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Formal Papers (Manuscript Style)

  1. General Information
    Your papers should be well organized, neat, concise and written in English. Each paper should include at least 4 sections — Abstract, Introduction, Experiment and Results. In some cases you will want to have a Theory and/or a Discussion section but, only include sections that are necessary to make your point. The abstract and introduction are extremely important because they set the tone of the paper; you will capture or lose your reader in these two sections. Consequently, you should spend some time carefully crafting these sections. The abstract should give information only — no lead-in no discussion. Here is an example:

    The A-technique was employed to measured the B-parameter in System C. Under conditions D, we find values for the B-parameter of ____. These values imply _____.

  2. Introduction
    The introduction is where you should give enough information for a reasonably well educated physicist to understand why this paper should be read. Specifically, you should include information regarding how what you have measured is related, in some broad sense, to science and why such a measurement is important to a particular local area of physics. As an example, in the Mössbauer experiment, the hyperfine splitting of specific nuclear states are measured whereby the effects of chemistry on nuclear structure can be investigated. This is interesting because we usually think of chemistry as an electronic effect involving the valence electrons and thus perturbing only the atomic structure. If this is the first time or a novel approach for such a measurement it should be so stated. If you are testing a theoretical prediction or verifying a previous measurement this should also be stated. In some cases you will need to review some of the theory or background to the area. This should not be done in the introduction but in a separate section. In the introduction you can direct the reader to sections where the theory is reviewed. You may simply say: This paper is organized into ___ sections. In Sec. II we present the relevant theory necessary to interpret our measurement, in Sec. III we describe the instrumentation, ...
  3. Body of the Paper
    Here is where you tell your story. You first must explain your instrumentation and the experiment. Be sure to include in your descriptions all the conditions under which your experiments were performed, e. g., PMT voltages, temperatures, pressures, etc. You should give enough information that if someone wanted to repeat your experiments they would be able determine what your parameters were. In addition, if your results need to be compared to another's, apples will be able to be compared with apples. Finally, since these are experimental papers, a long and tedious calculation or derivation should appear in an appendix.
    1. Figures
      Each figure should have a descriptive caption. One should be able to look at a figure and discern its meaning without reading the text. For example, captions for a spectrum in the ultrasound experiment in liquids should state the substance, driving frequency and temperature under which the spectrum was obtained. Within a figure, labels should be in all caps. Sometimes it is helpful to give a figure a title, but not always. Do not substitute a screen dump for a figure.  For a manuscript style report collect captions onto a seperate page and label it captions.  Figures themselves should be full size on separate sheets and attached to the report in order as the last pages.
    2. Tables
      Tables also should be made with care. Sometimes you will want to include a table caption to explain table headings or footnotes to explain table entries.
    3. Grading
      Papers are graded according to the following six categories.
      Category %
      Abstract & Title 5
      Introduction/Background 5
      Theory/Instrumentation/Experiment 20
      • interpretation
      • errors
      Figures and Tables 20
      • organization
      • neatness/syntax/spelling
      • clarity

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Last updated: 05/02/01 03:52 AM