1) It must be typed and double-spaced. There is no required length, but it is unlikely that you will be able to summarize any major area of research in less than around 3000 – 4000 words.
2) Every time you describe someone else’s research findings, you must provide a citation. Examples include: “Smith et al. (1995) demonstrated that…”; “Prey tend to decrease their level of activity in the presence of a predator (Jones, 1997).”, etc. The full citation appears in a section at the end of the paper, entitled Literature Cited. In this, list the author(s), year, title of paper, journal, volume, and page numbers. For example:
E. Betrán, J.A. Campbell, and C. Feschotte. 1996. Performance of students in universities is strongly and positively correlated with level of attendance at class. Journal of Obvious Observations 15: 234-246.
DO NOT give the full citation in the body of the text, and DO NOT number your references (this is hard for the reader to follow and will be a big headache for you). You should ONLY list papers in the Literature Cited to which you actually refer in text. In the body of the text, use “et al.” if there are more than two authors for the paper you cite. For example: “Frye et al. (1992) found that…” However, in the Literature Cited, you MUST list ALL the authors; e.g. “Frye, B.L., J.A. Campbell, and J.V. Robinson. 1992.” etc.
3) You are free to choose a general format. However you set up your paper, it should be logically organized, with appropriate major headings and subheadings. One possible way to organize your paper could include the following sections: Introduction and Background/Current and Recent Research (with subheadings for categories within the research area and differing viewpoints)/Summary and Future Directions/Literature Cited.
4) Scientific writing should be concise. Flowery, creative writing is not appropriate, although you should provide enough relevant details that the reader can understand the major points. Avoid very specific details of the work that you are summarizing. For example, the fact that the research you are describing was conducted from the 3rd to 18th of August, 1998, in southeastern Tarrant Co. Texas, by a researcher driving a Volkswagen Beetle, etc. is totally irrelevant in a review article such as the one you are writing. Stick to the major points (if the reader wants more detail, he or she can look up the original reference).
5) Spelling and grammar are important, and you will lose points if these are noticeably awful. If you have not proofread your paper, this quickly becomes clear, and will bias a reviewer (such as me) against you. If possible, get someone else to proofread your paper too. This is what most researchers do before they submit a manuscript to a scientific journal.
6) A common mistake (which I noticed in some of the midterm assignments) is to string together a series of direct quotes from the papers that are cited. In general, avoid quotes unless the author(s) said something in an especially eloquent way. Your job is to summarize the key points of the research in your own words. Extensive use of quotes is generally considered bad form in scientific and most other types of writing.
7) If you are unsure about any of the above points (or anything else) ASK ME!!! Remember– this assignment is worth 20% of your grade.
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