Writing Scientific Categories

If your topic involves interpreting a scientific development or process to a non-specialist audience, simplify and analyze the topic in your own mind by brainstorming as many statements as possible under these categories:

  • Existence: How can the existence of X be shown?
  • Quantity: How large/small is X? How fast?
  • Comparison: Is X greater/less than Y? In what ways is X different from Y?
  • Correlation: Does the speed of X vary with its weight?
  • Causality: If X occurs, will Y also occur? How do we know?

Generating Content

After analyzing your audience and determining the purpose and format of your document, it is time to think about the content. This is where researching and thinking come in. Depending on the audience and purpose, different types of research would be relevant. For example, you may decide that interviewing would supply you with essential facts; or you may decide that doing a historical research on a topic would be more suitable; or perhaps a combination of methods would help (more on research in the next chapter). Collecting facts, however, is not sufficient. You need to think about the significance of these facts and to interpret them. This is where your skills of analyzing ideas (tracing their constituent elements) and synthesizing them (evaluating their significance in a given context) come in. The process of generating ideas tests your capacity for critical and creative thinking: your ability to imagine all possible aspects or factors of a problem. Analytical thinkers do not simply arrive at the most obvious solution to a question; they test out a range of possible answers and keep an open mind. As happens with chaos theory, sometimes information that initially seemed irrelevant proves to be the key. To be able to trace analogies between seemingly disparate topics and to suggest innovative solutions are skills highly sought in corporate environments. In fact, at the cutting edge of many industries and business endeavors, you will find individuals who are not only highly motivated and organized, but also creative and versatile in their thinking. After analyzing your audience and determining the purpose and format of your document, it is time to think about the content. This is where researching and thinking come in. Depending on the audience and purpose, different types of research would be relevant. For example, you may decide that interviewing would supply you with essential facts; or you may decide that doing a historical research on a topic would be more suitable; or perhaps a combination of methods would help (more on research in the next chapter). Collecting facts, however, is not sufficient. You need to think about the significance of these facts and to interpret them. This is where your skills of analyzing ideas (tracing their constituent elements) and synthesizing them (evaluating their significance in a given context) come in. The process of generating ideas tests your capacity for critical and creative thinking: your ability to imagine all possible aspects or factors of a problem. Analytical thinkers do not simply arrive at the most obvious solution to a question; they test out a range of possible answers and keep an open mind. As appens with chaos theory, sometimes information that initially seemed irrelevant proves to be the key. To be able to trace analogies between seemingly disparate topics and to suggest innovative solutions are skills highly sought in corporate environments. In fact, at the cutting edge of many industries and business endeavors, you will find individuals who are not only highly motivated and organized, but also creative and versatile in their thinking.