Dear readers: Please note that I am still revising this article. I realized that there are a lot of typos!
Tips for Scientific Writing and Related Issues
1 The elements of a scientific paper
1.1 The Title
The Title should be informative， specific， and concise (but not too concise， as it should be informative).
1.2 The Abstract
The Abstract should contain all the critical information of the paper. It should give answers to the following questions:
1) What is the motivation or the broad context of the paper?
2) What are the objectives (goals)?
3) How do we achieve the objectives?
4) What are the findings and (optionally) what do the findings mean?
The Abstract should be concise. Therefore， the abstract should provide maximum information with
minimum words. We can organize the Abstract in the following way:
--One or two sentences: State the broad context and/or the motivation.
--One or two sentences: State the objective(s) and the method(s).
--One to several sentences: State the major findings and (optionally) their significance.
Why I think it is optional to state the significance of our findings? Because I think a good work will speak for itself.
1.3 The Introduction
The Introduction is a very important part of a paper. A natural way is to go from the more general aspects to the
specific research problem of the paper. So， the Introduction can be structured as follows:
--One paragraph: Settle down the big context of the paper.
--One paragraph: Go from the large context to the specific field that the paper concerns.
--One to two paragraphs: Motivate to the subject of the paper and briefly state the major findings.
-- One paragraph: (optional) State that how the rest of the paper is organized.
It's a good idea to finalize the Introduction after finishing all the other parts， and check if all the acronyms have been
1.4 The main part of the paper
Different journals have different requirements for this part， but there are some common elements:
1) About the Equations.
Make the equations clean and precise. Be consistent with the use of mathematical symbols. Do not simply
copy equations from other papers; derive/check the equations carefully. There are many errors in the
literature. Do not spread the existing errors.
2) About the Figures.
Figures are usually the best way to present numerical results. However， do not present too many
figures; be selective. Make the legend and figure caption clear and self-contained.
3) About the Tables.
Tables are used for presenting data that are not suitable for figures， such as the data
whose exact values are important.
1.5 The Conclusions
The Conclusions should be brief. One to three small paragraphs are enough. A typical Conclusions section
can be organized in the following way:
--Summarize your results. Only summarize; do not motivate again. The motivation has already
been presented in the Introduction. One paragraph.
-- (Optional) State the significance of your findings， but avoid exaggeration in describing your work.
--(Optional) Point out some possible future directions. It would be great if you can also point out some
shortcomings of your work. This will motivate other people to further study the topic. One
1.6 The Acknowledgement
Firstly thank the people who helped with the research， and then acknowledge the funding sources， We can also thank the anonymous referee if that person discovered major flaws， or made significant suggestions to improve the scientific quality of the paper. I have done this in one of my early papers .
1.7 The Appendix
Not every paper should have an Appendix， but the Appendix is a good place for lengthy mathematical derivations and/or additional tabulated data. We should regard the Appendix as a separate piece of work (like any paper we cite)， to which we refer. Nowadays， it is also popular to have a Supplementary Material (or other similar names)， but I really don't like it.
1.8 The References
--Cite the most important and relevant papers. Do not cite a paper just because
you think the cited author is a potential referee.
--Only give references to papers that you have really read.
--Only give references to papers that are really relevant. Do not cite papers of your own or your friends
if they are irrelevant.
--Cite the original paper， not second ones. For example， if A developed a method and B used it， and
you learned the method from B， then you should cite A， or cite both A and B， but not just cite B.
--There are many improper citations in the literature. We should not follow other’s mistake. We
should follow our own judgment.
2 Language aspects of scientific writing
There are many good suggestions for the language aspects of scientific writing. I only collect a few below:
--Be clear and concise， not ambiguous and convoluted. Write short and simple sentences; avoid long and complicated sentences.
--Be accurate and objective.
--Avoid pretentious language. Use common words and expressions.
3 Publishing， referencing and other ethical aspects
3.1 Why do scientists write and publish?
--Why we write? We write to be read. So we should write with the readers in mind.
--Why we publish? We publish our papers to report new scientific results and get the credit. We do not publish just
because we need a job， a promotion， or a grant.
3.2 The process of writing a scientific paper
--Start to draft as early as possible.
--Once we are satisfied with our draft， it's a good idea to show it to others， at leat to our collaborators.
Modify the draft in the light of their comments and suggestions and repeat the process several times.
--When you and all the co-authors are very satisfied with the manuscript， it is ready to submit.
--It is very important
that all the co-authors must read the final manuscript carefully before submitting.
3.3 About the authorship
Discuss with all the potential co-authors about the following aspects of the authorship:
--Which names should be in the author list?
--What should be the order of the authors?
--Who is the corresponding author?
Do not add non-contributing authors. Paticularly， never
include a person as a co-author without her awareness.
I have had a very unpleasant experience. I have had a collaboration with some one who had only shown me the manuscript once and hadn't notified me before submitting/resubmitting. My name was written as Zhezhong Fan (My name is Zheyong Fan) in the published paper! Actually， I do not dare to include that paper in my publication list!
3.4 About plagiarization
--Do not plagiarize. That is， do not copy others. We should cite， not copy.
--Do not self-plagiarize. That is， do not copy ourselves. We should cite ourselves， not duplicate.
3.5 How to review papers?
Referencing is important， perhaps as important as doing research. Refereeing other scientists’ papers is not a waste of time. So， Accept to referee if you are able to report and review it carefully and timely. However， do not
--pass a manuscript under review to others (e.g.， our students)
--contact the authors of the paper
--accept to review a manuscript if we are not able to do it (the correct way is to recommend
someone else to the editor)
Z. Fan and H. de Garis， Braid matrices and quantum gates for Ising anyons topological quantum computation， The European Physical Journal B 74， 419-427 (2010). See the Acknowledgements of this paper for an example of acknowledging the anonymous referees.
（小木虫 | 关于论文写作、投稿以及审稿的一些建议）