Skills Earth Sciences


It is essential to consider the reader of your scientific text prior to writing and to tailor your text accordingly, as scientific texts can be written for many different audiences with different levels of expertise on the subject6. Potential audiences include (from least to most specialized): the general public, customers or clients, fellow students, general scientists, e.g., staff members of other research groups, experts in your field of research, e.g., thesis supervisors, or sometimes a combination of the above4, 6. These audiences need to be targeted differently by providing varying levels of background knowledge4 or by adapting the language and tone you use6, 12. Writing for a mixed audience can therefore be challenging, since you may not be able to target your complete audience with one text2.

Most of the time when you are scientifically writing your audience will consist of specialists, general scientists, and/or other students6. Often, you will be writing for a specific course assignment where the audience consists of an academic assessor who might be a general scientist or a specialist in the field, as well as your peers. The assignment itself may further specify your target audience4. If possible, try to get hold of the (peer) assessment sheet or rubric, this may help you target your audience even better. The rubric used to assess Earth Science master theses at Utrecht University is accessible through Blackboard.

To determine your target audience and how to align your text accordingly, you can ask yourself what your audience already knows, what knowledge they need to understand your message4, and what questions or doubts they may already have about your research subject12. Answering these questions for yourself ahead of time will help you keep their attention and convey your message successfully.