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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.

Trends Forum Article Assignment Resources

Investigate the style of the Forum articles in Elsevier's "Trends in..." journals to get a feel for how to write your own.  To view Forum articles within these journals, open a specific issue and find the Forum section.  Here are just some of the Trends journals available (requires NetID login):

Nature News and Views Assignment Resources

These articles inform nonspecialist readers about new scientific advances, as reported in recently published papers (in Nature and elsewhere). This is a commission-only section.

While this type of article is intended for a general audience, the authors are experts on the topic.  Every detail should be accurate, and the goal is to unpack any inconsistencies or inaccuracies the news may have reported. 

Investigate the style of News & Views articles in Nature journals to get a feel for how to write your own.  Here are just some of the Nature journals available.  Open a specific issue, then scroll through the table of contents to find the News & Views articles (requires NetID login): 

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.