The Block Method: Writing Scientific Papers Without Tears

One of the hardest, and effort-consuming parts of doing science is writing papers. Why is that? In part, because it genuinely does take effort to think through the arguments and lay out your work in a clear and logical way.

But in other large part, it is because of how the system is set up and what expectations (format) it generated for a scientific paper. The problem is, it became a long essay that simultaneously caters to audiences with vastly different expertise and interests. In your field, out of field, general audience, novices and experts, professors and students, etc.

I came up with a way to streamline this process and the idea is simple and intuitive – write in very short blocks of text, without worrying about the rest. Also, don’t think of it as a linear text, an essay. It is really just a collection of blocks that you can toss around, skip – or add, as you go. Rest assured, most readers do the same – they skip large parts of your paper and look for specific information only!

The Working paper can be found here:

I have been working on this for a while, and got it to the stage of a working paper, which I think is useful for students and anyone who is writing research papers. The working paper stage is also where I can solicit feedback, expand the initial library of blocks etc.

I may eventually publish it in a more traditional sense, but really – I hope it is already useful! In my group we have been using it for a year. And while writing (and finishing) papers is still hard, I think this method brings order to the chaos of this process and helps move things along. As you only need to write 1-2 blocks per day to finish the whole draft in 1-2 weeks!