The art of the scientific paper
Extracts from a recent Editorial by MRS Bulletin Editor-in-Chief Gopal R. Rao on the launch of the MRS Bulletin Postdoctoral Publication Prize.
Writing scientific papers is essential for researchers. It is what we do on a day-to-day basis to inform the community of the results of our thinking and our experiments. It is the way we let colleagues in our sub-field know of breakthroughs, new results, and incremental advances. Peer review ensures quality, and the correct journal and editorial processes allow for credibility and value.
Given the importance of disseminating our research, it is remarkable how unprepared most of us are for writing articles as we begin our careers. Most of us as graduate students are offered no formal training in writing, and we depend on our advisor, professors, fellow students, colleagues, and reviewers as we muddle our way through our first paper. For those of us who are not native-English speakers, this task is even more daunting. Eventually, with experience, we get better at it. Some of us have an inherent talent for writing that is reflected in the papers we publish. A few of us become outstanding writers, even if this is confined to scientific papers, and a subset of us move on to popular science writing.
We are scientists and researchers, not professional writers. We don’t have to be brilliant at prose. Our papers don’t need to be literary masterpieces. But there is something to be said about a well-crafted, clearly written paper.
The new MRS Bulletin Postdoctoral Publication Prize
Which brings me to the new MRS Bulletin Postdoctoral Publication Prize. This is a new prize, supported by the Jiang Family Foundation, instituted to recognize a postdoctoral researcher or fellow (defined as at least six months post-PhD, but no more than five years post-PhD) not only for their research achievements and future potential, but also for their interest in scientific writing, communications, and publications. In addition to a cash prize, the award recipient will be offered the opportunity to publish in MRS Bulletin. Both nominations and direct applications are accepted, and the deadline is July 31. We welcome your application if you are a postdoc, or your nominations for your postdocs. Further details are available at www.mrs.org/bulletin-prize.
MRS Bulletin is committed to advancing scientific communication, supporting and encouraging postdoctoral researchers, and providing opportunities for the next generation of scientific communicators. The MRS Bulletin Postdoctoral Publication Prize has been instituted in this spirit.