Formatting, grammar and spelling
Base the design of your paper on how articles in your area are usually designed. However, keep in mind that the target group of your papers are your fellow students, that is students with approximately the same education as you but without the specialist knowledge your project has given you. You must write so that they understand and include more background in your topic than a scientific article would contain. Explain all the terms and abbreviations that are not known from your common basic education. Use as few abbreviations as possible, but when you do, they should be explained the first time they are mentioned (except in the summary). Then the abbreviation can be used.
An abbreviation is not needed if a word is mentioned less than three times. If the text still has many abbreviations, you should make a shortlist and place it between the summary and the introduction. Use a polished written language and avoid informal expressions, slang and words that are difficult to understand for an outsider. If you write in Swedish, then write in Swedish and not in Swenglish! Use complete sentences and make sure all your references in the text are correct. Write short sentences as long sentences often can be misunderstood due to unclear intentions. Keep in mind that generic names of drug substances are written in lowercase.
Do not start sentences with numerals – even in Swedish (this is a strict rule in English text). Numbers up to and including 10 are written as words (for example “three drug classes”). Note that there must be a space between a number and its unit (45 mM). Decimals in English are indicated with decimal points (11.3) but in Swedish with decimal commas (11,3). In English, large numbers are indicated by commas (10,500 = ten thousand five hundred), but in Swedish there are no separators or spaces are used (10500 or 10 500). The number of significant figures in the results should not be more than 3. This means, for example, that 0.030142 is written as 0.0301, and that 0.030191 is written as 0.0302.
The choice of language (Swedish or English) reflects the purpose of the paper and the intended target group. Your teacher will give you more information.
Be consistent when writing in past and present tense. Use past tense when describing the purpose of your investigation, when describing materials and methonds, and when describing your results. Only use present tense for your own work when drawing general conclusions from your results in the discussion. Use past tense also when describing attempts by other people, but use present tense when describing their conclusions.
A common misunderstanding is that you are not allowed to write in first person. Excessive use of first person can be distracting, but an occasional “I” (or “we”) is perfectly fine, especially in the discussion. It is your work and you have every reason to be proud of it. However, do not write “we” if you are the sole author. Another common misunderstanding is that scientific reports should be written in passive form. The paper will become more readable, and you avoid some linguistic traps, if you alternate between passive and active form and avoid nominalisations (turning verbs into nouns). Write “I (or “we”) measured...” instead of “measurements were performed...”.
A practical tip: Use the search function in the word processing program to find all “made”, “done”, “carried out”, “performed" etc. Then read through the sentence with the word and try to rewrite it without that word. This will make the text becomes, clearer, and with fewer language errors. Also use spelling and grammar checking programs (please note that they are intended for general language use and might give erroneous suggestions for scientific texts) and ask someone to proofread your paper, specifically considering language.
Be consistent when formatting your paper. Give all sub-headings the same style and size and select either a new line or and indent for new paragraphs.
The following standard can be used if no other instruction is available:
- Use 12-point Times New Roman
- Write the title in 14-point bold
- Write section headings in bold
- Write figures and tables explanations in 10-point text
- The tables, however, should be in 12-point text
- Place page numbers at the bottom center of each page
- All text should be left-aligned with 2.5 cm margins around the text
- Versions used for comments by teachers and peers should be printed with double line spacing
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