Genre Analysis: “The Mediator complex protein Med31 is required for embryonic growth and cell proliferation during mammalian development”, “Separate but linked functions of conventional myosins modulate adhesion and neurite outgrowth”, and “Dissecting activation of the PAK1 kinase at protrusions in living cells”
This is a genre analysis based on three academic research papers in the biological field. The research article titled “The Mediator complex protein Med31 is required for embryonic growth and cell proliferation during mammalian development” written by Michael D. Risley et al. was published in the journal of Developmental Biology (March, 2010)1 and is about demonstrating that absence of the Mediator complex gene Med31 fails to promote the gene transcription and thus leads to aberrance and failure in embryonic growth and cell proliferation. Developmental Biology is a science journal for researchers with a biological background and allows people working specifically in the developmental biology field to share results and exchange ideas. The second research article selected, “Separate but linked functions of conventional myosins modulate adhesion and neurite outgrowth” was published in Natural Cell Biology (January, 2001)2 by Steven R. Wylie et al. and was about the functions of myosins IIA and IIB, two main isoformes of neuronal conventional myosin, being separate but linked during neuronal adhesion and neurite outgrowth. Natural Cell Biology is a professional journal for biological scientists working in the cellular biological field and research results on cell behavior, signaling, and some other cellular topics. The third academic research article named “Dissecting activation of the PAK1 kinase at protrusions in living cells” written by Maria Carla Parrini et al. was published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry (September, 2009)3. The authors provided the experimental evidence highlighting the important role of PAK1 for protrusive activity during cell spreading. As another specialized publication, The Journal of Biological Chemistry is a collection of topics about molecular biology and cellular biology.
This genre analysis is written to provide an overview through the several sections of a standard publication in biological science: audience, format and organization, research and documentation, language, and style.
The three journals mentioned above have specific audience and readers even though sometimes they do overlap.
First of all, there are various kinds of journals in the biological field because of the diversity of the branches in this field and those journals serve as a crucial platform for information sharing in the biological research world. Most of these journals are designed for people with certain biological or chemistry academic background because of the frequent use of specialized vocabulary. More or less, except for knowing common definitions in this area, the readers should also have an overview or framework of the basic biological mechanisms on which the innovative concepts established by the authors, which makes it easier for the audience to grip the key points of the articles efficiently. Plus, systematic lectures and lab courses should be taken to elucidate the methods applied in other scientists’ research.
Usually, these research articles are advanced study materials for most undergraduate students majoring in biology though reading through might not be easy for them. However, reading research articles can be a life-long mission for all researchers such as all graduate students, specialized laboratory technicians, and professors who should work as precursors and lead the trend in various subjects of biological research.
Since the branches in biological research diverge greatly, journals for further specialized research purposes have been developed to create sub-platforms for the experts from all the fields. The academic articles from these journals have the greatest value for researchers because they are very specific and ‘fashionable’ that only people working in this sub-field can understand the authors effortlessly and may feel interested.
Noticeably, current publications will have far more effect on biological science than that on some other hard sciences like physics, mathematics, or even chemistry because there are so many unknown and blank areas in this field. Mediums like magazines and journals will be effective to be the base of new research and also the reference for textbook updating.
III. Format and Organization:
The research articles written for publishing purposes should be formatted strictly not only because it is the basic requirement from the publishers but a uniform formatting is the essence to give an efficient and effective idea presentation within a limited space in publication.
According to the three academic articles, the titles of them are aligned to the left and in bold, times new roman font. The cited resources should be numbered and listed as reference at the end. There is space in between paragraphs. Visual aids like charts, graphs, and tables are applied to illustrate the results. Specially, all the visual aids should be numbered and titled properly. Signs like arrows and lines should be added when needed. In most of the articles all the visual aids are placed in the results part to facilitate the illustration but in some cases all the visual aids are attached at the end of the articles. Journals are usually printed nicely in full color on glossy paper for long-time archiving, so colorful visual aids are recommended to be used in the articles for illustration. For publishing purpose, all the pictures and graphs should be sent to the editor in high resolution and ultra-large image size to ensure a high quality printing. The length of the articles varies, most of them will be in between 10 to 20 pages but reviews will occupy more pages.
In a standard research article like the three being analyzed, the sections are fixed including title, abstract, introduction, material and methods, results, discussion, acknowledgement, and reference. The title should be clear, brief, and attractive. Usually, authors’ names and the institution are printed underneath the title. Then, the abstract should be a brief summary in which authors should outline the whole research and mention the results at the end. The introduction section provides most of the background information for the research. Authors have to quote some other researchers’ conclusions as the reference to raise their own hypothesis. Authors clearly list all the materials and tools used in the research and the methods in steps so as to make their experiments repeatable. In the results section, authors should narrate the results within several subtitles to logically organize all kinds of the results. Photos and graphs are commonly applied in this part helping to illustrate. Noticeably, authors are not allowed discuss the results in this part but the discussion section. Some other articles are usually cited in the discussion sections to help to explain the results. Authors have to include if the hypothesis is accepted in the conclusion section and point out the direction for further research. Acknowledgement could be very short for mentioning the institution and the person who facilitate the research. All the research articles cited in the writing should be included in the reference section within certain format which I will give an example of the articles I used for this analysis at the end.
IV. Research & Documentation
There are two kinds of research appearing in the biological science journals. One of them is regular research article and the other one kind is the review. The regular research articles are written based on specific experiments while the reviews are written into a summary of many regular research articles based on the same specific topic. So the regular research articles are primary researches while the review articles are secondary researches. However, as graduate students, most of us have to graduate with a regular research article. The three academic articles analyzed are regular research articles based on the authors’ original data and results, which means they are primary researches.
In most of the biology articles, modified APA documentation style is applied. Instead of using direct quotes, the authors should paraphrase the ideas or the conclusions from some other researches throughout the entire article and list all the sources cited in the reference section.
In biology research articles, passive voice is frequently applied. Past tense is used to narrate the steps of the experiment while the present tense is applied to describe existing results or concepts. First person ‘I’ is seldom found in the biological research articles but sometimes ‘we’ could be used to describe the research group, while second person is never used because the article should be narrative. Additionally, the objects stuied during the research usually are described with third person. Contractions are considered to be informal, and thus they are not applied in the research articles. Authors working in the biological field seldom raise questions in their theses since the purpose of the publications is explaining the unknown. Application of transitions is highly recommended in the biology research article because they can be very helpful to list related steps and procedures. For example, the frequent use of adverbs in the article The Mediator complex protein Med31 is required for embryonic growth and cell proliferation during mammalian development shows various logical relationships. Additionally was used to provide parallel supporting information in the introduction section, surprisingly was used to show contrast and highlight the interested part in this research, and therefore was applied in the method section to introduce proper logical relationship in the procedure.
To sum up, a research article in biology science should be informative, logic, strictly formatted, and clearly annotated. As a second-year graduate student, I have to read published research articles very often but writing one by myself is another story. Practice makes me better.
1. Risley, M.D., Clowes, C., Yu, M., Mitchell, K., Hentges, K.E., 2010. The Mediator complex protein Med31 is required for embryonic growth and cell proliferation during mammalian development. Developmental Biology 342, 146–156.
2. Steven R. Wylie, S.R., Chantler, P.D.,2001. Separate but linked functions of conventional myosins modulate adhesion and neurite outgrowth. Natural Cell Biology 3, 88-92.
3. Parrini, M.C., Camonis, J., Matsuda, M., de Gunzburg, J., 2009. Dissecting activation of the PAK1 kinase at protrusions in living cells. The Journal of Biological Chemistry 284, 24133–24143.