The main aim of writing papers is to argue out an opinion or report about a certain matter. Scientific papers, especially research papers are different because they provide new findings in a hitherto unknown subject. It is because of this nature that they require special structural and linguistic formulas which will enable them to present the new information in a clear and concise manner. An analysis of the article "Academic work, the Internet and U.S. college students" by Jones et al published in Internet and Higher Education shows how structural and linguistic structures contribute to the clear presentation of new information objectively. This aspect is important as these papers serve as a method of communication between scientists and there is need for proper structures to facilitate this communication.
This article begins by providing background information on the topic that the research paper is based on. The authors use previous research findings on the same topic of “internet use by students and its impact” to put their work into perspective. This shows the objective nature of scientific research as it is not based on mere opinions and casual observations but on properly researched data. This is a stark contrast to papers on other subjects such as humanities which begin with a creatively composed ‘hook’ that is not based on any credible findings.
The purpose of the paper is mentioned early in the paper just after being introduced by the background information. This article is keen on finding out if the results of a report released in 2000 still apply and the changes that have occurred, if any. This information is provided so as to capture the attention of the readers who are interested in that particular subject the research itself and the findings then go ahead to prove if the hypothesis is correct or not. This is a common practice in the scientific field as previous researches can be redone or be re-evaluated in the light of new circumstances. It is perhaps this practice that has led to the development of structural and linguistic formulas in the scientific field. The specific research questions that the research paper aims to answer are also provided in a bid to enhance understanding and clarity.
The next section is the literature review section which seeks to outline all the research work pertaining to the field that has been done and fit it into the current hypothesis that is being examined. The authors have reviewed both the work that may support their hypothesis and also those that may discredit. This is an important aspect as scientific papers must remain objective because scientific information is dynamic and keeps changing with time. Since this paper has several research questions the literature review has been presented in a topical manner according to each question to ensure clarity, easy reading and proper classification of information. The literature review provides background information on all the research questions and is concluded by an affirmation that the research questions are indeed relevant in that particular field.
The next section deals with the methodologies that are used in the research. Here the samples that were used are discussed at length since they are the key to whether a research is accurate or not. The samples have to be representative of the entire population not only in terms of numbers but also in terms of other demographic factors such as age, urbanization and even race. This ensures uniformity among all researches, accuracy and clarity. In the case of Jones et al they used university students as the sample population; their number, type of institution and age were compared to the national database to ensure that they were a representative sample.(Pages168&169) The problems associated with the sample such as race and the margin of error expected are mentioned clearly to ensure transparency. The research method used was interviewing and the authors have attached the questionnaire used during the survey. This is also a common practice in the scientific field as it provides all the necessary for a peer review or another study based on that particular paper.
The results and discussions section is where the findings of the research are outlined after analysis of the data which includes the provision of examples. Hypotheses can only be proved or disproved after the data is analyzed and specific examples which contain data such as percentages of responses; a hypothesis is proved when the data collected affirms the hypothesis. Jones et al found that their research proved all the hypotheses they had presented. This information is organized in the format of giving examples then affirmations.
This is practice ensures that all the affirmations are from the data collected and analyzed as presented in the examples and not from any other sources. As mentioned before scientific research is based on findings from credible research methods which are properly interpreted and presented in the form of examples that lead to affirmations. The finding are also arranged topically so as to avoid confusion and provide material for other scientists who in the future may want to focus on some specific area of the study.
The paper ends with a conclusion that restates the purpose of the paper while pointing out the areas where the results obtained were inconclusive and required further research such as the decline of email satisfaction among students when overall perception about the internet improved ( Page 171) areas of possible future research are also suggested.
Even with all the structural requirements met a scientific paper will not be complete without being written using the recommended linguistic requirements. These include simple and clear language that is devoid of commonly used phrases. The aim of these papers is to convey information in a neutral and objective way.
Though the language used in the article is simple and clear, the specific terms used especially when referring to certain aspects of the research process such as ethnographic data and methods are not defined because the target audience for this paper is other scientists who are conversant with these terms as they also do their own research. Definitions also distract the reader from the main points of the paper and are therefore avoided.
The paper is delivered in a simple and clear manner. The sentences are mostly simple and complex sentences to present their data as they are easy to understand and are not as complicated as compound sentences. Phrases such as ‘point to’, ‘can be inferred’ and ‘suggest that’ are used in complex sentences as subordinators that provide more information about a particular topic. This helps in maintaining the simplicity, clarity and subjectivity that is necessary in scientific writing. Each paragraph starts with topic sentences that provide background information that is affirmed throughout the paragraph. (Page 165)
As is with any other scientific paper, Jones et al have based their paper on previously done research. The paper however mostly paraphrases information from secondary sources and only uses direct quotations when it is not possible to paraphrase the information without changing its meaning (Pages 165&167). This is because their paper is about how previous research relates to their findings and not about the secondary sources. This is again in accordance with the rules of simplicity and clarity that apply to scientific papers.
The language use is neutral and hypothetical as scientific papers should be objective and that there are really no facts as such as science keeps evolving. Neutral verbs such as ‘points to’ and ‘show that’ are used in the article to explain results of surveys carried out and to prove or disprove inferences while maintaining objectiveness and neutrality.
The article "Academic work, the Internet and U.S. college students" provides important insights on the use of structural and linguistic formats in scientific writing and the purpose that they serve. The importance of chronological arrangement of information and the effect it has on the simplicity and clarity of the research paper is also highlighted. The use of clear, simple and concise language in the paper ensures that the information presented is clearly understood by all. This article shows the importance and benefits of structural and linguistic formulae in presenting scientific information as it is simple, easy to understand, objective and clear.