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Parts of a biological research paper

Parts of a Research Paper

However, the key is to ensure that another researcher would be able to replicate the experiment to match yours as closely as possible, but still keeping the section concise. You can assume that anybody reading your paper is familiar with the basic methods, so try not to explain every last detail. For example, an organic chemist or biochemist will be familiar with chromatography, so you only need to highlight the type of equipment used rather than explaining the whole process in detail.

In the case of a survey , if you have too many questions to cover in the method, you can always include a copy of the questionnaire in the appendix.


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In this case, make sure that you refer to it. This is probably the most variable part of any research paper, and depends on the results and aims of the experiment. For quantitative research , it is a presentation of the numerical results and data, whereas for qualitative research it should be a broader discussion of trends, without going into too much detail.

For research generating a lot of results , then it is better to include tables or graphs of the analyzed data and leave the raw data in the appendix, so that a researcher can follow up and check your calculations.


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  • WRITING A SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ARTICLE?

A commentary is essential to linking the results together, rather than just displaying isolated and unconnected charts and figures. It can be quite difficult to find a good balance between the results and the discussion section, because some findings, especially in a quantitative or descriptive experiment , will fall into a grey area. Try to avoid repeating yourself too often. It is best to try to find a middle path, where you give a general overview of the data and then expand on it in the discussion - you should try to keep your own opinions and interpretations out of the results section, saving that for the discussion later on.

This is where you elaborate on your findings, and explain what you found, adding your own personal interpretations. Ideally, you should link the discussion back to the introduction, addressing each point individually. In keeping with the hourglass principle, you can expand on the topic later in the conclusion.

The conclusion is where you build on your discussion and try to relate your findings to other research and to the world at large. In a short research paper, it may be a paragraph or two, or even a few lines. In a dissertation, it may well be the most important part of the entire paper - not only does it describe the results and discussion in detail, it emphasizes the importance of the results in the field, and ties it in with the previous research.

Some research papers require a recommendations section, postulating the further directions of the research, as well as highlighting how any flaws affected the results. In this case, you should suggest any improvements that could be made to the research design.

No paper is complete without a reference list , documenting all the sources that you used for your research. This should be laid out according to APA , MLA or other specified format, allowing any interested researcher to follow up on the research. One habit that is becoming more common, especially with online papers, is to include a reference to your own paper on the final page. Check out our quiz-page with tests about:.

How to Read a Scientific Paper

Martyn Shuttleworth Jun 5, Parts of a Research Paper. Retrieved Oct 19, from Explorable. The text in this article is licensed under the Creative Commons-License Attribution 4. That is it.

The materials and methods section gives the technical details of how the experiments were carried out, including the types of controls used and where unusual resources like a bacterial strain or a publicly available data set were obtained. Reading the methods section is helpful in understanding exactly what the authors did. After all, if you don't understand their experiments, it will be impossible to judge the veracity of their results and conclusions!

This section also serves as a "how-to" manual if you're interested in carrying out similar experiments, or even in repeating the same experiments as the authors did. The materials and methods section is most commonly placed directly after the introduction. But if you can't find it there, check the end of the paper, just before the references, or look for a URL within the research article for a "supplementary information" section online.

The results section is the real meat of a primary research article; it contains all the data from the experiments. The figures contain the majority of the data. The accompanying text contains verbal descriptions of the pieces of data the authors feel were most critical. The writing may also put the new data in the context of previous findings.

How to Read a Scientific Paper

However, often due to space constraints, authors usually do not write text for all their findings and instead, rely on the figures to impart the bulk of the information. So to get the most out of the results section, make sure to spend ample time thoroughly looking at all the graphs, pictures, and tables, and reading their accompanying legends! Three types of information can be extracted from the results section: data from the experiments, ideas about how to improve the methods, and an understanding of how to represent similar data. Clearly, this is the section of the paper you refer to if you need to know exactly what the researchers found out, particularly if you need data to compare with your own findings, or to use to build your own hypothesis.

The results section is also useful for understanding whether the methods of an experiment worked well. For example, a graph of the data might show that although the authors took time points every hour, there was no change at all until five hours into the experiment, and then the change was rapid. By interpreting their graph yourself and making this observation, you would be able to repeat the experiment, with differentially spaced time points, to resolve what actually happened during the fifth hour.

And last, but not least, studying the figures will help you understand how to represent your own data in a way that is clear, accurate, and in keeping with the standards in that particular field of science. The discussion section is the authors' opportunity to give you their opinions. It is where they draw conclusions about the results. They may choose to put their results in the context of previous findings and offer theories or new hypotheses that explain the sum body of knowledge in the field.

Introduction

Or the authors may comment on new questions and avenues of exploration that their results give rise to. The purpose of discussion sections in papers is to allow the exchange of ideas between scientists. As such, it is critical to remember that the discussions are the authors' interpretations and not necessarily facts.

However, this section is often a good place to get ideas about what kind of research questions are still unanswered in the field and thus, what types of questions you might want your own research project to tackle.


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Throughout the article, the authors will refer to information from other papers. These citations are all listed in the references section, sometimes referred to as the bibliography. Both review articles often cited as "reviewed in Regardless of the type of source, there will always be enough information authors, title, journal name, publication date, etc.

This makes the reference section incredibly useful for broadening your own literature search. If you're reading a paragraph in the current paper and want more information on the content, you should always try to find and read the articles cited in that paragraph. Whether you're reading a review article or a primary research paper, you're likely to come across vocabulary and concepts with which you're unfamiliar. It's a good idea to have other resources on hand to look up those words and ideas. For example, a scientific dictionary is useful for checking unfamiliar vocabulary, and textbooks are excellent starting places to look up scientific concepts.

Internet searches for tutorials or explanations about a specific method or concept can also be useful. And don't forget that people, like mentors and science teachers, can also be great resources when you're stuck. You're likely to find that reading and understanding a scientific paper is an iterative process: read, look things up, re-read, etc. Only a few will read the entire paper, therefore all words in the title should be chosen with care.

Too short a title is not helpful to the potential reader. Too long a title can sometimes be even less meaningful. Remember a title is not an abstract. Neither is a title a sentence. A good title is accurate, complete, and specific. Imagine searching for your paper in PubMed. What words would you use?

The abstract is a miniature version of your paper. It should present the main story and a few essential details of the paper for readers who only look at the abstract and should serve as a clear preview for readers who read your whole paper. They are usually short words or less. A good abstract is specific and selective.

Try summarizing each of the sections of your paper in a sentence two. Do the abstract last, so you know exactly what you want to write. The introduction tells the reader why you are writing your paper ie, identifies a gap in the literature and supplies sufficient background information that the reader can understand and evaluate your project without referring to previous publications on the topic. A good introduction is not the same as an abstract.

Where the abstract summarizes your paper, the introduction justifies your project and lets readers know what to expect. You conducted an extensive literature review, so that you can give readers just the relevant information.

Keep using the present tense for the whole paper. A good methods section gives enough detail that another scientist could reproduce or replicate your results. The results objectively present the data or information that you gathered through your project. The narrative that you write here will point readers to your figures and tables that present your relevant data. Keep in mind that you may be able to include more of your data in an online journal supplement or research data repository.