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Food Chain Procedures for Research Papers

Scientific journals from all disciplines have writing standards that scientific researchers must comply with in order to get their research work published and recognized. Food Chain will also have its own standards which are described on this webpage.

To accommodate papers from high school biology students, the Food Chain editor (Dave Volek) will not enforce his standards as rigorously as scientific journals enforce their standards. The editor will allow a few spelling and grammar mistakes, a few paragraphs that are not quite effective, and a few poorly documented citations. The editor will allow papers that don't exactly follow the suggested structure.

Having allowed lower standards, it should be said that the closer one writes a paper to the stated standards, the better chance it will be accepted by the editor.

Please note that the Food Chain editor is not going to edit your paper for you. He will only read it once or twice to determine whether to accept or reject it. If it is accepted, he will forward it to his website manager to upload it at her convenience. Whatever errors are inherent in your paper will be there for the rest of the Food Chain fans to see.

So the editor recommends you finding your own editor or advisor, especially if English is not your first language.

Remember that after being published on the Food Chain website, any papers are not subject to changes or removal. When you submit your paper to the Food Chain editor, you are giving permission for this website to publish it.

All papers should be presented in a Microsoft Word file. Any graphs and photos should be embedded in the file, but should also be sent independently for the website manager, either as prepared graphs in an EXCL file or as JPG files for photos.

While there is no limit to your paper's length, keep it focused on one particular objective. Papers that seem to have several objectives should be divided into their objectives. Such papers will likely not be accepted.

Paper Structure

All papers will be published as a single webpage on the Food Chain website. A Table of Contents (set up by the website manager) will start each paper.

Title Section

  • Paper Number: This will be filled in by the editor.
  • Title: Provide an interesting title with less than 50 characters.
  • Author(s): First Name & Last Name of each author.
  • Advisors & Editors: First & Last name. Such names will be given a lower prominence in the published document.
  • Representative Institution: If enrolled in a high school at the time of the writing of the paper, college, or university, the name of the institution should follow the author names. If a college or university is represented, the faculty should also be named. If the writer is working for another institution and wants to list this institution, it will be assumed that the writer has obtained permission to use the institution's name on this website. URL addresses are encouraged; if provided, they will be linked. The representative institution can also be left blank if the author does not wish to name any institution.
  • Date Accepted: This will be filled in by the editor. Month and Year will be reported.

Abstract Section

  • Provide one paragraphs that describes the objectives (500 character limit).
  • Provide one paragraph that describes the conclusion (500 character limit).

Objective & Previous Research

Give a more detailed explanation of the objective. State the hypothesis you are trying to prove or disprove.

Give a summary of biology books, papers, or Food Chain papers that helped formulate the objective. Cite the author's name and page number/direct link in parentheses next to the research cited; for example:

  • (Volek, p. 3)

If there is not a distinct author(s), cite the book, paper, or website name. Use page number or URL:

  • (Nelson Biology, p. 383)
  • (Population Growth,

Prepare a set full details for each source cited in the bibliography.

These are minimum standards for citing references. If the author wishes to provide extra publishing details or follow other accepted styles such as MLA or APA, the Food Chain editor will not disallow the paper because of an advanced style. Whatever style the author is using, however, must be communicative to other Food Chain readers.


Give a detailed explanation of the procedures to attain the objective.

Observation & Data Section

  • Provide verbal qualitative description of the experiment related to the objective.
  • Show data tables and charts related to the objective.
  • Graphs shall be both embedded in the Word Document and provided to the editor in an Microsoft Excel File. Graphs should include a title, labeling of the two axes. Other features are optional. If there is no EXCEL file with the appropriate graphs, the paper will not be accepted! The website manager needs alternatives in case the graphs in the WORD file do not work.
  • Refrain from making any conclusions on this page.

Conclusion Section

  • Describe any conclusions from the experiment.
  • State reasons for these conclusions.
  • Provide any theoretical correlations, either mathematical models or statistical theory.
  • Use the MS-Word equation editor to display any equations. If the website manager has trouble converting these equations into a reasonable HTML format, the editor may ask the writer to supply an image of the equation before publishing is allowed.

Other Observations and Conclusions (Optional)

  • State any observations, data tables, graphs, and conclusions that were not part of the original objective.
  • Think of leading other researchers into these directions. You might even be that researcher, but in another paper. In other words, keep the paper focused mostly on the original objective.
  • Keep this section brief.


Provide details of all sources cited in this format.

Food Chain Paper
Paper Title, Author(s), Food Chain #____ <link>, Month & Year of Publishing

Book Name, Author(s), Publishing Company, Year of Publishing

Paper Name, Author(s), Journal, Year of Publishing

Website Name <direct link>, Author(s), Website Publisher, Year of Publishing

These are minimum standards for listing sources. If the author wishes to provide extra publishing details or follow other accepted styles such as MLA or APA, the Food Chain editor will not disallow the paper because of an advanced style. Whatever style the author is using, however, must be communicative to other Food Chain readers.

Author(s) Section

Provide one paragraph that describes each author (500 character limit).

Author photos are optional and should be sized approximately 150 tall x 100 wide pixels and in JPG format. If website manager has problems with putting photos on the website, they will not be used.

The editor may or may not allow other artistic work to represent the author as “the photo.”

Style Guide


When using these word in relation to the Food Chain Simulation, the following words should be capitalized, regardless of their position in the sentence:

  • Food Chain
  • Laboratory
  • Ecosystem
  • Quest
  • Bionumbers Quest
  • Biomass Quest
  • Bioenergy Quest

Paper Accuracy & Diplomacy

Dave Volek knows the exact correlations that built the Food Chain simulation and hence will immediately know if the writer is making accurate or inaccurate conclusions. However, he will not be offering any indication as to any paper's accuracy. This would interfere with the intent of Food Chain fans discovering the correlations by themselves. So a few inaccurate Food Chain papers are going to be part of this collective scientific process, and Food Chain fans should not always agree to their findings and conclusions of their colleagues just because a paper got published.

When you can't replicate another researcher's data or you disagree with another researcher's conclusions, give your opinion with the intent of bettering the science, not to make someone look silly or foolish. Consider the tone of your paper. You want to look professional when disagreeing with other researchers.

A paper that seems to have the intent to be personally attacking other researchers will not be published.

Remember that we all should be working together to find the truth of this ecosystem (except for Dave Volek who already knows the correlations).

Publishing Important Discoveries

If you want to claim that you were the first to discover something important about the science of Dave Volek's Food Chain, you will need to publish a paper about your discovery. If you don't—and another researcher finds the same discovery later and publishes the first paper on that discovery, that researcher will get the credit and recognition. It will be that researcher's paper that gets read and referred to as the science of Food Chain becomes better understood.

Not all papers will be important discoveries. Research can be done to verify the findings of other researchers. Repeating experiments by other scientists is an important part of the scientific process. Such experiments and their papers should be easier to conduct and prepare than the “pure research.”

Research can be done to test out techniques to attain high scores in the simulation. Papers can be written to describe these techniques.

Sometimes research is done and published with no real direct importance. But this research could lead to more important research—by you or someone else. So even if you think your experiments and observation in Dave Volek's Food Chain are not that important, consider writing a paper about what you have done. If nothing else, this is good scientific practice for you—and the researcher building on your discovery should give you credit for the inspiration.

Examples of Great Papers

The following papers are indicative of the scientific intent, process, and conclusions; style, and tone the editor is looking for:

Science · Laboratory · Ecosystem · Quest · Laboratory Trials · Ecosystem Trials · Quest Trials
Discussion · Journal · Hall of Fame · Design · Participation · Contacts & Credits

© 2011 Dave Volek. All Rights Reserved.