Science Guidelines

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Thank you so much for deciding to contribute to MEpedia, and for rolling up your sleeves to work on the science! Let's dive right in.

Not sure where to start? Try our How to contribute page after this one.

Guidelines for writing in MEpedia[edit | edit source]

Goals[edit | edit source]

The basic goals of an MEpedia science article are to:

  • Inform the reader of the basics
  • Provide resources via links and citations so the reader can learn more

Start with a one-paragraph summary[edit | edit source]

At the start of every article on MEpedia, there should be a plain-language summary of the content below. Sometimes, it is easier to write the summary last; you will have a much clearer conception of the main idea once the rest of your writing is done. The summary should appear above any sections you create, making it show up above the table of contents.

Outlines[edit | edit source]

You can find MEpedia article outlines for types of treatments, medical hypotheses, and body systems, e.g.. Just copy the outline (Ctrl-C) and paste it (Ctrl-V) into the article to have a template you can use.

Guidelines for writing science in MEpedia[edit | edit source]

Just the facts[edit | edit source]

Science writing should be about what we know to be true, so far as our current understanding of science can tell us.

It's important to omit descriptive words that encourage the reader to think in a certain way, such as adjectives and adverbs. For example, "intriguingly", "disastrously", and other adverbs inform the reader what they ought to think about the next piece of information. The facts must speak for themselves.

Less is more[edit | edit source]

The goal of an MEpedia page is to inform the reader of the basics and link out to resources that will provide a more thorough grounding in the topic. To best serve our community in the long run, that may mean reading a long article and typing one sentence (or even one phrase!) into MEpedia.

If you aren't certain how to interpret a study or summarize it, you may be able to find more information if you look on Phoenix Rising or Science for ME and search for the study's title in quotes. Often there will be a thread with detailed discussions of the study's implications. You may also check out the MEpedia Project Facebook page and chat about the study there, or go to the Volunteer Slack and connect with other MEpedia volunteers.

Do your best to avoid cutting and pasting, or paraphrasing blocks of information. Find the simplest way to convey the information so that brain-fogged readers can understand.

Use equivocal language[edit | edit source]

Recognize that scientific fact changes by using equivocal language: "it may be that..." "it is possible that..." are good examples. Avoid language like "it has been proved" or "we now know".

Cite everything[edit | edit source]

Even if you are certain it is true, if you can't cite it, you can't say it.

When should I cite?[edit | edit source]

According to Citing References in Scientific Research Papers,
You should acknowledge a source any time (and every time) you use a fact or an idea that you obtained from that source. Thus, clearly, you need to cite sources for all direct quotations. But you also need to cite sources from which you paraphrase or summarize facts or ideas -- whether you've put the fact or idea into your own words or not...[1]

Secondary vs primary sources[edit | edit source]

If you have worked on medical pages on Wikipedia before, you may be aware that they encourage the use of review articles (secondary sources). There are few review articles on ME, so it is acceptable to cite primary sources, so long as you use the equivocal language described above.

How to cite[edit | edit source]

Shows MEpedia banner with citation button
MEpedia banner with citation button
  1. First, check out the top menu running right alongside the MEpedia logo and find the button that says 'cite'.
  2. When you click the 'cite' button, you should see a drop-down menu that offers you options, depending on whether you are citing a website, a book, a news article, a scientific journal, a basic reference, or to re-use a previous reference.
    1. Pop-up displayed when you choose to cite a journal
      Pop-up displayed when you choose to cite a journal
      Use journal for any scholarly source. Scholarly sources are anything from pubmed or a scientific journal online or in print.
    2. Use news for anything from a news outlet or a blog discussing the news. Note: if a news article or blog is discussing science, go back to the original source (the journal) and use the information you find in that original source. Don't count on the writer of the blog to have gotten it right!
    3. Use basic when you aren't sure what category to use.
    4. Important time saver! 'Re-use' if you have already cited a source once in the same article.
  3. When you choose to cite a journal, the pop-up box at right will be displayed: You will see places to fill in the information you know about the article. Items with an asterisk next to them mean you must enter that information.
  4. Often, the journal citation will have information like page number or issue number. Scientific journals may also have multiple authors, even though there is room for only a few in the drop-down menu provided. If you scroll down to the bottom and click the 'add more information' button (circled at right), then you will be able to add that information easily.
  5. When you are finished, click the blue 'insert' button at the top right-hand side of the pop-up box.

Learn more[edit | edit source]

MEpedia article outlines

How to contribute
  1. Allen, Timothy T. (2000). "Citing References in Scientific Research Papers". Retrieved May 21, 2018. 


The information provided at this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness.

From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history