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mind act upon mind





2013-03-01 01:17:05|  分类: SCI |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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原著:George M. Whitesides (美国)


What is a scientific paper? A paper is an organized description of hypotheses, data and conclusions, intended to instruct the reader. Papers are a central part of research. If your research does not generate papers, it might just as well not have been done. “Interesting and unpublished” is equivalent to “non-existent.”


Realize that your objective in research is to formulate and test hypotheses, to draw conclusions from these tests, and to teach these conclusions to others. Your objective is not to “collect data.”


A paper is not just an archival device for storing a completed research program, it is also a structure for planning your research in progress. If you clearly understand the purpose and form of a paper, it can be immensely useful to you in organizing and conducting your research. A good outline for the paper is also a good plan for the research program. You should write and rewrite these plans/outlines throughout the course of the research. At the beginning, you will have mostly plan; at the end, mostly outline. The continuous effort to understand, analyze, summarize, and reformulate hypotheses on paper will be immensely more efficient for you than a process in which you collect data and only start to organize them when their collection is“complete.”

一篇论文并不仅仅是收集已经得到的研究结果,它也有助于形成进一步的研究工作的框架。如果明确了论文的目的,这对于计划开展你的研究工作有很大益处。好的文章提要也是研究工作的好计划,在研究的过程中,应该反复修改这些计划或提要。研究工作开始时,应有完善的计划;工作结束时,应充分的总结。最有效率的做法是及时的理解, 分析, 总结, 形成假说; 而不是等到完成时才开始收集和整理数据。

The reason for outlines. I emphasize the central place of an outline in writing papers, preparing seminars, and planning research. I especially believe that for you, and for me, it is most efficient to write papers from outlines. An outline is a written plan of the organization of a paper, including the data on which it rests. You should, in fact, think of an outline as a carefully organized and presented set of data, with attendant objectives, hypotheses and conclusions, rather than an outline of text.

为什么要写提纲?我在这里要强调提纲在论文写作,准备报告以及研究计划中的重要作用。我尤其相信按照提纲进行写作对我们大家都是最有效的方法。提纲是一篇论文的行文计划,应该包括论文所依靠的数据。事实上,提纲不仅仅是列出各段的内容, 而是按照目的, 假说, 结论来精心组织数据。

An outline itself contains little text. If you and I can agree on the details of the outline (that is, on the data and organization), the supporting text can be assembled fairly easily. If we do not agree on the outline, any text is useless. Much of the time in writing a paper goes into the text; most of the thought goes into the organization of the data and into the analysis. It can be relatively efficient to go through several (even many) cycles of an outline before beginning to write text; writing many versions of the full text of a paper is slow.

提纲本身应该文字简练。如果大家都同意提纲中的细节部分,那么正文组织起来就更容易。在我们就提纲达成一致以前,写正文是没有意义的。 写文章时,大部份时间花在写正文上;而大部份思考是用在整理和分析数据。在动笔前,详细讨论几遍写作提纲会提高写作效率;写很多遍正文反倒很慢。

All the writing that I do - papers, reports, proposals (and, of course, slides for seminars)- I do from outlines. I urge you to learn how to use them as well.

我写的所有文章,包括论文,报告, 建议(当然还有讨论会的胶片)都从提纲开始。我也希望你们能学会使用它。

How should you construct an outline? The classical approach is to start with a blank piece of paper, and write down, in any order, all important ideas that occur to you concerning the paper. Ask yourself the obvious questions:“Why did I do this work?” “What does it mean?”“What hypothesis did I mean to test?”“What ones did I actually test?”“What were the results?”“Did the work yield a new method or compound? What?”“What measurements did I make?”“What compounds? How were they characterized?” Sketch possible equations, figures, and schemes. It is essential to try to get the major ideas written down. If you start the research to test one hypothesis, and decide, when you see what you have, that the data really seem to test some other hypothesis better, don't worry. Write them both down, and pick the best combinations of hypotheses, objectives and data. Often the objectives of a paper when it is finished are different from those used to justify starting the work. Much of good science is opportunistic and revisionist.

你应该如何起草你的提要?最经典的方法就是找一页空白的纸,以任何顺序,写下与这篇文章有关的所有重要观点。自问一些显而易见的问题:为什么我要做这项工作?它意味着什么? 我要验证哪些假设? 我究竟验证了哪些假设? 结果如何? 这项工作产生了新方法或新物质吗?都是什么?我都做了那些测试?什么化合物? 它们是如何表征的?展示相关的方程,图表和示意图。试着写出主要的观点。如果你的研究开始是为证实一个假设,然而当你发现你有的数据仿佛真的可以更好地验证其它的假设时,你也不必担心。把它们两者都写出来,去选择假设,目的和数据的最佳组合。时常,当一篇文章完成时,它的目的和开始时是不同的。许多好的科学来自机遇和反复修正。

When you have written down what you can, start with another piece of paper and try to organize the jumble of the first one. Sort all of your ideas into three major heaps (A-C).


A) Introduction

Why did I do the work? What were the central motivations and hypotheses?



B) Results and Discussion

What were the results? How were compounds made and characterized? What was measured?



C) Conclusions

What does it all mean? What hypotheses were proved or disproved? What did I learn? Why does it make a difference?



Next, take each of these sections, and organize it on yet finer scale. Concentrate on organizing the data. Construct figures, tables, and schemes to present the data as clearly and compactly as possible. This process can be slow - I may sketch a figure 5-10 times in different ways, trying to decide how it is most clear (and looks best aesthetically).

接下来, 把每一部分再仔细组织。尤其是要集中整理数据。要尽可能把数据以清晰、紧凑的图表来展示。这个过程也许会慢些。我可能要用5~10次,而且是以不同的方式,来构思一张图,以便决定怎样它才最清楚(而且看上去更加美观)。

Finally, put everything-outline of sections, tables, sketches of figures, equations - in good order.


When you are satisfied that you have included all the data (or that you know what additional data you intend to collect), and have a plausible organization, give the outline to me. Simply indicate where missing data will go, how you think (hypothesize) they will look, and how you will interpret them if your hypothesis is correct. I will take this outline, add my opinions, suggest changes, and return it to you. It usually takes 4-5 repeated attempts (often with additional experiments) to agree on an outline. When we have agreed, the data are usually in (or close to) final form (that is, the tables, figures, etc., in the outline will be the tables, figures,…in the paper.)


You can then start writing, with some assurance that much of your prose will be used.


The key to efficient use of your and my time is that we start exchanging outlines and proposals as early in a project as possible. Do not, under any circumstances, wait until the collection of data is “complete” before starting to write an outline. No project is ever complete, and it saves enormous effort and much time to propose a plausible paper and outline as soon as you see the basic structure of a project. Even if we decide to do significant additional work before seriously organizing a paper, the effort of writing an outline will have helped to guide the research.


The outline


What should an outline contain?




Abstract: Do not write an abstract. That can be done when the paper is complete.




Introduction: The first paragraph or two should be written out completely. Pay particular attention to the opening sentence. Ideally, it should state concisely the objective of the work, and indicate why this objective is important.


In general, the Introduction should have these elements:

The objectives of the work.

The justification for these objectives: Why is the work important?

Background: Who else has done what? How? What have we done previously?

Guidance to the reader. What should the reader watch for in the paper? What are the interesting high points? What strategy did we use?






Summary conclusion. What should the reader expect as conclusion? In advanced versions of the outline, you should also include all the sections that will go in the Experimental section (at this point, just as paragraph subheadings).


Results and Discussion. The results and discussion are usually combined. This section should be organized according to major topics. The separate parts should have subheadings in boldface to make this organization clear, and to help the reader scan through the final text to find the parts that interest him or her. The following list includes examples of the phrases that might plausibly serve as section headings:


Synthesis of Alkane Thiols


Characterization of Monolayers


Absolute Configuration of the Vicinal Diol Unit


Hysteresis Correlates with Roughness of the Surface


Dependence of the Rate Constant on Temperature


The Rate of Self-Exchange Decreases with the Polarity of the Solvent


Try to make these section headings as specific and information-rich as possible. For example, the phrase “The Rate of Self-Exchange Decreases with The Polarity of The Solvent” is obviously longer than “Measurement of Rates,” but much more useful to the reader. In general, try to cover the major common points:

尽可能使副标题具体并且内容丰富。例如,“The Rate of Self-Exchange Decreases with The Polarity of The Solvent”这个短语明显比“Measurement of Rates”长,但是对读者更有帮助。一般来说,尽量概括该段落的共同点。

Synthesis of starting materials


Characterization of products


Methods of characterization


Methods of measurement


Results (rate constants, contact angles, whatever)


In the outline, do not write any significant amount of text, but get all the data in their proper place: any text should simply indicate what will go in that section.

Section Headings

Figures (with captions)

Schemes (with captions and footnotes)


Tables (correctly formatted)







Remember to think of a paper as a collection of experimental results, summarized as clearly and economically as possible in figures, tables, equations, and schemes. The text in the paper serves just to explain the data, and is secondary. The more information that can be compressed into tables, equations, etc., the shorter and more readable the paper will be.


Conclusion. In the outline, summarize the conclusions of the paper as a list of short phrases or sentences. Do not repeat what is in the Results section, unless special emphasis is needed. The Conclusions section should be just that, and not a summary. It should add a new, higher level of analysis, and should indicate explicitly the significance of the work.


Experimental. Include, in the correct order to correspond to the order in the Results section, all of the paragraph subheadings of the Experimental section.


In summary:


- Start writing possible outlines for papers early in a project. Do not wait until the “end”. The end may never come.


- Organize the outline and the paper around easily assimilated data - tables, equations, figures, schemes - rather than around text.


- Organize in order of importance, not in chronological order. An important detail in writing paper concerns the weight to be given to topics. Neophytes often organize a paper in terms of chronology: that is, they recount their experimental program, starting with their cherished initial failures and leading up to a climactic successful finale. This approach is completely wrong. Start with the most important results, and put the secondary results later, if at all. The reader usually does not care how you arrived at your big results, only what they are. Shorter papers are easier to read than longer ones.

不是按照时间顺序, 而应按重要性来整理。论文写作的一个重要细节是要考虑各部分的权重。新手常常按照时间顺序来写论文:他们常常从珍爱的开始时的失败写起,直到最后的成功来叙述实验过程。这种方法是完全错误的。应该从最重要的结果写起,然后是较重要的结果。读者们通常不关心你是怎么得到的结果,而只关心结果是什么。短文章比长文章更易读。

Some Points of English Style


1) Do not use nouns as adjectives:


不合适的: 正确的:

ATP formation formation of ATP


reaction product product of the reaction


2) The word “this” must always be followed by a noun, so that its reference is explicit


不合适的: 正确的:

this is a fast reaction this reaction is fast


this leads us to conclude this observation leads us to conclude


3) Describe experimental results uniformly in the past tense.


不合适的: 正确的:

Addition of water gives product addition of water gave product


4) Use the active voice whenever possible.


不合适的: 正确的:

It was observed that the solution turned red. The solution turned red Or We observed that the solution turned red.

溶液变成了红色。或, 我们观察到溶液变成了红色。

5) Complete all comparisons.


不合适的: 正确的:

The yield was higher using bromine The yield was higher using bromine than chlorine.


6) Type all papers double-spaced (not single-or one-and-a-half spaced), and leave 1 space after colons, commas, and after periods at the end of sentences. Leave generous margins. (generally, 1.25” on both sides & top & bottom).


Assume that we will write all papers using the style of the American Chemical Society. You can get a good idea of this style from three sources:
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