A Guide to Writing Biology Research Papers

To effectively write a research paper you must decide on the type of research and what arguments you wish to present. Then before you begin your research, you roughly outline your proposed paper and firmly place your arguments and questions in your mind

There’s no one sure way of collecting the information you will need since the Internet has changed the methods of research paper writing, but it has not changed the rules which remain the same: The first one being the paper must be original and in your own thinking. When you directly quote another you must give credit. Follow the instructions from your professor on the writing style and don’t deviate from preferred choice.

If these instructions say use AP style, that’s the style you must use, if it’s some other, use that style. The AP style, which is often the choice when writing for magazines and newspapers, is from the Associated Press and probably won’t suffice when writing a more scientifically oriented paper. If none is specified acquaint yourself with the leading styles, The Chicago Manuel of Style—a popular choice; APA (American Psychological Association); ASA, (American Sociological Association); CSE (Council of Science Editors). Of course if in doubt ask for the writing style from your intended journal or place where your work will be offered for review.

How do biology research papers differ from the general run of research papers? Mainly they differ in their purpose; they present new evidence or new finds or new thoughts to scientist and to those who are working in the field. This is a way of communicating ideas and helps to those who may have run into in their in their research efforts.

Therefore, students who undertake to write research papers on biological subjects must know and be sure of what they write as facts; and likewise show the areas where there is doubt and confusion. Documentation as to what source — reading the works of others — that led to the particular conclusions that the writer of the research paper presents must be shown.

And yet the overall tone of the paper must be the author’s own. The task of the writer of a biological research paper is enormous. They must have something to say that needs be said, and they must show and give credit to others who have said pretty much the same thing. That builds the foundation for this new work. Hopefully a research paper will shed light on some facet of a particular area. Since the topic is so vast, a writer of a research paper of this nature must, to be effective, arrange his topic in in a way that will leave no doubt as to what stance they have taken.

Particularly, in lining up your collected information you must decide which format to use. All of your material has been collected and you are ready to write your first draft. What are the preliminaries?


The title in the finished work—after the manuscript has been edited and preened to perfection—the title will be centered on the top sheet of paper, several spaces down from the usual top line. Drop down two spaces and give author’s name, in this case your name. The title should be one easily understood and not so scholarly that the average person might misunderstand. If two or more people worked with you on this paper, it might be appropriate to include them also as authors. Get their approval first. However, since you are doing the actual writing, your name comes first as author and the next contributing authors according to the amount they contributed.


Before your readers will get into the details of your work from beginning to end, they will need a brief summary of its contents. It may not always be necessary, but in academic scientific journals this is the procedure that is recommended. This is for the convenience of the busy professors or scientists that will be reading the paper. A short one paragraph of not more than 250 words that explains the existence of the paper will be sufficient. This will be your own simple explanations and there will be no need for backup thoughts form others, etc.


Three or four paragraphs of questions, reasons, what led you to the this stance on the particular biological view you are presenting, and sum up with the big question of the argument you are presenting.


Explain the actual method or way of the experiment you undertook, the argument for the change of some usual method of lab work, or whatever the main reason you are presenting. Show drawings, if these are used, charts and whatever else is needed to persuade your superiors, colleagues, or whomever, that this is something worthy of consideration, or not worthy of consideration if that is your argument.

The result or hoped for result or intended outcome of your effort will fill a paragraph or two. As the writer you will know what to emphasize and what to only casually mention.


Sum up your conclusion and briefly state your reasoning and the stance are taking, and your hopes for the projected results.

After that give credit to assistants and to the many others who helped you in your work, if this is what actually happened.


Here is where style is so necessary, refer to your style to see how to cite. Dates and times are important as well as other pertinent information. All style choices will require that the list of citations be alphabetically arranged, with last names of the author of the source first.


Give the paper a final going over for those small errors and be sure there are no misspelled words, run-on sentences, and no redundant thoughts or sentences.

Each effort at writing research papers will be different, but it is important never to relax on the rules of grammar and good clear, clean writing. This type of writing is more critical than a causal report in that it is more oriented toward advancing science and knowledge essential to health and life. In other words, it is not a hit or miss, take it or leave it report on some small inconsequential event.