Publication of Procedure and Results
Scientists share their knowledge, observations and experimental results with each other world-wide. They do this informally by talking with one another, but also formally through the publication of their work in scientific journals or presentation of posters at science conferences. Each scientist subscribes to and reads the journals of his/her scientific field. In this way, by reading about others' work, scientists can avoid unnecessarily duplicating subjects already studied, and can build upon knowledge already gained. In addition, by reading and reviewing other scientist's work, valuable criticism and challenges can be made. This process of peer review encourages scientists to be honest and rigorous in their experimental design. When new discoveries are made and published, other scientists will often try to duplicate the discovery to verify it. This verification process is an important component in the scientific process.
In publishing their work, scientists must write clearly and concisely but in enough detail that another scientist could duplicate their work. While each journal is a little bit different, there is a general standard format for writing scientific papers. The following components make up the general format for a scientific paper or poster, and occur in this order.
TITLE: A title which draws interest in the paper and clearly summarizes the subject of the work. The title is centered at the top of the first page, in bold, large print.
AUTHORS: The names of all individuals who contributed to the study of the subject are listed. The name of the individual who contributed most to the study is usually listed first, with the names of other contributors listed in decreasing order.
ABSTRACT: A one paragraph summary of the entire paper is included at the beginning of the paper, so that someone browsing through the journal can get a general idea of what is written in more detail within the paper.
INTRODUCTION: A discussion of the general background describing the problem being studied and the approach taken to investigate the problem.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: A description of how the investigators studied the problem in enough detail so that their work can be evaluated and duplicated. When a procedure is described, often the authors will simply cite the name of the person who developed the procedure and published it. In this way, they can avoid repeating procedural instructions which many scientists already know. For example, you were given a protocol for agarose gel electrophoresis. Instead of rewriting all of the specific instructions for preparing and running a gel (which is a standard procedure), you may simply "cite" this protocol by naming the author and year of publication.
RESULTS: In this section, you will report your observations. You should include pictures or diagrams of any results which are informative. For example, a picture or a diagram of the banding pattern in your gel will show the reader your actual results.
DISCUSSION: In this section, you will discuss your results. Discussion means analyzing your results and interpreting what you think they mean, including your rationale for your conclusions. This section is usually concluded by a paragraph which summarizes your overall conclusions.
LITERATURE CITED: If you
cited any other publications or protocols in the body of your paper or poster,
you must then give a bibliographic reference to this literature at the end of