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Introduction to Scientific Writing

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Title: Introduction to Scientific Writing


1
Lecture 1
Introduction to Scientific Writing
20 August 2007
2
Lecture schedule
Lecture Date Time 1. Introduction to
scientific writing 8/20 900-1020 2. How to
write a scientific paper in English 8/20 1500-16
20 3. Earth structure and plate
tectonics 8/21 900-1100 4. Circulation of the
atmosphere 8/21 1300-1500 5. Water and ocean
structure 8/22 1000-1100 6. Continental
margins and ocean basins 8/22 1300-1500 7.
Sediment 8/23 1000-1100 8. Marine
resources 8/23 1300-1400 9. Circulation of
the ocean 8/24 1100-1230
3
Introduction to Scientific Writing 1) Writing
guides and websites 2) Why study English? 3)
Sentence structure 4) Paragraphs 5) Sentences 6)
General rules 7) The 1 rule to help improve your
English
Major problems
Minor problems
4
Writing guides and websites
Good books about writing scientific
English TITLE Scientific English A Guide for
Scientists and other Professionals (2nd ed.)
AUTHOR Robert A. Day   TITLE How to Write
Publish a Scientific Paper (6th ed.) AUTHOR
Robert A. Day

5
Useful Web sites about writing Writers
Handbook Scientific Reports http//www.wisc.edu/w
riting/Handbook/ScienceReport.html   A guide to
grammar and style http//newark.rutgers.edu/7Ejly
nch/Writing/contents.html   Grammar, Punctuation,
and Spelling http//owl.english.purdue.edu/handout
s/grammar/index.html Merriam-Webster Online
Dictionary http//www.m-w.com/   A Dictionary of
Units of Measurement http//www.unc.edu/7Erowlett
/units/index.html
6
Writing guides and websites Another helpful
resource StudyCom English for Internet
lthttp//www.study.comgt - free English
classes!
7
Introduction to Scientific Writing 1) Writing
guides and websites 2) Why study English?
8
Why study English? English is the universal
language, especially in science. For scientists,
English is the only language.
9
Susumu Tonegawa Nobel Prize for Medicine - 1987
10
Why study English? After he won the Nobel Prize,
Susumu Tonegawa wrote his colleagues in Japan and
told them Learn English!
11
Why study English? Susumu Tonegawa also
wrote We should consider changing our thinking
process in the field of science by trying to
reason in English. He feels that all scientists
should communicate in English.
12
English is a complicated language with a large
vocabulary.
  • English was originally a Germanic language,
    related to Dutch and German.
  • But after the Norman Conquest in 1066, many
    French and Latin words entered the language.

13
  • Origin of modern English words
  • French 28.3
  • Latin 28.2
  • Anglo-Saxon, Old Norse, and Dutch 25
  • Greek 5
  • Proper names 3
  • All other languages lt1

But if you follow several simple rules, writing
scientific English is not that difficult.
14
Introduction to Scientific Writing 1) Writing
guides and websites 2) Why study English? 3)
Sentence structure
15
  • Sentence Structure
  • Readers expect certain types of information to
    occur in particular places in a scientific paper.
  • One of the biggest problems in professional
    writing is misplacement of information in a
    sentence.

 
 
     
16
Sentence structure
Subject Verb Object English, Chinese, Thai
English I eat squid. Thai Pom taan bplaa-mùk.
17
Sentence structure
Subject Verb Object English, Chinese,
Thai Subject Object Verb Japanese, Korean,
Hindi
??????????
Sentence
? ? ?? ? ?????
Words
Romaji
Watashi wa ika o tabemasu.
I squid eat
Parts
Subject Object Verb
Translation
I eat squid.
18
Sentence structure
Subject Verb Object English, Chinese,
Thai Subject Object Verb Japanese, Korean,
Hindi
These two patterns account for gt75 of the
world's languages.
19
Sentence structure
Subject Verb Object English, Chinese,
Thai Subject Object Verb Japanese, Korean,
Hindi Verb Subject Object Gaelic, Tagalog,
Hawaiian Verb Object Subject Malagasy,
Fijian Object Subject Verb rare Object Verb
Subject very rare
20
  • Sentence Structure
  • Two tips to help make your sentences clearer
  • The verb should follow the subject as soon as
    possible.
  • Subject Verb Object

 
 
     
21
1. The hawksbill turtle, after it lays eggs at
the Similan Islands, returns to the sea.
2. The hawksbill turtle returns to the sea after
it lays eggs at the Similan Islands.
22
Subject - Verb
1. The hawksbill turtle, after it lays eggs at
the Similan Islands, returns to the sea.
2. The hawksbill turtle returns to the sea after
it lays eggs at the Similan Islands.
2 is better than 1.
23
1. Scientists track sea turtles using satellite
tags.
2. Scientists, using satellite tags, track sea
turtles.
3. Using satellite tags, scientists track sea
turtles.
24
Subject
Verb
Object
1. Scientists track sea turtles using satellite
tags.
2. Scientists, using satellite tags, track sea
turtles.
3. Using satellite tags, scientists track sea
turtles.
1 and 3 are better than 2.
But what is the difference between 1 and 3?
25
Sentence Structure Tip 2 Paragraph A The Bay
of Bangkok was my study area. Seven species of
fishes were collected in the bay. Three types of
zooplankton were fed on by the fishes. Copepods
were the most abundant zooplankton prey.
Paragraph B My study area was the Bay of
Bangkok . In the bay, I collected seven species
of fishes. The fishes fed on three types of
zooplankton. The most abundant zooplankton prey
were copepods.
 
 
     
26
Sentence Structure Tip 2 Readers naturally
emphasize the material that arrives at the end of
a sentence. We refer to this location as the
stress position. Thus, the writer should put
new information at the end of the sentence.
27
  • Sentence Structure Tip 2
  •  
  • Begin sentences with information familiar to
    your readers.
  •  
  • End sentences with new/complicated information
    you want the reader to emphasize.

Put new information at the end.
28
Where is the new information in each
sentence? PARAGRAPH A The Bay of Bangkok was my
study area. Seven species of fishes were
collected in the bay. Three types of
zooplankton were fed on by the fishes. Copepods
were the most abundant zooplankton prey.
29
Where is the new information in each
sentence? PARAGRAPH A The Bay of Bangkok was my
study area. Seven species of fishes were
collected in the lake. Three types of
zooplankton were fed on by the fishes. Copepods
were the most abundant zooplankton
prey. PARAGRAPH B My study area was the Bay of
Bangkok . In the bay, we collected seven
species of fishes. The fishes fed on three
types of zooplankton. The most abundant
zooplankton prey were copepods.
30
PARAGRAPH B My study area was the Bay of Bangkok
. In the bay, we collected seven species of
fishes. The fishes fed on three types of
zooplankton. The most abundant zooplankton prey
were copepods.
31
Scientists track sea turtles using satellite
tags. Using satellite tags, scientists track
sea turtles. Which is better?
32
Example 1 Scientists use electronic tags to
study animal migration. One type of tag now used
is called a satellite tag. A or B.   A.
Scientists track sea turtles using satellite
tags.   B. Using satellite tags, scientists track
sea turtles.
?
33
Example 1 Scientists use electronic tags to
study animal migration. One type of tag now used
is called a satellite tag. A or B.   A.
Scientists track sea turtles using satellite
tags.   B. Using satellite tags, scientists track
sea turtles.
34
Example 1 Where is the new information? Scientis
ts use electronic tags to study animal migration.
One type of tag now used is called an
satellite tag.   A. Scientists track sea
turtles using satellite tags. B. Using satellite
tags, scientists track sea turtles.
35
Example 2 Some sea turtles migrate long
distances. These migrations are being tracked by
scientists around the world. A or B.   A. The
scientists track sea turtles using satellite
tags.   B. Using satellite tags, the scientists
track sea turtles.
?
36
Example 2 Some sea turtles migrate long
distances. These migrations are being tracked by
scientists around the world. A or B.   A. The
scientists track sea turtles using satellite
tags.   B. Using satellite tags, the scientists
track sea turtles.
37
Example 2 Where is the new information? Some
sea turtles migrate long distances. These
migrations are being tracked by scientists around
the world.   A. The scientists track sea
turtles using satellite tags.   B. Using
satellite tags, the scientists track sea turtles.

38
Introduction to Scientific Writing 1) Writing
guides and websites 2) Why study English? 3)
Sentence structure 4) Paragraphs
39
Paragraphs
  • The paragraph is an essential way of organizing
    ideas in English.
  • If a paper is not well structured with
    paragraphs, it can be very hard for the reader to
    follow the flow of ideas.

Paragraph comprises two parts
Issue

Discussion
40
  • The Issue is analogous to the topic.
  • It is usually 1-3 sentences long.

The Discussion explains or supports what the
writer stated in the issue.
  • Readers will feel that a paragraph is coherent if
    they can read a sentence that specifically
    articulates its point.
  • topic sentence
  • In scientific writing, this sentence should come
    at the beginning of the paragraph
  • usually at the end of the Issue


41
Here is a paragraph about fisheries management
(Pikitch et al., 2004). Note how the topic
sentence summarizes the paragraph Fisheries
management to date has often been ineffective it
focuses on maximizing the catch of a single
target species and often ignores habitat,
predators, and prey of the target species and
other ecosystem components and interactions. The
indirect social and economic costs of the focus
on single species can be substantial. For
example, over 90 of the annual mortality of
white marlin, a species petitioned for listing
under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, occurs
through incidental catch in swordfish and tuna
longline fisheries. This threatens a recreational
fishing industry worth up to U.S.2 billion
annually.
42
  • How long should a paragraph be?
  • it can be as short as one sentence or as long as
    it has to be.

Just remember that each paragraph should contain
only one developed idea. One paragraph One
idea/topic. When you change topics, start a new
paragraph.
43
Introduction to Scientific Writing 1) Writing
guides and websites 2) Why study English? 3)
Sentence structure 4) Paragraphs 5) Sentences
44
General rules 1. Verb tense In scientific
writing, three tenses are normally used 1)
present tense 2) past tense 3) present
perfect tense The use of present or past forms
of verbs has a very special meaning in scientific
papers.
45
1) Use present tense when a fact has been
published. Streptomycin stops the growth of
tuberculosis (Smith, 1980). Several reports
describe similar findings (Jones et al.
2005).  Larger cod females produce larger eggs
(Kjesbu, 1989).
46
2) Use the past tense for unpublished results.
Fish larvae grew best at 21oC.   But if you
are citing the results of a previous study, use
present tense   Fish larvae grow best at 21oC
(Smith, 1978).
47
3) Use present perfect tense for repeated events
Nesting behavior has been studied under
many environmental conditions. These drugs
have been shown to produce significant
elevations in blood pressure.
48
4) Use present tense to refer readers to your
figures and tables Figure 1 shows that
  Table 1 shows that
Summary 1) Established knowledge present
tense 2) Results of your paper past tense 3)
Presentation present tense
49
This means that you will use both past and
present tense in your paper 1) Abstract past
tense 2) Introduction present tense 3)
Methods past tense 4) Results past tense
5) Discussion both past and present
50
  • 2. Agreement of subject and verb.
  • The number of the verb must agree with the number
    of the subject.
  • INCORRECT An evaluation of the
    experimental results, as well as the
    clinical findings, are described.
  • CORRECT An evaluation of the experimental
    results, as well as the clinical findings, is
    described.

51
2) Agreement of subject and verb. B. Irregular
plurals. A common mistake is to use a singular
verb with data, formulae and radii, which are
plural nouns. INCORRECT This data is
significant. CORRECT These data are
significant.
52
  • 3) Voice
  • English has two voices
  • active
  • passive

Active Salmon eat copepods. Passive Copepods
are eaten by salmon.
53
1 Salmon eat copepods. 2 Copepods are eaten
by salmon.
Do they mean the same thing?
The facts are the same, but the sentences tell us
two different things
1 tells us something about salmon 2 tells us
something about copepods
54
The style of scientific writing has changed with
time. pre-1900 active voice from 1900 passive
voice became popular recently active voice
is preferred
Which should you use?
55
1. Use passive voice to avoid mentioning the
performer of the action when the performer is
already known (e.g., in the Methods
section) ACTIVE We collected samples in the
Gulf of Thailand. We removed scales on board the
ship. We conducted age analysis of these samples
in Bangkok. PASSIVE Samples were collected in
the Gulf of Thailand. Scales were removed on
board the ship. Age analysis of these samples was
conducted in Bangkok.
56
2. Use passive voice if it will help you move
smoothly from one sentence to the next.
Each sentence should begin with information
familiar to your reader, and new and complex
information should come last.
57
MY ADVICE 1) Look at the structure of the
sentence to decide whether active or passive
voice is appropriate. 2) Use the active voice
unless you have a good reason to use the passive.
58
4. Keep qualifying phrases and clauses close to
what they qualify
EXAMPLE Only  The position of only is very
important.  1) Only chum salmon spawns in the
river. 2) Chum salmon only spawns in the
river. 3) Chum salmon spawns only in the
river. RULE put only immediately before the
word it modifies
59
Introduction to Scientific Writing 1) Writing
guides and websites 2) Why study English? 3)
Sentence structure 4) Paragraphs 5) Sentences 6)
General rules
60
Numbers Use figures for numbers 10 and above
Use words for numbers below 10 (one, two, ...
nine)   examples We towed 13 nets through the
water. We sampled at 22 stations. We
conducted three experiments. We collected nine
samples.
61
Exceptions 1) Do not begin a sentence with a
figure. WRONG 13 students went to the
lecture. CORRECT Thirteen students went to the
lecture. CORRECT A total of 13 students went to
the lecture.   WRONG 48 petri dishes were
used. CORRECT Forty-eight petri dishes were
used. CORRECT A total of 48 petri dishes were
used.
62
Exceptions 2) Use figures whenever numbers are
followed by units of measure.  WRONG I added
three ml of distilled water. CORRECT I added 3
ml of distilled water. 3) When several numbers
appear in the same sentence, express them all the
same way. WRONG We conducted four experiments in
May, five in June and 11 in July. CORRECT We
conducted 4 experiments in May, 5 in June and
11 in July.
63
Generally, figures are used when you have three
or more numbers in a series, even if each of the
numbers is below 10. CORRECT The analysis
revealed 5 cases of malaria, 7 cases of
yellow fever, and 1 case of leprosy.
64
  • Definite and indefinite articles.
  • This is probably one of the most difficult points
    of the English language for most foreigners.
  • Luckily, it does not usually cause serious
    confusion if you get it wrong.
  • There are three articles in English
  • a
  • an
  • the

indefinite articles
definite article
65
Using definite and indefinite articles is one of
the hardest things for speakers of other
languages to master, because the usage is often
entirely arbitrary. Example I am in
town. I am in the city.
66
Also, British and American usage sometimes
differs Britain - She is in hospital. USA -
She is in the hospital.   Usually you have to go
with what sounds right, which can be frustrating
for a learner.   There are no simple rules for
using articles, but here are a few guidelines.
67
I. Indefinite articles - a and an   A and an are
indefinite articles. They are used before nouns
that introduce something or someone you have not
mentioned before   "We observed an albatross
near the islands." "A dolphin was caught on the
longline."   A and an are also used when talking
about your profession   "I am a graduate
student." "He is an oceanographer."
68
II. Definite article the Use the when you have
already mentioned the thing you are writing
about. "We caught an albatross and a shearwater.
The albatross was a male, and the shearwater was
a female."
69
II. Definite article the Use the to talk about
geographical points on the globe the North
Pole, the equator Use the to talk about rivers,
oceans and seas the Chao Phraya River, the
Pacific Ocean  Use the before certain nouns when
we know there is only one of a particular
thing. the sun, the world, the earth
70
III. No article We usually use no article to talk
about things in general - the does not mean
all. "Squids are delicious." (All squids are
delicious.) "The squids are delicious." (Not
all squids are delicious, just the ones I am
writing about.) Fishes are vertebrates.
(All fishes are vertebrates.) "The fishes fed on
copepods." (Not all fishes fed on copepods,
just the ones I am writing about.)
71
III. No article Do not use an article before the
names of countries except where they indicate
multiple areas or contain the words state(s)
kingdom, republic, or union. No
article Thailand Japan Use the the
Kingdom of Thailand the United Kingdom the
United States of America the
Netherlands the Philippines
72
Introduction to Scientific Writing 1) Writing
guides and websites 2) Why study English? 3)
Sentence structure 4) Paragraphs 5) Sentences 6)
General rules 7) The 1 rule to help improve your
English
73
The 1 rule to help improve your English Be
clear, simple and brief
74
The most important thing when writing
To be clear The simplest writing style
is usually the best. The first step towards
being clear Be brief
75
Scientific writing differs from other types of
writing in two main ways 1) its main purpose is
to inform, so it should be clear and simple 2)
organization Scientific writing is very
organized 1) Introduction 2) Methods
3) Results and 4) Discussion
IMRAD
76
Appendix I. Difficult words and expressions (pp.
14-15) Appendix II. Words and phrases to avoid
(p. 16)
77
Lecture schedule
Lecture Date Time 1. Introduction to
scientific writing 8/20 900-1020 2. How to
write a scientific paper in English 8/20 1500-16
20 3. Earth structure and plate
tectonics 8/21 900-1100 4. Circulation of the
atmosphere 8/21 1300-1500 5. Water and ocean
structure 8/22 1000-1100 6. Continental
margins and ocean basins 8/22 1300-1500 7.
Sediment 8/23 1000-1100 8. Marine
resources 8/23 1300-1400 9. Circulation of
the ocean 8/24 1100-1230
78
  • A preview of lecture 2
  • What to do before writing a paper
  • How to write a paper
  • How to get your paper published
  • Tips for giving a talk
  • Tips for preparing a poster
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