How to Write Biology Papers: a Structuring Guide

The first thing to remember is that a biology paper is a scientific paper and should be treated as such.

Writing a scientific paper is not the same as writing a paper for other fields of study such as History or Art.

A scientific paper need to be read and understood at many different levels.

  • The title may be the only clue that some people need to decide whether they need to read the rest of your paper. This is not because they don’t find it interesting, it’s because they are looking for a particular topic.
  • The abstract (and title) may be the only thing that a reader needs to make the decision that they need or don’t need to read you r paper. Again this is about looking for work that has been produced about the topic they are seeking.
  • Title; abstract; the results section (tables and figures).

Structuring your paper

  • Title – what the paper set out to achieve
  • Abstract – this needs to be condensed in to around 150 – 200 words (check with your tutor as word count varies). The abstract should be the last piece that you write. It is in effect the whole of the paper in a nutshell, that is the methodology, results and conclusion. It is quite a skill to write an abstract. Again, the abstract needs to be the last section that you write in this paper.
  • Introduction – this is where you get the opportunity to discuss what the problem you are trying to solve is all about. You need to put it context, you need to give relevant information and how it is of interest.
  • Method – how did you go about solving the problem? What planning did you need to do? Did you meet with any problems? What materials did you use? Remember that you need to write about this in the sequence in which it took place, highlighting any difficulties or any changes that you had to make to you original plans. This all needs to be noted as your work may be replicated by a future reader.
  • Results – what did you find out? How are you going to present your results? How are you going to analyze you r results? Do you need to produce tables and/or graphs?
  • Discussion – talk about what your results mean. How do the results correlate your thesis or title?
  • Acknowledgements – did anyone help you?
  • References – whose work did you make any reference to – remember to cite all references you have used in the appropriate format.
  • Appendices – any extra information that you have that is appropriate.

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