How to Write a Scientific Paper
A good scientist also must be a good writer. All the brilliant research of a lifetime is
of little use if the investigator cannot effectively communicate new findings to his or her
Go to the university's library and peruse some of the many scientific journals
available there. Journals such as
Science, Copeia, Biotropica
examples of formats commonly used for scientific papers, though required format varies
from journal to journal. When you publish your own work, it is necessary to check the
specific requirements of the journal to which you are submitting, to be sure that your
paper is not rejected simply because it is in the incorrect format.
Most scientific publications consist of a descriptive
You will be using this format when
you write a report on two of the experiments conducted this semester. This outline
instructs you how to write each of the six components of a scientific paper. Label each
component as shown below.
The title of your paper will be read by the most readers, and it is the title that often
will determine whether the rest of your paper will be read. It should describe
the contents of your paper. Generally, the name of the organism being studied is also
included. Under the title, list your name, the date and your institutional affiliation (In
case you don't know. . . it's the University of Miami.)
The purpose of the abstract is to allow a reader to determine, with a very quick scan,
the topic of your paper, your experimental methods, and your conclusions. Although the
, it is written
. In one double-spaced paragraph, offset from the
rest of the paper, give a skeletal outline of your purpose
(one sentence), methods,
to two sentences), results
(one to four sentences) and conclusions
(one to two
sentences). Do not cite literature references in the abstract.
The abstract is NOT merely an introductory statement.
If you were actually to
publish your paper, its abstract would appear in
a massive series
of books containing nothing but the abstracts of scientific papers written in a given year.
(The series is available for your perusal in the reference area of the library.) An
investigator searching for information on a particular subject can look up and read
abstracts--rather than an entire paper--to determine whether a particular paper is
relevant to his/her own work. If it is, s/he can then obtain the actual journal and the
complete publication for a more detailed account.
This section can be written even before you begin your experiment. In one to
several paragraphs, give
background information on your project. Include a
statement of purpose, the ideas that led to your experiment and what you are trying to
When making a statement that is not common knowledge, you must