I adapted these workshop notes
from my article on scientific writing at
this site. I presented them at the annual conference of Sport Science NZ in
Hamilton NZ, October 1999.
- Describe what you
hope to achieve.
- Usually the
effect of X on Y or the relationship between X and Y
- Do not
"determine whether there is an effect", because there is always
- Explain all the
uses of the work.
- State that it
hasn't been done before anywhere and/or on athletes/people in your
- Mention potential
- State any unique local
expertise, resources, or opportunities you will use.
- Keep it focussed.
- Cite papers by
- Describe and
justify the design. It must be the best possible under the
- Show a design figure
or time line.
- State and justify
your sample size.
- Use confidence
limits to justify it.
- If your sample
has to be suboptimal, remind reviewers the findings are still
- Be specific about
what you will measure to determine what outcome.
- Describe or
reference techniques and tests.
- Demonstrate that
you understand the practical issues.
- Keep the size of
the project manageable.
- Measure a few
variables well, rather than many poorly.
- Include an account
of any pilot work.
- Be pessimistic about
- Account for every
- Check on the
availability and cost of existing resources.
- Check on the
delivery time of purchases.
- Rewrite it to
enhance its relevance to the proposal.
- Your main aim is
to make it easy for the reader to understand your ideas.
- Be obsessional
about following the instructions.
- Impress reviewers
with your ability to obey sensible rules.
- Justify any rule
- Search the
literature on the topic(s) in the document.
- SportDiscus is
better than Medline for research on sport and exercise.
- The Summary
or Abstract is the most important part of the document.
- Write it first,
then rewrite it as you complete the rest of the document.
- Include as much
information as possible by using the maximum space or number of words
- Never state
"the results will be discussed" or similar.
- Include no
references, draw no figures, and show no tables.
- Avoid these common
- Ambiguous antecedant
- Non-human agent
- Example of all
four errors: Based on this, the results may suggest...
errors (especially in it's and plural's)
- spelling errors
- technical terms
- clichés, such as
the results showed that...
- passive voice:
e.g. It has been identified that...
- wasted words
- wrong words,
especially affect and effect
- paragraphs with
more than one main idea.
- Check that all
material is in its most appropriate section.
- Keep to the
- Be specific.
- Avoid unlinked
- Make a logical
sequence of ideas within and between paragraphs.
- List headings,
subheadings, and topics within each section before you begin.
- Be concerned with magnitudes
of effects and the precision of the estimates of magnitude.
- Avoid all mention
of testing whether effects are present or absent.
- Use confidence
limits to justify sample sizes and to report finished work.
- Never show test
statistics (t, F, c 2).
- Show data with
the appropriate number of digits.
alternative explanations of findings.
unreferenced assertions with apparently, may, I/we believe that…
- Get a critical
colleague to give you honest feedback on a draft version.
- Read one of the
photocopies of the final document before you send the package off.
Correct the Errors...
- The subjects
(n=34, age 23.45 ± 2 yrs, weight 72 ± 6.2 kg) were recruited from local
- This suggests the
rate of change in heart rate response may be important.
- The size of the
responses depend on the size of the change in heart rate and also the
- This study looked
at the effect changes of pressure had on heart rate.
- The results showed
that there was no correlation between performance and skinfold
thickness (r=0.234, p>0.05).
- CONCLUSION: Based
on this data, it is concluded that performance is not effected by the
webmastered by Will Hopkins.
Published December 1999.