The author or authors name(s) go under the title in mixed upper and lower case letters. Order of authors is usually in order of their respective contributions. If the authors all contributed equally, the order of authors can be determined by any mutually agreeable manner. Alphabetical order and coin tosses are popular methods. The preposition “by” is typically omitted (e.g., “by George Jones”). The author’s address can be included (e.g., “Department of Biology, The College of Idaho, Caldwell, Idaho 83605”) as is seen in professional papers in journals.
The abstract is a short statement of the essence of the paper. It clearly states 1) the problem, 2) the methods of investigation, 3) the results, and 4) the conclusions and implications in one succinct paragraph. An abstract should not exceed 5-10 percent of the length of the paper.
You must select only the most essential details to include in the abstract. Keep it short. Make every word count. For many people, it is easier to write the abstract after writing the rest of the paper. Writing a good abstract forces one to think clearly about what was really accomplished.
An abstract should be specific rather than vague and general. When the results are quantitative and significant, the abstract should include numerical results. For example, compare the following two statements: “Oxygen levels in Indian Creek were significantly lower (3.2 ppt) downsteam of Nampa than above (5.4 ppt; t = 5.6, P< 0.001) …” with “We include data on oxygen levels above and below Nampa.”
It should be double-spaced, like the rest of the manuscript. An abstract is never written in the future tense (eg. "We will investigate the effects of caffeine on laboratory rats.") because it is a summary of work that has already been completed. It (and most of the rest of the paper) should be written in the past tense ("We investigated the effects of caffeine on rats.")
The abstract has to stand alone and independent. Therefore, don’t cite literature (or if you must, use an abbreviated format. As an example using one of the references above, Hershkovitz (1949) would be cited as (Hershovitz, 1949, J. Mammal. 30:289-301).
All papers must have an introduction. It should be labeled as such, although some journals leave this section of the paper unlabeled. The introduction "sets the stage" for the rest of the paper by orienting the reader. It tells briefly what you set out to do, what has been done before by others, why you did the research, and why the work was important. The introduction is the place to "paint the big picture" so that the reader will realize what is original and significant about your work.
Never say "I did it to get a grade," or "I did it because it was assigned." The professional researcher, after all, does not say, "I did it to get a pay raise," or "I did it to fulfill the terms of my grant."
Generally, the opening sentences should be a clear statement of the problem or hypothesis. This is followed by a concise review of the literature relevant to the problem. Be as thorough as possible with the literature review. One reason for doing a literature review is to be certain what you plan to do has not already been done by someone else. Do the literature review BEFORE starting the investigations. Otherwise, you may expend much energy "reinventing the wheel." Begin with the