To help improve your scientific papers, review the tips below. For a useful overview, read "12 Tips for Scientists Writing for the General Public" by the magazine American Scientist.


  • Include scientific name of species studied
  • Include factors manipulated
  • Include parameters measured


  • Demonstrate familiarity with the pertinent literature and how it relates to the current study
  • State the problem under investigation either in the form of question or hypothesis
  • Predict the outcome of the experiment


  • State the purpose of experiment
  • Outline the experimental design and gives rationale for treatments
  • Clarify control treatments, if appropriate
  • Provide sufficient detail so the experiment can be replicated by a knowledgeable person
  • State types of data collected and any exceptions
  • Mention types of statistical test done


  • Represent data either in tabular or graphic form (graphs and illustrations = figures; tables = tables)


  • Put the date in context and summarizes trends and relationships
  • Report qualitative observations
  • Add to the information given in a table or graph
  • Compare experimental data to the controls
  • Support statements parenthetically with statistical results if appropriate
  • Compare groups by looking at differences between them or calculating the percent of difference
  • Citations are given by author's name and/or date in parentheses.


  • Relate results to original predictions
  • Point out discrepancies
  • Suggest reasons for discrepancies and draw conclusions.
  • Suggest alternative hypotheses to explain results
  • Consider experimental design or error that might have resulted in unexpected results
  • Explain how the results fit into the current body of knowledge
  • Propose mechanisms to explain results
  • Suggest further studies


  • Credit the contributions of others



Do not use direct quotations or paraphrasing in scientific papers. Because scientific writing is concerned with data and results, not with analysis of text, the need to quote the text of others is unnecessary in scientific writing. You should describe the work of others in your own words and cite the work parenthetically in the text by author and date, listing the work more fully at the end in your list of references.

For advanced questions, refer to the Council of Biology Editors Style Manual.