Revised March, 2009 from Diane McKnight’s 2005 version
The Editor of JGR-Biogeosciences, Dennis Baldocchi, encourages authors to consider the following formatting suggestions for the major sections of an article:
Abstract: Abstracts are not Summaries. They should be short, concise and aid the potential reader to decide if she or he should read the whole paper, or its parts. Briefly (1) state the major theme addressed by the research (2) identify the method used to measure or model the system and (3) distill the findings and report the key and overarching findings. Do not use symbols to describe common variables. Instead use descriptive words. We want to make this information accessible to the educated, but non-expert, reader, too.
Introduction: Broadly explain how this study addresses an important question in the field and how it is relevant to important concepts. Provide a discussion that forges a scholarly link to a few key papers that preceded this work; the literature review does not need to be exhaustive, but it should be sufficient and demonstrate an intimate knowledge of the field. Towards the end, the articulate the main objectives and describe what hypotheses are being tested. The final paragraph should briefly explain the approach that was taken to address the question and should summarize the major result.
Site Description (as appropriate): Concisely present the key features of the field site (e.g. location, soil type/texture, vegetation functional type/species, leaf area index) that are relevant to interpreting the results, with citations to relevant papers or theses describing research conducted at the site.
Methods: Present concise information, including information on time and space sampling, on error in measurements and calibration procedures. The details of the modeling or statistical analysis should be described in a subsection.
Results: Organize results in a logical sequence. Describe key findings, not every nuance of each graph or table.
Discussion: Synthesize the results in an organized sequence of ideas; it is not necessary to rehash results in the same order as presented in the results section.
Results/Discussion: Combined use of Results/Discussion is controversial. Some journals discourage this type of organization. On the other hand, it has been my experience that combining the Results and Discussion reduces redundancy and facilitates the logical flow of information; research findings are interpreted immediately, rather than deep into the paper. When appropriate, manuscripts that combine these sections may be submitted to the Journal.
Conclusions and Implications: Briefly summarize the results in the context of applications or implications for other fields. This section should be targeted broadly, for example, not only to members of the Biogeosciences section but also to geophysicists throughout AGU.
Suggestions from the Editor
Before drafting a research paper it is useful to create a story-board that contains the key figures you intend to incorporate into the paper. This will help the authors organize the manuscript better and discriminate among the most relevant figures to be included.
Finally, we encourage authors to organize their papers in such a way that key information can be extracted by curious readers with skimming or brief reading or by experts interested in the details in depth reading:
- Skimmed (abstract and figures only; abstract, figures, and some captions and tables; conclusions and implications section)
- Examined in a more through manner (abstract, introduction, figures and captions and tables, and some text of results and discussion section)
- Read carefully from beginning to end, typically as part of planning follow-up research or for citation in paper the scientist is writing.
If you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.