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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

BIOLOGY 312 Writing In Biology - Ben Normark

Resources to help with your various writing assignments

Searching for Scientific Literature

UMass Amherst Libraries subscribes to over 500 databases and over 100 of those have science-related content.

These databases are good places to start looking for information about topics related to evolution and medicine.

Browsing Scientific Literature - By Journal

If you are interested in browsing some of the peer-reviewed science and medical journals, here are some suggested titles to start with.

NOTE: Not everything in these journals is peer-reviewed. Be sure to look for research articles (with Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, References) to use in your assignments!

Review Articles

Review articles are good ways to get an overview of a topic or subfield. Some publications only print reviews, but many others publish review articles along with research articles.

Science Perspective Article Assignment Resources

Investigate the style of the "Perspectives" articles in Science to get a feel for how to write your own.  To view Perspectives articles, open a specific issue and find the Perspectives section.  

As Science  puts it:

Perspectives highlight recent, exciting research and emerging themes that are of general interest but do not primarily discuss the author’s own work. With rare exceptions, Perspectives should have no more than two authors. Perspectives that comment on papers in Science (~1000 words, 15 references maximum, 1 figure) should add a new dimension to the research and not only describe what was done in the paper. There are also a variety of Perspectives that can “stand alone” (i.e., that are not connected to a paper in Science) and discuss emerging and important ideas in research. These can sometimes be opinionated or reflect on the history of a finding; they are usually peer-reviewed. Stand-alone Perspectives are ~1800 words, with 15 references maximum and 1 figure or table. Although Perspectives are mostly invited, we welcome inquiries regarding new advances and fresh insights.

When you view the PDF of a Perspectives article (and remember, you have to submit the officially formatted PDF version of the article), it will have a header: INSIGHTS | PERSPECTIVES 

Science in the News

Many regular news outlets have specific Science and Health/Medicine sections.  Here are examples from the New York Times, as well as instructions for signing up for an NYT online account.

New York TImes Online
UMass Amherst Libraries have purchased access to the New York Times Academic Pass program for the UMass Amherst campus. To register for your academic account to the New York Times, you'll need a UMass Amherst email address. 

Follow the Registration instructions on our New York TImes Online guide to set up your account.