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Preparing the Research Paper

A paper and abstract describing a student’s research are required of all students who wish to enter the TJSHS competition. Students are to select the most appropriate field of research from the following six categories established by the JSHS:

  1. Environmental Science; Earth and Space Science
  2. Engineering
  3. Physical Sciences (including chemistry, physics, and astronomy)
  4. Life Sciences
  5. Medicine and Health; Behavioral and Social Sciences
  6. Mathematics and Computer Science

The paper must be prepared in 11 pt Arial or 12 pt Times New Roman font and stapled in the upper left hand corner (if mailed). Two copies of the research paper should be prepared as follows:

  1.  An original with the names of the student, high school, and supporting teacher/sponsor and/or research mentor on the cover page
  2.  A second copy of the paper without this information on the cover page to be used for judging

Research papers should be written in third person using the following format. Electronic submission of papers is encouraged. Please submit as a PDF file to this e-mail address:  jbranno4@utk.edu.

Format for the Research Paper

Cover Page—The cover page must contain the title of the research and the category of the research field selected from one of the six categories listed above. Make sure your title is concise but also descriptive. On one copy, include your name, teacher/sponsor and/or research mentor, and your school address.

Animal Research—If your research involves animals, include a statement of approval for your research by the animal research review board of the laboratory or university in which the research was conducted.

Acknowledgment of major assistance—Include a statement on where and when the research was conducted, as well as acknowledgement of everyone who assisted you with the study. If the work was part of a larger project involving other scientists (e.g., college students, postdoctoral students, or other professionals), be sure to list what part of the work in which you were engaged.

Project Information Form—The Project Information Form needs to be filled out by the student and signed by both the high school teacher/sponsor and the research mentor under whose guidance the student conducted the research. A single copy of this form needs to be submitted with the research paper. Completion of this form is a requirement to be eligible for the TJSHS competition.

Table of Contents—List the topics and subtopics in order and the page numbers on which they begin. Include in the table of contents a list of all graphs, tables, and other representative figures. These should have a title and page number, as well.

Introduction—Write the introduction to provide background, details, and the setting of your specific research scenario. Assume that the reader will be scientifically literate, but may not be familiar with the details. In the introduction, state the purpose of the research study first, and then state the hypotheses that you are testing. Describe what is already known about the research last.

Materials, Methods, and Procedures —State the materials, methods, or procedures used to conduct the research in a step-by-step manner. This section should be written specifically enough so that the research could be replicated if someone were to follow the steps.

Results (Data or Findings)—Present the results of your research findings in logical order. Use graphs, tables, and/or pictures to represent your findings. Tables and graphs should be numbered separately and include captions so that the reader can refer to them more easily in the text. Explain the important features of each table, graph, etc. Report the results of your statistical analyses and the type of statistical test used.

Discussion and Conclusions—In this section, interpret your results. First, restate the hypotheses, and explain how the data either supported or rejected the initial research inquiry. Discuss your research findings in relationship to what is already known about the topic (reported in the introduction section). Draw conclusions based upon your research findings. The conclusions can include relevant, subjective observations or comments, but do state that these are your speculations. Acknowledge any limitations that affected the research results. For example, the statistical techniques used to manipulate the data may have had limitations. Some of the treatment effect might have been caused by a random, uncontrolled intervening variable. Again, acknowledge these limitations and other factors over which you had no control, and state how these might have influenced the study outcomes. Address what further experiments need to be performed.

Literature Cited —A list of citations for every article cited in your text needs to be included on a separate page. Endnotes are needed for all direct quotations and for all important statements of facts or opinions that are taken from written sources. Figures, dates, descriptions of situations, scientific data, opinion, representations, and the like—which are presented to advance the subject of the paper—need a stated source. Check with your teacher or other advisors if you need further assistance in the format for endnotes.

Appendices—In some cases, you may wish to include large tables of raw data in your report. You should include such items in an appendix at the very end of your research report. Label and paginate your appendices.

Helpful Hints for Abstracts and Papers

  1. Use past tense and third person in describing completed research, and use present tense when stating existing facts and what is in the paper.
  2. Incorrect spelling and sentence structure will discourage interest in your project and may call into question how carefully the science was done.
  3. Assume that the reader is scientifically literate with a good technical vocabulary, but try to avoid use of highly specialized words, jargon, or abbreviations without definition.
  4. In an abstract, if reference to procedure is essential, try to restrict it to identification of method or type of process employed. In the research paper, discuss the details of procedures and equipment.
  5. State results, conclusions, or findings in a clear, concise fashion. Do not over-interpret your results.
  6. Have your teacher and/or research mentor read your abstract and paper to make sure it communicates well.
  7. Use the Judging Criteria Form to see that all parts of your abstract and your paper are present.
  8. Cite relevant literature within the text and provide a literature cited list at the end of your project. An example of an acceptable style for citation is available at the ACS Publications website.

Note to students: Plagiarism in any form will result in disqualification of your project.

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