Scientific Papers: Writing Suggestions
We will consider both content and presentation in evaluating your papers.
Please consider the following good writing habits:
1. Make no grammatical or style errors. Particularly watch for the problem areas: Use correct verb tense.
- Make sure the subject and verb of the sentence agree in number (for example: It is, They are . . . not It are, They is. This is tricky with complex subjects).
- Use of first person (I, We) is acceptable, avoid lengthy substitutes. If you use “We” be sure you have already let the reader know who “We” is.
- Avoid the passive voice. (Not "The samples were counted." but "I counted the samples.")
- Avoid vague statements.
- Avoid redundant phrases.
- Write complete sentences.
2. Print on good quality paper.
3. Use 1 inch (2.5 cm) margins on all sides.
4. Use metric units of measure in the body of the paper.
5. Do not abbreviate words except units of measure.
6. Make no spelling or typographical errors.
7. Number all pages starting with page 2.
8. Number and cite all figures and tables consecutively as they appear in the body of the paper.
9. Place the caption for Tables above the table and give enough information so that the table can stand on its own without reference to the text.
10. Place caption for Figures below each figure.
11. Cite references in your text, where appropriate, as author and year (also known as Name-Year) of publication (e. g. Lagowski 1987). See journals such as Evolution, Ecology, or Annals of the Entomological Society of America for other examples. Be consistent in form. Don’t use irrelevant citations.
12. Give complete citation for each reference in the "Literature Cited" section of your paper. List only those references actually cited in the text. Use the format of journals such as those listed above.
13. Give the scientific name (where possible) of the organisms studied along with an acceptable common name (if available).
14. Capitalize the Genus name (plural is genera) but the species name is all in lower case letters. Italicize both parts of the name. (e. g. Homo sapiens, Musca domestica, Cichlasoma nigrofasciata)
15. Have someone else proofread your paper. They may see inconsistencies of form or typographical errors that you missed. Learn to use spell and grammar checkers that are parts of many word processing programs.
16. Choose each word in your title carefully. Attract the reader and give key words for retrieval later. Your words are becoming timeless. Perhaps this is your immortality, to be considered the wisdom of the ages. Work carefully.