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BIO 615: Public Health Microbiology

Anatomy of a Scientific Paper

Scientific papers are organized in a regular format to make it easy for the authors to present their findings and for you to assimilate and assess those findings. A typical scientific paper will be organized by the following sections:

Title/Authorship: The title of the paper, its authors, and the authors' affiliations are identified.

Abstract: A short summary of the study, often including its objective, design, results, and the authors' conclusions in condensed form. Secondary sources, such as abstracting & indexing services like Medline, often make the abstract available for immediate reading. This allows you to evaluate whether or not you would like to obtain the full text. Remember that you must obtain and read the full text if you are to include the study in your paper. Reading the abstract alone is not enough.

Introduction: Introductions often include a review of the relevant literature, the purpose of the study (i.e. what question the study hopes to answer) and how the authors hope the study will contribute to present knowledge about a topic. There will often be an overview of the scientific theory or conceptual models on which the research was based.

Methods: This section describes how the research was structured, the subjects included, data sources and collection methods, and how that data was manipulated and interpreted using statistical models and procedures.

Results: This section should answer the question originally posed in the introduction of the paper.

Conclusions: Includes a summary of the study, including its identified strengths and weaknesses, the authors' interpretations of their results, and a statement about the significance of the study.

References: A listing of all papers or other published research used by the authors in the paper.