General Style and Format
Page from recent ECOLOGY
Follow the general style used by articles in the journal Ecology (http://www.esajournals.org/loi/ecol). Base your formatting on a PDF version of a paper from this journal, not a “Full Text” version—thus, figures and tables should appear close to the text that refers to them (see page to the right, from a recent paper by Dr Martin—click on it to enlarge). The PDF versions of papers in ECOLOGY have the text in two columns, which is nice but not required. The formatting details to pay attention to are the placement of captions, table style, and the reference styles both in the text and in the Literature Cited at the end of the paper.
Format your document with 1” margins, and use a serif 12 point font (e.g. Times New Roman, Cambria, etc). When paper copies are required, use double line spacing; when PDFs are required, use single line spacing.
For the courses that Dr Eckert teaches, he provides a list of words and phrases to avoid, available here as a pdf. This is list a handy guide, not a set of hard and fast rules.
To write well, it is useful to focus on topic sentences both to help organise your writing and to be as clear as possible. Here is some advice from the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Begin sections and paragraphs with topic sentences containing generalizations that lead readily to the particulars. Giving a conclusion first and then supporting it not only improves readability but also facilitates assessment by other scientists. Failure to give the most newsworthy generalizations first is one of the most prominent shortcomings in the presentation of manuscripts.
Assure that everything in each section is relevant to the heading and that everything in each paragraph is relevant to the topic (opening) sentence.
Before writing any paragraphs, try writing the topic sentences for all of them and arranging these in appropriate order.
Lab and Research Reports
Example title page
Include the following, either on a separate page, or above the Abstract (see example to the right):
Header: student name and number on left, page number on right)
Rest of Title page:
- student name and student number
- lab section or time and room number (if relevant)
- TA’s name (if relevant)
- course number
- date submitted
- should be descriptive but specific (should not exceed 14 words)
- should refer to main objective and, if relevant and possible within the word limit, the findings of the study, the species involved and/or the location of the study
- Abstract: a brief (< 300 words) description of your report which briefly summarizes:
- the objective of the study or statement of the problem
- the main details of the methods (usually no more than one sentence)
- the most important results
- the main interpretations/conclusions of your study
State your motivation in conducting the study and provide the reader with context. The Introduction is best organized into 3 parts (these could be separate paragraphs):
1. why was this study conducted? what is/are the broad question(s) being asked? why is there an interest in this topic?
2. what is currently known about this topic?
- this is usually the longest portion of the introduction
- provide a concise review of relevant and current research
- provide details regarding species used, specialized methods involved, if relevant
3. how does this report contribute to the body of knowledge on this topic?
- briefly describe the question(s) being investigated and the findings that will be presented
- state your purpose or the hypothesis being tested
- state testable predications that arise from the hypothesis
Lee Brandon, Mt. San Antonio College
Lee Brandon is the author of twelve college English textbooks with Cengage Learning, including the best-selling series, Sentences, Paragraphs, and Beyond with Integrated Readings, and Paragraphs and Essays with Integrated Readings and the highly successful At a Glance series. He has served as chair of the English Department at Mt. San Antonio College, where he taught for more than thirty years and occasionally still teaches. Few authors are as active in the promotion of their books as Lee Brandon, who regularly visits schools across the country and presents at professional conferences. Lee also has to his credit poems and short stories in magazines; songs recorded and in sheet music; a best-selling musical play for elementary school students (in print with Lorenz Music); a play produced by a college drama department; a published Ford Foundation grant project; a chapbook of ballads about his youth, Oklahoma, My Sweet Sorrow; a chapbook of ballads about his experience teaching for ten years in a high-security California women's prison, Butterflies on Barbwire; and newspaper articles about travel, adventures, and whimsical experiences.
Kelly Brandon, Santa Ana College
Kelly Brandon is a partner in the father-son writing team for two best-selling series, Sentences, Paragraphs, and Beyond with Integrated Readings and Paragraphs and Essays with Integrated Readings, as well as the At a Glance books. He is a tenured professor of English at Santa Ana College, where he has taught for twenty-four years. His B.A. is from the University of California at Los Angeles and his M.A. is from the University of California at Santa Barbara. For recreation he does bodybuilding, backpacks, plays the clarinet, drives his fully restored 1953 yellow and white Chevrolet Bel Air, listens to music, and reads eclectically and voraciously.