Organization of the paper

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Because you are writing a review paper, not presenting new results, the structure of your paper will not follow the format of most of the papers you have read. Your paper should be divided up into sections as indicated below:

• Title
• Abstract
• Main Text
The main text should be subdivided to help the reader follow the structure of your paper. All papers will have an introduction and conclusion. In between, the text should be divided using headings that identify your main points.
• Conclusions
• Literature Cited

Title–The title should be brief and informative. This is the bait that lures the potential reader to continue, so it is worth choosing carefully.

Abstract–This brief section (less than a page) gives a concise, specific, balanced summary of the main points made in your paper. It should present both your thesis (i.e. main claim) and major lines of argument. Write it after you have finished a full draft of the paper. It should be comprehensible to a reader who has not read your paper.

Introduction–This section will probably be two to three pages long. The purposes of the introduction are to introduce your specific question, put it into a general framework, and provide necessary background information for the reader. State the specific question that you are asking and how you plan to answer it. Put the topic into some more general context so that your reader understands why the topic is interesting and important. For example, if your question is “Why do century plants reproduce only once, at the end of their lives, while oak trees reproduce every year?,” then the context might be the ecological forces directing the evolution of different life-history strategies in plants and other organisms. Also use this section to explain HOW you are going to go about addressing the topic. Being clear on the structure of the paper from the beginning will make it easier for the reader to follow your arguments. In the above example, you might state that you are going to 1) summarize several hypotheses specific to long-lived organisms, 2) place long-lived organisms in the more general context of the r-selection/k-selection, 3) briefly discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each hypothesis, and finally 4) argue for a particular one of these hypotheses to explain the century plant and oak patterns.

Body of the text–This section should present an objective, unbiased account of the relevant information from the primary literature and your critical evaluation of that literature. It will be most effective to present information organized around key points that you need to demonstrate in order to support your hypothesis. Do not simply summarize the papers being discussed. Instead, give the reader enough information about their data so that your arguments can be followed and your opinions understood and evaluated. Being critical does not necessarily mean finding flaws in the papers. Rather, it involves expressing a reasoned opinion on a matter, involving judgment on its correctness, value, or significance. The quality of your paper rests on how well you support your view, not on what position you choose to support. This section should be organized around informative subheadings that help the reader navigate through your arguments. The main point of each paragraph should be clear and supported by evidence from the literature. You must use proper citation format when presenting data or conclusions from the papers you have read.

Conclusions–In this section, present your own conclusions and analysis of the information you have presented. The quality of your paper rests on how well you support your view, not on what position you choose to support. If there is no controversy, then use this section to synthesize the major conclusions of the papers you have read. Be sure to return to the general context you established in the introduction.

Literature cited–This is exactly what it says: a list of all the papers that you have cited in the body your paper. Be sure to include all papers that are mentioned by author/date in your text. It is not appropriate to list papers that may have something to do with your topic but that are not cited specifically. In this section, follow the format of the journal Evolution.