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Tutorial - Tools for Science Students  

Content from retired head librarian David Coleman's "Tools for Science Students" web page and tutorials. Transfered from the old library website.
Last Updated: Jun 5, 2010 URL: Print Guide
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Using and Evaluating Internet Sources

As a rule of thumb any information source that you intend to use in your research should be carefully evaluated. This is especially important for Internet resources because there is no reviewing authority for what is put on the web. Typical criteria are:

  • Accuracy: Can you find two sources to verify the same information?

  • Authority: Do you know the credentials of the author?

  • Objectivity: Are facts presented objectively or is the author on a  "soapbox"?

  • Currency: When was the information created or last updated?

  • Coverage: Is the information extensive or superficial


Writing Science Papers

As a student and throughout your career in science you will be required to write many papers and reports. Having a basic understanding of how to write a scientific journal article will serve as a good foundation.

Getting started

You should be able to answer some basic questions even before you being to write your paper. These will help you to organize your thoughts and plan your writing strategy.

What is the function or purpose of the paper?

  • Original results
  • Literature review
  • Topic overview

How does this work different from what is already published?

Where is the most appropriate place to publish?

Who is the audience?

  • How much background or detail will you need to provide?
  • What level of technical language will you need to help them understand your work?


Building Blocks

Journal articles tend to follow a standard format. Not every paper will have all of these elements, and not every journal will require all of these sections, but it is useful to understand the parts of a journal article.


  • Attracts an audience by describing the article. 
  • Serves as a aid to retrieving the information when the article is indexed
  • Accurate, brief but able to stand alone

Authors and Affiliation

  • Names of all those involved in the work.
  • Addresses will help interested parties to reach you


  • Brief, accurate description of the problem and summary of results.


  • Clear statement of the problem.
  • Significance and scope of your work.
  • Difference from previous work or continuity from your pervious work.

Materials and Methods

Give sufficient details about what you used, what you did, and how you did it so that others can repeat your work and get comparable results.


  • Summarize data collected and statistical treatment
  • Use relevant but limited media, (tables, figures, etc.)
  • Provide interpretation of your results
  • Implications of your work
  • Have you solved the problem?
  • If not, what have you contributed?
  • Where do you go from here?
  • Give sufficient detail to justify your conclusions.


  • Provide your interpretation of the results in the context of the original problem that you were trying to solve.


  • Thank those that provided significant assistance.
  • Acknowledge funding agencies and sponsors.


  • Cite all supporting references.
  • Use the appropriate style manual for you discipline (search the library for the best one).
  • Follow the "guidelines for authors" provided by the journal you are submitting the article to.




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