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CHEM 597R - The Scientific Paper and Peer Review: Guiding Questions

Guiding Questions

The following "guiding questions" are presented to prompt you to recognize and address broad concepts expected in writing a good scientific paper.  By concentrating on these questions as you write and reflect on your own paper and the papers you read as part of the peer review process, you are being encouraged to think more professionally about scientific writing.


  • Topic development; is there a clearly stated scientific aim?  Does the writer have a clear, concise description of the problem being solved?
  • Is the background, theory and context well developed?  Does the writer use professional judgment on how much detail to provide?  Does the write-up lack detail or was it overly wordy?
  • Are the data logically and persuasively presented?  Is the data presented in a clear, efficient manner, explaining its relevance? Are there reasons given for any anomalous data?
  • Are the figures presented in a logical, organized, professional format?
  • Is the paper well organized and presented in a professional style and/or format?  Does it follow the standard format of a scientific paper (abstract, introduction, experimental details or theoretical basis, results, discussion and conclusion); some headings or sections may be omitted if the paper is a literature review or a theoretical paper. 
  • Does the literature review include relevant scholarly references?  Are there major omissions in the bibliography?
  • Is the bibliography formatted correctly in the ACS Style?
  • Does the author explain what was learned or what insights were gained? Does s/he exhibit an understanding of what the final results reveal?  Does the author attempt to tie together his/her work to that of others and to determine whether the work supports or makes contributions to the field?  

Subject Guide

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