Nobody knows. Estimates vary widely and seem to have little basis in empirical research. Estimates also vary in type from how many hours total versus how many months or years stretched out over time. No one measures how much time scientists waste not writing (unproductive hours spent on papers) and how much work they must discard along the way or redo. We also don’t know how much time it takes first-time authors to figure out how to write a paper, and how much of their efforts are trial-and-error.
We do know help is scarce. Mentors are in short supply and of varying quality. Few supervisors have much time to spend with grad students and postdocs (fewer than an hour a week, one-on-one) and much of that is spent on the science and not writing about that science. Few universities outside the United States have institutionalized or widely available and even required scientific writing courses. These kinds of courses describe the Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion (or AIMRaD) structure of papers. Most scientific writing is taught patchwork, and it’s also of varying quality.
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