|Writing Guide Home||
A Guide to Writing
in the Biological Sciences
The Scientific Paper
|First page||Abstract||Introduction||Methods||Results||Discussion||Literature Cited||Examples|
A well-written scientific paper explains the scientist's motivation for doing an experiment, the experimental design and execution, and the meaning of the results. Scientific papers are written in a style that is exceedingly clear and concise. Their purpose is to inform an audience of other scientists about an important issue and to document the particular approach they used to investigate that issue.
Please do not think that good English is not critical in science writing. In fact, scientists try to be so concise that their English should be better than that of workers in other disciplines! If English is not your first language, then proofreading by a native-speaker might be helpful. The Writing Center offers free assistance in English as a Second Language.
If you have read scientific papers, you will have noticed that a standard format is frequently used. This format allows a researcher to present information clearly and concisely. For this class, you should prepare your paper in the accepted standard fashion. You will learn short-cuts and various deviations from this format with experience.
Although these descriptions are especially adapted to help General Ecology students write papers for the Rhizobium experiment, the information presented will be useful to any student who wishes to write a scientific paper in the biological sciences.
The following sections should be included in your report (see Examples):
Other sections can be included as necessary. It is important to understand the differences between sections and to put information in the appropriate location. Students frequently begin discussing their results in the Results section or present some of their results in the Discussion section.
Reading scientific papers (such as the articles you will use as your references for the Introduction and Discussion) will give you good ideas and guidance as well. After all, these are peer-reviewed and published scientific papers, and they can serve as useful models for your own writing.
Remember to pay attention to issues of plagiarism, however. One useful way to avoid making errors in this regard is to read a section from your source, then restate in writing what you remember of the main points. You would then cite the source of that information in the text. For excellent guidance on this topic, consult V.E. McMillan's 1997 book, Writing Papers in the Biological Sciences. St. Martin's Press, N.Y. for further advice.
McMillan (1997) also gives thorough instructions on how to write a scientific paper in biology. You should examine articles in recent issues of Ecology and other journals as models of good scientific writing.
|An introduction to writing in Biology|
|Practical tips for scientific writing|
|Professors' perspectives on student writing|
|Specific Information for Writing Assignments|
|Short answers for tests|
|Summary of a scientific article|
|The poster session|
The Scientific Paper
|Examples of student papers|
References and Credits
|General Ecology||The Writing Center|