An Introduction to Writing Scientific Papers
Types of Scientific Papers
- Review articles
o A paper that will review a topic; one particular academic area
o A review paper does a systematic review of a literature, where you look up all the
work that has been done
o When you look at studies, there will sometimes be positive or negative results
o It looks at the big picture, even more data to try and get at what might be
happening in a particular area
- Research articles
o Looks at one particular study
o It can be something in the lab, or population study, it is looking at the results of
o It can be more general, where it can talk about a more relevant policy area (for
o These are typically shorter
- A typical scientific paper will include the following sections:
o Materials and methods
o Literature cited
- A short (approx. 250 words) summary that precedes the paper
- Should contain information about:
o What question were you trying to answer?
o How was the research performed?
o What results were obtained?
o What is the significance of the results?
- Used to provide some background on the research question
- Makes reference to the results and conclusions of previous studies
- Explains why the topic in question is of scientific interest
- States the hypothesis being investigated
Materials and Methods
- Used to explain how the experiment was performed
o What equipment was used?
o What procedures were used?
o What was the sample?
- Should be detailed enough that the experiment can be replicated, but assume that your
readers already know how to perform the experiments Example:
- “We poured N-free fertilizer solution into a graduated cylinder until the bottom of the
meniscus was at the 30 ml line. We poured the fertilizer onto t he top of the soil in a pot
and then repeated this procedure 24 times”
o This is too detailed
- Describes the results of the study
- Results can be presented using text, tables, charts and/or figures
- Should not include an interpretation or discussion of the meaning of the results
- Must be concise and objective
- This is where you can begin to interpret the results of the study
o Do the results support the hypothesis?
o What do the results mean relative to other published results
- Should relate back to the introduction
- Addresses any problems/ anomalies with the results/ experiment
o Talk about limitations
- Looks at new directions that the research can take
o What does this research tell us?
o What are our next steps? Maybe we should scale up? (I.e. make it larger)
- All scientific papers include a works cited page
- Only cite the references that were mentioned in the paper – this is not a general
bibliography to the topic
- Each journal has their own criteria for the format of the “Works Cited” section
o (I.e., style, citing of websites, ordering)
Publishing an Article
Selecting a Journal
- Relevance of research
- Impact factor
- Abbreviated as IF