3 reasons why writing should be a priority for you as a scientist
Updated: Dec 9, 2021
Some weeks ago I was redesigning my website and updating the text here and then. I wanted to write “Writing is the most important skill for scientists”.
But then I wondered… is it?
Well, I couldn’t find evidence of this. But you probably agree with me that it’s important, at least together with skills such as analytical thinking, professionalism, or networking.
So, I settled in saying that “Writing is a crucial skill for scientists”. And here below I’ll give you the 3 main reasons why I think so, hoping to motivate you to give priority to your academic writing:
Writing is how you communicate your results
You may be thinking that you just want to do experiments, and not write articles. If you work in Biology as I did, writing is not exactly what you had in mind when you started a Ph.D. And here you are, writing. Because scientists are writers. But if you don’t publish your results, all that work will be for nothing. It can be difficult to find the motivation to write the least exciting parts of your research, but they can still be useful. For other researchers that want to do the same. Or for scientists that are maybe interested in a small methodological aspect. Your work can still make an impact. So even if it is in a small journal with a low impact factor. Or in a more of an outreach journal with no impact factor at all. What is not written, won’t be known.
Writing will get you money
To do research you need money, either to pay for your salary or to pay for the costs of your research. Think about all those pots, soil, desk space, climate cells, or the expensive consumables of a molecular or a microbiology lab. And to get that money you need to write project proposals (and reports afterward). So even if you don’t want to write your publications, you’ll still need to do this part of the writing! But also, when you apply for funding or your next job, your publication list will probably be evaluated. Not mentioning, you’ll need to write one or several application letters, research statements, and so on… Basically, writing everywhere!
Writing will give you and your work visibility
If you want that people read your article, that one that has cost you sweat and tears, you need to work on your visibility and the visibility of your work. There are thousands of academic papers being published daily. So if you want that other scientists and the general public, people that with their taxes probably funded your research, know about your work, you’ll need to write a bit more to help them. Think about posts on Twitter, abstracts to communicate your work in a conference or a press release. Although these are shorter pieces of text, they are still critical for your academic career and will need your time!
So basically, as a scientist, you need to write a lot, all the time. And you need to be sure that you are doing it so you can achieve your goals, whatever they are! Getting more specific, it all starts with writing your results. Those experimental papers will be the basis of your success as an early-career scientist. So please, go and learn to write, because it is a skill that you can learn and become better with practice. Read tutorials on Google, buy a book, buy another one. Or take a course. For example, my course on Mindful Scientific Writing! Just sign up in the interested list to know when the next edition opens!