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scientific names of organisms in a medical dissertation

How to Present the Scientific Names of Organisms in a Medical Dissertation?

Medical dissertation commonly uses the scientific names of various organisms, be it a plant, animal, or any other organism.  Such names are always expressed in the Latin language and consist of two parts; like Homo sapiens for humans. The first part, Homo, is a noun which means “man” and the second part, sapiens, is its adjective which means “wise”.

Rigid rules and conventions are present in the field of science for expressing the names of the organisms. Various systems govern the nomenclature of organisms, such as the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature, the International Code of Nomenclature of Bacteria, and the International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants.

Thus, a doctorate student must be aware of how to present the scientific names of the organisms in their medical dissertation. This is because incorrect representation of the scientific names will lead to the rejection of your dissertation, and cost you your doctorate degree.

So, the accepted style to present the scientific names of organisms is:

1. Capitalization: When you use the Latin name of the organism, the first part represents the genus, and always starts with a capital letter. The second part is the name of the species and always starts with a small letter. E.g. Ocimum sanctum (tulsi), Felis catus (cat) and so on.

Plus, if you use a single letter to denote the genus, it must be in capital and always followed by a dot (e.g. Z.officinale, S.nigrum)

Please note: when you use MS Word to write your medical dissertation, it considers this dot as a full-stop and automatically capitalises the next letter. Check it and change to the desired format before submitting your dissertation.

2.Italics: Although you must write the scientific names in italics, if the surrounding text is also in italics, then write the names in the normal, upright form.

3.Abbreviations: Authors commonly use the complete name at the first mention and then onwards abbreviate the name of the genus to the initial letter, such as the common species of wheat is Triticum aestivum; Macaroni wheat is T. turgidum.

But, sometimes different genera are represented with the same initial letter, as in Solanum tuberosum (potato) and Sorghum bicolor (millet).

So, in such a case, to avoid any confusion, specify the name of the genus completely instead of using the initial letter only.

4.Referring to unspecified species: At times authors refer to one or more species without specifying its exact name i.e. without giving the second part of the Latin name. In such cases, it is acceptable to use ‘sp.’ (singular) or ‘spp.’ (plural) in your content.

E.g. ‘several Triticum spp. were compared’ or ‘the collection included two specimens of Zingiber officinale, three of Mangifera indica, and one of Citrus sp.’  The ‘species’ word which is abbreviated is not used in italics but in a normal format and always ends with the dot.

Hope, you will pay attention to these minute details while writing the scientific names of organisms in your medical dissertation.

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