A Strategy for Writing Up Research
Contents] [ PDF
| Get Organized
| Literature Review | Introduction
| Design and Methods |
|Analyze Your Data | Results
| Discussion | Abstract
and Title | Self-Revise |
| Peer Review | Prepare
Final Draft |
Organized: Lists, Outlines,
Notecards, etc. Before starting to write the paper, take
the time to think about and develop a list of points to be made
in the paper. As you progress, use whichever strategy works for
you to begin to order and to organize those points and ideas
Review of the Primary Research Literature:
Do an in-depth, balanced review of the primary research literature
relevant to your study questions prior to designing and carrying
out the experiments. This review will help you learn what is
known about the topic you are investigating and may let you avoid
unnecessarily repeating work done by others. This literature
will form the basis of your Introduction
and Discussion. Training
searches is available from the Reference Librarians.
Do your search early enough to take advantage of the Interlibrary
Loan System if need be.
the Introduction: Once your hypothesis
has been refined for testing, you will draft the Introduction
to your paper. In PI courses you will bring a draft of the Introduction
to lab the day of the experiment for critique by an instructor
or TWA (Technical Writing Assistant).
C. Design and
Conduct the Experiment: Keep careful
notes on procedures used during the experiment . You should write
the Materials and Methods
section upon completion of the experiment.
D Analyze and
Interpret the Results: Once the
data are collected, you must analyze and interpret the results.
Analysis will include data summaries (e.g., calculating means
and variances) and statistical tests to verify conclusions. Most
scientists lay out their Tables and
Figures upon completion of the data analysis before writing
the Results section. Write
the Table and Figure legends.
It is good practice to note the one or two key
results that each Table or Figure conveys and use this information
as a basis for writing the Results section. Sequence
and number the Tables and Figures in the order which best
enables the reader to reach your conclusions.
E. Write the
Results Section: Remember that
the Results section has
both text and illustrative
materials (Tables and Figures).
Use the text component to guide the reader through your key
results, i.e., those results which answer the question(s)
you investigated. Each Table and Figure must be referenced
in the text portion of the results, and you must tell the reader
what the key result(s) is that each Table or Figure conveys.
F. Write the
Discussion: Interpretation of your results includes discussing
how your results modify and fit in with what we previously understood
about the problem. Review
the literature again at this time. After completing the experiments
you will have much greater insight into the subject, and by going
through some of the literature again, information that seemed
trivial before, or was overlooked, may tie something together
and therefore prove very important to your own interpretation.
Be sure to cite the works that you refer to.
G. Write the
Abstract and Title: The Abstract
is always the last section written because it is a concise summary
of the entire paper and should include a clear statement of your
aims, a brief description of the methods, the key findings, and
your interpretation of the key results. The Title
will probably be written earlier, but is often modified once
the final form of the paper clearly known.
Your Paper: Most authors revise
their papers at least 2-3x before giving it out for
peer review. Go back over your paper now and read it carefully;
read it aloud. Does it say what you wanted it to say?
Do any ideas, experiments, or interpretations need to be moved
around within the text to enhance the logical flow of your arguments?
Can you shorten long sentences to clarify them?
Can you change passive verbs to active
forms? Do the Tables and Figures
have sufficient information to stand alone outside the context
of the paper? Use your dictionary to correct spelling and your
spell checker to catch typos.
I. Peer Review:
Have knowledgeable colleagues
critique your paper. Use their comments
to revise your paper yet again.
Comments on Peer Reviews
as Group to a Peer Reviews
the Final Draft: Carefully proof-read
your final draft to make sure its as well done as possible. Double
check that you've properly cited all your sources in the text and in the Literature Cited. Check the formatting
one last time. The instructors LOVE to give full credit for format
issues whenever possible, but will not hesitate to take points
off for sloppy work.
Modified 1-11-12 gja
Copyright 2012 Department
of Biology, Bates College,
Lewiston, ME 04240