Writing The Scientific/Research Paper/Thesis.

Your written final report should correspond to the following format, that of a scientific paper.

Text: Text should be typed double-spaced, in a 12 pt serif font.
Length of paper: For research/scientific paper, 15 pages or less. For thesis, you need to have worked on the project for a year or more. Thesis paper should be 15 pages MINIMUM. Please note that these are general guidelines, as individual programs may have specific guidelines that you must follow.

For research/scientific/thesis papers, tables and figures do not count towards the page limit. You should discuss your project as fully as is merited, but, as with submissions to scientific journals, readers will not look with favor on discursive, overblown manuscripts. For more information, consult any of numerous texts on scientific writing such as:

Day, Robert A. 1983. How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper. ISI Press, Philadelphia, PA. 181pp.
Perry, Carol R. 1991. The Fine Art of Technical Writing. Blue Heron Publishing, Hillsboro, OR. 112pp.
Committee on Form and Style of the Council of Biology Editors. 1972. CBE Style Manual. American Institute of Biological Sciences, Washington, D.C.. 297pp.



The Title page should contain a title that indicates the focus of the work. Include your name, the name of your faculty mentor and other persons on the project as well as the name of your university.

Self Evaluation: Does your title briefly and precisely indicate the focus of the work? On the title page, did you include your name, your faculty mentor’s name and the name of other persons on the project? Did you include your university’s name?


Your abstract may be up to one page in length. It includes the background & significance, a clear statement of the general question and the specific objectives, the methods that will be used, explanation of how the methods will provide the data necessary to answer the question and the results and conclusions.

Self Evaluation: 

• Did you discuss the background and significance of study?
• Is there a clear statement of the general question and the specific objectives?
• Did you include the methods that will be used and explain how they will provide the data necessary to answer the question?
• Did you describe the results and conclusions?


State why you chose your particular project; tell why it is of interest or worthy of the attempt. State the explicit hypothesis (or hypotheses) that was (were) tested.

Self Evaluation:

• Does your introduction define the main topic of the work and tell what is known about it?
• Do you conclude your introduction with a clear question or questions that the work is to answer?


Give sufficient details of methods (including information on materials used) to allow someone to duplicate your work, especially with respect to those factors that may have had major effects on results. Note any special problems and how you overcame them (e.g., protein precipitated unless pH was buffered).

Self Evaluation:

• Would your description of methods allow a reader to exactly duplicate your work?
• Do you clearly indicate how many independent samples were collected?
• Are routine procedures over-described, but modifications of them or procedures unique to your work not clearly described?
• Have you described your calculations?


Present a summary of your data. This is where you cite your figures and tables. Graphs will usually be most appropriate for showing your findings, but data summaries (do not reproduce all your data) may be tabular. Include any non-quantitative observations in the text. Describe the analysis of the data including any statistical tests performed.

Self Evaluation:

• Are your quantitative results presented in an appropriate table or figure?
• Have you overwhelmed or confused the reader by including information that is simply a step along the way to the calculation of your results?
• Have you reported the VARIABILITY among replicate samples?



State your conclusion. Was your null hypothesis rejected? How much confidence may one have in your results; how reliable are your results? Have additional questions been raised? Have you satisfied the objectives of your project? If you were to try to do the project again, would you do it differently?

Self Evaluation:

• Is your conclusion justified by the results that you have presented? (Make sure to consider the VARIABILITY among replicates before concluding that you think categories are likely to be different!)
• Have you discussed why you may have gotten the results that you obtained?
• Have you avoided stating that you “proved” your idea of what you’d find? (After all, you’ve examined just one occurrence of the phenomenon!)
• If you failed to get results or think that your results are not reliable, have you indicated why and said what you would do differently?


Acknowledge the funding agency, program, institution, etc.


Cite your sources in alphabetical order. For example:
Abrahamson WG, Johnson AF, Layne JN, Peroni PA. 1984. Vegetation of the Archbold Biological Station, Florida: An example of the Southern Lake Wales Ridge. Florida Scientist 47:209-249.
Abrahamson WG, and Hartnett DC. 1990. Pine Flatwoods and Dry Prairies. In Ecosystems of Florida, Myers RL and Ewel JJ (Eds), pp. 103-149, University of Central Florida Press, Orlando, FL, USA


Each table and figure should be cited in the text of your paper, and should be accompanied by an explanatory text heading or legend. The legend should explain enough so that someone reading only the legend can fully understand your table or figure. Include the meaning of any abbreviations used.

Self Evaluation:

• Do your TABLES consist of labeled columns with information arranged within them by row?
• Are your FIGURES either pictures or graphs?
• Are tables numbered consecutively and figures numbered consecutively? Are they cited in the text of the abstract?
• Is each table and figure accompanied by a heading or legend consisting of a “title” (in the form of an incomplete sentence) and an explanation of the contents? Do you clearly explain the meaning of any abbreviations?
• Could a reader understand your work by perusing ONLY the tables and figures?
• Are all AXES of graphs correctly labeled with UNITS indicated? Is the meaning of different symbols stated in the figure legend?
• Is there some indication of VARIABILITY (either plotting all individual observations, or (best) showing the standard deviation or standard error with error bars) on your graph?

Scientific Paper/Thesis Sample