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Short Guide to Writing about Biology, A, 7th Edition

By Jan A. Pechenik

Published by Pearson

Published Date: Jul 2, 2009


Providing the reader with the tools need ed to be successful writers in college and their profession, A Short Guide to Writing about Biology emphasizes writing as a means to  examine, evaluate, and share ideas. The text teaches how to read critically, study, evaluate and report data, and how to communicate information clearly and logically.


Also given detailed advice on locating useful sources, interpreting the results of statistical tests, maintaining effective laboratory and field notebooks, writing effective research proposals and poster presentations, writing effective applications, and communicating information to both professional and general audiences.

Table of Contents




1. Introduction and General Rules.

What Do Biologists Write About, and Why?

The Keys to Success.

On Using Computers in Writing.

On Using Computers for Data Storage, Analysis, and Presentation.


2. Locating Useful Sources.

Using Indexes

Prowling the Internet

Closing Thoughts.


3. General Advice on Reading and Note-Taking.

Why Read and What to Read

Effective Reading.

Reading Data: Plumbing the Depths of Figures and Tables.

Reading Text: Summarize As You Go.

Plagiarism and Note-Taking.


4. Reading and Writing about Statistical Analysis.

Statistical Essentials.

Summary:  Using Statistics.

Reading About Statistics.

Writing About Statistics.

5. Citing Sources and Listing References.

Citing Sources.

Summary of Citation Format Rules.

Preparing the Literature Cited Section.

Sample Literature Cited Section.

6. Revising.

Preparing the Draft for Surgery.

Plotting Idea Maps.

Revising for Content.

Revising for Clarity.

Revising for Completeness.

Revising for Conciseness.

Revising for Flow.

Revising for Teleology and Anthropomorphism.

Revising for Spelling Errors.

Revising for Grammar and Proper Word Usage.

Becoming a Good Reviewer

Receiving Criticism




7. Writing Summaries and Critiques.

Writing the First Draft.

Writing the Summary.

Sample Student Summary.

Writing the Critique.

Concluding Thoughts.

8. Writing Essays and Term Papers.

Why Bother?

Getting Started.

Researching Your Topic

Developing a Thesis Statement.

Writing the Paper.

Citing Sources.

Creating a Title.



9. Writing Laboratory and Other Research Reports.

Why Are You Doing This?

The Purpose of Laboratory and Field Notebooks.

Components of the Research Report.

Where to Start.

When to Start

Writing the Materials and Methods Section.

Writing the Results Section.

Citing Sources.

Writing the Discussion Section.

Writing the Introduction Section.

Deciding on a Title.

Writing an Abstract.

Preparing an Acknowledgements Section.

Preparing the Literature Cited Section.

Preparing A Paper for Formal Publication.

Checklist for the Final Draft

10. Writing Research Proposals.

What Are Reviewers Looking For?

Researching Your Topic.

What Makes a Good Research Question?

Writing the Proposal.

Tightening the Logic.

The Life of a Real Research Proposal


11. Answering Essay Questions.

Basic Principles.

12  Presenting Research Findings as Talks and Posters

 Oral Presentation

           Talking about published research papers

            Writing the talk

            Giving the talk

            Dos and Don’ts for oral presentations

            Talking about original research

            Talking about proposed research

            The listener’s responsibility

            Preparing effective visuals

            Using Powerpoint

            Common Powerpoint errors

            Checklist for being judged

Poster Presentations

             Layout of the poster

            Making the poster

            Checklist for making posters

13. Writing Letters of Application.

Before You Start.

Preparing the Résumé.

Preparing the Cover Letter.

Recruiting Effective Letters of Recommendation.

Appendix A. The Disassembled Paragraph Reconstituted (from Chapter 5).

Appendix B. Revised Sample Sentences.

Appendix C. The Revised Sample Sentences in Final Form.

Appendix D. Commonly Used Abbreviations.

Appendix E. Suggested References for Further Reading.

Appendix F. Sample Form for Peer Review.

Appendix G. Some Useful Websites.





Short Guide to Writing about Biology, A, 7th Edition

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