Documenting your science is equally if not more important than building your model and collecting data. If you don’t document your results and present them in an easily understood format, no one will ever know what you found! The scientific research paper is the format most commonly used in the field to achieve this and your final paper for the class will need to follow this format.


The final paper is due along with your code Monday March 15th at 5pm on Moodle. I cannot accept work beyond this time because of college-wide policy, unless you get an extension through the Dean of Students office.


Your paper should be prepared such that it could be submitted to the ALIFE conference even if you choose not to do so. Therefore, you should use the provided templates, linked on this page under the “Author Guidelines” section. There are three templates:

  • LaTeX example file, which you can download if you know how to edit and compile LaTeX files locally
  • Word template if you don’t know LaTeX and want to just put your text into a Word document
  • Overleaf template, which allows you to use the website to edit and compile LaTeX, this can be a good introduction to LaTeX if you’ve been meaning to learn it

Note that the ALIFE length limit is 8 pages!


Your paper should follow the instructions of and include all the sections discussed in the Scientific Papers Guide:

  • Title
  • Abstract (which is limited to 250 words)
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results and Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References

You can and probably should include subsections within these sections.

Remember that your paper should first motivate the importance and interest of your research question (Introduction), explain how you built a model to answer that question (Methods), and explain what you found and what those results imply for your question (Results and Discussion). The Abstract and Conclusion both summarize, though the abstract assumes the reader hasn’t read the rest of the paper first, whereas the conclusion is more about reminding the reader and summarizing what they just read in addition to discussing potential future work.

Formative Assessment

Because of the importance of this paper, there are several opportunities to get feedback before you submit your final draft.

Peer Review

We’ll follow the same peer review process that we did for the proposals. You will submit a draft Wednesday March 3rd by 10pm, I will distribute those drafts via email the morning of March 4th and you will be expected to read the draft you receive and prepare suggestions for your peer that you will discuss in class on Friday March 5th.

Draft Review

After you make updates to your draft based on peer feedback, you will submit a draft to me on Wednesday March 10th by 10pm and I will give you feedback that includes what grade the paper would receive if you submitted it as your final paper and suggestions on how to make improvements. I will return that feedback to you on Friday March 12th at the latest.


Your final paper will be graded on the following out of 100:

Item Points
Title accurately describes research findings/question 5
Abstract is the appropriate length and accurately summarizes the paper 5
Introduction explains appropriate background and motivates the research question 10
Introduction ends with research question/hypothesis and how the paper will answer it 5
Methods sufficiently describe the experimental model and method 10
Results describe the results found in sufficient detail 10
Discussion (possibly combined with Results) describes the implications of the results well 10
Logic of the implications well grounded (ie isn’t an unsupported claim) but also goes beyond simply describing the results 10
Conclusion sufficiently summarizes paper 5
Conclusion addresses weaknesses of the study and/or suggests future work directions 5
References are correctly formatted 5
Paper is well-organized within sections, paragraphs follow logical structure 10
Paper follows required academic style (few spelling and grammatical errors, otherwise follows the required style) 10