Blue-footed Boobies from the Galapagos


Latest news:

September 6, 2007: 


More info:


Science Fun

Help - Writing a research paper

Information on the process of writing academic papers

1)  Read through the instructions for the paper, and scoring guidelines or rubrics.  Underline important terms and phrases.
2)  Next write a rough outline of your paper including key points, arguments, and supporting examples, areas where you still need information, etc.
3)  Go to the library and search the library holdings and also the appropriate databases for articles and books related to your topic.  In this case you would look for books and articles on the nature of science, and also those related to any examples you would like to use. 
4)  Search the web for resources.   Do NOT only use web sites as references for your paper.  Also, critically evaluate the credibility of web sites before citing them.  Wikipedia should NOT be the sole reference on a topic
5)  Pick an accepted academic writing style and use it consistently.  Ask if you are not sure which one you should use.  One very common style is the American Psychological Association (APA)  style.  You can borrow an APA style guide from a library or buy a used or new copy.  APA is the writing style I usually recommend to students but I have had students use other styles and that is alright as long as they follow the accepted rules.  These are some of the academic styles of writing with links to information on them.
AAA APA ASA CBE Chicago MLA Turabian
6)  Write your rough draft.  Use the spell check on your word processor.
7)  Check for sentence fragments (incomplete sentences).
8)  Check your grammar (don't rely on Word's grammar checker as it can make mistakes).  If you are writing an academic paper, then assume that the style will be formal unless you are told otherwise.  You can get some good tips on the style of writing for scientific and science education papers at the following web site:
9)  When you use a direct quotation, you must always include the page number if you obtained the quote from a book or journal article.  If you obtained a direct quote from a web resource, you must provide full information using the appropriate style.  Visit the following link to see how to cite electronic resources using APA style.
10)  If you get an idea, or paraphrase someone else, you MUST cite the source, and then list the full information on the reference using the proper style in the Works Cited, or References at the end of the paper. 
11)  In a science or science education paper, it is important that you choose your words carefully.  Many words have very different meanings in science than they do in common everyday usage.  Be as precise as possible.  For example, you would not use slang in most cases, (unless you were writing a paper on the linguistics of slang, etc).  Use science dictionaries if you are in doubt about the meaning of a science term (make sure to cite the source).
12)  When you use examples or evidence to support an argument, do some research on the topic and then make sure to cite the source. 
13)  Avoid making sweeping generalizations. 
14)  Be careful about the use of the words "prove," and "proven".  In science it is NOT possible to "prove" anything.  We cannot know everything that will happen in the future. It is always possible that "facts" and "proven" theories will be overturned in future when new knowledge is revealed.  It is better to say that theories are "supported" by the evidence.  It is possible to reject a hypothesis or a theory, but it is NOT possible to "prove" one.
15)  Make sure to be careful when discussing scientific methods.  The traditional view is that there is one scientific method.  This has now been shown to be false as scientists work in many ways.  Sometimes steps in the traditional scientific method are pursued in different sequences or even skipped.  Some areas of science are presently not amenable to experimentation, (String theory, black holes, etc.)  but may become so in the future. 
16)  Write a rough draft and then read through it as if you were a teacher grading the paper.  Be critical.  If there are sentences that aren't clear, try to rewrite them.  Have a friend or relative read through the paper and give you comments also. 
17)  Good writing is a process and editing helps all writers to improve.  You may have to go through several cycles of review, editing, and revision before you get your paper in good shape. 
18)  Learn to accept constructive criticism and use it  to improve the quality of your paper.  All authors have editors and receive feedback and corrections to their writing.  It makes a tremendous difference in the final product. 
19)  When you begin teaching, there are a large number of journals where you can share your ideas with your fellow science teachers.  I hope that you will continue to write and to contribute to the field.   At the following link you can see some of the many science education journals where you might want to submit journal articles for publication.  Science education journals