The Biological Review Paper

The review paper is somewhat different from a lab report, primarily because you are not reporting the results of a single experiment, but summarizing and analyzing the results of the experiments of others. You will have no Methods or Results sections. Otherwise, most of the general considerations of science writing do apply.


The topic must be a "Mama Bear" in scope: not too big to be intractable, and not so narrow that you cannot find enough information on it. Run your topic by the instructor before you get too far into your research.


Should be specific and informative, not vague nor wordy.


Introduce the subject, explain the rationale for the review, and state your purpose. Yes, even a review has a purpose--usually addressing a bigger question than a single study can address.


Do not simply summarize all the studies you read. Relate the material to your objective. Present the information to support the statements you want to make. Integrate the literature, focus on your topic and develop yor arguments. This should be the largest section of the paper.


Summarize the major points of the paper and add a final perspective. What are the remaining questions in the area? What direction should future research go?

Literature Cited

List only and all those references cited in the text of the paper. They must be listed in alphabetical order (by author) and in a particular format. Citations should be done in the Author/Year format (as in lab reports) in the text. For this class, a minimum of 10 references is required. The quality of references is important. They should be mostly primary journal articles. Books are OK. Encyclopedias and web sites (except online peer-reviewed journals) do not count toward the 10.