Welcome to BioWrite!
This website is primarily put together for students of Biology at the University of Bergen in Norway (but anyone else is welcome, too!). We hope you find this a useful resource and guide for all your written assignments throughout your education, all the way from your first report to your master thesis. Questions? Suggestions? Contact us!
Scientific writing: a very short introduction
As a biologist you are not only a researcher, you are also a writer. Writing is the most common way in which we communicate our findings to other researchers, but also to the general public. What is the point of finding interesting results if no-one else can learn from it? Being able to write clearly is a crucial skill as a biologist!
The structure of most journal articles in biology follows the same lay-out: Introduction, Materials and methods, Results, and Discussion (short: IMRaD). Each section serves its own purpose and this is helpful because it allows the reader to easily find certain key elements of the study they are interested in. They will always know that the background information and aim of the study are introduced in the Introduction, can find details on how a study was designed in the Materials and methods section, all Results will be neatly organized in one place, and if they are interested in more details and further implications, they will read the Discussion.
Don’t worry, you probably won’t be writing many scientific journal articles during your first years of study. However, you will notice that most of the reports, lab journals, and other written assignments follow the IMRaD structure, a modification of it, or a part of it.
Ground rules of (scientific) writing
In order to communicate your message most effectively, pay attention to the following points:
- Be specific. Give all the details the reader needs in order to understand what you mean. Remember that you know what you want to say, but the reader does not. Explain your thought process clearly, in full sentences and clarify what you mean.
- Stay to the point. At the same time, be mindful of keeping your story as short and to the point as possible. Be aware of repetition, or adding lots of information that does not actually serve the point of your story.
- Logical order. Pay attention to the order in which you provide information to the reader. Think carefully about what they need to know first, in order to understand the following parts.
Beware of plagiarism. Using the text, ideas, or data from other people and presenting them as your own is considered plagiarism. Committing plagiarism is a legal crime and can have serious consequences. Always make sure to cite your sources properly and use your own wording!
A quick tour of the website
BioWrite helps you to create a logical order in your text using the IMRaD structure. Are you confused about the difference between a lab journal and a report, an article and an essay? Unsure how to make a poster or write a blog post? We give short explanations and practical information for each of these under Genres. In the Skills and Tools section you will find useful tips on important skills like creating a logical flow your text, but also finding, reading and citing literature, and making illustrations.