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Writing in Biology

A Brief Guide

Leslie Ann Roldan and Mary-Lou Pardue

Publication Date - 26 January 2016

ISBN: 9780199342716

256 pages
5 x 7-3/4 inches

In Stock

The ideal pocket-sized manual for biology students who want to improve their writing.


At once sophisticated and practical, Writing in Biology: A Brief Guide advises students on composing research articles, literature reviews, oral presentations, and other key biology genres. The book gives careful attention to both the governing priciples of audience, purpose, and argument, and the ground rules for style, visual design, and sourcing. Writing in Biology: A Brief Guide is a part of a series of brief, discipline-specific writing guides from Oxford University Press designed for today's writing-intensive college courses. The series is edited by Thomas Deans (University of Connecticut) and Mya Poe (Northeastern University).

About the Author(s)

Leslie Ann Roldan is a lecturer in the Writing, Rhetoric, and Professional Communication (WRAP) program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Mary-Lou Pardue is the Boris Magasanik Professor in Molecular Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


"The text is engaging from the outset. The first chapter explores the future role of writing in the academic and professional lives of science students while the successive chapters provide smart and accessible strategies for success." --Vicki Russell, Director of the Writing Studio, Duke University

"Well informed and biologically focused, Writing in Biology is a workshop in print." --Sharon Klein, Coordinator of Writing Across Disciplines, California State University, Northridge

Table of Contents

    Chapter 1. Why and How Biologists Write
    Writing is integral to the professional lives of biologists
    Biology has many subfields that share a core writing style
    Biologists write for multiple purposes and audiences
    The structure of a research article informs the structure of other forms of biological communication
    How to use this book

    Chapter 2. Strategies for the scientific research article
    How to use this chapter
    Figures and Tables: Start with your data
    Results: Connect Illustrations with text
    Methods: Document your process
    Introduction: Start broadly and then narrow
    Discussion: Interpret your data
    Title: Get noticed
    Abstract: Advertise your work
    Supplementary information

    Chapter 3. Strategies for the laboratory report
    How to use this chapter
    Preparing your report
    Figures and Tables: Start with your data
    Results: Connect illustrations and text
    Methods: Document your process
    Introduction: Start broadly and then narrow to your aim
    Discussion: Interpret your data

    Chapter 4. Strategies for literature reviews
    Focus your topic
    Locate sources by using the right search engines
    Search for articles strategically
    Keep track of the literature
    Know the difference between summarizing vs. critiquing the literature
    Limit the scope and define your focus as a working title
    Structure your literature review
    Adapt or design illustrations
    Finalize your text
    Literature review checklist

    Chapter 5. Strategies for oral presentations and scientific posters
    Oral Presentations
    Scientific Posters

    Chapter 6. Style
    Use strong, precise topic sentences
    Within a paragraph, employ a consistent subject across most sentences
    Begin with information that is familiar to your readers; then introduce new and complex information
    Choose your verbs carefully: active vs. passive voice
    Be concise
    Check and clarify your antecedents
    Avoid compound nouns
    Use technical terms, but avoid jargon
    Edit for correctness

    Chapter 7. Sources
    Keep track of your sources
    Paraphrase and compress your sources
    Paraphrasing properly
    Cite sources of illustrations and images
    Cite every source with an in-text reference
    Prepare your Literature Cited
    Source Checklist

    Appendix. Reviewing like a biologist
    Receiving a review
    Writing a review
    Sample Peer Review
    Checklist for writing a review

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