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In order to be able to write scientifically, the writer must understand and follow the rules of scientific research and, that way, scientific ways of expression. This is referred to as becoming socialized into academic practices. 

The ways of expression of the scientific community

Mastering the appropriate ways of expression and the common lingo is a signal of belonging to a group and a way to distinguish oneself from other groups. On the other hand, being familiar with the terminology of one's own field is necessary in order to engage in scientific discourse, because these terms have clear meanings defined in the relevant theory. One becomes socialized into the scientific language and ways of expression by taking part in the activities of the community, reading and writing texts and discussing them. The researcher is expected to be familiar with the professional language of his/her field and discipline. Some of the ways of expression will come to the researcher gradually through experience. The researcher must learn the established ways to write and talk about science, how claims are formulated so that they are scientifically relevant, what are the practices of scientific discourse and how criticism is presented, as well as how situation and context affects the choice of words.

Different disciplines and different methodological orientations define the characteristics of scientific texts in different ways. There are also cultural differences to scientific texts, and these can be seen in international publications.

Conventions of scientific text

In scientific text, it is customary to present the matter in a specific order (introduction, theoretical background, material, results, discussion, references). There are established conventions regarding how to refer to other studies, how concepts are defined, how to move from one issue to the next and how the author should refer to himself. These conventions are learned gradually by reading scientific texts and by communicating with one's own scientific interest group.

Different disciplines have their own, very specifically defined referencing methods. One can make an argument in the text only in one of the following three ways: a) The information is so-called textbook infromation in the field, in which case there is no need for a reference. The following example is from general linguistics: "There are four tenses in the Finnish language." b) The argument is based on evidence presented in another scientific text. In this case, a reference must be made to the text in question. If the original publication is not easily available, it is possible to refer to secondary sources as well, but in that case it must be made clear what kind of a text is referred to. c) The matter is being studied in that particular text, and the argument deals with the results gained in this study. Depending on the discipline, the observation can also be concretized by adding a figure or a table.

The structure of the text and the expectations concerning them are culture-specific as well. Different fields and linguistic communities have different views regarding the most natural ways of writing scientific text and how the text and the argumentation therein should proceed in order to appear logical.

These conventions serve a purpose: they make the text easy and quick to read, when one has at least some sort of an idea as to what to expect. Knowing the conventions makes the author's task easier as well. They are guidelines and a basis for planning the text. Thus the conventions make the interaction within the community easier, which facilitates the development of science.


Kananen, K.-M., Mikkola, O., Niskanen, K. & Sarajärvi, N. (2008). Tieteellinen viestintä. Oppimateriaali Akateemiset opiskelutaidot -kurssilla. Saatavissa: http://www.oulu.fi/verkostovatti/materia/AOTTieteellinen%20viestint%E4.pdf .
Luukka, M.-R. (2002). Mikä tekee tekstistä tieteellisen. Teoksessa Tieteellinen kirjoittaminen (toim. Kinnunen, M. & Löytty, O.). Tampere: Vastapaino.