Please review the guidelines carefully before submitting.
All middle-school and high-school students are encouraged.
Access to university labs and advanced techniques are not required.
Ability and passion to answer scientific questions by carry out independent research project are required.
A senior mentor as a last author is NOT necessary.
A teacher or college/university professor can serve as a senior mentor if research was performed in a school or university.
A parent can serve as a senior mentor if research was conducted at home.
Manuscript Format & Content
Formatting Guidelines for Submission
All manuscripts submitted should be doubled space with 12 point, preferably in Times New Roman, font. While we do not have a page limit, we hope that all the paper submitted should consist several sections.
A title page should include:
A title which succinctly describes the content of the manuscript
The name of the author(s) with the teacher or mentor’s name listed last (if they are involved)
Each author’s institution or school affiliations
An abstract should be a short summary (no longer than a page) before the introduction section. It should include:
The problem that prompted the study or why is the object worth studying
The research question or purpose of the study
The main hypothesis
A brief summary of the results
Conclusions and implications of the findings
The article must provide an appropriate and sufficient background on the subject matter and must include references. The introduction provides context for the manuscript. The introduction should:
Briefly describe the overarching scientific topic of the paper
Provide background information on that scientific question (including references) such that the audience understands the question being asked and why this question is of interest
Contain a clearly-stated purpose/hypothesis related to a scientific question
Briefly summarize the conclusions drawn from previous authors’ research
Material and Methods (if applicable, required for all scientific paper)
The authors should describe the methods in enough detail such that a different scientist could perform the same experiments and obtain the same results. Materials should not be listed out but should be mentioned within the context of the respective experiment that the materials were used. For example, when explaining a method within this section, the author could state the materials used: “bacteria were grown in standard LB media (FisherSci) for 24 hours at 37°C while shaking.”
The authors must describe in paragraph format how they test the scientific question with well-designed scientific experiments. It is important to discuss experimental controls and statistical analysis when appropriate and to draw appropriate and reasonable conclusions from experimental data. For each experiment, the authors must:
Describe the rationale for the experiment
Interpret the scientific data, referencing the figures that contain the results (graphs, charts, tables, equations, etc).
In the discussion section, the authors should discuss the results and their interpretation of the results. It is important that the authors draw appropriate and reasonable conclusions from their scientific data. The authors should:
Summarize the experimental results and draw conclusions from the experimental data.
Discuss factors or limitations that could have influenced the results, such as sources of error or bias in interpretation.
Human error is assumed and does not need to be the primary focus of the discussion of limitations. It is important to point out if a particular type of error was more likely than others and why.
Address the significance of the results
Discuss remaining scientific questions and/or potential future experiments. Have fun with this! Future directions is where you can propose essentially limitless experiments. It is also important to address what further studies would be needed in order to apply the findings from the current study. For example, studies testing novel pharmaceutical drugs as treatment for a disease should describe what would need to be done to get such a drug into clinical trials (in vitro studies demonstrating mechanism of action, in vivo studies demonstrating safety and efficacy in animal models, etc).
Figures, Tables, and Captions (if applicable)
Data figures/tables and statistical analysis are important for making the argument for the conclusions of a manuscript. Through these things, the reader can see the data and information that led to the conclusions, and they can make decisions about whether they believe the conclusions the authors make. First-time authors often make mistakes in how they present this information in the results section by putting too much focus on the figure or statistic itself and not putting the result in the context of the study. Instead, we recommend that authors reference their figures and statistics similar to citing literature in the introduction to support the claims or conclusions drawn from the data.
On average, plants grown in X-containing soil grew to be 10 ± 2 inches tall compared to 5 ± 1 inches for control plants (Figure 1).
Seeds planted in soil containing X grew significantly taller than plants in regular potting soil (p = 0.01).
Figures and Tables
Formatting Your Table
Tables are generally used to display raw data, compare your data to those previously published, and/or explain variables. They can help display your data in a way that is easily accessible to readers compared to long lists of numbers within the text.
Here are some items to keep in mind:
Column and Row Titles
The titles should be clear and concise so that the reader can quickly understand the data being shown. If you have measurements, please do not forget to include the units!
You don’t want the table to appear cramped, so make sure that there’s some space within the cells for the text to breathe. If you have text within the cells, think about how long you want the cell to be, and make sure that the text in the cell has a clean, easily distinguished appearance.
Formatting Your Figure
Figures are generally used to highlight the relationship between two variables. They should act as visual aids that highlight the main findings of your experiments.
If you are not sure what to include in the figure, think about your experiment and what is/are the main piece(s) of data. Each piece of data should be represented in a figure, or table, depending on which one works better.
Here are some items to consider: Labels
Each axis should have a clear label to aid readers in understanding the figure. Make sure to include units at the end in parenthesis when needed. Please do not include titles on your graphs! Titles should be located in your figure captions and bolded.
For any data with replicates, data should be graphed with error bars. This tells readers that you collected multiple data points for each condition and also shows the variance within your data. Typically error bars are horizonal (in y-axis), but consult with your mentor or editor if you think they need to be in both directions.
Using color is a great way to help show your data in figures. However, keep your color scheme consistent throughout graphs. This means that if you graph the same treatment on multiple graphs, it should always have the same color/symbol. Likewise, if you have two graphs showing data from unique treatments, the two color schemes should be different.
Using Previously Published Figures
Figures that have been previously published should not be included in your manuscript under most circumstances. If, however, you strongly wish to include a published figure, please consult our editorial team for permission.
Any statement of fact that is not common knowledge must be cited properly. Failure to properly cite sources will be considered plagiarism and manuscripts will be sent back to the authors.
You should also avoid quoting sentences or phrases directly from a source, even if the source is cited properly. Instead, you should paraphrase the sentence in your own words. See the following resources for examples of paraphrasing:
Official websites with “.gov” or “.org” web addresses
Science magazines and new articles
Try to avoid using these kinds of sources:
Wikipedia (or other sites where anyone have access to edit the information)
Blogs and social media posts (unless this kind of medium is related to your study of interest)
The reference list should be in the appropriate MLA format at the end of the manuscript in alphabetical order. A comprehensive guide on the MLA format can be found here. A template of an academic journal citation is as follows:
Author’s last name, first name. “Title of Article.” Name of Journal, vol. X, no. X, Day Month Year, pp. XX-XX. Doi
In-text citations are required in all transcripts. In MLA Style, referring to the works of others in your text is done with applying parenthetical citations whenever a sentence uses a quotation or paraphrase. A comprehensive guide on the MLA in-text citation can be found here. The simplest way to do so is to put all of the source information in parentheses at the end of the sentence (just before the period), and can be commonly found in the following format:
One author: (Author last name, page number)
Two authors: (Author 1 last name and Author 2 last name, page number)
More than two authors: (Author 1 last name et al., page number)
Below is an overview of the review process at SoT.