WRITING SCIENTIFIC PAPERS
The most prevalent mode of communicating new ideas and findings among scientists is the scientific paper.
year, research scientists worldwide publish an enormous volume of scientific literature.
The majority of scientific
papers are published in peer-reviewed journals that contain a standard format of presentation such that readers may
quickly determine the subject and question(s) of the study, the methods used, the findings and conclusions reached
by the authors.
(Some examples of journals that report findings in physiology are
American Journal of Physiology,
Journal of Comparative Physiology, Journal of Experimental Biology, Physiological and Biochemical Zoology,
General and Comparative Endocrinology, Respiration Physiology, Journal of Applied Physiology.
The format of a
scientific paper reflects the scientific method and is usually organized as follows:
7) Literature Cited
Many writers prefer to use the third person, passive voice when writing scientific papers.
For example, “Ten eggs
were incubated at each of three different temperatures, and the temperature was controlled by a thermostat
Eggs were candled periodically, and those found to be infertile or non-developing were discarded from
Alternatively, this could be written as first person and in the active voice.
For example, “We
incubated ten eggs at each of three different temperatures, and we candled them periodically to discard infertile or
non-developing eggs from the experiment.”
Although various editors of journals may express hard-line preferences
for style, either usage can be found in scientific literature.
Below are short descriptions of each component of a scientific paper.
The best way to truly understand what is
expected in each section of a scientific paper is to go online or to the library, find a few journals of interest, and read
During this laboratory you will be expected to read, understand, and discuss several scientific
These are designed to expose you to scientific literature, to summarize and integrate physiological
principles, and enable you to acquire some appreciation for literature that should be accessed and read by
professionals (including general practitioner doctors) rather relying on blogs or public news reports, which often get
the facts wrong.
The title should be informative and describe concisely the subject of the study.
A general title followed by a
more specific one is common but not required (e.g., “Respiration in avian embryos:
shell conductance to respiratory
gases and water vapor”).
A title should be