1 Introduction

Academic Writing for International Students of Science - Jane Bottomley 2015

1 Introduction

This book is designed to help you, as an international student of science, to develop your command of English language and discourse. It will enable you to produce writing of a high standard, thus helping you to complete written assignments successfully.

You will acquire knowledge, skills and strategies to help you produce writing which is accurate, well-expressed, clear and coherent. You will also reflect on the nature of analysis, argument and critical thinking, all of which give depth to academic writing. In addition, you will learn how to refer to sources effectively, and to employ a range of conventions associated with academic scientific writing.

You will look at the writing process itself, study the mechanics of writing, i.e. grammar and punctuation, and explore the characteristics of academic scientific discourse.

Most example sentences and texts are taken from authentic academic scientific sources, providing you with an opportunity to see how language works in a real-life scientific context. Authentic sources are indicated by references or, in the case of individual sentences or very short texts, by this symbol:


The book adopts a broad view of science which includes the natural sciences, medicine, technology and engineering. Texts have been chosen which are accessible to a general reader. However, it is advised that you use dictionaries and websites to help you with any difficult words, as this will allow you to focus on the nature of the writing rather than individual words.

There are also a number of texts written by students I have worked with at the University of Manchester, all of which demonstrate the improvements they were able to make as they studied some of the things in this book — in conjunction with their own skills and hard work!

There are a large number of practical activities, including:

explorative tasks, which help you to explore language use and discourse in academic scientific writing, guiding you towards noticing important patterns, and developing a clear understanding of the rules or tendencies which govern these patterns;

practice activities, which allow you to consolidate your understanding of rules and patterns and put them into practice;

review tasks, which provide you with an opportunity to revise the points covered in a chapter by producing a short text.

When an answer is provided in the Answer Key, this symbol is used:


Sometimes answers are included within a chapter after the task, like this:


For some tasks, you are required to produce a text. If you are using this book in class, you may be able to get feedback on your text from a teacher. If you are using this book for self-study, the Model Texts will help you see what can be achieved, and provide you with some language and ideas that you can use in the future.

The book includes a number of Study Boxes like this:

Study Box

These provide you with guidance to help you complete the tasks, as well as highlighting key language points and study strategies.

The book works as both a textbook that you can work through chapter by chapter, and as a reference that you can dip into when you want to focus on a particular area, or need a particular piece of information.

The symbol


refers you to related areas in other chapters and in the appendices.

The flag symbol alerts you to key points to note in a particular area of study:


I have developed the activities in this book over a number of years, working closely with many students studying, or preparing to study, in the science departments of the University of Manchester. Many of those students found these activities helpful in their development as writers, and produced some excellent work along the way — some of which features in this book! These students also helped me to improve the materials with their astute comments. It is hoped that we have created materials which you will enjoy using and find useful in your own development as a writer.