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Biol 6260 Behavioral Ecology: Home

[BIOL|6260|Kim Sullivan]

Ecology: Proposal Writing

In this class you will gain experience writing a grant proposal.  This guide lists resources that will help you with many of the steps involved in the proposal process and offers tips to help you with this assignment.


One component of most proposals is a literature review.  Funders expect to see what work has been accomplished in the area of your proposed research so they can see how your project will contribute to the field and how it is relevant.  Locating and incorporating pertinent research articles is a key component of writing your funding proposal.


Managing References

Citation organizers, also called citation managers, can help you keep organized and save you a lot of time as you do research.  For help with citation organizers, including choosing one, how to use them, and getting help, see this Library Research Guide: Citation Organizers.

Prirmary vs Secondary Research

In addition to distinguishing between popular and scholarly articles, you need to be able to understand if the scholarly articles you are reading are reporting primary research or secondary research.

Primary research articles report original research and results.  You will see the data and work that the authors produced. A primary source is an article that reports this.  Other primary sources can include documents such as diaries and scrapbooks, photographs, and eyewitness accounts.

Secondary research often summarizes the work of many primary research studies.  In the sciences, a common example of this is a review article.  Review articles report and analyze the results of primary research articles, but don't report any new information.

Reading the Scientific Literature

Reading a scientific paper isn't like reading a book.  Hint:  Don't try to read it straight through from beginning to end!

Here are some tips to help you become skilled:

How to Read a Scientific Paper - Infographic from Elsevier

How to Read a Scientific Article by Mary Purugganan, Ph.D. and Jan Hewitt, Ph.D., Cain Project in Engineering and Professional Communication at Rice University

How to Read a Scientific Paper - Minimally modified from John W. Little and Roy Parker at the University of Arizona (which is no longer retrievable).  This version is from a Biology course from by taught by Professor Devoto Fall 2011 at Wesleyan University.

How to read and understand a scientific paper: a guide for non-scientists

Peer Review

Tips on conducting peer review:

Peer-Review Techniques for Novices from Science Magazine, April 20, 2001

Elsevier:  How to Conduct a Review

Wiley:  Step by Step Guide to Reviewing a Manuscript

Science Writing

Turbek, S. P., Chock, T. M., Donahue, K., Havrilla, C. A., Oliverio, A. M., Polutchko, S. K., Shoemaker, L. G. and Vimercati, L. (2016), Scientific Writing Made Easy: A Step-by-Step Guide to Undergraduate Writing in the Biological Sciences. Bull Ecol Soc Am, 97: 417–426. doi:10.1002/bes2.1258  

Gopen, G., & Swan, J. (2018, January 3). The Science of Scientific Writing. Retrieved February 26, 2018, from