Writing Tips

The level of writing in the field of Genetics is much higher than in traditional areas of Computer Science. Most successful geneticists are great writers. Papers published in high impact journals are almost always written very well. Thus, the quality of the writing of a paper has a large impact on whether the paper is accepted or rejected. Since most of our group has a background in Computer Science, one of the most difficult adjustments to moving into the field of genetics is writing. This is particularly challenging for students whose native language is not english.

Despite these challenges, many of the students in our group became excellent writers over the course of their Ph.D. This process is helped significantly because the qualifying exams for both the Computer Science Ph.D. program and the Bioinformatics Ph.D. program at UCLA require students to write a single authored paper which is reviewed by a panel of faculty who are not their advisor.

The goal of this series of posts is to specific advice which we found helpful for writing methodologically oriented papers in Bioinformatics. The writing tips are a set of recipes or “how tos” which are straightforward to follow and can improve your writing.

Our main emphasis is that good writing is more than style and grammar.  In my opinion, having the right structure is the most important aspect of writing.  If you have the right structure, it is easy for a co-author (or even editor) to fix your grammar and style mistakes.

A few disclaimers:

      1. I am not a good writer!  In fact, twice by reviewers, I was asked to have my papers read by a native speaker before resubmitting.  And yes, I lived in the US since I was 5 so I have no excuse.  In some ways, this series of posts is the blind leading the blind.  If you read our papers and think you can write better, then this series is not for you.
      2. What is advocated is one style, but there are many other successful styles of writing.

Let us know if you find this useful and please post any comments regarding your thoughts.
A full list of the posts in this series is below.
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