The Importance of Academic Writing Skills



In my opinion, as well as my personal experience, nothing hurts one’s argument more than poor delivery. In any walk of life, people take you more seriously and treat you with more respect when you are well-spoken; academia is no different. People sometimes make the mistake of believing that wanting to be a scientist means that you don’t need to worry about mastering essay writing. That could not be farther from the truth.  We all need to develop good writing and speaking skills if we ever intend to share our research, and even if we are able to share our research without good delivery, it will most likely not be treated seriously.


My number one piece of advice I have for any student wanting to get involved in science fairs is to pay attention to your English teacher and work on your expository writing skills. Aside from being tremendously useful in everyday life, writing will captivate your reader and help to display your hard work in an intelligent, thoughtful manner. I have a few general pieces of advice for writing your first research paper:


1)     Keep a good lab journal; keeping a good journal will make writing your paper much simpler since everything is organized and ready to come together.

2)     Keep your writing formal, but never at the cost of your own voice. Don’t try to mimic what you think a judge wants to read.

3)     Similarly, be yourself when presenting to the judge. In this way, your writing and presentation will both be in your natural voice, therefore sounding more natural. Yes, by the way, judges can tell if you aren’t genuine.

4)     Explain everything as if the listener/reader has never encountered the topic before while avoiding condescension.  I’ve judged science fair projects that I had very little background knowledge on and always appreciated having the basics explained to me.

5)     Work on putting things into context and explain the “bigger picture,” also known by my former English teacher as “why should I care?” Even if your research was not successful in proving your hypothesis, it is very important that you finish with conviction and explain why your hypothesis being unsupported is significant.

6)     Revise, revise, revise. Some of the most brilliant professors I’ve ever had go through several drafts for each article they write, most believing that it’s the only way they ever really improve as writers.


I hope my list is of some use as you work on effectively relaying information about your project. (I also hope that I effectively relayed my opinion to you.) Here is a link to one of my papers, “The Effects of Self-Esteem on Exercise Frequency,” which I was fortunate enough to win first place with at the Massachusetts State Science Fair my sophomore year and got to present at the MJAS Fall Symposium my junior year:


In my (clearly-biased) opinion, it is a good example of effective academic writing for a science fair project. Feel free to use it as a point of reference. Good luck in your writing!  Thanks for reading!


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