19 Writing a Group Paper

Tips for Writing a Group Paper

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Group Study Room, Leiden University Library” by Libr~CommonsWiki is licensed under a CC-BY 3.0 unported license.

Most papers that scientists write result from the collaborative efforts of two or more researchers. There is a clear expectation that all authors listed on primary literature have made significant and equitable contributions to carrying out the research and in writing the paper itself.  In other words, all authors listed should be able to independently answer “big picture” questions (e.g., justification for study, conclusions about hypothesis) raised by reviewers about the work presented. We model this collaborative nature of science in Biocore by requiring students to work in teams to carry out lab research projects. We also provide a few opportunities for you to get experience writing a collaborative group paper. Here are our expectations and tips for writing group papers:

  • Group papers take longer – Organize your team to begin writing as soon as possible.
  • Communicate regularly -make sure everyone has the information they need and understands the scope of the task.
  • Each team member must make an equivalent contribution – One person should not shoulder the burden of writing for the team.
  • Agree upon a common outline for the paper – The entire team should agree on the conclusions made based on data collected and on the logical argument that will be made to support these conclusions.
  • Shoulder to Shoulder OR Divide and Conquer? – Some teams can sit shoulder to shoulder and compose a paper together. Others find it efficient to assign one to two people per section (Intro, Methods etc..) followed by a peer review by each teammate. If you choose the latter, you need to agree as a team on the final structure and content of the paper.
  • Make it flow- Once sections of paper have been combined and edited, the draft needs to be reviewed and revised so that it flows logically. Before submitting to your TA each person should have a final review for approval.

You will evaluate your group experience using the Biocore Group Effort Analysis rubric in the next chapter.


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Process of Science Companion: Science Communication by University of Wisconsin-Madison Biology Core Curriculum (Biocore) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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