Peer feedback: Secret ingredient for quick progress with your writing

Do you struggle with producing clear & compelling texts? Do you feel like your writing is lacking something, but you don’t know what? Do you wonder whether the revisions you just introduced really improved your text? Then stop wasting your time and embrace peer feedback! Because getting & giving peer feedback is one of the most effective methods how you can quickly improve your text — and your writing skills as well. Continue reading

How to write precisely

Above anything else, scientific writing has to be precise and accurate. But it’s not an easy task to write precisely about complex topics. Here, you will find a general strategy how you can achieve precision in your writing, and 12 concrete tips how to avoid ambiguity and increase clarity & accuracy of your scientific texts. Continue reading

10 ways for non-native speakers of English to develop scientific writing skills

English is not your mother tongue and it makes you feel overwhelmed in grad school? You need to read & write in English, but feel insecure about it? Reading seems to take ages and you are dreading the time when you have to start writing up your results… But don’t despair! Follow these 10 tips and develop your English writing skills “on the side”, as you go about your everyday research work. Continue reading

How to write a whole paper in a week

Writing up a full paper in a single week? Maybe you think that’s impossible. Yet I have done it repeatedly, and so have students in my courses. This is an exceptionally joyful (even if demanding) experience: being so productive just feels great! You are not wasting any time, and a paper produced in one go is typically coherent and nice to read. Even if you are a slow writer, you can write a whole paper in a single week — if you follow my strategy. Read below about what you need to prepare and how to approach this project. Continue reading

11 tips for boosting your writing productivity

All scientists need to write — and we need to write a lot. Whether it’s a proposal, research article or a thesis: there is always some kind of writing project waiting to be completed. But scientific writing is pretty hard, so we tend to procrastinate on it — and suffer even more as a result. Though what if I told you that it’s possible to achieve a high level of writing output on a regular basis, avoiding the feelings of failure and guilt? These 11 tips show you how you can skyrocket your writing productivity. Continue reading

Interview with Prof. Matthias Rillig

Prof. Matthias Rillig is an outgoing person with a big genuine smile, defeating the stereotype of an uptight always-serious scientist. He is the head of a large and lively research group “Ecology of plants” at the Freie Universität in Berlin. Recently, I’ve given a talk on scientific writing in Matthias’s group, and surprisingly realized that most of the group members — including Matthias — tested as the creative bottom-up writer type. In this interview, Matthias talks about his experience as a writing scientist and his approach to scientific writing. Continue reading

How to gain & keep focus for writing

Image by Vectortoons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Our ability to focus is a precious resource. And in this distracted world, it’s becoming increasingly rare. There are too many things pulling at our attention: too many articles to read, too many talks and seminars, too many topics to think about… But as scientists, we need to concentrate deeply to advance our research — and to write up our findings clearly & effectively. So what can you do when your mind refuses to settle in and focus on the work at hand? Below you will find a tried & proven *minimal* approach how you can gain focus — and keep it throughout the day. Continue reading

Six principles for writing a better first draft faster

Image by Vectortoons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Do you feel like scientific writing is a long, draining process? Maybe you are a perfectionist who struggles with each sentence and questions every other word. Or you can write down a draft quickly, only to realize that it is no good and you have to start over again. In any case, learning the principles of effective drafting helps you write better first drafts faster, increasing your writing output and at the same time improving the quality of your texts. Continue reading

10 habits that helped me finish my PhD

Doing a PhD is a long-distance run where you don’t know when (and if) you get to cross the finish line. Moreover, you are running through a misty landscape, unsure for long stretches where you are and whether you are heading in the right direction (and what is the right direction, anyway). Continue reading

How to read & understand scientific articles when you are not a scientist — Part 2: Effective reading strategy

You would like to read & understand scientific papers even though you are not a scientist? That’s surely possible — if you know how to approach the complex and deeply specialized scientific literature. The first part of this mini-series discussed how to find the relevant articles and get access to them. In this second part you’ll learn an effective strategy for reading original research articles. Continue reading

How to read & understand scientific articles when you are not a scientist — Part 1: Finding the relevant papers

You are not a scientist, but sometimes you wish you could read and understand scientific papers? Maybe you never dared. Maybe you don’t know how to approach it. And maybe you already tried, but found the papers impenetrable, so you gave up. Certainly, scientific articles are not written for the general public. However, with the right strategy you can use scientific literature to find and extract relevant information whenever you need it. Continue reading

A painless way to scientific writing expertise

Wouldn’t it be great to get excellent writing skills without much effort? If you believe that no pain means no gain, I have good news for you! You can develop your scientific writing skills with ease — though not overnight. Here I show you my painless approach to the scientific writing expertise. Start right now and see first results already in few weeks. Continue reading