Scientific Writing Skills – Video Conference

Video Conference with Ms. Margaret Bowden, Flinders University, Australia


Video Conference on Scientific Writing Skills was an unprecedented of the Research and Development of Dr.A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Centre of Excellence for Innovation and Entrepreneurship organised by the encouragement of the Director Dr.Rama Vaidyanathan. The program was facilitated by Dr.Hepsibah Sharmil, Research Scientist 30 persons attended the Conference. In fact, the calibre and representativeness of the science researchers gathered IT seminar hall from 3 to 4pm.   

Margaret Bowden is a researcher, writer and editor in social sciences, health sciences and education, having worked on projects in these areas at Flinders University since 1996. She has also help international students develop their English language writing skills, run workshops for higher degree students in formatting their theses electronically, and have tutored Indigenous students from primary school to university level. In her non-university life she is a freelance editor.


  1. Bachelor of Arts, Flinders University
  2. Bachelor of Liberal Studies, Flinders University

Honours, awards and grants

Chancellor's Letter of Commendation

Key responsibilities

  • Research - data collection and analysis
  • Write literature reviews
  • Write and/or edit journal articles
  • Write and/or edit book chapters/books
  • Write and edit research project reports
  • Run workshops for higher degree students
  • Edit higher degree theses

The tone of the Video Conference was set on techniques and skill needed for scientific writing.

The program began with distribution of the Conference agenda. It summarized some of the previous day’s sessions on scientific writing. Good research is meaningless unless you can communicate your findings in a clear and interesting fashion. The days in which scientific papers were works of great literature is past but we can still strive to make our writing informative and worth reading. Using the English language to successfully communicate scientific findings does not come easily to most people. Choosing the correct words and using correct grammar are skills now rarely taught in schools, so many University students are at some disadvantage. Readers go to writers, not writers to readers. Having a paper in print means absolutely nothing, other than only one or two reviewers found some nugget of possibly new knowledge in what you submitted. If readers do not go to your paper, you have accomplished nothing. If people read your paper but remain unconvinced to use or at the very least to verify its findings, you have accomplished nothing. You will not be cited, a career-perishing prospect. Your two objectives are clear. First, you need to attract the reader to your paper. And then you need to convince both reviewer and reader of the worth of your scientific contribution to publication gate and the citation floodgate. The reviewer will give you several hours to evaluate your work; the reader will give you less than two seconds. You need convincing? Read on!

Reader needs are expressed through keywords they hope to find in the title of your paper; these keywords are typed in the single line of scientific search engines such as Google Scholar, the Web of Science (Thompson Reuters), and Science Direct (Elsevier); These search engines retrieve lists of titles containing these keywords. By the time the title appears on the screen as one item in a long list, the reader, anxious to find a relevant article, spends no more than two seconds on your title while scanning the page (mainly word spotting). So you have only two seconds to establish a strong clear connection to the reader's brain. If too much noise drowns the signal, if your title fails to meet the reader's needs within two seconds, the eyes will have gone past your title on their downward journey towards the bottom of the list, never to return. And if your title happens to be on page six in that long list of titles, you might as well have written nothing because rare are those who are patient enough to scroll down that far. So great scientific writing starts with understanding how to write a great title. This is your most important task and the most difficult one.

Margaret, informed the techniques of Scientific Writing such as;  Building Writers from Readers, Readers have rights:  understanding whatever makes us fail as readers is a great learning experience for the wanna be "reader friendly" writer. Learning by example is great, as long as the examples are good. Writers are unable to see what in their writing make readers stumble.

To be a productive scientist and scholar, you need to write well. Good scientists are constantly working to proficiently and effectively communicate their ideas, and bad writing can kill the publication chances of even great studies. Here are a few simple to remember tips for improving the clarity and impact of your research writing:

a.       Omit needless words. Edit out "it is" "it was" "there is" "there are" and "there has been" constructions.

b.      Use the active voice.


•"Participants were given self-report questionnaires..." versus "Participants completed self-report questionnaires..."

•"Patients and their legal guardians were approached for consent..." versus "Research staff members approached patients and their legal guardians for consent" or even "Patients and their legal guardians provided consent to participate in the study."

c.       Maintain parallelism throughout the paper.

d.      Do not excessively repeat words and phrases.

e.       Do repeat sounds.

The Video Conference in the Eyes of Participants

A "tremendous success", "one of the best conferences of its kind", "hard to beat", "I have to commend you for the success of the Conference, the choice of site and the high quality of the sessions".

"I found the sessions very well organized and relevant to my work", "I took away some valuable information, advice and new contacts", "the best conference I've attended".

Those are just a few of the comments made by participating journalists on the evaluation form.

The organizers received positive feedback throughout the Conference

-Dr. Hepsibah Sharmil, Social Research Scientist(Event Organizer)