Activity: Writing a Scientific Paper

By Daniel Muttiah, Secondary Teacher, Northview Heights SS, TDSB

Introduction

Scientific papers are the means by which ideas of science are communicated, discussed, debated, and formalized. They are an important tool in the scientific enterprise of developing and expanding scientific knowledge. A scientific paper is essentially a journal article that focuses on any or all of the following:

  • Discusses new ideas
  • Expands on current ideas
  • Provides alternate ways of thinking
  • Presents new data collected through experimentation
  • Examines methods of analysis and process
  • Examines application of ideas in other branches of science
  • A review and a summary of a current area of scientific debate

In all of the above types of scientific papers good research, good analysis, and good writing are needed to produce a good scientific paper that is worthy of publication. The objective of this activity is to create a scientific paper for publication.

Research

Research is what expands scientific thinking; therefore it forms the foundation of a scientific paper. Research can be focused on theory, experimentation, and review of scientific ideas. To begin the research process a scientific point of interest must be chosen and clearly defined. For the research to result in a scientific paper it must be original in nature, i.e. add in some way to scientific thinking. For example, research that leads to an article that describes the motion of the planets using Newtonian laws would not considered original research, but research that attempts to explain the formation of Saturn's rings using Newtonian laws would be considered original research. This is because the explanation of the motion of the planets using Newtonian laws is part of accepted scientific thinking, but the explanation for the formation of Saturni¯s rings is still under scientific discussion.

Once a topic is chosen, scientific literature should be researched to ensure that it is original in nature. If the topic passes this test, then the research on the topic can be started. Clear documentation of research information throughout the research process is helpful in the analysis of the information and in the writing of the paper.

Writing

Good writing is an essential component of a scientific paper, and it should contain the following essential elements: an introduction, methods of research, results obtained, discussion of results, and a conclusion. Writing should be clear, concise, and logically organized. The paper should be formatted in a manner that helps the reader understand the thinking behind the article. The paper should also contain all sources of information, and indicate the contributions of individual and organizations.

Publishing

Once the research is done and the article is written, it is now ready for publication. A variety of online and print journals such as the Journal of Student Science and Technology are available for the publication of scientific papers. These journals and publications allow for the sharing of information and discussion of ideas among peers and experts.

Publication in a journal usually requires some additional work. Many publishers will have writing elements and formatting requirement that need to be strictly followed. A careful check of the publisher's requirements should be followed by an editing of the paper to meet the publisher's requirements. Once this is done it can be submitted for publishing.

Best wishes on your contribution to the scientific world!