Why Write a Scientific Argument?

A scientific argument must persuade the reader that the evidence presented and the data cited are strong enough to support a theory, model, or proposed action. To "win" the argument, writers must make it easy for readers to understand their main points and the data that support them. Therefore, writing a scientific argument (also known as a scientific paper) can be thought of as a process for learning rather than a way of documenting what has been learned.

In producing a scientific paper, writers develop their own understanding of several interrelated concepts, write and refine precise descriptions of materials and processes that are involved, decide which material is irrelevant and should be left out, choose or develop figures that convey meaning most clearly and annotate them effectively, and build a body of evidence from which a solid conclusion follows. The ability to tap into rich sources of data, yet constrain the range of information ultimately used in making the argument is another skill that scientific writers develop. By laying out thought processes in an organized manner and producing a paper that follows the style and structure of established journals in the field, writers gain critical-thinking skills, develop communication skills, and generate a product that compares with those presented by practicing scientists.