Miguel Panao | Professor and Author

Finding ways to improve scientific writing and academic productivity.

Do you want a free scientific writing tool that counts?

It’s almost a crime if you don’t share with the world the knowledge you develop through scientific writing. But most of us feel the pressure of time to think through all the results and explain them, and the tendency to procrastinate becomes enormous. We should forget the most important thing:

scientific publication

My first paper was for a conference of the Society of Automotive Engineering. I remember my supervisor going into the open space where I and several colleagues worked and ask – “do you what to publish a paper?” We said a simple “yes, why not?”,  fully unaware of the process. We jumped into the unknown world of scientific writing. Fools, but inspired.

Eventually, we published the paper after many iterations, learning a lot. However, once you enter a more academic career with teaching, the responsibilities of disciplines and supervising Master and Ph.D. students, the time used to dedicate to scientific writing withers.

In the last few years, I felt the need to improve my approach to research and scientific publishing.

This is why I’ve argued before about planning your scientific writing using simple and straightforward techniques to get you that first “bad” draft. After that, it’s time to live up to Hemingway’s insight – “the only kind of writing is re-writing.”

I suggest we start with a small strategic step: invest in the number of words you should write per day until a deadline.

You have this simple metrics in tools like Scrivener, but most of the researchers write their articles in LaTeX (Sharelatex, Overleaf, Texpad, Texmaker, etc.), Manuscripts, Apple Pages or… Word, of course. And these tools don’t have this approach implemented. This is why I built a basic Spreadsheet to do that. I called it


It’s free by the way. And its purpose is to help you give that first step to that “bad” first draft.


How it works for scientific writing

Its modus operandi is simple.

  • Choose the article type by pressing the combo box and selecting from options “Conference,” “Article” or “Review,” and a recommended number of words appears on the right.
  • However, in the “Word Count” field write the recommended number or one of your choosing.
  • Select the “Start” and “End” dates corresponding to your writing period using the add-in calendar tool
  • Select the days in a week when you plan to write your paper

… and the spreadsheet calculates the number of words you should write per day.

You’d be surprised to know how small that number can be when you plan.

Question: have you tried to use a word count per day approach to speed your scientific writing?

About Miguel Panao

I am a Professor at the University of Coimbra in Mechanical Engineering. I am also author of books in the fields of environmental ethics and Science and Religion. From the several research projects, this site is personal and dedicated to the search for the best approaches, tools, techniques to improve scientific productivity.

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