References In this article I provide guidelines for writing in scientific style, starting with the detail of punctuation and working up through to the whole document. The guidelines are based on material presented in the publication manual of the American Psychological Association I indicate departures from APA style in brackets, thus:
Do not begin each section on a new page. If one section ends part of the way down the page, the next section heading follows immediately on the same page. One important general rule to keep in mind is that a scientific paper is a report about something that has been done in the past. The present tense is, are is used when stating generalizations or conclusions.
The present tense is most often used in the Introduction, Discussion and Conclusion sections of papers. The paper should read as a narrative in which the author describes what was done and what results were obtained from that work.
By reading the title, the work being reported should be clear to the reader without having to read the paper itself. The title, "A Biology Lab Report", tells the reader nothing.
An example of a good, self-explanatory title would be: This title reports exactly what the researcher has done by stating three things: The environmental factors that were manipulated light, temperature.
The parameter that was measured growth. The specific organism that was studied the bacterium, Escherichia coli. If the title had been only "Effects of Light and Temperature on Escherichia coli ", the reader would have to guess which parameters were measured.
That is, were the effects on reproduction, survival, dry weight or something else? If the title had been "Effect of Environmental Factors on Growth of Escherichia coli ", the reader would not know which environmental factors were manipulated.
If the title had been "Effects of Light and Temperature on the Growth of an Organism", then the reader would not know which organism was studied. In any of the above cases, the reader would be forced to read more of the paper to understand what the researcher had done.
If several factors were manipulated, all of them do not have to be listed. Instead, "Effects of Several Environmental Factors on Growth of Populations ofEscherichia coli " if more than two or three factors were manipulated would be appropriate.
The same applies if more than two or three organisms were studied. The researcher would then include the names of the bacteria in the Materials and Methods section of the paper.
An abstract is more than a summary. A summary is a brief restatement of preceding text that is intended to orient a reader who has studied the preceding text. An abstract is intended to be self-explanatory without reference to the paper, but is not a substitute for the paper.
The abstract should present, in about words, the purpose of the paper, general materials and methods including, if any, the scientific and common names of organismssummarized results, and the major conclusions. Do not include any information that is not contained in the body of the paper.
Exclude detailed descriptions of organisms, materials and methods. Tables or figures, references to tables or figures, or references to literature cited usually are not included in this section.
The abstract is usually written last.Description of the content of each of these sections follows. Additional remarks on report preparation and writing style are given at the end. The ABSTRACT is not a part of the body of the report itself. Rather, the abstract is a brief summary of the report contents that is often separately.
Scientific writing in English started in the 14th century. The Royal Society established good practice for scientific writing. Founder member Thomas Sprat wrote on the importance of plain and accurate description rather than rhetorical flourishes in his History of the Royal Society of London.
Robert Boyle emphasized the importance of not boring the reader with a dull, flat style. A typical research paper follows the IMRaD format, and how frequently a given tense is used varies with the section of the paper: the introduction, for example, uses a mix of the present tense and.
Techniques and strategies for writing lab reports and scientific papers for class projects. Why a Scientific Format? The scientific format may seem confusing for the beginning science writer due to its rigid structure which is so different from writing in the humanities. One reason for using this format is that it is a means of efficiently communicating scientific findings to the broad community of scientists in a uniform manner.
You, the writer, must practice writing and thinking within this structure, and, learn by example from the writings of others; learning the nuances of this style and format will be enhanced as you read the scientific literature - pay attention to how professional scientists write about their work.