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Writing Scientific Research Articles

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Writing Scientific Research Articles C.B.S. Teh Dept. Land Management, Uni. Putra Malaysia Tel: 03-89466976; Email: cbsteh_at_yahoo.com www.christopherteh.com – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Writing Scientific Research Articles


1
Writing Scientific Research Articles
  • C.B.S. Teh
  • Dept. Land Management, Uni. Putra Malaysia
  • Tel 03-89466976 Email cbsteh_at_yahoo.com

www.christopherteh.com
2
Getting published is a skill
  • Communicating your work
  • facing criticism and debate
  • adversarial approach
  • Writing skill is essential
  • command of English language
  • ability to explain and describe your work
  • clearly, concisely, and accurately

3
Selecting the journal
  • Does it publish the kind of work you are doing?
  • Is it a refereed journal?
  • Is it cited?
  • What is its impact factor?
  • journal website
  • Journal Citation Reports (UPM online library)
  • Does it publish quickly?
  • Are there paper charges?

4
Criteria for acceptance
  • Is the contribution new?
  • Is the contribution significant?
  • Is it suitable for publication in this journal?
  • Is the organization suitable?
  • Do the methods and treatment of results conform
    to acceptable scientific standards?

5
Criteria for acceptance
  • Are all conclusions firmly based in the data
    presented?
  • Minor issues
  • Is the length of paper satisfactory?
  • Are the illustrations, figures, and tables
    adequate?
  • Are the references recent and adequate?

6
Article structure
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials and methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • Acknowledgements
  • Appendices
  • References

7
Title of paper
  • Good titles identify the field of research and
    indicate the kind of results to be obtained
  • Avoid
  • long titles
  • too general/vague titles
  • can be misleading
  • e.g., Effects of fertilizers on crops
  • a Review paper?

8
Example of title
  • Bird use on rice field strips of varying width
    in the Kanto Plain of central Japan
  • The focus is on birds in relation to rice fields
  • The width of rice field strips was varied in the
    study
  • Width of strips was correlated with the number
    and species of birds using them
  • The research took place in central Japan

9
Example of title
  • Use of in situ 15N-labelling to estimate the
    total below-ground nitrogen of pasture legumes in
    intact soil-plant systems
  • The paper focuses on a particular method (in situ
    15N-labelling)
  • The parameter measured was total below-ground
    nitrogen
  • The measurement site/context was undisturbed
    systems involving both plants and soil
  • The plants used were pasture legumes

10
Order of preparation
11
Introduction section
  • Introduction
  • Problem statement
  • What is the problem?
  • Justification of work
  • Why is the problem important?
  • (Impartial) Literature review
  • Past work results
  • Objectives (and hypothesis) of study

12
Citation
  • Referencing other work is crucial
  • helps to develop your arguments
  • prove that you clearly know what has been done
    before and what needs to be done
  • Citing when you cannot obtain the original
    reference
  • ltsome factgt (Smith, 1962, cited in Jones, 2002).
  • in this case, only Jones (2002) appears in the
    reference list

13
Plagiarism
  • Plagiarism is using data, ideas, or words that
    originated elsewhere without appropriately
    acknowledging the source.
  • serious offense
  • reviewers may be knowledgeable in the sources you
    stole

14
Materials and methods section
  • Briefly, include
  • site location (latitude and longitude, elevation)
  • characteristics of study area (weather, soil,
    vegetation)
  • Describe all methods used in study
  • prefer to cite reference for methods
  • do not elaborate on commonly used methods

15
Materials and methods
  • Describe statistical analysis
  • experimental design and layout
  • additional statistics used (e.g., correlation and
    regression)
  • Describe equipment and software used
  • brand, version, and name and location of company
  • Use past tense

16
Results section
  • Present only relevant data
  • data that serve as evidence to accept or reject
    hypothesis
  • Use the best presentation method to display data
  • Table or Figure?
  • highlights the most important information
    prominently
  • is essential to support your story

17
Results
  • Presentation of results must be
  • clear, accurate, and concise
  • do not duplicate data already shown earlier
  • e.g., using a table and figure to display the
    same data

18
Tables
  • Tables are most useful for
  • recording data (raw or processed data)
  • explaining calculations or showing components of
    calculated data
  • showing the actual data values and their
    precision
  • allowing multiple comparisons between elements in
    many directions

19
Figures
  • Figures are most useful for
  • showing an overall trend or picture
  • comprehension of the story through shape
    rather than the actual numbers and
  • allowing simple comparisons between only a few
    elements.

20
Choosing between table and figure
Most useful Table Figure
When working with numbers shapes
When concentrating on individual data values overall pattern
When accurate or precise actual values are more important less important
21
Sample table
  • - contains correct and complete units
  • - minimize horizontal lines, and no vertical
    lines
  • proper formatting (numbers are aligned)
  • adequate number of decimal points

22
Figures
  • Pie charts
  • comparing proportions of a total or whole
  • Column and bar charts
  • comparing the values of different categories when
    they are independent of each other (e.g., boys
    and girls or different countries)
  • Scatter charts
  • display a sequence of variables in time or space
  • display dependent relationships (e.g., change
    over time or fertilizer rates).

23
Common mistakes in preparing figures
  • Wrong figure type has been chosen
  • Relationships between elements are not obvious
  • or are apparent when they do not exist
  • The shape, shading, pattern or weight of symbols,
    markers, or lines does not emphasize the main
    results
  • Cluttered with lines, legend symbols, or numbers

24
Common mistakes in preparing figures
  • Poorly chosen axis scale divisions
  • too many or too little
  • Axes not labeled or do not have units

25
Sample figure 1
26
Sample figure 2
27
Figures dots-per-inch (DPI)
  • Most journals require at least 300 DPI figures
  • Copy-and-paste only provides 72 or 96 DPI
  • far too low for print publications

28
Figures dots-per-inch (DPI)
  • In Excel ver 2003,
  • select chart, hold down SHIFT button, and choose
    EDIT then COPY PICTURE from Excels main menu bar

29
Figures dots-per-inch (DPI)
  • Or download SciChart (www.christopherteh.com/scich
    art.zip)
  • works only in Excel 2003

30
Figures dots-per-inch (DPI)
  • Unfortunately in Excel 2007, Copy Picture does
    not give good resolution
  • Instead
  • select chart, then Print to PDF file
  • Open PDF file and Save As TIFF file (change
    Settings for 300 DPI first)

31
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34
Use of tense in results section
  • Past tense
  • when the sentence focuses on the completed study
    what was done and found
  • Present tense
  • to describe an always true situation
  • when the sentence focuses on the document

35
Discussion section
  • In Results, you described the observed trend
  • what was the trend?
  • In Discussion, you explain the observed trend
  • why is the trend like that?
  • support from results from your own study and from
    previous studies

36
Conclusion section
  • Not a summary of results!
  • Do not re-defend your results here!
  • Do not introduce new facts here!
  • Conclusion is where you answer directly your
    studys objectives
  • Write the conclusion as though you would be
    telling it (verbally) to a very busy person whom
    you want to impress about your studys findings

37
Conclusion example
  • Objective
  • To determine the effectiveness of mulch A, B,
    and C on conserving soil water
  • Conclusion
  • Mulch C was determined as the best mulch to
    conserve soil water, followed by mulch B, then A.
    On average, mulch C conserved soil water nearly
    1.5 times more water than mulch B and 2.3 times
    more than mulch C. Using mulch C would save up to
    1000 mm of water per year.

38
Abstract
  • Always written last
  • Summary of research (not summary of results)
  • Problem and justification of study
  • The principal activity (or purpose) of the study
    and its scope
  • Information about some of the methods used
  • The most important results
  • A statement of conclusion or recommendation

39
Submitting the manuscript
  • Submissions now mostly through online
  • Read the journals Guide to Authors
  • follow thoroughly, e.g., format and style for
    paper margins, font size, line spacing,
    references, citations, number of words in
    abstract, figures, tables, equations, etc.
  • Prepare cover letter
  • Prepare list of potential reviewers
  • search past papers related to yours
  • sometimes up to four needed

40
Documents
TIFF format (300 DPI)
41
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42
Reviewers comments?
43
Reviewers comments?
44
Revision or rejection?
  • Very rarely a manuscript is accepted first time
    as it is
  • Dont get angry!
  • dont take it personally
  • understand the reviewers objections, criticism,
    or reservations
  • reviewers fault or your fault?
  • perhaps your explanation was unclear

45
Revision
  • Revision
  • Read carefully each reviewers comments
  • Respond / answer each of their suggestions and
    questions
  • point-by-point response/answer
  • your paper will often be much improved after
    following the reviewers suggestions

46
Rejection
  • Rejection
  • Read carefully each reviewers comments
  • Respond / answer each of their suggestions and
    questions
  • point-by-point response/answer
  • your paper will often be much improved after
    following the reviewers suggestions
  • Submit to another journal

47
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48
More information
  • How to write and publish a scientific paper,
    6th Edn., Robert A. Day and Barbara Gastel,
    Greenwood Press, 2006.
  • EnglishClub.com website
  • www.englishclub.com/grammar/index.htm
  • Use Google
  • keywords writing scientific articles

49
Good luck!
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