DUJS Style Guide



1.  Journal articles

The DUJS accepts undergraduate science articles of all kinds. What the DUJS looks for is good science and good writing, both of which involve objectivity, clarity, and precision. Content and style both play a role in selecting articles for publication.

Content: Most of the articles are literature reviews, popular science articles, or submissions of original research from a class or independent study. On occasion, other literary content that is related to science, such as poems, plays, and experiences are published at the discretion of the Editorial Board.

Length: 3,000-5,000 words

Naming: Please name the file as follows: LastName_Topic_Version.doc

For example: Smith_cardiac arrest_draft1.doc

Also please include this information in the subject line of all blitzes regarding the article.

Sources: Please make sure to use quality sources in your articles, meaning sources such as peer-reviewed publications and government reports, not blog posts.

Images: Please send 4-5 high quality (200 ppi) images along with your article. Make sure they have a creative commons license, which allows us to reprint them in our journal. When in doubt, use flickr or WikiMedia Commons. Unless you personally contact and receive permission to use images from primary sources (i.e., journals like Science and Nature), please do not send them along with your articles (or we will kindly ask you to find new ones).

2. News articles (online)

Content: News articles are assigned at meetings, and either cover Events or Publications.

Headline: Should sum up the primary focus of the article. The reader should be able to know what the whole article is about just by reading the title. Should be less than eight words

Lede: 1-3 sentences stating the key points in the article without going into details. Should cover the essentials—Who, What, When Where, and Why. Should provide the most interesting point in the article, motivating the reader to continue to find out more.


  • Each paragraph should be only 2-3 sentences long, for ease of reading
  • Keep sentences short and clear.
  • Follow the inverse pyramid structure: Start broad and general, and then narrow in:
    • Start with a general science background describing the subject and how it fits in.
    • Next add details: describe what the study/discovery is, brief methods, findings, and quotes from researchers: This is where the What and the Why are developed in detail
    • End with implications of the study, interesting questions or potential for further study and future research

Sources: Attribute everything—quotes, facts and other information—to your sources using appropriate in-text citation. For example, “According to X, a leading medical dictionary,” “John Doe elaborates,” “NatureNews reported” or “…, said Jane Doe.”

Audience: Write for an intelligent undergraduate who is not familiar with the subject. Define key terms and only use technical jargon if you plan to use it more than once, otherwise find a more general way to phrase it.  Explain the subject in a clear and engaging manner, to convert a lecture or publication aimed at specialists into a synopsis that is both interesting and informative to the general reader.

Length: About 400-600 words.

File name: Please name the file in the following format:

  • MM_DD_LastName_Topic.doc
  • For example (the sample news article below): 07_22_ Flanagan _ scleroderma.doc
  • Sample: Please see section C below for an excellent sample news article.

3. In general

Style:  Aim for Precision, Clarity, and Objectivity at all times.

  • Precision: Ambiguous writing detracts meaning and may cause confusion.  Use specific, precise phrases in place of vague ones.
    • For example, use “positively correlated” instead of “related,” or “New with 25% higher absorbancy!” instead of just “New and improved!”
    • Avoid figuritive language
  • Clarity: Let the reader focus on the content of the article, not the sentence structure. Complex words and long, twisted sentences multiply any confusion inherent in understanding a new scientific topic.
    • Avoid esoteric terminology—define all terms that may be unfamiliar to an educated non-specialist, and only introduce them (with a definition!) if they will be used multiple times.
    • Use short, simple sentences.
    • Use simple words instead of more complex ones. You might think it sounds educated and highly intelligent, but it just detracts from the writing.
Complex Simple
efficacious effective
utilize use
elucidate explain
proximal close
  • Objectivity: Make claims based on facts, not personal opinions, intuition, or emotion. Please be impartial when writing your articles and avoid language that attempts to influence your audience.
  • Active voice: Use it! Active voice is more engaging, and well, active than passive.
    • (Passive) Ability was increased by drug X ⇒ (Active) Drug X increased ability.
    • In some cases, the passive voice is acceptable, especially in methodology sections of research reports: “Caffeine was administered twice daily in 2 mg doses.”  However in news articles, “Researchers administered caffeine…” is preferred.
  • Avoid clichés.
  • Do not capitalize the word “professor” or a department name.
  • Do not use the term “Dr.”
  • Do not include middle initials.
  • Do not include endnotes or footnotes.


  • Sentences should have one space between them.
  • Convert all dashes to “em” dashes—like this.
  • Spell out the word “percent” in the body text of articles, instead of using the percent sign (%).  The percent sign is acceptable within charts, tables, and figures.
  • Italicize Latin phrases such as: in vivo, in vitro, et al. as well as full scientific names. However, genus names alone do not need to be italicized. E.g.: Drosophila melanogaster vs. Drosophila
  • Numbers one through nine must be spelled out, while numbers 10 and beyond can be written in numerals (Except when describing data measurements, ie: There were nine samples in total, with an average concentration of 9 ppm.)
  • Put one space between numbers and units: 9 pmm, 35 °C
  • Do not use contractions.
  • Do not capitalize department names.

Recommended reading:


DUJS now follows APA formatting:

Please refer to the following information from Easybib on how to cite sources using APA:

General Writing – APA Formatting

Journal Article References

Web/Online Article References


C.  Sample News Article

Source: DUJS website, 7/22/08. News article by Alison Flanagan ’10

Link between gene expression and scleroderma discovered Title
Alison Flanagan ’10 Author
An association between gene expression and disease severity in scleroderma patients has been found, Dartmouth Medical School researchers reported online in the journal PLoS One on July 16. First sentence reiterates title
The chronic autoimmune disease, which affects about four times as many women as men, causes skin hardening and internal organ dysfunction, as well as other related conditions. The most severe cases may be systemic and life-threatening. Unfortunately, the basic processes underlying the disease remain elusive. Background
Since relatively little is known about the disease, it has previously been categorized by clinical findings alone, such as by measuring the extent of skin thickening. While two main classifications exist for the disease, limited and diffuse, the latter of which is more severe, this new genetic data shows that the disease is much more diverse than can be observed simply by clinical observations. How new work fits in with previous research
The research team, headed by genetics professor Michael Whitfield, analyzed the gene activity of 28 patients and six control subjects using data from DNA microarrays. Two skin biopsies were taken from each patient, from the forearm and another from the back. Interestingly, although samples taken from the back appear clinically unaffected, they showed the same harmful genes as the affected skin, demonstrating the systemic nature of the disease. The actual study methods
Four distinct groups characterized by specific gene expression profiles were found, and a 177-gene signature was discovered shown to correlate with the severity of this skin disease. Different gene expression was found in patients with limited and diffuse scleroderma, both of which were distinct from the control group. Considered to be the most extensive gene analysis study of scleroderma to date, this research is the first to show that scleroderma can be classified by patterns of gene expression alone. Findings
Ultimately, the aim is to use these genetic signatures to predict the disease trajectory, such as by identifying aggressive cases, and then treat patients accordingly. The ability to now combine clinical phenotypic data and gene analysis opens the possibility for targeted treatment and more accurate diagnoses. Implications and potential for answering questions

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