FORMAT FOR THE PAPER
Scientific research articles provide a method for scientists to
communicate with other scientists about the results of their research. A
standard format is used for these articles, in which the author presents
the research in an orderly, logical manner. This doesn't necessarily
reflect the order in which you did or thought about the work. This
Make your title specific enough to describe the contents of the paper,
but not so technical that only specialists will understand. The title
should be appropriate for the intended audience.
The title usually describes the subject matter of the article: Effect of
Smoking on Academic Performance"
Sometimes a title that summarizes the results is more effective:
Students Who Smoke Get Lower Grades"
1. The person who did the work and wrote the paper is generally listed
as the first author of a research paper.
2. For published articles, other people who made substantial
contributions to the work are also listed as authors. Ask your mentor's
permission before including his/her name as co-author.
1. An abstract, or summary, is published together with a research
article, giving the reader a "preview" of what's to come. Such abstracts
may also be published separately in bibliographical sources, such as
Biological Abstracts. They allow other scientists to quickly scan the
large scientific literature, and decide which articles they want to read
in depth. The abstract should be a little less technical than the
article itself; you don't want to dissuade your potential audience from
reading your paper.
2. Your abstract should be one paragraph, of 100-250 words, which
summarizes the purpose, methods, results and conclusions of the paper.
3. It is not easy to include all this information in just a few words.
Start by writing a summary that includes whatever you think is
important, and then gradually prune it down to size by removing
unnecessary words, while still retaining the necessary concepts.
3. Don't use abbreviations or citations in the abstract. It should be
able to stand alone without any footnotes.
What question did you ask in your experiment? Why is it interesting? The
introduction summarizes the relevant literature so that the reader will
understand why you were interested in the question you asked. One to
four paragraphs should be enough. End with a sentence explaining the
specific question you asked in this experiment.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
1. How did you answer this question? There should be enough information
here to allow another scientist to repeat your experiment. Look at other
papers that have been published in your field to get some idea of what
is included in this section.
2. If you had a complicated protocol, it may helpful to include a
diagram, table or flowchart to explain the methods you used.
3. Do not put results in this section. You may, however, include
preliminary results that were used to design the main experiment that
you are reporting on. ("In a preliminary study, I observed the owls for
one week, and found that 73 % of their loco motor activity occurred
during the night, and so I conducted all subsequent experiments between
11 pm and 6 am.")
4. Mention relevant ethical considerations. If you used human subjects,
did they consent to participate. If you used animals, what measures did
you take to minimize pain?
1. This is where you present the results you've gotten. Use graphs and
tables if appropriate, but also summarize your main findings in the
text. Do NOT discuss the results or speculate as to why something
happened; that goes in the Discussion.
2. You don't necessarily have to include all the data you've gotten
during the semester. This isn't a diary.
3. Use appropriate methods of showing data. Don't try to manipulate the
data to make it look like you did more than you actually did.
"The drug cured 1/3 of the infected mice, another 1/3 were not affected,
and the third mouse got away."
TABLES AND FIGURES
1. If you present your data in a table or figure, include a title
describing what's in the table ("Enzyme activity at various
temperatures", not "My results".) For figure, you should also label the
x and y axes.
2. Don't use a table or graph just to be "fancy". If you can summarize
the information in one sentence, then a table or graph is not necessary.
1. Highlight the most significant results, but don't just repeat what
you've written in the Results section. How do these results relate to
the original question? Do the data support your hypothesis? Are your
results consistent with what other investigators have reported? If your
results were unexpected, try to explain why. Is there another way to
interpret your results? What further research would be necessary to
answer the questions raised by your results? How do your results fit
into the big picture?
2. End with a one-sentence summary of your conclusion, emphasizing why
it is relevant.
This section is optional. You can thank those who either helped with the
experiments, or made other important contributions, such as discussing
the protocol, commenting on the manuscript, or buying you pizza.
REFERENCES (LITERATURE CITED)
There are several possible ways to organize this section. Here is one
commonly used way:
1. In the text, cite the literature in the appropriate places:
Scarlet (1990) thought that the gene was present only in yeast, but it
has since been identified in the platypus (Indigo and Mauve, 1994) and
wombat (Magenta et al., 1995).
2. In the References section list citations in alphabetical order.
Indigo AC, Mauve BE (1994). Queer place for qwerty: gene isolation from
the platypus. Science 275: 1213-1214.
Magenta ST, Sepia X, Turquoise U (1995). Wombat genetics. In: Widiculous
Wombats, Violet, Q., ed. New York: Columbia University Press. pp.
Scarlet SL (1990). Isolation of qwerty gene from S. cerevisae. Journal
of Unusual Results 36: 26-31.
Martins AC (1999). Isolation of qwerty gene from S. cerevisae. Journal
of Unusual Results 36(2): 26-31.