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How to Write a Biology Paper in APA Format


A biology paper has a certain set of guidelines that must be followed for it to be effective. The paper needs to clearly and efficiently show why the scientist carried out an experiment, how it was done, what the results were and the ramifications of the results. Biology papers are very different from discursive liberal-arts essays that often have a lot more leeway in terms of adjectives, hyperbole and other emotive language.

APA style is a citation style used by some universities' biology departments, and has stringent guidelines as to how to show where you got your information and how future readers can find it.

Write any necessary background information for the reader, ensuring that you cite other researchers' work with APA style in-text citations, which is the author's name, then the year of the book or study in parentheses. For example, a book written by John Smith in 1998 would be cited as (Smith, 1998).

Write the objectives and hypothesis of your experiment once you have established the subset of biology in which you are working. This should be the end of your introduction so as to provide a logical flow into the methods section of your paper.

For the methods section, explain how you carried out the experiment in a clear and concise manner. It is important to remember that biology papers are read by other scientists, so you do not need to explain everything in detail. It is fair to assume, for example, that other scientists will know what a beaker is and how to measure liquid.

Write the results of your experiment in the aptly named results section, which follows the methods section. Again, clarity and brevity are key, but it is also important to note that this is the results section, not the discussion section. You are here to report the results, not interpret them. Interpretation is reserved for the discussion section.

Discuss the implications and meaning of your results in the discussion section. While the methods and results sections are referring to your experiment, the discussion section should refer to other studies, showing how your study's results compare with other, similar studies. This means that you need to do more citing, using the in-text APA method described above.

Write an abstract. This will go before your introduction, and a short (3 to 5 sentences) paragraph that sums up your entire report.

Write your literature-cited section in APA style. Books follow this formula: Author's last name, author's first initial. (Year). Title in italics. City published, state published, country published: publisher. Journal articles follow this formula: Author's last name, author's first initial. (Year). Article title in standard print. Journal title in italics. Journal number in italics. (Journal volume), page numbers the article appeared.

About the Author

Sam Grover began writing in 2005, also having worked as a behavior therapist and teacher. His work has appeared in New Zealand publications "Critic" and "Logic," where he covered political and educational issues. Grover graduated from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Arts in history.