How to Write a Biology Research Paper
Writing a biology research paper is one of the most frequent doubts in the lives of many biology students in the university.
To register the end of the course and evaluate the students’ aggregate knowledge, it is necessary to carry out in-depth assessment about everything that the student learned during the session. Hence, the need to produce a research paper. The format of this type of paper is quite unique, making many people have doubts about their chances of finishing the program.
It takes a lot of caution, use of writing techniques, and a lot of research to explain and defend your ideas in the scientific field. Therefore, we have decided to create a mini-guide on how to write a biology research paper. Let’s check it out below.
How to write the research paper
The most important aspect to take into account when you want to write a biology research paper is providing your writing with an efficient structure by the specific needs of your institution. Indeed like all other disciplines, there are several types of writing, such as original papers, review articles, notes, undergraduate or doctoral projects, reviews, and books. Each one of these presents specific characteristics and is drawn up under different structures; in this section, we will limit ourselves to research paper.
Although each institution has its own publication rules, the structure of the article is usually common to all of them, varying only in the form of presentation, length of the paper, or some small characteristics related to the format. For this reason, we must understand the publication rules of our institution (font, line spacing, abstract, location of the keywords, and the format of the bibliographic citations).
In this sense, the major sections that a research paper in the biological sciences must have are the following:
- Material and methods
It is important to note that a few years ago; it was quite common to include several appendices at the end of the bibliographic section, generally with data and the article’s figures. This structure originated more in the technical limitations of the printers than in a real utility, since the tables, illustrations and photographs were printed on special paper, with a different font and box, and their interleaving between the pages of the article was very complicated (not to mention including it on a page of text). Current reprographic techniques have made the reproduction of figures and tables considerably cheaper, allowing them to be placed within the normal text of the article without too much difficulty. This is more appropriate since the reader should not constantly be turning to the final pages to consult each reference to a figure or a table. Due to this, today’s appendices do not usually appear at the end of the article, but the material is located in the closest place to its reference in the text.
The objective of the introduction is to concisely present the objectives of the work and a brief review of the current state of knowledge in this field, including the most important bibliographic references.
The introduction of scientific work should not be confused with that of a longer piece of writing, such as a book. A longer extension can have justification, including many aspects that have no place in a short article. Thus, in a work on the taxonomic value of the aedeagus of a certain group of tenebrionids, we will mention with their corresponding bibliographic citations what is the current importance of genital characters in the group’s systematics, indicating what we intend to demonstrate with the present study. Depending on our potential readers, we will be able to describe the genital characteristics, since they can help to understand the results that we will present in the body of the paper. However, on the other hand, and unlike, in abstract, we must be careful not to advance the results or, much less, the conclusions of the work.
2. Material and methods
In this section, the specimens used in work should be reviewed. In biology, the species must be cited, sub-specific categories, if any and if they are considered, the locality of collection, the collector, the date of collection, the number of individuals with the same data and the sex if possible. In the case of being important (for example, in works on biological cycles or eating habits), the plant or the environment in which the individual was captured will be provided. Finally, the storage mechanism in which they are stored will be indicated, so they can be universally consulted. This last recommendation is especially important when it comes to a discussion of a new species.
- The methods and techniques used must also be described (preparation, extraction of genitalia, photographs, bioassays, technique and exact sampling period), except those that are common knowledge or banal for the matter to be treated (for example, the place of the body where the specimens were pinned).
- The devices used (type, make, and model) and the chemical substances used must be indicated.
- Finally, the statistical methods used will be included, justifying their choice when there are several alternatives (diversity indices, grouping techniques).
In all these aspects, the appropriate bibliographic references should be included when we cite methodologies or formulas already published, and those that are new should be described in detail.
In this section, we must review the observations, experiments, and data obtained throughout the research. Conciseness should be extreme since it is a section that lends itself to “literary writing,” no matter how little we get carried away by enthusiasm.
The writing sequence does not necessarily have to be chronological, but rather the one that allows a more coherent and clear presentation of the results obtained.
Whenever possible, we will compose the data presented in tables or figures, which provides greater clarity, especially in cases of numerical data and shape descriptions. The data included in the illustrations or tables should not be repeated in the text, but only the comments on them, referring to the corresponding figure number.
The discussion can be found independently or integrated into a general section of “Results and discussion” with the previous point. We consider it more appropriate to separate it from the rest since it provides greater structure to the body of the article and makes it easier to read. On many occasions, the reader goes directly to the discussion to quickly assess the work.
In any case, the most important and novel aspects of the study should be included and the conclusions that emerge from them. They will be contrasted with the results obtained in other publications on the subject, and future lines of research can finally be advanced. Here, is the aspect that should be given special attention because any error will result in your paper being described as inaccurate. It is quite unfortunate to read a discussion in which the author only justifies what is not clear and only adds ambiguities.
It is in the conclusion that you will defend your thesis. Under this section, you will need to present the reader with the solution that your article brings to the problem. There must be criticisms, and opinions.
It is important to note that unlike other disciplines, in a biology paper, it is only allowed to list under this heading those bibliographic references that have been directly cited in the text.
You now have enough information on how to write a biology paper. As you can see, the rules are stringent, and there is a pattern to be followed.
You must be very careful to write an article of such importance and relevance for the completion of your course. So, do a lot of research on the proposed topic, search for original materials so that you can base your ideas on something concrete and authentic.