Writing your (first) Paper

Ten simple rules for structuring your paper

If you’re wondering how to go about writing a paper then this overview by Brett Mensh and Konrad Kording might be just the thing for you! Originally published in PLoS Computational Biology but applicable to all papers. You can read the full text of the article here and you’ll find a few snippets below :-)


General rules

Rule 1: Focus your paper on a central contribution, which you communicate in the title

Rule 2: Write for flesh-and-blood human beings who do not know your work

Rule 3: Stick to the context-content-conclusion (C-C-C) scheme

Rule 4: Optimize your logical flow by avoiding zig-zag and using parallelism

The components of a paper

Rule 5: Tell a complete story in the abstract

Rule 6: Communicate why the paper matters in the introduction

Rule 7: Deliver the results as a sequence of statements, supported by figures,that connect logically to support the central contribution

Rule 8: Discuss how the gap was filled, the limitations of the interpretation, and the relevance to the field


Rule 9: Allocate time where it matters:Title, abstract, figures, and outlining

Rule 10: Get feedback to reduce, reuse, and recycle the story