For an academic researcher paper writing is often the culmination of hundreds, if not many thousands of hours of work. The data is collected, a story is shaping up - how do you go about transmitting your newly found wisdom to your peers?
I have witnessed firsthand several different paper writing styles and practices and am the first to admit that there's no single best way to this. There's some good advice out there, though. For example, Bill Wells suggests in his aptly titled paper "Me Write Pretty One Day: How to Write a Good Scientific Paper" 'a few small steps" to make "...scientific writing clear, straightforward, and digestible". As I'm starting to write a paper myself I find it useful to look at this paper to remind myself of how to write clearly, to define what's my point and then adhere to the 'show, don't tell' rule. Wells guides his readers through 'The Anatomy of a Paper' and gives a lot of good advise on how to tell our story.
As a reader of a protein crystallization paper I expect to see the following:
1. The amino acid sequence of the protein that's expressed.
2. Description of a typical expression and purification experiment. What's the yield & purity? Are there functional assays that provide checkpoints for anybody who wishes to repeat your work?
3. A detailed description of what happened between eluting the protein from the last column and before setting it up for crystallization: temperature(s), storage conditions and time, dialysis (time, volume, MWCO used, volume ratio), concentrating device, centrifugation, filtration, addition of ligands.
4. The crystallization experiment/regime: composition of precipitant solution buffers, crystallization type, volumes, trays, dispensing methodology (stirred or mixed?), screen used, time it took for crystals to show up. Any 'out of the norm' observations, such as 'crystals formed at the air liquid interface'
5. Crystallization result: how many crystals, crystal habit, size, crystal quality (X-ray diffraction limit and any 'Table 1' associated data that resulted from a complete data set). Describe reproducibility (only 1 drop out of 10 produced crystals?, only 1 out of 10 crystals diffracted?) and any insight gained while handling the crystals (did the crystals bend when looping out, do they tend to break? Do they 'melt' when the temperature is changed?).
6. X-ray diffraction experiment: treatment of crystal (cryo used, orientation crystal was mounted) before and during exposure to X-rays. Diffraction equipment used, exposure time, sweep angle.
7. Two images of the crystals: close-up to see the crystal habit and an overview of the entire crystallization experiment. An X-ray image showing diffraction spots (crystal oriented along a special axis would rock).
There's really no good reason to hold back with any such details in a protein crystallization paper (I won't hold it against you when I review your paper). After all, one of the reasons you're writing the crystallization paper is that you aim to provide instructions to a crystallizer who seeks to enable repetition of your work in the future. This is a neat way you can 'pay back' to all scientists that provided you with insightful tips in their papers and that have helped you succeed with your own protein crystallization research project. Pass on the baton.