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Writing Research Papers
Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. --- Gene Fowler
A major goal of this course is the development of effective technical writing skills. To help you become an accomplished writer, you will prepare several research papers based upon the studies completed in lab. Our research papers are not typical "lab reports." In a teaching lab a lab report might be nothing more than answers to a set of questions. Such an assignment hardly represents the kind of writing you might be doing in your eventual career.
Written and oral communications skills are probably the most universal qualities sought by graduate and professional schools as well as by employers. You alone are responsible for developing such skills to a high level.
Resources for learning technical writing
Before you begin your first writing assignment, please consult all of the following resources, in order to gain the most benefit from the experience.
• General form of a typical research article
• Specific guidelines (if any) for the assignment – see the writeups on individual lab studies
• McMillan, VE. "Writing Papers in the Biological Sciences, Third Ed." New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2001. ISBN 0-312-25857-7 (REQUIRED for Bios 211, 311, recommended for other science courses that include writing)
• Writing portfolio examples (pdf)
As you polish up your writing skills please make use of the following resources
• Instructor feedback on previous assignments
• Common errors in student research papers
• Selected writing rules (somewhat less serious than the other resources)
For Biosciences majors the general guidelines apply to future course work, as can be seen by examining the guidelines for the advanced experimental sciences research paper (Bios 311). Instructions for authors from the Journal of Biological…...

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