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Do you think it's good to write basic history of the topic you're writing on?

  1. Apr 9, 2006 #1

    Many of you have written scientific papers and here's my question: Do you think it is good to write some history about the topic you're writing on? For example, let's say I'm writing a paper on gravitational force and I added in intro a little history of brilliant discovery by Newton and later works by Einstein, my teacher crossed out all the introduction and said "We don't need that" isn't it good to give out the glory to discoverers?

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 9, 2006 #2


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    I'd say it's not necessary at all. The reader should already know.
  4. Apr 9, 2006 #3


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    Depending on the topic, some background is useful. But usually keep it short.

    In a research paper, one should use background that is relevant to the topic of the paper.

    In the case of Newtown or Einstein, rather than talk about the "brilliance", one should discuss the methods of observation and development of the theory.

    Perhaps you could post the deleted part.

    Jason has a good point, especially if the audience or reader is already familiar with the subject.
  5. Apr 9, 2006 #4


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    I agree with the others. Only the most relevant works should be cited, and it should focus on the observations they made, not who made them (other than in the citation itself). Concise introductions are important in scientific writing; nobody wants to read an entire history of science before getting to the meat of the subject. Of course the exception is if you're writing a review of the literature from a historical perspective.
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