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Checklist for the final draft of your research report in Biology

Jan A. Penchenik

_____ Title gives a specific indication of what the study is about
_____ Background stated in 1 or 2 sentences
_____ Clear statement of specific question addressed, and of specific hypotheses tested
_____ Methods summarized in no more than 3 or 4 sentences
_____ Major findings reported in no more than 2 or 3 sentences
_____ Concluding sentence relates to statement of specific question addressed
_____ Abstract is a single paragraph; if not, can it be rewritten as one paragraph?
_____ Clear statement of specific question or issue addressed
_____ Logical argument provided as to why the question or issue was addressed
_____ Specific hypotheses are indicated, if appropriate, and a rationale for those expectations is provided
_____ Every sentence leads to the statement of what was done in this study
_____ All statements of fact or opinion are supported with a reference or example
Materials and Methods
_____ Methods are presented in the past tense
_____ Design of study or experiment is clear and complete
_____ Rationale for each step is self-evident or clearly indicated
_____ Each factor mentioned is likely to have influenced the outcome of this study, and all factors likely to have influenced the outcome are mentioned
_____ Precision of all measurements is indicated
_____ Includes brief description of how data were analyzed (calculations made, statistical tests used)
_____ Results are presented in the past tense
_____ Results are presented in active terms whenever possible, for example, in terms of what organisms or enzymes did
_____ All general statements are supported with reference to data (and by results of statistical analysis when possible)
_____ Major results are presented in words, but their implications are not discussed
_____ The same data are not presented in both tabular and graphical form within the same report
_____ Every table or graph makes an important and unique contribution to the report
_____ Each figure or table has an informative caption or legend, correctly placed
_____ Symbols are used consistently in all figures, and are chosen to facilitate interpretation when possible
_____ Tables and figures are numbered in the order in which they are first referred to in the paper
_____ Each figure or table is self-sufficient; readers can tell what question is being asked, the major aspects of how the question was addressed, and what the most important results are without reference to the rest of the paper
_____ Numbers of individuals and numbers or replicates are clearly indicated in the graph, table, caption, or legend
_____ The meaning of error bars on figures is clearly indicated in the caption; for example, 1 standard error about the mean
_____ Data are clearly related to the expectations and hypotheses raised in the Introduction
_____ Facts are carefully distinguished from speculation
_____ Unusual or unexpected findings are discussed logically, based on biology rather than apology
_____ All statements of fact or opinion are supported with references to the literature, data, or an example
_____ Discussion suggests further studies that should be conducted, additional questions that should be posed, or ways that the present study should be modified in the future
Literature Cited
_____ Citations are provided for every reference cited in the report and are in the correct format
_____ Section includes no references that are not cited in the report
_____ Each citation includes names of all authors, title of paper, year of publication, volume number, and page numbers
_____ People are mentioned by first and last names, and their specific contributions are noted
_____ Test of report is double-spaced
_____ First page shows name of author, name of lab, section or instructor, and date submitted
_____ All information is presented in the appropriate section of the report
_____ All pages are numbered


Pechenik, Jan A. A Short Guide to Writing about Biology. 4th Ed. New York: Longman, 1996. 230-232.