Writing is important, inevitable and can be quite difficult. Funding and publications in academia rely on peer review, which means you need to learn how to express your ideas precisely, clearly and persuasively.

Many students believe the kind of writing they may have succeeded with during college will carry on into scientific writing. In fact, academic writing has its own styles and conventions. The first few papers you write, you will probably work very closely with your advisor. It can be difficult to receive feedback on a draft, only to see your advisor made comments or changes on almost every sentence! This does not mean you didn’t do a good job. Do not take this personally. It’s not uncommon for me to question and ask for clarification on every word choice in a first draft. It is not extraordinary for a paper to go through several revisions before it is ready to be submitted for peer review, even with experienced writers. Remember, your advisor has been writing articles in this field for years. Try to view the feedback you receive on your drafts as learning opportunities. (Of course, this does not mean you cannot disagree with your co-authors).

At the same time, you can try and improve a paper endlessly. At some point, you must stop and send it out for peer review. Don’t worry, you will have a chance to improve it further; the reviewers will almost certainly ask for revisions. Your advisor and co-authors should help you find the balance between perfectionism and getting things done.

The most consistent advice you find about writing is to do it regularly. Students often try to block out large chunks of time – hours, or even days dedicated to writing. While you should definitely schedule writing time (and protect it), unfortunately, waiting for the perfect opportunity/time/location for writing can easily lead to procrastination. Consider writing 20 minutes a day. It may seem too little but it all adds up.

See also:  (Business) Papers, Funding, Lab Policies, Lab Notebooks, Research Integrity and Ethics.

The Elements of Style, by Strunk & White (Online Book)
How to Write a Lot, by Paul Silvia (Book)
Technical Writing and Professional Communication for Non-Native Speakers, by Thomas N. Huckin, Leslie A. Olsen (Book)
On Writing, by Stephen King (Book)
Purdue Online Writing Lab

A Matter of Style
Finite Space
Writing with Your Advisor
Active vs. Passive Voice