- Research Paper Format 8-10 pages double-spaced, Times New Roman, 1-inch margins
(Does not include figures, tables, reference page)
- Tone should be professional Avoid colloquialisms, slang, or poetic language
- Proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation
- Citations placed both in text and at the end of the paper
- Must provide at least 10 citations Realistically, 15-20 will be more likely
- At least 8 of those citations must come from peer-reviewed scientific journal articles More is better
- Other sources can include books or government documents on the subject
- For other sources (newspaper/magazine articles, websites, and yes, Wikipedia), follow the citation trail until you find the original document
- Ecology format On the references page Last name, first initials. Year. Title of the article with first letter and proper nouns capitalized. Journal name volume #: pg#-pg#. For multiple authors, all after the first use First Initials Last Name Include “and” before the final author
- Examples: Dayton, P.K. 1971. Competition, disturbance, and community organization: the provision and subsequent utilization of space in a rocky intertidal community. Ecological Monographs 41: 351-389. Menge, B.A. and J.P. Sutherland. 1976. Species diversity gradients: synthesis of the roles of predation, competition and temporal heterogeneity. The American Naturalist 110: 351-369.
- In-text examples: One author: … creatures exposed to rapid changes in environmental conditions displayed heightened aggression, likely as a result of physiological stress (Kukui 2016)…
- Two authors: … demonstrating a rare occurrence of a virus forming a mutualistic relationship with its host organism (Joy and Elm 1999)…
- Three or more authors: … bird populations have been in decline as a result of overharvesting for human consumption (Oak et al 1996)…
Here is a list of journals that will be helpful to you (note that there are many more journals that may help you that are not on this list):
Conservation Ecology (an online journal)
Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
In each of these journals you can find examples of review papers. Note that good review papers are organized, thorough, and offer suggestions for future research or solutions to problems at the end.
Paper Grading Criteria and Guidelines
Content: 50%.This is the most important part of your paper. As the author of a review paper, you job is to synthesize the current literature on a topic of interest. Make sure that you build a strong argument and that you convey important information to the reader. Be certain to focus on the environmental issue and its relevance to ecology. Your paper should not be about how humans are impacted by your topic! Support your topic sentences with main points/conclusions drawn from articles found during your literature search. Avoid filling your paper with “fluff”, unimportant information that takes up space but is not relevant to your main points. You should not summarize one article for more than one paragraph and you should not go into too much detail describing the methods used in the papers unless absolutely necessary. You should have a minimum of 10 sources cited in your paper.
Style and Organization: 20%. Part of writing an effective paper is learning how to write clearly and concisely. Avoid using flowery language, as it can be awkward and often times misused. Colloquial language is inappropriate for a scientific review article. Avoid repetition of the same word/phrases. You want to write your paper in a similar style and tone as the research papers you are referencing.
Do not use quotes in your paper. You should paraphrase and give proper credit by citing the author(s); direct quotes are not commonly used in science writing. Also, copying sentences (word for word, in part or whole) from a scientific article and citing the source is still considered plagiarism and will result in point deductions at the very least. You need to write the ideas in your own words!
Each paragraph should convey a singular message that should not be detailed anywhere else in the paper. Jumping back and forth between points confuses the reader and obscures the valuable information contained in your paper, so make sure that your writing in a logical progression. The use of section headings and subheadings can be extremely helpful in structuring a paper, and will make it easier for people to read. Use transitions between paragraphs so that you writing does not appear choppy.
Within paragraphs, sentences should be properly constructed (e.g. subject-verb agreement). Watch out for run-on sentences and fragments. The sentences that are easiest to read are the simplest — don’t try to use overly complex wording. Each sentence within your paragraph should support the thesis and flow in a logical order.
Grammar: 10%. Make sure you know when and where to use commas, apostrophes, semicolons, colons, quotation marks, etc. If you are not sure, look it up. Students in this class frequently have points deducted in this section because of subject-verb agreement errors, misspellings, and incorrect word usage. Be sure to perform a sentence-by-sentence edit before submitting your final draft (and before submitting the optional draft). Having someone else read your paper for grammar errors can be extremely useful.
Literature Cited: 15%. As a college student and budding scientist, it is critical that you learn how to properly cite the sources from which you obtain information. A complete citation includes the reference to the source in the text of your paper (in text reference) and the full reference given in the “Literature Cited” section at the end of the paper. In general, having more sources is better because it shows you’ve done extensive research, but avoid including little bits of unimportant information from a variety of sources just to drive up your numbers. You must have at least 10 citations for your final paper with at least 8 citations from the primary literature. Additional sources from secondary and tertiary literature (e.g. books, government documents) may be used, but these do not count toward the eight minimum primary sources. Do not cite web-based resources using links. This will result in point deductions. If you find something relevant on the web or your textbook, you must follow its source to the original work and cite the original reference. Cite references correctly in the Literature Cited section and in text (See below).
In this class, we will use the format for the journal Ecology. This may be different than other formats you have learned, so follow it carefully. Refer to the Literature Searching and Citations document on blackboard for proper citation format.
Page length: 8-10 pages, double-spaced. This length does not include figures and tables (optional) and the Literature Cited section.
Page format: 1-inch margins and 12-point Times or Times New Roman font
Organism names: scientific names (genus and species) go in italics and common names are lowercase; family names do not go in italics, but start with a capital letter.
Section order: (1) Paper title with your name, your group topic, and section number; (2) the Introduction; (3) the Body of the paper (organized with section headings); (3) Conclusions and Directions for Future Research; (4) Literature Cited section; and (5) an Appendix of figures and tables (optional)
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