Proofreading/editing research papers comes with a number of additional considerations. These are documents with a particular structure and register, and writing for academia involves adhering to various conventions. If you don’t have a background in writing/editing research papers and are unfamiliar with these conventions, take some time to read this quick guide, which will point you in the right direction.
Following the title, the first thing you’ll generally see in a research paper is an abstract. This is basically a summary of the paper. It allows the reader to get an overall picture of what the study is about, how it was conducted, and what its main conclusions are. Some things to note:
How tense is used in a research paper, depends on which section we’re dealing with, but also on what the sentence is referring to. Some basic guidelines are given below.
Research papers often contain a lot of abbreviations, so some things to remember:
There are conventions for the Latin genus and species names of organisms (Lactobacillus acidophilus, Homo sapiens, Ursus deningeri, etc.).
For genes and proteins, use the full name on first use, followed by the symbol in parenthesis. Use the symbol thereafter. The symbols for genes should be italicized, but the symbols for proteins should not. If there appears to be inconsistency, and you are unsure whether something relates to a gene or a protein, leave a comment rather than making changes.
There are complex conventions relating to which letters in a gene symbol are capitalized. Unless you really know your stuff, if you see inconsistency, alert the author with a comment rather than effecting changes yourself.
There are various conventions in academic writing about what should and should not be italicized.
Do not italicize:
Measurements are also common in research papers. The bare essentials are given below.
Pay attention to how citations (and references if they are to be worked on) are presented and whether this fits the referencing system you have been asked to work to. We won’t go into details here, but be sure you are familiar with how citations and references should be formatted in a given referencing system or have a reference guide open to refer to.
We’ve highlighted some of the particular conventions when it comes to research papers, but the information here is not exhaustive, and is intended only to draw your attention to potential issues if you’re unfamiliar with the genre. Always consult the appropriate style guide in detail when working on research papers.
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