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UMass Amherst Libraries

MICROBIO 360 - Writing in Microbiology

Writing in science

On the Web:

Writing Scientific Manuscripts – a guide for undergraduates an excellent, free, online manual  from The Journal of Young Investigators;
Sections on the peer review process, writing up primary research, and creating literature reviews.

Books in the Library: (links go to Five Colleges catalog record)

How to write and publish a scientific paper (7th ed.)
Robert A. Day and Barbara Gastel
UM Science / T11 .D33 2011

Scientific English : a guide for scientists and other professionals (3rd ed.)
Robert A. Day and Nancy Sakaduski
UM Du Bois / PE 1475 .D38 2011

A short guide to writing about biology
Jan A. Pechenik
UM Science / QH304 .P43 2013

Mastering scientific and medical writing: a self-help guide
Silvia M. Rogers
UM Science  Reference / T11 .R64 2007 also, e-book version

The elements of international English style : a guide to writing correspondence, reports, technical documents, and internet pages for a global audience (2005)
Edmond H. Weiss
UM Du Bois e-book - unlimited simultaneous UMass users

Citation formats

Proper citations give at least enough information for someone to find the source. There are many formats for citations, and many systems of using them.

If you are submitting a paper to a journal, you would use the format used in the journal.  For example, ASM (American Society for Microbiology) Journals have Information for authors - American Society for Microbiology journals

Most journals have detailed instructions about the formating and writing style of articles submitted for publication.


Other guides: (link goes to library catalog record) Examples of other citation formating and writing styles used in the sciences:

Publication Manual for the American Psychological Association, 6th ed.
UM Science Reference
BF76.7 .P83 2010
(also Du Bois Reference) - Many science disciplines use the APA format for citations.

Scientific style and format: the CSE manual for authors, editors, and publishers 8th ed.
by the Style Manual Committee, Council of Science Editors
UM Science
 Reference T11 .S386 2014

Citing Websites (in particular)

There are many standard formats for citations. Ask your instructor which to use.

RefWorks has the RefGrabIt utility which captures the available citation information from websites, and adds them to your RefWorks account. 

Problem is, websites are often not written in a standard way -  citation info is often missing. Sometimes they don't say who wrote them, or when they were published or updated. That information has to be tracked down, if possible.

To cite a website, you need:

  • Author (individual, or organization - look for an "About" link)
  • Date published if available; or if not, use: n.d. (no date)
  • Title of article (within the page)
  • Title of web site (in top bar of browser, or just at top of page)
  • Retrieved date (date you took the information from the website)
  • URL (Universal Resource Locator - web address)

To cite a journal article on the web, include all same the information as for an article in a paper journal - i.e., article title, authors, journal title, issue, and pages - EXCEPT you can use the DOI (Digital Object Identifier) instead of the volume, issue, page numbers.  See for instance:
Information for Authors from the Journal of Bacteriology.