Why Writing Works

Disciplinary Approaches to Composing Texts

Writing in Exercise Science

by Dr. Jeffrey Bell

In science disciplines, writing is the conduit for disseminating results of experiments performed using the scientific method. It is also the means by which complex information is translated in a way that is useful to practitioners in the health and fitness fields. In order to be an effective science student, that person must be a competent writer.

Most of the writing in exercise science is considered scholarly writing with the sub-types of original research and research review summaries being important to the field. Other types of writing would be found in trade publications and websites that would be informative writing with a practitioner or lay audience in mind.

The historically important research manuscript is still important and prevalent today. This is the only method for disseminating information that has been peer-reviewed to insure quality, data integrity, and reduce bias. These findings and reports are published in journals. Magazine articles which have been edited, but not peer-reviewed, have also been common sources of written material but have been written for non-scientific but specific audiences (e.g. Runner’s World Magazine). Today, electronic publications are emerging but they should be viewed with caution as they are difficult to vet for quality by students.

Writing in the classroom

Students complete lab reports, write essays, complete movement analysis papers, fitness assessments, and develop training programs for clients. Many of these are similar to reports that would be performed for clients in fitness and wellness programs. For students seeking to continue studies in graduate or professional schools, the lab reports and essays will be useful experiences to prepare for those academic programs.

Sources should be from peer-reviewed journals. Lay sources should provide citations from peer-reviewed journals and not simply cite other lay sources.

Tips for writing well in Exercise Science

Exercise science follows the same conventions in writing that are acceptable in scientific writing in general. The following list of important qualities and primary markers exhibited in scientific writing below has been adapted from Leicester University’s academic support website. (

  • Clarity- no unnecessary details
  • Simplicity- limit technical jargon, uses direct language, avoids vague and complicated sentences
  • Impartiality- does not use unproven statements or make assumptions
  • Logically structured- ideas are presented in a logical order and should follow conventional structure with appropriate headings
  • Accuracy- avoids vague and ambiguous language
  • Objectivity- provides appropriate and specific evidence

Generally, scientific writing is succinct. It provides a substantial amount of information in as few words as possible to accurately present the information. Students sometimes struggle to move from creative writing tricks that were taught in secondary classes towards the more dry, matter of fact, writing style that permeates scientific journals. For example, if I gave a writing assignment about obesity the paper would be better served to begin with, “Obesity directly or indirectly causes cardiovascular and metabolic disease" than “Can you imagine a world where people weren’t fat?” The former example gets straight to the point. 


Exercise Science: Disciplinary Perspective

Reading in Exercise Science

Research in Exercise Science

Documentation in Exercise Science