeats the purpose of the writing.

G- Get that creativity punch. Yes, use attractive phrases in the titles or introduction. That makes your article an interesting read. It works as bait to lure your audience in.

I'm still learning and relearning the art of writing, and I'm having fun with it. And, as they say, what appears to be expertise is often meticulous preparation.


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