A scientific paper is broken down into 4 sections:
1. Introduction – all the background knowledge on your topic necessary for the reader to understand the details of your research. The Introduction has the general format of going from GENERAL to SPECIFIC. Usually, the introduction ends in your hypothesis, or at least a statement of the questions your research intends to address. 2. Materials and Methods – a step-by-step description of the physical work that you have done. This is written paragraph style and does not include any results. 3. Results – a plain description of what, exactly, your results were. Discussion as to what the results mean is NOT included here. 4. Discussion – here, the Results are discussed as to how they address your hypothesis/questions.
At the beginning of scientific paper is the ABSTRACT. The Abstract is a general synopsis of the entire paper.
Therefore, the Abstract must contain information from all 4 sections of the paper. Characteristics of an Abstract: 1. Around 250 words. 2. Begins with 1-2 sentences of Introduction, usually specific information. 3. The bulk of the Abstract is the data. This is told by a combination of the Methods and Results. The summation of the data is given along with the technique used to obtain the data. Specific details about procedure and results are omitted unless they are very important. 4. At the end are 1-2 sentences of Discussion, explaining what the data means and summarizing the work. 5. Somewhere in the abstract (either at the very beginning or very end) is usually a phrase/sentence talking about the importance of work being done, or how it affects the world/science.
Example of a Scientific Abstract: Mori et al. Circadian clock protein KaiC forms ATP-dependent hexameric rings and binds DNA. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 99:17203-8. KaiC from Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 (KaiC) is an essential circadian clock protein in cyanobacteria. Previous sequence analyses suggested its inclusion in the RecA/DnaB superfamily. A characteristic of the proteins of this superfamily is that they form homohexameric complexes that bind DNA. We show here that KaiC also forms ring complexes with a central pore that can be visualized by electron microscopy. A combination of analytical ultracentrifuation and chromatographic analyses demonstrates that these complexes are hexameric. The association of KaiC molecules into hexamers depends on the presence of ATP. The KaiC sequence does not include the obvious DNA-binding motifs found in RecA or DnaB. Nevertheless, KaiC binds forked DNA substrates. These data support the inclusion of KaiC into the RecA/DnaB superfamily and have important implications for enzymatic activity of KaiC in the circadian clock mechanism that regulates global changes in gene expression patterns.
Let’s break this abstract down into the characteristics mentioned above.
1. Length. This abstract is 143 words long. This is short of the 250 word limit, but in an abstract it is better to be shorter than longer (within reason). This is about the absolute shortest an abstract should be. 2. Introduction. The abstract begins with three sentences of introduction.
KaiC from Synechococcus elongatus PCC 7942 (KaiC) is an essential circadian clock protein in cyanobacteria. Previous sequence analyses suggested its inclusion in the RecA/DnaB superfamily. A characteristic of the proteins of this superfamily is that they form homohexameric complexes that bind DNA.
Notice that the information is specific to the work being done. General information about the organism or overall field of research is in the Introduction section of the paper. The purpose of the abstract is the give the maximum amount of pertinent information in the minimum amount of space.
3. Methods/Results (data). The data is given in individual segments.
We show here that KaiC also forms ring complexes with a central pore that can be visualized…