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For thought is a bird of space, that in a cage of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly.
― Kahlil Gibran

How to write scientific papers: must read books for PhD students

Writing research papers is an essential part of any scientific career, but it can be especially challenging for new PhD students. The process of writing up research findings and presenting them in a clear and concise manner is daunting and requires a great deal of time and effort. It can also be difficult to find the right words to express complex ideas, or to ensure that all necessary information is included in the paper.

It is a good idea to learn scientific writing skills in the early months of your PhD, when the research work and the pressure to publish is still very low. You are expected to devote more time to the coursework, and if you make learning how to write scientific papers a part of your study, within a few months, you will be ready to approach writing with a new skill-set and perspective. Here are the best books that will help you learn how to write papers, proposals and reports in your scientific career.

Note: I have suggested e-books because they can be easily read on the laptop with the kindle reader app, and reading the books does not become an additional chore for those who don't do a lot of recreational reading. The books also have a paperback format.

Why is it hard to write research papers for a new PhD?

A new PhD student is doing course work, learning the ropes of research work, and also possibly adjusting to the new place and norms. While working on their research work, they have to constantly search for new ideas or new aspects of their outcomes, which are worthy of publishing. For the purpose of a paper, a student has to read and analyze existing literature, collect data (from their experiments or modeling work, for example), analyze their own results, develop hypotheses, test their hypotheses against the results they have obtained, again collect data or analyze the results, and then craft a well-written paper that meets all the requirements of the scientific community.

This process can be difficult for those who are just starting out in their research career due to lack of experience in writing scientific papers. They often find it challenging to properly show the novelty of their work, or understand the structure and format of a scientific paper. Moreover, they need to make sure that their paper is accurate and follows all the rules set by journals or conferences. All these factors make it difficult for new researchers to write high-quality research papers.

Further, English is not a native language for most PhD scholars in India. In the current Indian curricula, very few universities provide opportunities for science students to learn how to write good research papers, make impressive research presentations, and draft compelling grant applications. These are soft skills that are essential to a research career. Therefore, many PhD students struggle with writing research papers, which can be cause of stress and even affect their academic progress.

Recommended Books for Learning How to Write Research Papers & Proposals

by Paul J. Silvia

This is a wonderful book that combines practical advice, humor and a realistic approach to create a habit of writing and to learn how to write well, revise papers, and write effective grant proposals. Buy in Paperback Format Here.

by Jari Saramäki

This is an inexpensive but highly effective book that walks you through the process of writing a paper, including the submission and revision processes. A highly useful book. Buy in paperback format here.

by David Lindsay (Author)

In this book, the author explores ways to approach writing that build on the thought process of good scientists. The book explores how you can clarify your objectives and present your results in an effective manner. Practical examples of good and bad writing are presented and there are chapters on writing for non-scientists and on writing grant applications. The books is very useful for new PhD scholars preparing journal articles, posters, conference presentations, theses, etc. It is a must read for researchers whose first language is not English. Buy in paperback here.

4. Recommended Book for Learning How to Cite References

(Kindle Edition - free with Kindle Unlimited)

Other Books

There are a series of books by Grant Andrews, which are inexpensive and include a lot of insightful and practical tips on various aspects of scientific research writing. Some books are:


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