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Scientific Writing: Meeting the Readers Needs

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Review articles. Books and book chapters. Progress and technical reports. Extension publications ... The Science of Scientific Writing. American Scientist 78:550-558. ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Scientific Writing: Meeting the Readers Needs


1
Scientific Writing Meeting the Readers Needs
  • Kent Harrison
  • Ohio State University

2
  • Reasons for writing
  • The importance of structure
  • Organizing a scientific paper
  • Reader expectations
  • Tips for success

3
A naturalists life would be a happy one if he
had only to observe and never to
write. Charles Darwin
4
Reasons for Writing
  • Brings research to completion
  • Ethical obligation to funding sources
  • Establish professional reputation
  • Writing reaches the widest audience
  • Professional rewards

5
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6
Products
  • Peer-reviewed journal articles
  • Grant proposals
  • Review articles
  • Books and book chapters
  • Progress and technical reports
  • Extension publications
  • Popular press articles

7
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8
Readers expect structure in
  • articles
  • sections
  • paragraphs
  • sentences
  • clauses

9
Readers have fixed expectations of structure
Example
10
Readers have fixed expectations of structure
(revised)
11
Organizing a Scientific Paper
12
Organizing a Scientific Paper
  • I. Introduction (readers needs)
  • What is the problem being addressed?
  • Why is it important?
  • What have others done to address the problem?
  • What have you done to address the problem and how
    is it different?

13
Organizing a Scientific Paper
  • Materials and Methods (readers needs)
  • Which objective is being addressed by each
    experiment?
  • Are the treatments and experimental design
    defined clearly?
  • Can the procedures be duplicated accurately?
  • How was significance determined, and how are
    findings presented?

14
Organizing a Scientific Paper
  • III. Results Discussion (readers needs)
  • What are the findings relevant to each objective?
  • Have all objectives been met?
  • How do the findings support/contradict other
    research, and why?
  • What are the practical implications and what
    future work is needed?

15
Reader Expectations
adapted from Gopen and Swan, 1990
  • Avoid separation between subject verb
  • Place main point in the stress position
  • Provide backward linkage in topic position
  • Avoid logic gaps misplaced information
  • Locate the action

16
1. Avoid separation between subject verb
  • The most prevalent winter annual weed that
    infests no-tillage fields, Lamium purpureum, is
    Lamium purpureum, an obligate winter annual and
    naturalized member of the Lamiaceae originating
    from Eurasia it has a prolonged emergence period
    and may require a second application of
    glyphosate.
  • The most prevalent winter annual weed that
    infests no-tillage fields is Lamium purpureum, an
    obligate winter annual and naturalized member of
    the Lamiaceae originating from Eurasia it has a
    prolonged emergence period and may require a
    second application of glyphosate.

17
2. Place main point in the stress position
  • Recently, however, few viable seeds were
    produced according to seed germination tests, as
    well as tetrazolium assays, on seeds produced by
    seven of the biotypes.
  • Recently, however, seven of the biotypes were
    shown by seed germination tests and tetrazolium
    assays to produce few viable seeds.

18
3. Provide backward linkage in topic posn
  • Capsules release seeds at rate proportional to
    capsule age. In a first approximation, one might
    expect that the maximum seed predation rate
    occurs in October, when most capsules reach full
    maturity. However, in some populations from
    central Texas the monthly rate of seed predation
    remained constant.
  • Seeds are released from capsules at a rate
    proportional to capsule age. Capsules reach full
    maturity in October when the maximum predation
    levels might be expected. However, monthly seed
    losses due to predation remained constant in some
    populations from central Texas.

19
4. Avoid logic gaps misplaced information
  • (Topic Stress)
  • An altered AHAS enzyme was determined to be
    responsible for the differential response of R1
    and R2 populations to chlorimuron. In order to
    confirm cross resistance to imidazolinones, AHAS
    was extracted from the R1 and R2 populations and
    assayed. Imazapyr and imazamox were used to
    generate a series of inhibition curves.
  • The differential response of R1 and R2
    populations to chlorimuron was due to an altered
    AHAS enzyme. AHAS was extracted from the R1 and
    R2 populations and assayed to determine cross
    resistance to imidazolinones. The imidazolinone
    herbicides imazapyr and imazamox were selected to
    generate inhibition curves.

20
5. Locating the action
  • In the freshwater samples, photolysis of
    norflurazon increased with sensitizer
    concentration. We expected these results,
    because the initial degradation rate exceeded
    that in the distilled water controls. Abiotic
    hydrolysis likely accounted for little
    degradation, because pyridazinones can remain
    stable over a large pH range .
  • Photolysis of norflurazon in the freshwater
    samples was dependent on sensitizer
    concentration. This is not surprising, because
    the initial degradation rate was different than
    in the distilled water controls. Abiotic
    hydrolysis is presumed to have little effect on
    degradation, because pyridazinones are generally
    stable over a large pH range .

21
Tips for successful writing
  • Read
  • Write
  • 3. Review
  • 4. Rewrite
  • 5. Relax
  • 6. Repeat Steps 3-5

22
Peer review and the Red Ink Factor
23
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24
References
  • G. D. Gopen and J. A. Swan. 1990. The Science
    of Scientific Writing. American Scientist
    78550-558.
  • Improving the quality of writing
  • improves the quality of thought.
  • Peat et. al. 2002. Scientific Writing Easy
    When You Know How. BMJ Books, London.
  • Scientific writing is a well-defined
  • technique rather than a creative art.


25
Available atagcrops.osu.edu/weeds
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