Title: Should be short and very specific to the material contained in the article. Avoid using to general a title; the title should be representative of the results. Example: if you found that Treatment A on Hela cancer cells, increased apoptosis and decreased growth, your title should not be “Examination of Treatment A on Cancer Cells”; instead a better title would be “Treatment A Induces Apoptosis and Decreased Cell Growth in Hela Cells”.
Abstract: A short summary introducing some background, the question addressed, your hypothesis, results, and conclusion - write this part last.
Introduction: Long summary of relevant background material, which leads to why you chose your specific question, your hypothesis, how you will test it, what your predictions were, and conclude with a summary of your results and their implications.
Materials and Methods: This section should not be a numbered list of all steps that should be used in the experiment: this is a protocol. It should be written in sentence form, stating exactly what you did, even if it deviates from the protocol you intended to follow. Dense sentences, without extraneous material, are preferred. It should be written in a way in which other researchers would be able to reproduce your experiment. However, it should not be a step-by-step account of how to perform your experiments; some implied knowledge of your methods should be assumed. You should not list the materials first; they should be woven into this section, where and when used, and you must list where the reagents came from in parentheses (usually the manufacturer). Additionally, if the experiments needed optimization or there were multiple initial trials not included in the final report or experiments that were not performed “correctly” (meaning a mistake in the procedure), they should not be included. Only include your final, optimized, correctly performed experiments.
Results: This section should merely state what the results of the experiments were and not contain any interpretations or conclusions based on the data. Do not include the question, hypothesis, or background - just summarize the results. Your interpretations of your data should be reserved for your Discussion section.
Raw data: Important raw data (or methods in the case of a script used to produce an algorithm) should be included in a Supplementary Data section. This allows readers and reviewers to judge how you used your data.
Figures: Graphs and images need to contain a legend describing the figure. In the text they need to be cited in order. Graphs need a title, legend, and you need to show error bars indicating the standard deviation.
Tables: Need to contain a title and legend and cited in order in the text.
Equations: Equations that you used for your work should be included and cited as Equation 1, Equation 2, etc.
Statistical Analysis: Validating the significance of your results, using the appropriate statistical method, is essential. There are numerous ways to analyze your results, and knowing which are appropriate for your particular experiments is debatable and too intricate to be fully described here. But basically, finding the mean, standard deviation, and the p-value, using tests such as ANOVA or a t-test is generally appropriate. For a graph, to show a linear correlation or to show the relative variance within your data (“goodness of fit”), use an R2 statistic.
Discussion: Include some background, briefly the question you addressed and original hypothesis, and most importantly, an interpretation of the results. Based on your interpretation, write whether or not your hypothesis was correct, and if not, other potential hypotheses that would incorporate the new data you produced. Mention any potential errors in your experiments.
Include other additional experiments that need to be done to more strongly verify your results; you need to qualify your results. Include why your data is important in the particular field you chose, and what future experiments/investigations could be done next.
*Please provide hyperlinks to all your references so that reviewers can check them.
Journal Article: Last name, First Name. (Year). Title. Journal name Volume, page numbers.
Book: Title, Edition, Publisher. Pages. Authors. (Year: volume).
Only list references that you cite in your article, not sources you may have used during your experimental process. List references in the order that you cite them and in numerical order: “from previous work(1)…“ or “from previous work1….” . It is very important that when an author relays an important concept, data from a previous work, or a “proven” concept that it is backed up by a citation from a peer reviewed article/book. References such as those from websites, personal communications from people who have not performed the experiment referenced, lab manuals, curriculum, etc. are not acceptable as a reference. Only use references from peer reviewed articles or books.
Acknowledgements: Authors must acknowledge people who provided indirect help with their experiments (provided reagents, offered advice, a fellowship provided to the student, etc.). The authors should not acknowledge themselves; for example, a student should not acknowledge the teacher/mentor for their help/opportunity for their research – the teacher and/or mentor will be listed along with the student as part of the authorship section (you can’t acknowledge yourself).
Preference for review of your article is given to submissions that most correctly use the above format and will result in less required revisions.
The student authors will be listed in the order of their relative contribution to the article; if some authors contributed essentially the same amount of work this will be indicated by: “*these authors contributed equally”.
The teacher will be listed after the student authors, even if they did not contribute anything to the article. They are legally responsible for the identity of the students and their work: since students under 18 cannot enter into a contract (the consent form), the submission will be interpreted as though the teacher submitted it. The mentor will be listed last as the principle investigator. A corresponding author and their email address will be listed. Include the authorship in your submission.
This is an example of what an authorship annotation would look like:
StudentX1, TeacherY2, MentorZ3*
Student1, Teacher2: The XY School, address
Mentor3: Z University, address
*corresponding author: mentorZ@email.com
*IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT ALL AUTHORS ARE LISTED, PARTICULARLY IF THE ARTICLE IS AN "INTERSHIP ARTICLE". EVEN IF THE PRINCIPLE INVESTIGATOR (LAB HEAD) OF THE LAB THAT THE AUTHORS PERFORMED THEIR RESEARCH IN DID NOT CONTRIBUTE ANYTHING TO THE ARTICLE, THEY MUST BE LISTED IN THE AUTHORSHIP SECTION. THEY ALSO MUST SUBMIT A CONSENT FORM FOR POTENTIAL PUBLICATION.
Human Studies: It is essential that researchers receive informed consent from their subjects and that there is independent oversight of the study. The authors must present proof of this, including the forms given to participants and that An Institutional Review Board (IRB) (or equivalent entity) oversaw the work. For internship articles performed at a University, it is assumed (and contained in the Mentor Consent Form), that this was performed properly. Under certain circumstances, informed consent is not absolutely necessary, if no foreseeable harm can be expected from the study. This is likely the case for most research performed by high school students, but should be used with caution. Subjects under the age of 18 require parental consent to participate in any research study.
General: The article should be written in the third person, objective; past tense. Example: instead of writing “I (or we) studied the effect of…”, use “In this study, the effect of...”. Methods and results should also be in the past tense.
Submit: 1) A text version of your article with figures where they are mentioned 2) A text version without figures and 3) all figures, tables, charts, etc. in jpeg format for publication.
Use Arial or Calibri font within your figures/tables to improve clarity. You can use any font for your text and figure/table legends.
Engineering articles do not follow the same format as a Research Article; you are not performing experiments to test a hypothesis and recording the subsequent results. Instead, you are designing a device, algorithm, etc. and showing the experiments leading to its fabrication and the resulting design.
The only major differences in the format is that instead of including a separate Materials and Methods section and a Results section, the article should merge these sections into a single Experiments and Results section. This section should be a linear description of how you designed you device/algorithm and the experiments you used to verify its functionality.
This type of article can be performed by many high school students, does not require hands on laboratory research, but still can produce an original work. The major difficults in this type of study include: 1. using the appropriate statistical methods (often very advanced ones), 2. choosing the appropriate studies, and 3. finding a topic which will yeild a novel result. For an in depth explanation of what a meta-analysis is, and how to perform one, there is an excellent description on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meta-analysis.