Scientists utilize multiple avenues for sharing their work, including seeking funding for it in the form of a research proposal, publishing it as an article in a journal, or sharing it with a closer group of colleagues through a poster or presentation. The general writing techniques you should utilize in each of these genres of writing are the same and are outlined in the Essentials section of this site.

More specific details of what to include and how to best do so will vary across most genres, however. For example, in a research proposal you will likely need to include information on the projected timeline of your project, for which you would implement the future tense. However, when recording the results of this project in a journal article (using the past tense), an outline of the time it took you to conduct your experiments is not valuable and shouldn’t probably be mentioned.


Throughout this section, we will attempt to answer questions such as the following:

Who is my audience?

What is my purpose in writing this type of paper?

What is the appropriate writing style for this genre?

What are the most common conventions adopted in this genre?

What is the best way to organize my paper? 

How should I organize my thoughts in subsections?


Most likely, most of the papers you write for your classes will not fit perfectly into a specific professional writing genre. A lot of undergraduate work often replicates previous work and therefore is not original enough to be part of a true research article; similarly, since this research is for a class, you won’t be the one writing research proposals for it. Regardless of these realities, it is very valuable for you to become familiar with and practice writing in these genres as precisely and genuinely as possible. So while your instructor is the only one who will be able to tell you the exact expectations of a particular assignment, the guidelines for writing in these genres will still likely apply.


Remember, as in all writing, that

  • there is not a formula. While the technical specificity of some aspects of the scientific writing process can seem rigid, it is merely a product of the attempts to be professional and is therefore always variable and flexible to an extent.
  • in order to discern which guidelines do and don’t apply to your particular paper, you will have to consider what you are writing, who you are writing for, and why. This requires of you a higher level of thinking throughout the writing process; guidance in this area can be found here.



The genres we address, which can be navigated to via the main toolbar, are as follows:

  1. The journal article
    1. Title
    2. Abstract
    3. Introduction
    4. Methods
    5. Results
    6. Discussion
  2. The research proposal
  3. The lab report
  4. The research paper
  5. The scientific poster


A comprehensive site map can also be found here.