Presentation on theme: "Scientific Writing Tips Abbreviations *Avoid abbreviations by writing out the full word (minimum, October, Virginia, first, temperature, with...). *Exceptions."— Presentation transcript:
Scientific Writing Tips Abbreviations *Avoid abbreviations by writing out the full word (minimum, October, Virginia, first, temperature, with...). *Exceptions include common biological terms like ATP and DNA, units of measure (m, g, cm, °C), and mathematical or chemical formulas. *Sentences should never begin with an abbreviation or an acronym.
Acronyms introduce an acronym: if your paper deals with soybeans, Glycine max, you may use the full scientific name once and substitute G. Max, thereafter. eg: "Tidal freshwater marshes (TFM) are important transitional zones in the landscape."
Chemical Elements These are not proper nouns, so do not capitalize them. Only the first letter of the symbol is a capital letter: nitrogen (N), carbon (C), calcium (Ca).
Contractions In formal writing, you should never use contractions (didn't, can't, haven't...).
Data The word "data" is plural, as in, "the data were collected on January 21, 2001."
Direct Quotes *These should be avoided, unless you are presenting another author's specific definition or original label. *Paraphrase the writing effectively and concisely, taking care to properly attribute the sources of your statements.
Run-on Sentences Review your writing to make sure that each sentence presents one or two clear ideas.
Scientific Names …consisting of genus and species, should be underlined or italicized, with only the genus capitalized eg: Homo sapiens or Ilex opaca.
Use of word SIGNIFICANCE In science, the word "significant" implies the result of a statistical test. WRONG: “…the number of root nodules on red clover plants increased significantly when nitrogen was added," if you DID NOT perform a statistical test to determine significant differences.
SLANG Do not use slang. Try to use precise, scientific terms where possible (without unnecessary jargon) and avoid colloquialisms and figures of speech: "somewhat" rather than "sort of," "many" or "a great deal" instead of "a lot."
Spell-Check Your word processor's spell-check and/or grammar-check function is not error- free. It cannot tell you when to use "it's" and "its," and it cannot tell you that a particular sentence does not make sense. THREE IMPORTANT WORDS: …proofread…proofread…proofread…
TENSES * Describing methods and results = past tense * Present tense = for accepted facts, eg: background information * Present tense = when you discuss results and conclusions
UNITS All units of measure must be metric or SI (international System) SI: http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/units/sipm.html http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/units/sipm.html
SOME PRACTICE Paraphrase: “Will reputable scientists ever accept the claim that extrasensory perception and other paranormal powers really exist? It appears that many of them already have.”
Suggested Paraphrase Many scientists today believe in the reality of ESP and other paranormal powers.
Unconscious Plagiarism? Paraphrase: “Contrary to popular belief, exercise has never been demonstrated conclusively to lengthen life.”
The Bad and the Good Contrary to popular thinking, exercise has never been demonstrated conclusively to lengthen life. No one has ever proved that exercise lengthens life.
Understanding the Concept Paraphrase: “Olfactory receptors for communication between different creatures are crucial for establishment of symbiotic relations.”
Two Satisfactory Paraphrases The sense of smell is essential to cooperation among different animal species. Cooperation between different animal species is made possible by their sense of smell.
Dangling Modifiers WHAT’S WRONG HERE? Piled up next to the washer, I began doing the laundry. REWRITE IT…
Suggested Answer I began doing the laundry piled up next to the washer. WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE HERE? Standing on the balcony, the ocean view was magnificent. Standing on the balcony, we had a magnificent ocean view.
Misplaced Modifiers What’s the difference? I almost listened to the whole album. I listened to almost the whole album.
One More… On the evening news, I heard that there was a revolution. I heard that there was a revolution on the evening news.
PASSIVE VOICE? USE “we” or “I” eg: We converted all GIS data to a raster format. eg: All GIS data were converted to raster format.
One Student Wrote: “…It was decided to do the transpiration experiment. The experiment was done by my lab group and was repeated three times. Results were obtained. These results will be discussed…” HIS TEACHER ASKED HIM WHY HE’D WRITTEN EVERYTHING IN PASSIVE
The Student Replied: "Biologists write like this because they're objective. It's just how real scientists write." One of the most common complaints of biology editors: the excessive use of passive voice.
James Watson and Francis Crick… …used active voice and a simple, personal, get-to-the-point style of writing to forcefully begin their monumental paper describing the structure of DNA: 'We wish to suggest a structure for the salt of the deoxyribose nucleic acid (D.N.A.).'
What does ACTIVE VOICE do? it improves readability it makes sentences more concise it increases understanding it increases the clarity and persuasiveness of your writing
WHEN IS PASSIVE PREFERRABLE? passive voice is effective when you want to stress what was done rather than who did it, as in the sentence, "Darwin's The Origin of Species was published in 1859." passive voice is also useful when you want to avoid accountability - that's why embarrassed politicians report that "funds were found to be missing" rather than "I stole the money."
And… Passive voice is also useful for adding sentence variety, slowing the pace of writing and reading, and when the actor was unknown. eg: The victim was approached from behind and hit over the head with a salami.
REMEMBER: …the excessive use of passive voice produces ineffective and boring prose - prose that can be avoided by using active voice.