A scientific paper is written for the scientific community at large. It may be a review, a compilation of previous works, or present new experimental results. Because it is written for a wide audience, the paper needs to introduce the subject, place any results in context with other scientific works, and suggest future possibilities for research, Professors assign scientific papers so that students learn how to do library research, learn the details of a subject, and learn how to write for publication.
- *Write clearly and concisely. Be brief.
- *Avoid slang and jargon.
- *Avoid passive verbs. Use the active voice when possible.
- *Follow the generally accepted format for a scientific paper, but always follow the professor's instructions first.
- *Use first person when necessary to keep your meaning clear. "We concluded" and "we can see" are unnecessary.
- *Tense should change from one section to the next, but don't change tense within a paragraph. Past tense is used for describing procedures, and present tense is used to describe results and conclusions.
- *Avoid personal opinions.
- *Define abbreviations the first time that you use them.
- *Include headings for each component of your paper.
Components of a Scientific Paper
- The title should reflect the paper's content and emphasis. It should be brief and accurate, but a parenthetical title (subtitle) can also be used after the main title. The parenthetical title provides additional relevant information.
- The abstract is done only if it is required by the professor. Write the abstract last so that it accurately reflects the content of the paper. The abstract should briefly summarize the problem, the findings, and the conclusions. The abstract should give enough information so that the reader knows whether or not he wants to read the entire paper.
- The introduction should be one to two paragraphs long. It should clearly state the hypothesis, the background that explains the hypothesis, and the reasons for doing the study. Also state how your work differs from published work or how it is related to other published works.
EXPERIMENTAL DETAILS or THEORETICAL BASIS
- This section can also be called "Materials and Methods" or "Experimental Methods." Provide enough details so that your work can be repeated. Tell what materials you used, and describe your procedures. If there are any hazards in the experiment, note them in a separate paragraph titled "Caution." Include mathematical details so that your numerical results can be checked.
RESULTS and DISCUSSION
- The results and the discussion can be one or two sections. Discuss the results, and be objective. summarize the data, and analyze the statistics. Use any equations, figures, and tables that are needed to make the results clear. Explain how you have solved the problem, and explain any future work that you plan to do.
- The conclusions can be included in the discussion section. If you have a conclusions section, do not repeat the discussion points. Base your conclusions on the evidence that you have presented in your paper. If you have not already explained your plans for future work in the discussion section, do so in the conclusions.
- The summary repeats the main points of a long paper, It is unnecessary for short papers.
- The references are usually at the end of the paper, but check with the professor for the requirements.
- Special sections can be useful but are not always necessary. A list of abbreviations, list of symbols,, or an appendix are possibilities.
**This information was adapted from The ACS Style Guide, Janet S. Dodd, editor. This handout was developed by Janie Honigs, Sheri Cooper, Beth Summers, and Angie Kays.
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