Technical writing and scientific writing share many common characteristics, such as clarity, precision, and accuracy. However, there are crucial differences between the two. According to a survey conducted by the Society for Technical Communication, technical writing involves the creation of user manuals, white papers, and other types of documentation that instruct users on how to use a product or technology. The same survey found that 60% of technical writers work in the software industry, while the remaining 40% work in fields such as engineering, healthcare, and finance.
On the other hand, scientific writing is used to present research findings and is commonly found in academic journals. A US National Library of Medicine study found that scientific writing has a very different structure and requires a more formal tone than technical writing. The study also found that scientific writing often includes a literature review, methodology, results, and discussion.
As the late Carl Sagan, an American astronomer, once said, “Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.” This quote highlights the importance of scientific writing in communicating and disseminating new knowledge. In contrast, technical writing is essential for ensuring users can effectively and efficiently utilize products and technologies.
Technical writing is a genre used to explain or instruct how to use a product or technology. It is aimed at non-experts and aims to be clear and concise so anyone can understand it.
Technical writers need to understand the product or technology they are writing about and the audience they are writing for. They must also be able to explain complex concepts in a way that is easy to understand. Technical writing aims to help people use a product or technology effectively and efficiently.
Examples of technical writing include instruction manuals, product specifications, user guides, and technical white papers.
Tips for Effective Technical Writing:
- Use plain language and avoid jargon.
- Use visuals such as images, graphs, and diagrams to illustrate complex concepts.
- Provide practical examples that are relevant to the target audience.
- Organize the content in a logical and easy-to-follow manner.
- Work closely with subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.
- Incorporate storytelling techniques to make the content more engaging.
- Keep the tone conversational and accessible.
Scientific writing is used to present original research findings in a clear and accessible manner to other scientists in the field. It typically includes a detailed description of the research methodology and the results and analysis of the data.
Scientists must have a good understanding of their field of research and the ability to convey complex information clearly and concisely.
Examples of scientific writing include research papers, journal articles, and thesis proposals.
Tips for Effective Scientific Writing:
- Follow the appropriate scientific writing conventions for the target audience.
- Use a clear and concise writing style, avoiding unnecessary jargon or technical terms.
- Provide detailed descriptions of the research methodology, results, and analysis.
- Use visuals such as graphs, tables, or diagrams to illustrate complex data.
- Work closely with editors and reviewers to ensure accuracy and clarity.
- Be clear and precise about your research conclusions and their implications.
- Keep the tone formal and objective.
|Technical Writing||Scientific Writing|
|Description||Technical writing is a type of writing that is used to communicate technical information.
||Scientific writing is a type of writing that is used to communicate scientific information.
|Fields||Technical writers typically work in fields such as engineering, computer science, and medicine.||Scientific writers typically work in fields such as biology, chemistry, and physics.|
|Used in||Technical writing is often used to create manuals, how-to guides, and other types of documentation.||Scientific writing is often used to create research papers, lab reports, and other types of scientific documentation.|
|Purpose||The purpose of technical writing is to communicate technical information in a way that is easy for the reader to understand.
Technical writers must be able to explain complex concepts in simple terms and provide clear instructions on how to use products or perform tasks.
|The purpose of scientific writing is to communicate scientific information in a way that is accurate and accessible to the reader.
Scientific writers must be able to clearly describe their research findings and provide context for why their work is important.
|Typical Reader||The audience for technical writing is typically people who need to use the product or perform the task that is being described in the document.
For example, the audience for a manual on how to use a new software program would be people who need to learn how to use the software program.
|The audience for scientific writing is typically other scientists who are experts in the field.
For example, the audience for a research paper on a new medical treatment would be other scientists who are researching new medical treatments.
|Tone||The tone of technical writing is usually objective and factual.||The tone of scientific writing is usually objective and factual.|
|Structure||Technical documents are typically structured around the information that needs to be communicated, such as instructions or data sheets.||Scientific papers are typically structured around the research question or hypothesis being tested|
|Format||Technical writing is typically formatted using short paragraphs and simple sentence structure.
This makes it easy for readers to understand the information being presented.
|Scientific writing is typically formatted using longer paragraphs and more complex sentence structure.
This allows for more detailed explanations of the research being presented.
So what are the critical differences between technical writing and scientific writing?
Technical writers typically explain how to use a product or technology, while scientists focus on presenting original research findings. As a result, technical writers must be able to explain complex concepts clearly and concisely. At the same time, scientists must be able to convey complex information in a way that is easy to understand.
Technical writing is typically aimed at non-experts, while scientific writing generally aims at other scientists in the field.
Technical writing provides instructions, procedures, and explanations that enable users to understand and use a product or technology. Technical writing can also be used to create documentation, such as user manuals, specifications, and proposals.
The purpose of scientific writing, on the other hand, is to communicate the results of research or experiments to the scientific community. Scientific writing is used to publish research articles, conference papers, and technical reports.
The audience for technical writing is often non-experts who need to understand how to use a product or technology. Technical writing should be written clearly and concisely without using overly technical jargon or scientific terminology.
The audience for scientific writing is typically other scientists in the field who deeply understand the topic. Scientific writing should be formal, using specialized terminology and conventions specific to the field.
Technical writing tends to be more straightforward and direct, focusing on clarity and simplicity. Technical writers use diagrams, illustrations, and examples to help explain complex concepts and procedures.
Scientific writing tends to be more complex and nuanced, focusing on precision and accuracy. Scientific writers use data, charts, and graphs to support their arguments and convey their findings. They also use a more formal writing style, with a greater emphasis on structure and organization.
So which type of writing is right for your product development task?
The type of writing appropriate for a product development task depends on several factors, such as the target audience, purpose, and writing format. Technical documentation is necessary if the goal is to explain how to use a product or technology. On the other hand, scientific papers or journal articles are suitable for presenting original research findings.
When considering the target audience, it’s essential to use appropriate language. If the audience is the general public, clear and concise language is necessary, whereas technical language may be more appropriate for a specialized audience. In addition, the writing format will also determine the type of writing needed, whether it’s a report, blog post, white paper, or presentation.
If you are unsure which type of writing is appropriate for your project, it is advisable to consult with a technical writer or a scientist to get their expert opinion. Ultimately, the right type of writing for your product development task will depend on the specific goals of the project, the audience, and the context in which the writing will be presented.
If you need to communicate complex information, use technical writing.
Technical writing is a type of writing that is designed to communicate complex information to a specific audience. Technical writers use a variety of formats, including manuals, how-to guides, and online documentation, to explain how to use a product or service. Technical writers also often create user manuals and other instructional materials.
If you need to persuade your audience, use persuasive writing.
Persuasive writing is a type of writing that is designed to convince the reader to agree with your point of view. Influential writers use logic and reason to support their arguments and often appeal to emotion. You can use persuasive writing for marketing purposes, such as advertising or sales copy, or for political purposes, such as speeches or editorials.
If you need to inform your audience, use informational writing.
Informational writing is a type of writing that is designed to provide information about a topic. Informational writers use facts and evidence to support their claims and often include references to sources of information. Informational writing can be found in many different places, including books, articles, and websites.
If you need to entertain your audience, use creative writing.
Creative writing is any writing not intended to inform or persuade the reader. Creative writers often use literary devices, such as metaphors and similes, to enhance their work. You can find creative writing in novels, short stories, poems, and plays.
If you need to write for a specific purpose or genre, use genre-specific writing.
Genre-specific writing is any written for a specific purpose or genre. Genre-specific writers often tailor their work to fit the expectations of their audience. For example, business writers may write differently than academic writers because they have different audiences and purposes.