Ninth Edition CoverGraziano & Raulin
Research Methods (9th edition)

Writing Style

Good writing is important whether you are writing a journal article or an email to a friend. It is one of the most difficult things to teach, and it can be learned only through practice. However, there are different kinds of writing. Writing a journal article requires technical writing. Precision, conciseness, and organization are important in technical writing. Flowery adjectives and a poetic style are best left to the creative writer.

The primary purpose of writing a research report is communication, and anything that obscures communication should be avoided. Pronouns should be used sparingly and should never be ambiguous. Abbreviations should also be used sparingly and should always be explained to the reader. Using active voice and simple sentence structure can help a writer avoid numerous communication pitfalls. Traditionally, the research report is written in the past tense and primarily in the third person (e.g., "The experimenter assigned each participant. . . ."), although there is a current trend to use more first person in research reports. 

A good way to improve a research report is to have someone who was not involved in the research review the report. Anything that is unclear to this reviewer will probably also be unclear to other readers. Writing manuals such as Strunk, White, and Angell's (2005) Elements of Style or Zinsser's (2006) On Writing Well are a valuable resources for any writer. We have included a brief list of the most common writing problems and how to correct them.

Although some researchers find the writing phase to be challenging and rewarding, for many researchers writing a research report is a demanding task. It is made somewhat easier if the research is carefully planned and well organized. For all researchers, however, telling people about something that they discovered can be truly exciting.