User:Jarle Pahr/Writing

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Notes on good practices for writing reports:

Realize that most of the time needed for writing, is actually spent reading!

  • Include references to factual statements immediately when writing them. If the reference is superfluous, it can be edited/commented out later. If it is not superfluous, you save time hunting for the reference later.
  • When possible, write up results continiously after they have been confirmed. This way, it will be easier to remember details and the writing will likely go quicker. For example, write up the cloning process when a cloning step has been confirmed by sequencing.

Writing is an interative process, and your first draft is going to suck. Aim to allow one month between initial draft and final deadline. Reserve at least one week for final review including spelling and fact/reference checking. If writing in LaTeX, leave at least one day for bug checking! In the final review phase, place the generated .pdf file under version control, in case something breaks irreversably.

Final review:

  • Spelling
  • References are correct.
  • All figures are referenced.
  • Figure captions and labels

Consider the importance of the physical writing environment. If possible, sit at a good desk and use a comfortable office chair.

Take sufficient breaks, at least 5 minutes every hour.

Avoid including too many references. Information overload will make it difficult to find the most relevant information.

Avoid working late. If you have something that seems important to read for fear of forgetting it, use a bibliographic management system to mark it for later reading.

Figure out what's most important/of relevance for your readers, and start there. Don't try to include everything at once. If there is time, the text can be elaborated with non-essential information later.

Literature search: Tips on how to keep up on the newest research.

  • Use google scholar search limited by year.
  • Use
  • Use the alert function in Google Scholar.
  • Search for authors using label:subject
  • Create author article alerts

To find original (first) articles using a specific term (for example "stringent response"):

  • Do a Google ngram search for the term to determine when it entered into use.
  • Do a Google Scholar search restricted to the time-frame when the term likely first appeared.

Bibliography management:

Writing tools: