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Biological Sciences

On writing in Biological Sciences (for use in syllabi)

Writing is more important in the biological sciences than many people might expect. Scientists write to convey the methods and results of their research to their colleagues and to record their day-to-day work in the laboratory or in the field. They also write grant proposals to win funding for their research, and they write reviews of each other's work. While these types of writing might appear quite diverse, several key attributes tie together writing in biology. Writing in biology is an integral part of scientific discovery and analysis, and thus must be clear, concise, and logical. Even when they write only for themselves, biologists must convey information accurately and precisely—often in limited space.

Sample syllabi in Biological Sciences

Biology 1131 | Principles of Biological Science
two formal papers and informal writing assignments

General College 1135 | Human Anatomy and Physiology
book report

General College 2111W | Ecological Evaluation of Environmental Problems
two papers: one research paper and one letter to a public official

Microbiology 4141 | Biology, Genetics and Pathogenesis of Viruses
daily writing-to-learn activities and formal writing assignments

Business and Technical Writing 342 | Science Writing
news brief, interview, book review, and feature story (Rutgers University)

Sample assignments in Biological Sciences

Biology 1101 | Short Moral Critique
case studies regarding ethical problems

Biology 1101 | Final Draft: Morality from an Author's Standpoint
a short moral critique, which becomes a researched argument

Biology 435 | Description and Interpretation
an experimental design process combining in-class group work

Biology 435 | Evaluating and Interpreting Information
role play, a debate, and a collaborative paper (Ohio University)

Biology 435 | Educational Exhibits for Young Adults
an opportunity to write for a public audience in a real world context (Ohio University)

Biology 435 | Explaining Insect Metamorphosis at the Family Dinner
explanation for a lay audience (Ohio University)

Biology 435 | Taxonomic Classification
an argument analysis assignment (Ohio University)

Sample responding handout in Biological Sciences

Checklist for the Final Draft of your Research Report - Biology
an assessment checklist for students and/or faculty (A Short Guide to Writing about Biology)

Sample grading rubric in Biological Sciences

Biology 1002 | Lab Report Grading Rubric for Biological Sciences
criteria including thoroughness, support, accuracy, and writing

Research strategies in Biological Sciences

Magrath Library

The Bio-Medical Library

Council of Biology Editors citation style (University of Wisconsin - Madison)

Additional writing resources for instructors in Biological Sciences

Writing in Biology (U Conn.)

Library Support for Instructors

Additional writing resources for students in Biological Sciences

Formatting Scientific Reports (University of Wisconsin - Madison)