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BIOL 213: Genetics

Writing Tips for Genetics

  1. Italicize gene abbreviations.  Some examples: The X-linked recessive mutation that causes chocolate-brown eye pigmentation is cho.  A mouse developmental cell signaling gene is Wnt.  Mutations of the human WRN gene results in Werner’s Syndrome.
  2. Cite references properly. See the instructions & examples given by the journal Genetics
  3. A gene encodes a protein or it codes for a protein.  Do not use “encodes for.”
  4. Write et al. correctly- it is the abbreviated form of the Latin et alia meaning “and others” so the al. is followed by a period and the et al. is italicized. 
  5. Proofread, proofread, proofread.

Get Help at CWL

The Center for Writing & Learning (CWL), located in Howarth 109, offers students opportunities to get help on all aspects of the writing process.  Services include:

  • Writing Advisors who are selected through a rigorous application process and who are specially trained to help students get started on a paper, organize their thoughts, or improve their editing skills.
  • Peer Tutors in a wide range of subjects who are nominated by professors in their disciplines and who are specially trained to help students individually or in small groups.
  • Language Partners who work with multilingual students to help them navigate the conventions and quirks of academic English writing.
  • Academic Consultants who are specially trained to help students improve their time management skills, organization, study skills, and test-taking strategies.

Sound Writing


Sound Writing is the official writing handbook on campus, written by student writing advisors and specifically tailored to the needs of Puget Sound students and their faculty.

In addition to supporting the development of successful academic writing skills, Sound Writing also includes sections on research methods, writing in the disciplines, and more.

Sound Writing provides help with three citation styles: MLA, APA, and Chicago (notes & bibliography).

Current Edition: 2020

Citation Tools

Consult our Citation Tools Guide to learn more about different citation styles, and find out about the citation management software that you can use: RefWorks and Zotero.

Citing Literature

You need to properly format your references for your writing sample as follows, using the style of the Proceedings of the National Acdemy of Sciences or PNAS.


Lohse M, et al. (2010) Robin: an intuitive wizard application for R-based expression microarray quality assessment and analysis. Plant Physiology 153(2):642–651.

Notes: If there are more than five authors, provide first author's name followed by et al. Include volume and issue number as well as page numbers. If abbreviating the journal title, be sure to use proper abbreviations (see below). Cite in numerical order as they appear in the text. Include a DOI only if published online only or in press.

A few things to also keep in mind:

Journal Abbreviations:  Notice how journal titles are sometimes abbreviated in citations? If you are going to abbreviate, you must make sure that you are using the PROPER abbreviation, as defined by a source like BIOSIS Serials Sources or CASSI Chemical Abstracts Service Source Index, which use the ISSN's standardized List of Title Word Abbreviations to come up with a standardized form. So the journal Plant Physiology is abbreviated Plant Physiol.  and not Plant Phys. Likewise if you have only an abbreviation, sometimes you need to find out what the full title is in order to search for the journal or write out a complete citation. You can use a tool like the CASSI Search Tool (provided for free by the American Chemical Society) to look up a journal and find the accurate abbreviation, or vice versa.


Do you know what a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is?  This succinct definition comes from the American Psychological Association

A digital object identifier (DOI) is a unique alphanumeric string assigned by a registration agency (the International DOI Foundation) to identify content and provide a persistent link to its location on the Internet. The publisher assigns a DOI when your article is published and made available electronically. All DOI numbers begin with a 10 and contain a prefix and a suffix separated by a slash. The prefix is a unique number of four or more digits assigned to organizations; the suffix is assigned by the publisher and was designed to be flexible with publisher identification standards.

They look like this:

For your purposes, you should know that DOIs are assigned most often to journal articles, but can also be assigned to other objects, such as books, images, datasets or really anything that has a persistent online presence. DOIs typically should be included with citations when an article has been assigned one, as they are a useful unique identifier, unless the style guidelines that you are following explictly say not to include them. 

Citing in the Sciences

As you read primary scientific papers, you will notice that authors do not use footnotes or direct quotes.  Scientists give credit to others’ work or ideas by paraphrasing the contents and citing the original source within the text of the paper, to support and contextualize claims. References in scientific writing are used to:

--  put the study in context with other work done in the field (e.g., similar work on other organisms or in other habitats)
--  show the accepted use of study methods (e.g., show that other people have used the same methods with success)
--  incorporate ideas generated by other research (e.g., perhaps another researcher encountered something similar in their study and they suggested a possible reason for their results)