Introduction

In the reporting of research findings and the outcomes of conservation interventions, the written word—in particular the peer-reviewed literature—remains pre-eminent. But whether you are writing a blog, report, book or article for a peer-reviewed journal, the challenge of writing is similar: to communicate your ideas and findings in a way that is both informative and interesting.

This guide strives to support you in this endeavour by providing guidance, both general and specific, to help you tell your story in the structured manner and style required for scientific communication—to help you fulfill your communication aspirations. Amongst the excellent reasons for communicating your ideas, research findings and the outcomes of your conservation endeavours, we can list:

  • Communicating your research, findings and interpretation
  • Contributing to scholarship and the body of scientific literature
  • Fulfilling the conditions of funding
  • Helping to secure further funding
  • Sharing your knowledge and ideas
  • Supporting your professional development

Amongst the less obvious, perhaps under-appreciated, reasons for writing, we can list:

  • Improving your writing skills
  • Subjecting your research to the peer review of your contemporaries
  • Validating and improving your work

But no matter why you are writing, this guide aims to provide you with support, help and encouragement along the way.

Locations where tree seeds were collected in fragments of the Araucaria moist forest in southern Brazil, and the original extent of this forest type (a modified version of Figure 1 in @hoffmannIdentifyingTargetSpecies2015).Figure 1: Locations where tree seeds were collected in fragments of the Araucaria moist forest in southern Brazil, and the original extent of this forest type (a modified version of Figure 1 in Hoffmann et al. (2015)).

The general guidance—for improving your writing, presenting your data, managing your references, and promoting your writing—will be of help no matter which format you are writing for. More specific guidance is provided for structuring and checking your writing for a peer-reviewed journal, but much of this is also applicable to writing for other formats.

The use of maps and other figures to present data, findings and related information—to support the telling of the story—is an integral part of scientific writing. A well designed illustration presents information in a way that text cannot but many authors struggle to prepare publication-quality graphics that do justice to their research and conservation work. Introduction to graphics introduces software tools to help you improve your graphics (e.g. Figure 1), and Map with a message and Plot with a purpose provide specific instructions and tutorials to help you use maps and data plots, respectively, to communicate your message or purpose clearly.

There has never been a better time to communicate your conservation research and practice, whether nationally or internationally—researchers are eager to learn and communicate across borders. There is little value in hiding your work away, and potentially much value in communicating it appropriately, and perhaps even opening it up.1 See Center for Open Science, for example.

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