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Writing Up Research

If you have completed some research, it’s important to write up your results for others to read. 

How you write up the information will depend on what you were trying to find out, the audience you are writing for, where it will be published, and the types of data or results you want to show.

button  Before you start

  • Consider your audience: Who do you want to read your work?  Your intended audience will guide where you publish, and the type of writing you will use when you prepare your report. 
  • Decide where and how to publish: If you are writing for an academic audience, you might choose a scholarly journal.  Check with the editorial board about the preferred format for your article.  Other publications, such as magazines or websites, might also have specific formats or word limits you need to meet.  If you are writing for the general public, or for students, you might change the way you structure your report and the language that you use.  Always write your report to suit the audience – what would they like to read?
  • Ask around: Don’t be afraid to ask other researchers in your field about what they are interested in – what aspect of your research do they most want to hear about?  Where have they had success in publishing?

button  While you are writing

  • Have clear questions and a simple structure:  What did you try to find out, and why should the reader be interested?  Are you describing a new methodology, sharing different findings compared to other researchers, or demonstrating something entirely new?  The structure of your report might change according to what you are writing up, but make sure that the question is stated clearly and unambiguously. 
  • Place your work in context:  Refer to previous studies to explain why your question is important and significant for the reader. Don’t include every source you have read, but do group together common findings or arguments from other research to support your argument. Don’t be afraid to be critical – why is your research different?
  • The Online Access to Research in the Environment website (OARE) has a wealth of free resources for researchers from developing countries (see useful links).
  • Finding data: Make the most of free data sets, such as:
  • Keep the story going: Once you have stated your question and set it in context, think about how to present the data and your analysis/findings so that the reader is carried along.  Take some time to think about the “big picture” and don’t get too bogged down in the details. 
  • Consider illustrations: Pictures help to tell a story and stick in readers’ minds, especially if you are discussing an environment or culture that is unfamiliar to them. 
  • Get feedback: Pass a draft of your report or article on to a trusted colleague for their advice before you submit it for publication.

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