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Creativity in scientific writing: Science meets arts!

May 3rd, 2016 - 0 Comments

In the context of scientific writing: Creativity is intelligence having fun. Science and Arts are considered to be two very different fields, where no ends meet. However, when your work involves and is a balance of both, the output is a gift! The field of scientific writing lets you do that.

I was working on an infographic when the thought of writing a blog on this topic struck me. In the infographic, I had to depict the scientific information in a creative form where the readers could understand everything easily and stay engaged. It was as interesting to do as it sounds!

Having been in the field of scientific writing for about three years now, I have observed and learnt a few nuances. This blog is completely based on my personal understanding and any resemblance to anything living or dead is purely coincidental!

What is sound scientific writing? Is it writing that only attracts the eminent in science? Or is it for a much wider audience? I believe in the latter. Thus, scientific writing should be interesting enough to maintain the attention of your audience, not letting them lose interest.

The pertinent question is why and how to include creativity in your work? Let us consider it one by one: Why do you need to be creative?

“It is vital to make your writing look alive.”

The very aim of scientific writing is to share the research, development and knowledge in science. The target segment is not only the people involved in this field, but also a much broader audience including the layman. Creativity is one of the foundations of science. Research would be less interesting if scientists did not let their imagination run amok? And, above all, to ensure that the results of such interesting research reaches out to billions, it has to be put down on paper with the same enthusiasm.

Some people argue that to maintain the standards of scientific writing, being too creative may not be appropriate sometimes. A fine balance of creativity and scientific language is the key. While in various scientific documents you need to limit your creativity to follow regulatory guidelines, in others, you can let it wander.

How do we do it?  “It should attract your attention and be pleasant to read”

Put yourself in the place of the reader. Do you like what you read? Allow the complicated writer in you to take a back seat when you are aiming for a wider audience. Simple language and easy to understand publications are desired. It is a huge task to summarize complex data analysis so that the reader derives the same conclusion as you did. Be creative and support your results with graphs, figures and tables aimed at better understanding.

Take this for an example: The “Molecular structure of nucleic acids” paper by Watson and Crick (1953). http://biology.mcgill.ca/watsoncrick_1953.pdf. When you read through the paper you understand what the author is trying to convey and it keeps you interested throughout. The details of the structure are supported by the figure. What if they had not added the figure? It would have increased the complexity of the article and the reader might have lost interest in the details even if the author had tried to keep the language simple. This is what I believe sound scientific writing is about.

Hope this blog woke up the artist in you!

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