Writing a Research Paper: 2nd Edition


A strategic and practical guide from the experts

Publishing your research is the path to success for academic researchers. It gains you a place in the scientific literature, opening doors to building collaborations and advancing your career.

Science is everything

Without question, the most important aspect of your research is the science itself, and you will only catch an editor’s attention if the science is good. However, the way a paper is written is also crucial. With vast numbers of papers competing for editors’ attention, it pays to ensure your work is as easy to understand and remember as possible.

Write well to gain visibility

“Writing science is telling stories about nature, so the papers we write need to have a compelling structure. Telling good stories so our peers read, use and cite them is what will have real impact in our fields.”
Joshua Schimel, Professor, Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, University of California

Writing a research paper is notoriously hard. Distilling everything you have discovered into a manuscript which conveys your work accurately and effectively is a daunting prospect. But there are ways of learning this important skill which make the process easier. New from Nature Masterclasses, Writing a Research Paper: 2nd Edition is a refined and enhanced version of their flagship 2015 course, building on its successes and providing more in-depth and practical support.. Completely revised and updated with fresh insights and strategies, this new course offers users an improved learning experience with a hands-on approach, demonstrating the process effectively, step by step.

Drawing on the top-level experience and expertise of Nature editors, Writing a Research Paper: 2nd Edition provides invaluable insights and guidance from those at the pinnacle of the editorial decision-making process on how they see an effective paper.

"Writing up your research is just as important as doing it in the first place – it’s part and parcel of your research. If you remember that, then all the care and due diligence that you apply to the research itself will automatically apply to your writing.” Magdalena Skipper, Editor in Chief, Nature and Chief Editorial Advisor, Nature Portfolio

Key priorities and challenges

The challenges involved in writing a paper are many and varied. Before putting together this new course, Nature Portfolio undertook research to establish what was of most concern to researchers, in order to provide the best support. Results showed that:

  • almost all (n = 516) researchers (98%) considered the skills required to write a research paper important, with 61% confirming this could be challenging task.
  • 86% of researchers (n = 328) stated that identifying the novelty of their research and results was their top or high priority.
  • course purchasers’ (n = 182) top/high priority was writing in a concise and convincing way (92%).
  • the main challenge for both researchers and for course purchasers (n = 510) was developing the main storyline and key conclusions (75%).

Practical and hands-on 

Writing a Research Paper: 2nd Edition starts by defining an effective research paper as one that is informative, concise, well-structured and engaging. This definition forms a robust framework for the course, which outlines two broad strategies for success - narrative tools and principles of scientific writing style.

The course takes researchers on a journey through all the sections in a paper, explaining at every stage how to apply these strategies to key problems. Real-life examples from published papers as well as extensive worked examples of fictive researchers along the way demonstrate how researchers might best implement the advice given. 

Give your career a boost

"If your paper is so well written that even the general public find it easy to understand, then it’s more likely to be picked up by journalists who might spread the word in the public sphere as well.” Anna Ploszajski, Freelance materials scientist and storyteller

Whether you’re starting out or wish to refine your skills to make your work stand out, this highly practical course will equip you with the right tools to write an effective research paper and give your work the visibility it deserves. You will discover:

  • what makes an effective research paper
  • the usual format of a research paper, and the preferred structure of a Nature published paper
  • the narrative tools you can apply to your research paper, to communicate your findings effectively
  • the unwritten rules and principles of scientific writing style
  • strategies that successful researchers use when writing their papers
  • insights into what journal editors look for in an effective paper.

Drawing on expert advice

Writing a Research Paper: 2nd Edition was developed in collaboration with a panel of leading editors and researchers, drawing on their top-class experience:

  • Davide Esposito, Chief Editor, Nature Catalysis 
  • Peter Gorsuch, Linguistic Design Manager, Springer Nature
  • Joshua Schimel, Professor of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara 
  • Sadaf Shadan, Biological Sciences Team Manager and Senior Editor, Nature

Videos and examples featuring additional expert contributors offer further insights and advice:

  • Zoë Doubleday, ARC Future Fellow, University of South Australia 
  • Tamara Goldin, Chief Editor, Nature Geoscience 
  • Anna Ploszajski, Freelance materials scientist and storyteller
  • Malena Rice, Assistant Professor, Department of Astronomy, Yale University Dr Lu Shi, Senior Editor, Nature Nanotechnology 
  • Magdalena Skipper, Chief Editor, Nature and Chief Editorial Advisor, Nature Portfolio 
  • Alexia-Ileana Zaromytidou, Chief Editor, Nature Cancer
  • Xiaodong Zou, Professor, Department of Materials and Environmental Chemistry, Stockholm UniversityFlexible learning

Writing a Research Paper: 2nd Edition consists of five modules split into bite-sized lessons for self-paced learning. On-demand access allows users to dip in and out to suit their learning needs, with the flexibility to manage their study around their busy work schedules. 

This gives participants total control over their learning environment, enabling them to add crucial skills without disrupting or slowing down their day-to-day work.

Supporting researchers throughout the research life cycle

Writing a Research Paper: 2nd Edition equips researchers with the crucial skills to communicate their work effectively and maximise their chances of publication success. Further useful companion courses include Research Integrity: Publication Ethics and Publishing a Research Paper.

Investing in skills and training from Nature Masterclasses ensures researchers’ work gains the attention it deserves, attaining maximum impact in today’s crowded research environment.

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