How to Select the Right Format in Writing a Biology Research Paper

Scientists communicate with each other through writing research papers.  They must be very familiar with the vast body of research, and therefore, it is helpful if research papers all contain the same basic organization.  This allows a scientist to review literature efficiently.  As with all subjects, specific writing style formats are required in writing scientific research papers.  Here is a helpful guide on how to select the right format in writing a biology research paper. To begin, it is useful to know and understand all of the top preferred formats.  Once you know which style is used for various subjects, you can select the appropriate format for your paper.

Most Used Style Formats in Alphabetical Order

Please note that this list is not conclusive.  However, they are the most readily required.

  • AMA Format – (American Medical Association) – The AMA style is used in the biological health and medical fields.  Your paper could very well fit here.
  • APA Format – (American Psychological Association) – This is the most common style used in social sciences, such as those of education, psychology and sociology.  There is overlap between psychology and biology.  So, you must consider if your paper is more geared to the psychology field or biology field.
  • CMS Format – (The Chicago Manual of Style) – The CMS style, sometimes referred to as CMOS, is gaining more popularity particularly with online publications for general audiences.  Newspapers, magazines and books often elect for this style, as it is meant for real-world, everyday discussion. It is very likely you won’t use this style for your biology research paper.  However, if you want to blog about your findings, this style is a viable option.
  • MLA Format – (Modern Language Association) – The MLA format is often reserved for the humanities, subjects like literature and the arts. 
  • Turabian Format – (by Kate Turabian) – The Turabian style was developed as an overall generic guide for research paper writing for students.

Other Pertinent Considerations

  • Chances are that if you are writing the research paper for a class, you have already been told which format to use.   
  • Some scientific journals may have other format guides that must be followed outside of the most common writing styles. 
  • Lastly, selecting a format is also dependent on which country the publication is in.  While the styles listed are generally accepted by other countries, this list is conclusive to the USA.