Research Paper for the Biological Sciences
Scientific papers are quite different from the essay formats taught in Freshman Composition courses. The following structure is standard in the biological sciences, and is similar to the format used in Chemistry and other natural sciences. This format is used to present your own experimental data and results.
Each section of the paper performs a specific function and it is very important to put the right kind of information in the right section. This outline is designed to help you plan and revise your research paper.
- Helps the reader understand precisely what your paper is about.
- Consists of one short, specific, and concise paragraph that comes after the title and includes: accomplished objectives, methods, results, and conclusions.
- Helps the readers know how much your study is relevant to theirs.
Materials and Methods
- Introduces the theoretical context, main purpose, and significance of your study, and keeps the audience interested in your research and its importance.
- Lists the thoughts from general to specific.
- Explains the logic behind your study (why things are done the way they are).
- Orients the audience by summarizing the relevant literature in your field (general).
- Explains your major objectives including your hypothesis (specific).
- Contains the relevant literature behind your study.
- Shows the audience the methods selected for your study with specific and informative language(indicating why and how this section can help us understand the logic of our study).
- Consists of measurements, controls, sample calculations, procedures, variables, and apparatus using generic or common names (followed by model, company, city, state, and country).
- Has credibility, reproducibility, and refers the readers to the sources by using citations.
- Begins with materials and ends with methods, respectively.
- Provides a summary of data.
- Illustrates and supports your explanations with details, statistics (with units), and examples.
- Refers the audience to figures, pages, dates, etc.
- Does not interpret, compare, or contrast the data.
- Does not have conclusions.
- Develops your thoughts from specific to general.
- Tells the readers what your findings mean, and concludes your study with evidence and support.
- Shares and explains the negative results of your study and the problems.
- Compares and contrasts your study with the other researchers' work.
- Has no apologies and takes responsibility for your conclusions and results (positive or negative)!
Literature cited section
- Expresses your appreciations to people who assisted you with your paper or research project.
- Follows American Psychological Association(APA), or any other consistant format used in scientific journals (depending on the instructor's method).
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(Adapted by CSULA Writing Center tutors Bao Chau Nguyen and Fariba Kakroudi from Victoria E. McMillan,1988. Writing in the Biological Sciences. St. Martin's Press, New York.)