The point of writing a scientific paper is to communicate the findings and significance of your research. Always envision yourself writing to a reader who (a) isn't familiar with your study area, samples, or methods, (b) may be (and as a scientist should be) skeptical of the claims you are making, and (c) probably has more pressing things to do with their time and so will skip your article unless you persuade him or her of its clarity and significance. No one will be obligated to read your paper, so you have to persuade them to start reading, and you have to write clearly enough that they keep reading.
(W2) The Introduction.
The purpose of the introduction is to tell the reader what the paper is about and, more importantly, to justify to the reader why the paper is significant. If a "previous work" ...view middle of the document...
This sentence may end with a clause that begins "in order to . . ." or "as a contribution to . . .", so that you also tell the reader what your goal is with respect to refining or increasing scientific knowledge. Such a sentence can, from the reader's perspective, be one of the most important in the whole paper, because the reader then knows what to expect as she or he proceeds. It may be an important sentence for the writer as well, because you're forced to decide what the focus of your paper really will be, and you may realize that you're covering either too many things or not enough things, or not using those things to help refine or increase scientific knowledge.
(W3) Geologic Setting.
Geologists love to wax poetic about the geologic context of their work. Often such a context is vital to understanding the paper. However, this section of a paper, if present, should not include every detail known about the region or rock unit. It should tell, and should only tell, the information needed to put the results and discussion in context.
This section of a paper is always boring but almost always necessary. We've all read papers where we've wondered "where did they get this data?" or "what exactly do the data, at the most basic level, mean?". This section should answer those questions. It should not tell what kinds of plots were made, because readers will see that easily enough when they look at the figures.
This is one of the hardest sections for students to write well. Two rules to remember are (1) Be sure to tell what the results are, but (2) Don't interpret the results, or at least make clear where you make an interpretation. For the first, don't tell the reader how you plotted the data, and don't tell the sequence of ways you tried to understand or portray the data. Instead, let the data do the talking, and in fact it's easiest to let the pieces of data be the subjects of sentences.
Consider the following example: