Posted: March 7th, 2016
Writing Scientific Papers
For any scientific research project, the job is not done until the findings have been
communicated to others. Consequently, it is essential that all scientists be able to
compose concise, intelligible reports about their research. This ability requires both a
sound understanding of the form of a scientific paper and a clear, compact writing style.
Scientific papers generally include the following sections:
• Literature Cited
Not all journals follow this format, but most do, and that makes it easier for the reader to
find the parts of interest to them. You should write your lab reports for this class in the
format of a standard scientific paper. The best way to learn how to write a scientific
paper is by using published papers as examples to emulate. For this class, your
papers should follow the format of the journal Ecology. The following is a brief
description of what you should include in each section.
The title should be informative: it should allow the reader to determine what the paper is
about. It may contain information on the question, the system, and the organisms
studied. It should not be “cutesy” and it should not be inane. For example, “Lab Writeup
#1” is not an acceptable title, nor is “All washed up: life in the intertidal zone”.
This section is a concise summary of the research question, the general approach
(methods) used to answer it, the results, conclusions, and implications. Abstracts vary
in length, but you should try to keep yours to less than 200 words. Most scientists read
the abstract of a paper first, and from that they often decide whether to read the paper
or not. If the abstract isn’t interesting a
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