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Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Recap from last time (quick quiz):

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1 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Recap from last time (quick quiz):

2 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. "Data doesn't lie, but in raw form, it often doesn't speak clearly, either." B. "Data don't lie, but in raw form, they often don't speak clearly, either."

3 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. "Data doesn't lie, but in raw form, it often doesn't speak clearly, either." B. "Data don't lie, but in raw form, they often don't speak clearly, either." (Choice A was the tag line on the webpage of a math software company!)

4 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. The war profoundly affected her views. B. The war profoundly effected her views.

5 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. The war profoundly affected her views. B. The war profoundly effected her views.

6 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. The affects of the war were devastating. B. The effects of the war were devastating.

7 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. The affects of the war were devastating. B. The effects of the war were devastating.

8 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. The psychiatrist found the patient’s effect worrisome. B. The psychiatrist found the patient’s affect worrisome.

9 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. The psychiatrist found the patient’s effect worrisome. B. The psychiatrist found the patient’s affect worrisome.

10 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. She resolved to affect a change in the healthcare system. B. She resolved to effect a change in the healthcare system.

11 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. She resolved to affect a change in the healthcare system. B. She resolved to effect a change in the healthcare system.

12 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. The negotiators effected an agreement. B. The negotiators affected an agreement.

13 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. The negotiators effected an agreement. B. The negotiators affected an agreement.

14 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. While she waited to be seen in the ER, her personal effects were stolen. B. While she waited to be seen in the ER, her personal affects were stolen.

15 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. While she waited to be seen in the ER, her personal effects were stolen. B. While she waited to be seen in the ER, her personal affects were stolen.

16 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. The bacteria that I was trying to grow died. B. The bacteria which I was trying to grow died.

17 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. The bacteria that I was trying to grow died. B. The bacteria which I was trying to grow died.

18 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. There is limited data. B. There are limited data.

19 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. There is limited data. B. There are limited data.

20 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. The car, which I didn’t particularly like, finally died. B. The car, that I didn’t particularly like, finally died.

21 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. The car, which I didn’t particularly like, finally died. B. The car, that I didn’t particularly like, finally died.

22 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. He owed over $1000 to the doctor. B. He owed more than $1000 to the doctor.

23 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. He owed over $1000 to the doctor. B. He owed more than $1000 to the doctor.

24 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. Her dresses weren’t worth very much compared with her shoes. B. Her dresses weren’t worth very much compared to her shoes.

25 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A. Her dresses weren’t worth very much compared with her shoes. B. Her dresses weren’t worth very much compared to her shoes.

26 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 HOMEWORK ANSWERS : HOMEWORK ANSWERS Many possibilities, of course! Here are my suggestions..

27 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 HOMEWORK ANSWERS : 1. The terms genetic predisposition and susceptibility are not entirely satisfactory terms because they are not independent concepts, but we use the terms to distinguish the extent of increased risk that arise from the inherited genetic alterations, calling very high individual risk, predisposition, and lower risk, susceptibility. What were your rewrites?

28 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 HOMEWORK ANSWERS : My rewrite: We call inherited genetic alterations ‘genetic predisposition’ if they confer a very high risk of disease and ‘genetic susceptibility’ if they confer a lower risk.

29 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 HOMEWORK ANSWERS : 2. Certain etiologic factors might be more likely to lead to certain types of molecular changes, so defining tumors based on molecular changes might lead to formation of more etiologically homogeneous subsets of tumors than are apparent solely through histologic categories.

30 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 HOMEWORK ANSWERS : My rewrite: Tumors caused by a particular environmental or genetic factor undergo predictable molecular changes; thus, classifying tumors by molecular rather than histologic changes may give more etiologically homogenous subsets.

31 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 HOMEWORK ANSWERS : 3. It is interesting to note that the new organism is green in color, round in shape, 5x10 mm in size, and active with respect to motility.

32 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 HOMEWORK ANSWERS : My rewrite: The new organism is green, round, 5x10 mm long, and mobile.

33 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 HOMEWORK ANSWERS : 4.In view of the fact that solar energy is not yet fully developed at the present time, we will have to continue utilizing fossil fuels well into the next century.

34 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 HOMEWORK ANSWERS : My rewrite: Because solar energy is underdeveloped, we will have to use fossil fuels into the next century.

35 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 HOMEWORK: 1. Adjacent to near 2. Assuming that if 3. Big in size big 4. Clearly evident evident **5. Demonstrate show 6. Doctorate degree doctorate

36 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 HOMEWORK: 7. Disseminate send out, distribute 8. Endeavor (verb) try 9. Evaluate test 10. Finalize finish 11. Facility office, plant **12. Have an effect on affect

37 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 HOMEWORK: **13. Has no lacks 14. New development development **15. In order to to 16. It is probable that probably 17. Terminate end 18. Total number number **19. Utilize use 20. With regard to about, regarding

38 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 WARM-UP: On a scrap of paper, revise… Clinically and pathologically, a focal neurologic deficit may be considered a stroke if that deficit is thought to be caused by a local disturbance affecting the cerebral circulation.  A stroke is a focal neurologic deficit caused by a local disturbance in cerebral circulation.

39 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Lecture Two: News Writing News writing… News-writing is the art of maximizing information and minimizing words; it’s the barest-bones form of writing. The fundamentals of good writing can be learned by dissecting news articles.

40 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 When you write news, you are trying to inform your reader in the quickest, most interesting way possible.

41 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 What scientific writers can learn from journalists… 1. That a clear, succinct, informative writing style is best and… 2. That holding your reader’s attention matters!

42 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 What scientific writers can learn from journalists… 1. That a clear, succinct, informative writing style is best and… 2. That holding your reader’s attention matters!

43 Scientific Writing, HRP That a clear, succinct, informative writing style is best and… We were introduced to many of these principles last time.

44 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Writing in news style:  Just the facts, Ma’am.

45 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Some principles of news writing… 1. Don’t use a complicated word when a simple one will do. 2. Avoid jargon, clichés, and euphemisms. 3. Don’t cram too much into one sentence. Avoid redundancy and repetition. 4. Use active verbs and follow the usual conversational flow of words 5. Use facts, not opinion. 6. Be specific.

46 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Some principles of news writing… 1. Don’t use a complicated word when a simple one will do.  see last week’s lesson. Did anyone count average number of letters per word in the newspaper?

47 This is a single sentence… Because septin filaments mark the site for cytokinesis, and because there is a specific cell cycle checkpoint that monitors the state of septin filament assembly, that we also discovered such knowledge may allow, ultimately, the development of therapeutic agents and clinically valuable strategies, on the one hand, to impose a permanent checkpoint arrest as a means of halting the growth of malignant cells in various cancers, including breast cancer, and, on the other, to overcome such checkpoints to re-activate proliferation of quiescent differentiated cells (for example, to stimulate multiplication of the residual beta-cells in patients suffering from Type 1 diabetes as a means to repopulate the pancreatic islets with insulin-producing cells).

48 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Some principles of news writing… 2. Avoid jargon, clichés, and euphemisms.

49 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Avoid clichés like the plague…

50 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Euphemisms accept the resignation of economically disadvantaged limited success pre-owned underachiever expire collateral damage

51 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 “Collateral damage is one of those antiseptic sounding euphemisms that are sometimes more chilling than plain language, so hard do they labor to conceal their human meaning.” --Hendrik Hertzberg in the New Yorker

52 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Some principles of news writing… 3. Don’t cram too much into one sentence. Avoid redundancy and repetition.

53 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Did anyone count average words per sentence in the newspaper? Average number of sentences per paragraph? How do you think it compares to a scientific article?

54 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 In news writing, all needless words are eliminated. For example, “that” and “on” are often eliminated: The meeting happened on Monday. The meeting happened Monday. They agreed that it was true. They agreed it was true.

55 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Avoid using two or more words that mean the same thing (redundancy). The hero begins to behave strangely and in odd ways following his tryst with a witch he meets secretly at midnight.  The hero begins to behave strangely following his tryst with a witch he meets secretly at midnight.

56 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Do not repeat a word unless you need it again for clarity or emphasis (i.e., avoid repetition) When he was a student, his favorite classes were the classes that gave no homework.  When he was a student, his favorite classes were those that gave no homework. When he was a student, his favorite classes gave no homework.

57 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Caveat: Keep your sentences short but not too short that they are choppy. Example: (from Successful Science Writing) Two canine cadaveers with orthopedic abnormalities were identified. The first dog had an unusual deformity. It was secondary to premature closure of the distal ulnar physis. The second dog had a hypertrophic nonunion of the femur. The radius and femur of both dogs were harvested. They were cleaned of soft tissue. **News writers use the dash, semicolon, and colon to merge choppy sentences together (we’ll learn how craft deft sentences with these tools next time).

58 Scientific Writing, HRP Use active verbs and follow the usual conversational flow of words Write with nouns and verbs

59 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Recall from last time… “Subject verb object” “Subject verb X”

60 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 KEY LESSON OF NEWS WRITING: The active voice vs. the passive voice. We’ll see this again and again and again…

61 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Recall from last time: In passive-voice sentences, the subject is acted upon; the subject doesn’t act. Passive verb = a form of the verb “to be” + the past participle of the main verb The main verb must be a transitive verb (that is, take an object).

62 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 In the passive voice, “The agent is AWOL” –Sin and Syntax e.g. “Mistakes were made.”  Nobody is responsible. vs. The President made mistakes…

63 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 How do you recognize the passive voice? Object-Verb-Subject OR just… Object-Verb The agent is truly AWOL!

64 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Examples… Passive: My first visit to Boston will always be remembered by me. Active: I will always remember my first visit to Boston. Object Subject Verb

65 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 To turn the passive voice back to the active voice: Ask: "Who does what to whom?"

66 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Examples… Passive: The prognosis is largely determined by the extent of the injury. Object Verb Subject Active: The extent of injury determines the prognosis.

67 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Examples… Passive: The behavior of the mutant mice was researched in many studies. Object Active: Many studies researched the behavior of the mutant mice. Verb Subject

68 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 It was found that 1+1 does not equal 2. The agent found that 1+1 does not equal 2. It was concluded that the data were bogus. The agent concluded that the data were bogus. It is believed that the data had been falsified. The agent believed that the data had been falsified. A recommendation was made by the DSMB committee that the study be halted. The DSMB committee recommended that the study be halted. As is shown in Table 3… Table 3 shows…

69 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 MYTH: The passive voice is more objective. It’s not more objective, just more vague. Active=claiming responsibility

70 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Passive: To study DNA repair mechanics, this study on hamster cell DNA was carried out. More objective? No! More confusing!  Active: To study DNA repair mechanics, we carried out this study on hamster cell DNA.*

71 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Passive: Major differences in the reaction times of the two study subjects were found.  Active: We found major differences in the reaction times of the two study subjects.

72 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Passive: Migraine was defined as a headache that lasts for more than 1 hour.  Active: We defined migraine as a headache that lasts for more than 1 hour.

73 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 The Active Voice is direct, vigorous, natural, and informative.

74 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A note about breaking the rules… Most writing rules are guidelines, not laws, and can be broken when the occasion calls for it.

75 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 For example, sometimes it is appropriate to use the passive voice. When the action of the sentence is more important than who did it (e.g., materials and methods) Three liters of fluid is filtered through porous glass beads. To emphasize someone or something other than the agent that performed the action The Obamas were honored at the banquet. When the subject is unknown “ The professor was assaulted in the hallways”– they do not know the perpetrator of this heinous crime.

76 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 STRONG VERBS carry the main idea of the sentence and sweep the reader along Put your sentences on a “to be” diet… Is are was were be been am…

77 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 There are many ways in which we can arrange the Petri dishes.  We can arrange the Petri dishes many ways. There was a long line of bacteria on the plate.  Bacteria lined the plate.

78 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Again, this doesn’t mean never use “to be”—it has a distinct purpose in the English language… Just use it purposefully and sparingly. “The logic was perverse.” “..and a few months later the Spanish Empire was gone.”

79 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 And… 5. Use facts, not opinion. 6. Be specific. (applies equally well to scientific writing)

80 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Watch out for loaded words (which suggest an opinion): savage, primitive, conniving, lazy, superstitious, wily, crafty, docile, backward, bitter, pompous, working class, communist, eco-freak, others?…

81 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Be specific… Police arrested Willie Deeds, an elderly man, after he used a note to rob the bank earlier this year. Police arrested Willie Deeds, 72, after he used a note to rob the bank in January.

82 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Take out a scrap of paper and make this sentence more newsworthy… President Hennessy remarked that housing opportunities that are attractively priced for students are being researched by the university currently.

83 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 How about… President Hennessy said that the university is seeking affordable student housing.

84 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 What scientific writers should learn from journalists  1. That a clear, succinct, informative writing style is best and… 2. That holding your reader’s attention matters.

85 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 From: “The joys and pains of writing,” Le Bon Journal… “My professor friend told me that in his academic world, “publish or perish” is really true. He doesn’t care if nobody reads it or understands it as long as it’s published.” There’s a hint of truth here, n’est-ce pas?

86 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 News writers follow these tactics… 1. Tell a story 2. Put things into context e.g., numerical, historical 3. Focus on people 4. Ask: Would my grandmother care?

87 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 These tactics might also improve scientific writing: Can we tell it more like a story? Can we add a bit of history? Can we emphasize the most important aspects up high and add details later?

88 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 An aside (=broadening our horizons + prep for the homework…) Some additional things you’d learn if you were taking a news writing class…

89 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 What makes stories newsworthy (developing “news judgment”)? Impacts lots of people Breaking news Timeliness Prominence Proximity Conflict Trends (“3 things make a trend”) Humor/Surprise

90 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Inverted pyramid style Place the most important facts at the beginning and work "down" from there. The rest of the article explains and expands on the beginning. A good approach is to assume that the story might be cut off at any point due to space limits. Does the story work if we only include the first two paragraphs? If not, re-arrange it so that it does.

91 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Inverted pyramid style

92 Crucial Information Recall: The Five "W"s and the "H" Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? Any good news story provides answers to each of these questions. Scientific Writing, HRP 214

93 News stories follows a basic formula (just as scientific journal articles do)… Headline Lead Nut Graf First quote (3-6 paragraphs down)—brings in the human element More details and more quotes (inverted pyramid style) Kicker

94 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Headline

95 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Lead

96 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 The lead (also spelled “lede”); The first ‘graf’ Grabs the reader’s attention. Imparts the heart of the matter (simple and focused). Guidelines… 1-2 sentences. Aim for <35 words. Use the main verb to carry the main news, and use action verbs. Give complementary, but different information than the headline. Provide some, but not necessarily all, of the 5 W’s and 1 H.

97 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Beware of these no/no’s… Leave out names that mean nothing to the reader Never start with a quote unless it’s the President or the Pope speaking (or it’s as evocative as “Craig Venter is an asshole.…”) Never “fool” your reader (i.e., start with something that you’re later going to retract or contradict).

98 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Example: From: “Hormone replacement therapy takes new body blow” (SJ Merc News) The latest knock against hormone replacement therapy barely reverberated because it broke just before the war in Iraq blasted everything else off the front page. 25 words; 1 sentence What? Another knock for HRT When? Clever—just before the Iraq war started Love the active verbs!

99 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Example: From: “Hard Times Find Replica of White House for Sale” (Atlanta Journal) The replica of George W. Bush’s desk still sits in the Oval Office beneath the Iranian and American flags. The seal of the president of the United States still adorns the floor mats across the hall from the zebra-skin rug. And the porch overlooking the 75-car parking lot is still called the Truman Balcony. 3 sentences (somewhat long for a lede). Intriguing/surprising Draws you in

100 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Nut Graf

101 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 The nut graf. Shortly after the lead paragraph, the so-called ‘nut graf’ flushes out the story: the 5 W’s and the H. Occasionally, the nut graf is hidden–contained within the lead or strewn throughout several paragraphs. But usually, it’s identifiable.

102 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Nut graf example: From: “Hormone replacement therapy takes new body blow” Graf 3: The latest results to be gleaned from the Women’s Health Initiative study, which will be published in the May 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, focused on postmenopausal women who took hormones even though they didn’t have severe symptoms. Overall, they reported no difference in quality of life from those who took placebos. They didn’t feel sexier, their memories were no better and they didn’t experience more mental clarity.

103 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 From: “Hard Times Find Replica of White House for Sale” Graf 3: For the last seven years, almost as long as President Bush has been in Washington, Mr. Milani, an Iranian-American home developer, has lived in a scaled-down version of the presidential mansion in Atlanta. A private Xanadu for Mr. Milani, a headache for neighbors and a destination for camera-wielding gawkers, the 16,500-square-foot home has become a kooky symbol of this boom- boom city’s ever-growing residential skyline. But now, like the current occupant of the real White House, Mr. Milani is planning to leave his home.

104 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Quotes (unfortunately, not a part of most scientific writing) The fun part of news writing! The interview doesn’t involve any ‘writing’ on your part—just eliciting good quotes and strategic placement. Quotes  Give a human dimension to the story Provide evidence Provide opinion Provide color and flavor Flush out the main idea Move the story along Make the story more readable

105 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Example, first quote: “HRT takes new body blow”… 5 th graf: “Women think as they get menopause, they’ll get old, ugly, useless, and crazy,” Grady told me on the phone. “They think if they take hormones, it’ll all be OK. Then they attribute all the good feelings they have to hormone therapy.” Note the vivid, but loaded, words. Note SVO attribution.

106 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 “Hard Times Find Replica of White House for Sale” 5 th graf: “I still do not want to sell,” he said. “But I will.” Examples, first quote:

107 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Attribution “Blah, blah, blah, blah,” Professor Smith said. NOT: “Blah, blah, blah, blah,” said Professor Smith. SV! Unless: “Blah, blah, blah, blah,” said Professor Smith, the really boring professor that we all had to take English from (long attribution—sounds awkward to say Prof. Smith, the really boring professor that we all had to take English from, said!).

108 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Attribution Prefer “said” to most other possibilities, such as “noted” and “remarked,” which have particular connotations… Noted implies that whatever the person’s statement was fact.

109 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 The kicker! The ending. Leaves the reader feeling satisfied. Often circles back to the lead. A quote is often very effective.

110 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Kicker “HRT takes new body blow” That doesn’t mean that every woman who feels more vital after taking hormones should conclude it’s all in her head. But if you’re only as young as you feel, there’s a good chance that has nothing to do with the pill.

111 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 “Hard Times Find Replica of White House for Sale” When asked where he will live next, Mr. Milani said he did not know. But he proposed, half- seriously, “I may build the Congress building across the street.” Kicker

112 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Easy to remember guide for structuring a news story (“the 5 S’s”)… So come on in. So what? So, so… So, therefore. So long.

113 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 And finally… This week’s top 5 countdown:

114 Scientific Writing, HRP Fewer vs. less Fewer goes with a countable number Less goes with a mass quantity I’m trying to eat fewer calories. I’m trying to eat fewer grams of fat. BUT… I’m trying to eat less fat.  “Use less if there’s no ‘S’”

115 Scientific Writing, HRP She and I OR She and me? Use XX and I for the subject of the sentence (“nominative case”) You and I went to the park. But use XX and me for the object of a verb or preposition (“objective case”) Just between you and me, I think that this professor is boring. Trick: If you’d use “him” or “her” instead of “he” or “she”  then use “me” instead of “I.”

116 Scientific Writing, HRP Who vs. whom Same idea  who is the subject and whom is the object Again, if you’d use him or her, use whom. Who is it? She called to Beth, who (she believed) was nearby. [To] whom did you mean to call? The message was meant for whom?

117 Scientific Writing, HRP Who vs. whom “Then he’ll buy a plane ticket to Baghdad, to visit his mother and his sisters and his eighteen-year-old girlfriend, whom he has never seen, except in the picture that his mother sent when she selected the girl for him.” ‘he has never seen her.’ ‘  ‘he has never seen whom.’

118 Scientific Writing, HRP It’s vs. its It’s is the contraction of “it is.” It’s true. Its is possessive. The car stopped working after its battery died.  If you can substitute “it is” or “tis”use it’s. ‘Tis true.

119 Scientific Writing, HRP As vs. like Use “as” to introduce clauses (compare action) We spent the evening as (we did) in the old days. We wrote down every step, as good scientists should. Use “like” (sparingly—more formal to use “similar to”) to compare nouns and pronouns OK: Her cat is like a dog. More formal: Her cat is similar to a dog. BUT… Her cat acts as a dog would. Note: “Her cat acts similar to a dog” does not work. Therefore, don’t use ‘like’!

120 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 A useful note… As Stanford students, you have online access to the archives of New Yorker, NY Times, Boston Globe, and many others through Lexis-Nexis  ejournals

121 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Homework… Assignments for next time: Read: Read chapters 5-8 of Sin and Syntax (pp ) News Article assignment

122 Scientific Writing, HRP 214 Preview to next time… For next time… We begin our systematic review of the basics of writing. Words  sentences  paragraphs “punctuation and parallelism”


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