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Literature Cited
This section lists all articles or books cited in your report. It is not the same as a bibliography, which simply lists references regardless of whether they were cited in the paper. The listing should be alphabetized by the last names of the authors. Different journals require different formats for citing literature. The format that includes the most information is given in the following examples:
For articles: Fox, J.W. 1988. Nest-building behavior of the catbird, Dumetella carolinensis. Journal Ecology 47: 113-17. For Books: Bird, W.Z. 1990. Ecological aspects offox reproduction.Berlin: Guttenberg Press. For chapters in books: Smith, C.J. 1989. Basal cell carcinomas. In Histological aspects of cancer, ed. C.D. Wilfred, pp.278-91. Boston: Medical Press. When citing references in the text, do not use footnotes; instead, refer to articles by the author's name and the date the paper was published. For example:




Fox in 1988 investigated the hormones on the nest-building behavior of catbirds. Hormones are known to influence the nest-buildine behavior of catbirds (Fox. 1988).

When citing papers that have two authors, both names must be listed. When three or more authors are involved, the Latin et al. (et alia) meaning "and others" may be used. A paper by Smith, Lynch, Merrill, and Beam published in 1989 would be cited in the text

Smith et al. (1989) have shown that...

This short form is for text use only. In the Literature Cited, all names would be listed, usually last name preceding initials.
There are a number of style manuals that provide detailed directions for writing scientific papers. Some are listed in further readings at the end of this section.

General Gomments on Style

1. All scientific names (genus and species) must be italicized.


2. Use the metric system of measurements.


indicates italics in a typed paper.)

Abbreviations of units are used without

following period.

Be aware that the word dqta is plural while datum is singular. This affects the choice of a correct verb. The word species is used both as a singular and as a plural. 4. Numbers should be written as numerals when they are greater than ten or when they are associated with measurements; for example, 6 mm or 2 gbut two explanations of szx factors. When one list includes numbers over and under ten, all numbers in the list may be expressed as numerals; for example, 17 sunfish, 13 bass, and 2 trout. Never start a sentence with numerals. Spell all numbers beginning sentences. 5. Be sure to divide paragraphs correctly and to use starting and ending sentences that indicate the purpose of the paragraph. A report or a section of a report should not be one long paragraph. 6. Every sentence must have a subject and a verb. 7. Avoid using the first person, I or we, in writing. Keep your writing impersonal, in the third person. Instead of saying, "We weighed the frogs and put them in a glass jar," write, "The frogs were weighed and put in a glass jar." 8. Avoid the use of slang and the overuse of contractions. 9. Be consistent in the use of tense throughout a paragraph--do not switch between past and present. It is best to use past tense. 10. Be sure that pronouns refer to antecedents. For example, in the statement, "Sometimes cecropia caterpillars are in cherry trees but they are hard to find," does "they" refer to caterpillars or trees?


After writing a report, read it over, watching especially for lack of precision and for ambiguity. Each sentence should present a clear message. The following examples illustrate lack of precision:



"The sample was incubated in mixture A minus B plus C." Does the mixture lack both B and C or lack B and contain C? The title "Protection against Carcinogenesis by Antioxidants" leaves the reader wondering whether antioxidants protect from or cause cancer.

The only way to prevent such errors is to read and think about what you write. Learn to reread and edit your work.

Modified from: Writing Lab Reports & Scientific Papers, W. Dolphin, Iowa State Univ.