Rules of research papers

Be sure that the meaning of each pronoun is clear. End every sentence with an endmark period, question mark, exclamation point. Check out the brand new podcast series that makes learning easy with host Eric Martsolf. Cheat Sheet.

Rule 1: Make It a Driving Force

Use these rules for citing your sources: Provide a citation for all direct quotations from printed, electronic, or human sources. Use these tricks for taking notes and organizing your research: Keep a master list of all sources, including title, author, date, publishing information, and page numbers. Try one of these basic structures for your paper: Chronological order Comparison and contrast Pro and con arguments. Use this handy grammar checklist to inspect your research paper for mistakes: Be sure that the subject of the sentence agrees with the verb — singular subject with singular verb, plural subject with plural verb.

Write about literature in present tense.

Load more. In this regard, some of the discussion will complement, extend, and refine some advice given in early articles of this Ten Simple Rules series of PLOS Computational Biology [3] — [8]. Never separate writing a paper from the underlying research. After all, writing and research are integral parts of the overall enterprise. Therefore, design a project with an ultimate paper firmly in mind. Include an outline of the paper in the initial project design documents to help form the research objectives, determine the logical flow of the experiments, and organize the materials and data to be used.

Furthermore, use writing as a tool to reassess the overall project, reevaluate the logic of the experiments, and examine the validity of the results during the research. As a result, the overall research may need to be adjusted, the project design may be revised, new methods may be devised, and new data may be collected. The process of research and writing may be repeated if necessary. It is often the case that more than one hypothesis or objective may be tackled in one project. It is also not uncommon that the data and results gathered for one objective can serve additional purposes.

A decision on having one or more papers needs to be made, and the decision will be affected by various factors. Regardless of the validity of these factors, the overriding consideration must be the potential impact that the paper may have on the research subject and field. Therefore, the significance, completeness, and coherence of the results presented as a whole should be the principal guide for selecting the story to tell, the hypothesis to focus upon, and materials to include in the paper, as well as the yardstick for measuring the quality of the paper.

By this metric, less is more , i. Deciding on an angle of the story to focus upon is the next hurdle to jump at the initial stage of the writing. The results from a computational study of a biological problem can often be presented to biologists, computational scientists, or both; deciding what story to tell and from what angle to pitch the main idea is important.

This issue translates to choosing a target audience, as well as an appropriate journal, to cast the main messages to. This is critical for determining the organization of the paper and the level of detail of the story, so as to write the paper with the audience in mind. Indeed, writing a paper for biologists in general is different from writing for specialists in computational biology. The experiments and results, therefore, must be presented in a logical order. In order to make the writing an easy process to follow, this logical flow should be determined before any other writing strategy or tactic is exercised.

This logical order can also help you avoid discussing the same issue or presenting the same argument in multiple places in the paper, which may dilute the readers' attention. An effective tactic to help develop a sound logical flow is to imaginatively create a set of figures and tables, which will ultimately be developed from experimental results, and order them in a logical way based on the information flow through the experiments. In other words, the figures and tables alone can tell the story without consulting additional material. If all or some of these figures and tables are included in the final manuscript, make every effort to make them self-contained see Rule 5 below , a favorable feature for the paper to have.

In addition, these figures and tables, as well as the threading logical flow, may be used to direct or organize research activities, reinforcing Rule 1.

Completeness is a cornerstone for a research paper, following Rule 2. This cornerstone needs to be set in both content and presentation.

The Essence of Basic Writing Skills

First, important and relevant aspects of a hypothesis pursued in the research should be discussed with detailed supporting data. If the page limit is an issue, focus on one or two main aspects with sufficient details in the main text and leave the rest to online supporting materials. As a reminder, be sure to keep the details of all experiments e.

Second, don't simply state what results are presented in figures and tables, which makes the writing repetitive because they are self-contained see below , but rather, interpret them with insights to the underlying story to be told typically in the results section and discuss their implication typically in the discussion section. Third, make the whole paper self-contained. Introduce an adequate amount of background and introductory material for the right audience following Rule 3.

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Format for a Research Paper

A statistical test, e. Thou shalt have a clear research question.

Why does a particular pattern exist in social life? Why does a specific aspect of politics work as it does? How has a social or political phenomenon changed from one period to another? The question can be general or particular. Why have some countries been more successful in the transition from Communism than others? Why did the Labour Party win the last British general election?

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How have conceptions of race changed in the US since the s? How do different electoral systems affect the behavior of political parties? Research questions that do not require an argument are just bad questions. Thou shalt do real research. Real research means using primary sources. What counts as a primary source, though, depends on what kind of question you are trying to answer. Primary sources in this case might include economic statistics, memoirs of politicians from the period or reportage in east European newspapers available in English or other languages.

Bring all your skills to bear on the topic. Use works in foreign languages. Use software packages to analyze statistical data. Or say you want to write about how conceptions of national identity have changed in Britain since the s. In this case, you might examine the speeches of British political leaders, editorials in major British newspapers, and voting support for the Scottish National Party or other regional parties.

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You might also arrange an interview with an expert in the field: a noted scholar, a British government representative, a prominent journalist. There are, however, gradations of primary evidence. The best sources are those in original languages that are linked to persons directly involved in the event or development that you are researching.