Scientific Writing

Rules of Thumb

  • Use simple sentences
    • Avoid long convoluted phrases that distract from the point
  • Be consistent in your writing style
  • Never say “for various reasons”
    • Tell the reader the reasons!


  • A citation is an annotation for a sentence
    • It is not part of the sentence and should play no grammatical role in the sentence
    • If you remove the citation, the sentence should still be grammatically correct and complete
  • Always check if all citations are complete and consistent
    • Do not just copy-paste Bibtex entries from the web and call it a day. They might be incorrect!


  • Paper Title
    • Should summarize the hypothesis of the paper
    • The reader should be able to work out what the paper is about from the title alone
  • Abstract
    • State the problem, your approach and solution and main contributions of the paper
    • Include little if any background and motivation
    • The content in the abstract should not be repeated later word for word in the paper
    • Most readers will not read beyond the abstract, so be sure to include the key points you want casual readers to take with them
  • Introduction/Motivation
    • Motivate the contribution of the paper and to place it in context
    • Ends with a short summary of the rest of the paper
  • Related Work/Literature Survey/Background
    • This section could be covered in the beginning or at the end
  • Body
    • Theory
    • Specification
    • Implementation
    • Evaluation
  • Further Work
  • Conclusions
    • A short summarizing paragraph
    • Should not repeat material from the Abstract or Introduction
  • Acknowledgments
  • References
  • (Appendix)