Agree on the order of authors names

Why does it matter in what order names appear on the title page of a typescript or published paper One reason is that the order implies the authors' relative contributions. The first name to appear is generally assumed to be the individual who played the largest part in the study. This person is called the senior author. In some laboratories, the head of the laboratory, department, or research team is automatically included on any paper coming from the laboratory. In various science...

Always remain professional

Many speakers tend to shed their professional demeanor at the conclusion of their formal presentation. Don't loosen a tie, lean on the podium, or relax your diction. As Davis (2005) notes, Yeah is not a good way to begin the answer to a question. Never answer sarcastically or with anger. If you feel someone is asking a loaded question only for purposes of impressing others, remain courteous and patient. Even if a question or comment was not asked with dignity, you can...

Always work on a copy

Never make changes directly on the original document, either on the screen or on paper. As you move things about, change wording, or add and delete paragraphs, there is always the chance that you might decide you liked the original or an earlier version of the document better. Save a copy of your paper with a new name and date (such as 4 08revisedthesis.doc) and revise this copy instead. If you are working on a really involved project, you may find yourself needing to work with fresh copy...

Are figures labeled carefully and completely

Scientific illustrations have two sorts of identifiers. One appears in public - the table titles and figure legends that identify them in the printed material and explain their importance. The other is their private label, a code assigned to travel with them to be sure they end up in the right place. Mistakes occur when the identifiers do not correspond well. This can be a particular problem with conventional printed journals that require paper (hard copy) submissions, because they tend to...

Ask ethical questions about your document

As a final check before you rush to print, review your answers to some essential ethical questions 1. Is my document honest and truthful 2. If I were the intended audience, would its message be acceptable and respectful 3. Am I willing to take responsibility, publicly and privately, for what the document says 4. Does the document violate anyone's rights 5. Have I been careful with confidentiality 6. Have I treated any possible conflict of interest with great caution 7. Have I been ethically...

Avoid ambiguities and double meanings

Unlike creative writing in the liberal arts, scientific communication does not allow readers to interpret words as they choose. Read your sentences carefully, and be sure you are not misdirecting readers through ambiguities or double meanings. Even though technical or legal experts could interpret them as accurate, the use of various abstract words, jargon, and euphemisms is unethical when they are used to mislead readers or to hide a serious or dangerous situation. Governmental groups and...

Avoid coining new words phrases or usage

Rarely, a new scientific discovery truly justifies adding a new word to the language if this happens, define the word carefully at its first mention in the document. Usually a little thought and dictionary work will produce an equivalent word that already exists in the English language. The work of translating a scientific paper is difficult enough without putting these additional stumbling blocks in the path of the foreign reader. New grammatical constructions that arise by back formation are...

Avoid salamislicing science

One final caveat-as your search begins to uncover a variety of specialized journals, each may seem perfectly suited for reporting a different part of your data. Some studies do justify more than one report, particularly when different portions have given rise to differing messages of interest to different audiences. However, given the importance of publication in academic circles, one often can be tempted to carve clearly related aspects of a study arbitrarily into more documents than is really...

Beware ofgroup labels

Sometimes in scientific writing, participants in a study seem to lose their individuality. They are either categorized as objects (the elderly) or equated with their conditions (the demented). (Matters are not improved by changing this to the demented group ) Do not label people by their disabilities. Broad clinical terms such as borderline are loaded with innuendo unless properly explained. Calling one group normal may prompt the reader to make comparison to abnormal, stigmatizing individuals...

Capitalize everything but species and variety

The basic systematic categories (taxa, singular taxon) in all of biology are, in descending order kingdom, phylum or division, class, order, family, genus, and species. (King Phillip came over from Germany soused is one of many easy, if irreverent, mnemonic aids.) The scientific names of all of these taxa and any sub- and supra-divisions are Latin or Latinized forms. All these scientific names but the species name are considered to be proper nouns. Do not capitalize the name of the species...

Capitalize significant words in titles

Whether the title appears at the beginning of a work or is mentioned within running text, the role of capitalization is to help readers more readily distinguish a title from the adjacent text. There are various systems for doing this. Note that some reference systems for scientific and technical publications do not follow the usual guidelines, but have their own systems. The classic system is to capitalize the initial letters of the first and last words of a title or subtitle, as well as all...

Check journal requirements

Some journals, publishers, and graduate schools specify a capitalization style others don't. Make every effort to mimic the style of the journal in which you intend to publish. Examine recent issues. Note the figure legends, table captions, reference lists, and typescript headings and subheadings. You will probably find a definite capitalization style, even if one has not been spelled out formally in the publication's Instructions to Authors. Capitalization is particularly variable in reference...

Composing a first draft

To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public. Writing is usually portrayed as hard, mindless, joyless work. Great authors, it is said, must suffer from a sort of creative madness and work in mindless binges under endless pressures of deadlines, exhaustion, and...

Conducting computerbased searches

The way in which we obtain information is changing rapidly. A decade or two ago, most literature searching was done manually. Computerized literature databases were searchable only through a mainframe, searching software was difficult to use, and online searching was expensive and limited in scope. Specially trained librarians did most of the searching, and researchers paid telecommunication charges for reaching the mainframe and were charged for each record received. Today, in many fields, a...

Consider degree of assimilation

Words and phrases that have been full assimilated into the English language do not need any sort of special treatment, although for a while they may retain their original accent marks (especially if they are of French origin). Foreign words and expressions that have not been assimilated fully (Table 7.4) should be italicized if printed, or underlined if typewritten. This rule is often bent, however. Scientific writing is clearly moving away from the use of italicized words and phrases. Find an...

Consider readability and style

Readability (see also Chapter 5) is of primary importance with a poster. The title needs to be legible from a distance of 5 to 10 meters if it is to catch people's attention then, because viewers generally stand 1 to 2 meters away as they read a poster (Davis, 2005), it must be clearly legible at that distance to keep their attention. Readability depends on the size and style of type. Common typefaces generally recommended for titles include Helvetica, Tahoma, and similar block sans serif...

Consult research bibliographies and research registers

Research bibliographies can be a great help and time-saver. They generally take the form of nonevaluative listings of books and articles relevant to a particular topic area, but it is even possible to find bibliographies of bibliographies. Research bibliographies are often maintained by single scientists or groups of individuals, rather than by a formal organization. Prevalent in the medical sciences, research registers are databases of studies focusing on a common feature, such as subject...

Consult the invisible college

A colleague down the hall passes along an article he feels would be of interest. A reviewer notes a relevant paper that the author has missed. A student reads a post on an Internet chat group that starts her thinking of a new interpretation for her research. The term invisible college has been used widely to describe informal but systematic ways like these that scientists arrange in order to stay in contact with colleagues who are working on similar problems. In the past, the lines of...

Credit others fully and accurately

Rather than moralize or editorialize, let us remind you once again that you have an obligation to credit others fully and accurately for their work. Work includes all the raw material of scholarship, be it words, ideas, drawings, or data. Others includes students who have helped with research, friends or informants who have provided information, and colleagues whose work you have built upon. For a journal article, such acknowledgment is generally enough. If you are publishing a book that...

Define shortened forms at first mention

The first time it appears, spell out any term you want to shorten, then give its abbreviation, acronym, or initialism in parentheses. Thereafter use the shortened form. If the abbreviation appears in the abstract (not generally recommended), define it again, since this may be published separately. The whooping crane (WC) differs from a lattice boom crane. Observers of the WC must watch that they don't become confused. For a partial list, consult the International Union of Pure and Applied...

Discuss authorship before starting the first draft

Reach an explicit consensus on authorship as soon as you possibly can. Except possibly for the issue of plagiarism, nothing in the world of scientific publication is more likely to breed hard feelings and wreck friendships than a disagreement over authorship. As defined by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (2006), decisions on authorship should be guided by a simple ethical principle - any author listed on the paper's title page should take public responsibility for its...

Distinguish between count nouns and noncount nouns

Common nouns in English can be count nouns or noncount nouns. The distinction is important because it determines whether to use the singular or plural form of the word, and which articles (a, an, the) and limiting adjectives (fewer or less, much or many, and so on) to use (see below). As the term suggests, count nouns refer to distinct individuals or things that can be directly counted. They usually have singular and plural forms gene, genes. Noncount nouns occur as masses or collections of...

Distinguish carefully between trade names and common names

Knowing whether a generally used name is proprietary is important. Considerable money has been spent, and many lawsuits have been entered into, to enforce the recognition of trade names The problem is that when a trademarked product comes into general use, the public often loses touch with the word's commercial origins (Table 8.1). Proper names or their derivatives begin to function as common nouns, and for a period of time both styles exist side by side. Eventually, to the dismay of the...

Does the form of this illustration suit its purpose

Many illustrations transform numerical data into other shapes. Graphs and histograms are examples. Developing these visual aids takes more conscious effort than tables do, but they are often the most powerful way to express relationships. They can illuminate ideas and trends that would be all but invisible to readers if the same data were presented in conventional table form. Documentary illustrations such as instrument tracings, photographs, and micrographs offer primary evidence of the...

Does the illustration fit the audience

Deciding which illustration format would be most appropriate or most informative is not only a matter of its purpose. One's scientific discipline, the particular dataset, and the intended journal and audience will also influence this decision. Information that will be presented on a poster or presentation slide should be prepared differently from that for a traditional research paper, for example. For a fast-paced talk at a research meeting, simple tables showing small amounts of numerical data...

Exercise Active and passive voice page

One might expect this treatment to be effective. OR We expect this treatment to be effective. 2. The pathologist had no feed to analyze. 3. Jones and her colleagues inoculated 25 chickens. 4. I traveled to Georgia to collect Lepidoptera. 5. Mark passages A and B for revision. 6. This dictionary does not include modern technical words that had no equivalent in ancient spoken Greek and Latin. 7. At the request of the university president, administrative personnel at the Biology Building are...

Exercise Capitalization page

The Afghan hound ate plaster of Paris. 2. The study sample included 15 Greyhounds, 14 Malamutes, and 10 Spanish Terriers. 3. Adenine and guanine are nucleotides called purines. 4. A person can live normally without the adrenal medullae, but not without the cortices. 5. These bacteria inhabit all biomes in the Northern Hemisphere. 6. What's So Funny about Science by Sidney Harris 7. Assessment of the Role of Alcohol in the Human Stress Response 8. A synopsis of the taxonomy of North American and...

Exercise Fuzzy words and disguised verbs pages

By early adulthood, more males than females expressed severe symptoms of copper deficiency. 2. Under standard conditions, diazepam inhibited the initial rate of protein phosphorylation (Fig. 1). 3. Soap acts at the cell surface. 4. Stanozolol prolonged appetite. 1. Physicists hope to solve the question of whether science can harness alternative energy sources. 2. Data were transformed to perform relevant statistical analyses.

Exercise Handling language sensitively page

A researcher must be sure to double-check all references. 2. There were 200 Asian participants. 3. Depressed individuals and those with epilepsy reacted to the drug in different ways. 4. The chairperson confronted the person for plagiarizing. 5. The ten women in the study included one with cerebral palsy. 6. Breast cancer is one of the oldest diseases known. 7. We need 14 women who are willing to staff the project. 8. As a scientific writer, you should state your point clearly at the beginning.

Exercise Jargon pages

The etiology of this disease means the study of the cause of this disease. The author intended to say the cause of this disease. 2. Literally, histopathology stages would be stages in the study of the pathology of tissues. The author probably intended to say histopathological. 3. A necrology is a list of persons who have died within a certain time. The author probably meant necropsy. Avoid saying that the necropsy could confirm something necropsy is the tool that the scientist uses to confirm...

Exercise Message format and audience page

Simple novelty or extension of a previous record usually is not enough to warrant publication. A case study must change, improve, or enlarge how people think. 2. The paper your colleague has proposed would have a purpose - to report the case findings - but as a research paper it would not have a message. However, a critical review of case records, coupled with a careful and critical assessment of the literature, might result in a valuable document. A case-series analysis or review...

Exercise Number use and interpretation page

Three-quarters (75 ) of the experimental animals died within 15 hours, but 17 horses (10 ) were still alive 45 days later. 2. The chemicals for the experiment weighed less than 0.2 mg. 3. We calculated that 20,500 cells were affected. 4. The control group recovered more quickly, but the difference was not statistically significant (chi - square test, P .11). 5. The test plot contained 10 species of grasses, 2 species of legumes, 6 species of trees, and 15 species of cruciferous plants.

Exercise Person and point of view page

As a laboratory technician, you will find that the new procedure is an improvement you will not need to sterilize the skin. OR Laboratory technicians will find the new procedure an improvement because they do not need to sterilize the skin. 2. Change the authors herein to we. 3. Change the authors wish to gratefully acknowledge and thank to we thank. 4. The disease is contagious and contamination should be avoided (van der Veen, 1850) cleanliness is essential. OR Van der Veen (1850) found that...

Exercise Readability page

The Haversian system consists of a central canal containing blood vessels and a nerve, surrounded by concentric rings of bony matrix. Between them, scattered tiny spaces called lacunae are filled with bone cells and connected by canaliculi to one another and the central canal. Through these canals the cells are nourished and kept alive. 2. The kidney, a very important organ, has the ability to secrete substances selectively which enables it to maintain proper composition of the blood and other...

Exercise Subjectverb agreement page

The remaining fluid was drawn off, and the kidneys were washed. 2. Due to the small number of test animals used, the data were not statistically significant OR (if no statistical tests were involved) Due to the small number of test animals used, the data were not meaningful. 3. Extensive karyorrhexis, karyolysis, and hepatocyte degeneration were evident within the centrilobular regions. (Cellular is redundant, for hepato-cytes couldn't degenerate any other way.) 4. The data indicate that Jones...

Exercise Table and figure choices page

Present the data in a table some readers might be interested in carrying out their own calculations of relationships among the data. 2. Present these data in a table (if exact values are of interest) or by ranges on a map (to show geographical patterns). 3. Present your data in tables or graphs the relationships are as important as the actual values. Omit the rat photo it adds no new information. 4. Reading from left to right, the table columns might correspond to the temporal order in which...

Exercise Title choices page

Comments Overuse of prepositions and trivial phrases takes title over the 10-12 word limit. Two-part title is not accepted by some journals. Revision Verruca or Plantar's Wart Recurrence after Curative Excision 2. Comments Some (but not all) editors ban titles that make claims about the findings in the paper. Revision Correlation of Columbine Flower Characteristics and Pollinators 3. Comments Unintended humor arises from careless word choice. Revision Veterinarian Offers Medical Assistance...

Exercise Which and that page

New fossil evidence indicates that Cantius, a primitive primate, had a grasping big toe, which may have figured in the evolution of all modern primates. 2. The use of low weight dextrin should be avoided in these patients. These drugs appear to pass through the damaged endothelium of pulmonary vessels. 3. Occasionally a client will notice a parasite on a fish. The situation is more worrisome to the owner than to the fish. 4. We conclude that during the next year, 10.5 thousand (OR 10,500) tons...

Expect the best but prepare for the worst

Have a backup plan for any technology you plan to use. No matter what tool you choose to use, it can fail you at some time in some way. Even the simple chalkboard can turn out to be missing its chalk. Decide what you will do if the computer fails to work. Bring an extra bulb for the overhead projector. Check the batteries for the projector's remote control. Become so familiar with your handouts that you can speak solely from them if all else fails. As the old saying goes, you're only paranoid...

Follow simple guidelines

The how of slide production is less important than the what. The mechanics of using text-based presentation software are fairly straightforward, and rely heavily on default templates to guide you through the steps involved. Follow the suggestions in Table 4.1, and it will be hard to go wrong. Table 4.1. Creating an effective electronic presentation (based on material from University of Georgia Center for Teaching and Learning) Content Include only one idea, point, or comparison per slide....

Formal channels involve third parties with an element of judgment

Formal scientific communication has four major channels - professional conference presentations, personal journal libraries, electronic journals, and research report reference lists. Formal channels of communication all insert an element of judgment into the system. To enter information into them, researchers must follow explicit rules that restrict the kind or quality of information that is admitted into the system. The classic example of a formal communication channel is an article published...

Give the paper its final inhouse double review

When the typescript finally seems done, read it once more. Have coauthors or a colleague read it as well. It will undoubtedly still harbor a surprising number of gremlins. Finding them now is a bit embarrassing, but less so than facing them on the journal reviewer's edited copy or the published page Increasingly, journal editors are encouraging electronic submissions because this saves time, money, and hassle for everyone involved in the process. Editors can edit the typescript on the computer...

Give your graphics a test run

Before you spend a lot of time refining a particular visual aid, make sure it reproduces well in your visual medium. Sometimes a chart or table doesn't look the same when it is copied into presentation software. At times a graphic may look good on a small computer screen, but be too detailed when projected. Remember, if you present too much information, people won't understand any of it. Ideally, test your visuals on a sample audience. What looks clear to you may be confusing to others. Pay...

Guard against the perception of bias or prejudice

Any verbal or visual reference that presents racial or ethnic groups as unequal or excludes one group in favor of another implies prejudice. Most of us are probably most sensitized to racism and sexism. However, many other -isms have been defined by groups and committees that are working to reduce perceived bias in language. Extensive discussion of this topic is beyond the scope of this book for helpful overviews and inroads to the literature, consult the Internet and see works by groups such...

Handle search results wisely

Exercise care and vigilance when entering reference citations into your personal database. While it can be tempting to add bibliographic references directly into your personal database from the literature cited sections of review articles and other publications, avoid doing so. Never incorporate a reference into your database until you have actually verified its accuracy and appropriateness. As a successful writer, you will find yourself using the Internet repeatedly. This vast interconnected...

Have the courage to prune extraneous material

In the process of conducting research we tend to construct rough tables to consolidate data or to summarize relevant information. The urge can be overwhelming to import these tables wholesale into the document. Resist this temptation. The fact that a table has been a useful organizational tool is not sufficient justification for its automatic inclusion in the text. Nor should numerical data be included solely because they were collected. Every study involves a certain amount of effort spent in...

Help readers make comparisons by organizing tables logically

Remember, the reason for using tables is to help readers compare data, both within and between tables. We've already noted that, because items can be more easily compared down a column than across a row, it is best to place independent variables in rows and dependent variables in columns. To facilitate comparison between tables, be consistent in table presentation. When the reader scans the column headings from left to right, and the stub headings from top to bottom, some sort of order should...

How big should my text be

Type size should be appropriate for the room layout and audience, which means generally larger than you first think is right. Swinford (2006) suggests basing text size on the 8H rule- the maximum viewing distance should be no more than eight times the height (H) of the screen. If you then keep your font size at least 1 50th the height of the screen, your text will be legible at the maximum viewing distance. (In PowerPoint, this translates to an absolute minimum font size of roughly 14 points in...

How copyright affects your own publication

When you publish your paper in a journal, copyright is generally transferred to the publisher, who will handle such paperwork as filing the copyright application and responding to future requests to use the material. Before the Copyright Act of 1976, this transfer usually happened somewhat automatically. Now, it must be specifically written out, so most publishers ask authors to sign a copyright transfer form. If work to which you hold copyright is to be published in electronic format, be sure...

How much can be quoted without permission

The Chicago Manual of Style provides an often-quoted succinct guideline that a quotation of more than 500 words of prose from previously published material still in copyright requires permission from the publisher. Some editors recommend permission for as few as 300 words of prose (Germano, 2001). These 300-500 words apply to the entirety of the article or book in which they will appear. If you are using a series of brief excerpts throughout the text, it is your responsibility to tally them....

How to choose typefaces and fonts for oral presentations

Historically, with conventional printing, fonts were expensive. Each font was an actual physical device that the typographer purchased. For any given typeface, most typographers had four basic fonts (regular, bold, italic, bold italic). Today, with computerized printing, the choices are endless, and fonts and typefaces can be easily changed with a simple click. But such easy choices bring with them the temptation to mix and match so much that you end up with a mishmash that distracts the...

How to determine whether published material is copyrighted

A work first published after March 1,1989, receives copyright protection whether or not it bears a notice of copyright, but almost all published materials include this notice. It usually appears on the back of the title page. In fact, this is often called the copyright page. If a book was published after January 1, 1978, the term of the copyright is for the author's life plus 50 years. If it was published before 1978, the first copyright term covers 28 years, but it is renewable for an...

Illustrate the relationship of parts to a whole with dividedcircle graphs

Most of the time bar graphs seem to be superior to circle and line graphs for presenting information. However, divided-circle graphs (Fig. 3.4), also called pie charts, are well suited for showing the relationship of a number of parts to the whole. Although divided-circle graphs make a striking visual display, they present a fundamental problem - the impossibility of comparing areas. They are generally used best as attention-getting devices, and even then, only when comparing five or Fig. 3.4....

Include a cover letter with the document

Write and edit this letter carefully - it forms an editor's first impression of you and your work. Be certain to spell the editor's name correctly. Assure that this information is current and correct. Sending a submission to the wrong person can delay it considerably In the letter, name the journal and say something nice (but not effusive) about why it is the appropriate place to publish this particular paper. State the title of your document. Identify yourself as corresponding author, and...

Include other illustrative materials

Well-chosen drawings, diagrams, photographs, and other illustrations capture audience interest and attention, and can help explain complex ideas. Adding them to your text message can enliven a presentation and make information more understandable. Unfortunately, illustrations drawn from material prepared for print publication can suffer from too much detail for effective use in an oral presentation. Simplify whenever possible. If the larger picture is necessary, briefly orient the audience to...

Intelligent use

Supporters who defend PowerPoint generally agree as to the validity of the criticisms. However, they endorse the program itself as an extremely efficient timesaving, enabling tool that can be used poorly or well. An intelligent approach, these advocates say, is to avoid simply slipping mindlessly into what everyone else is doing. Among the most vocal advocates of intelligent use is Cliff Atkinson (2005). He views PowerPoint not as a presentation method, but as a medium -an entirely new category...

Is each illustration independent but integral to the text

Each table or figure should be a complete unit of communication, containing enough information so that a reader can grasp its essential message without referring to the text. For this, the title must be adequate, the headings complete and explanatory, and the data arranged logically. All symbols and images within the graphic aid should be explained. If necessary for understanding, experimental details should be given in the legend. If appropriate, matters such as degree of magnification and...

Is the research ready for formal publication

Consider your research ready to be written up for publication when the results and conclusions fulfill at least one of these requirements They are reasonably consistent, reproducible, and complete They represent significant experimental, theoretical, or observational extensions of knowledge They represent advances in the practical application of known principles They take knowledge of the subject a step further In other words, are you fairly confident that the outcomes of your study are new,...

Items are most easily compared reading down

In general, the independent variables in a table should be placed across the horizontal rows, and the items in columns should be the dependent variables. This rule is based on the simple precept that it is easier to compare like elements or work with numerical data when reading down, rather than across. (Try subtracting one number from another horizontally rather than in the usual vertical format, if you need first-hand proof.) Data in columns are usually more concise as well. For example, when...

Abstract and key words

An abstract (requirements for length and structured format vary by journal) should follow the title page. The abstract should provide the context or background for the study and should state the study's purposes, basic procedures (selection of study subjects or laboratory animals, observational and analytical methods), main findings (giving specific effect sizes and their statistical significance, if possible), and principal conclusions. It should emphasize new and important aspects of the...

Results

Present your results in logical sequence in the text, tables, and illustrations, giving the main or most important findings first. Do not repeat in the text all the data in the tables or illustrations emphasize or summarize only important observations. Extra or supplementary materials and technical detail can be placed in an appendix where it will be accessible but will not interrupt the flow of the text alternatively, it can be published only in the electronic version of the journal. When data...

IVA Units of measurement

Measurements oflength, height, weight, and volume should be reported in metric units (meter, kilogram, or liter) or their decimal multiples. Temperatures should be in degrees Celsius. Blood pressures should be in millimeters of mercury, unless other units are specifically required by the journal. Journals vary in the units they use for reporting hematological, clinical chemistry, and other measurements. Authors must consult the information for authors for the particular journal and should...

J

Writing the words a woman without her man is nothing on the chalkboard, the professor directed the students to punctuate it correctly. The men wrote A woman, without her man, is nothing. The women wrote A woman without her, man is nothing. Punctuation is everything. Punctuation has one purpose - to help the reader understand the structural relationship within (and thus the intention of) a sentence. For this reason, the best approach to punctuation is almost always the simplest. Punctuation...

Keep line graphs simple

Line graphs (Fig. 3.2) visually show continuous variables such as movements over time. They range from straightforward visual representations of trends to depictions of complex advanced statistical analyses. Line graphs are probably the most popular of all graph styles in scientific writing. Unfortunately, studies have shown that many readers lack the skills to interpret them (Macdonald-Ross, 1977a). If you decide to use line graphs, keep them as simple as possible. Limit the number of lines in...

Keep the text simple but somewhat organized

Write as simply and conversationally as possible. Remember those readers who will not be specialists in your area of research, and may not be reading in their native language. Imagine that you are describing your work to an interested friend in another scientific discipline. At this stage, don't worry too much about details of style or grammar, however. These things can be fixed at the revision stage. Readers need a story line - a beginning, a middle, and an end, with clear links between each...

Know when not to use quotation marks

Quotation marks are used in two different ways - to draw attention to words or phrases, or to attribute them to some other speaker or author. Do not overuse quotation marks for emphasis. Instead of using slang and colloquialisms within quotation marks, search for more exact terms and use more formal English. In journals, quotation marks are often used around new technical terms, old terms used in an unusual way, or simply to draw attention to a word. (In books, italics are often preferred.)...

Know when to combine words and numbers

Use a combination of figures and words to express rounded large numbers, starting with millions (a grant budget of 1.5 million almost 4 billion species). Numerals and words are also combined when they appear as back-to-back modifiers (two 13-ml aliquots). Generally it is best to keep the numeric form with units of measurement. Hyphenation minimizes potential confusion (twenty 6-year-old patients vs. twenty-six year-old patients). If more than two numbers appear back-to-back in a string (six 3-5...

Know when to document paraphrased ideas

The most common way to avoid outright plagiarism is to put the essence of another writer's ideas into one's own words without distorting their meaning. The process is called paraphrasing. Quotation marks are not necessary because the paraphrase does not quote the source word for word. However, paraphrased materials still should be credited, because the ideas are taken from someone else. A major exception to this documentation occurs when the information that is being paraphrased is common...

Know when to stop

Writing is only one part of a scientist's work. There comes a time when a writing project must be declared finished so that life can move on. Revision can be taken too far. We knew a successful artist who would occasionally become so possessed by the urge to touch up flaws that we learned to hide the brushes so she couldn't completely obliterate her artwork The same thing can happen with scientific papers. When in doubt, apply a cost-benefit analysis - a well-known maxim that seems to apply to...

Learn to use keyword search terms and apply Boolean logic

Most literature retrieval services are really matchmakers (Table 1.2). They have some provision for searching a subject by way of keywords - brief terms chosen (usually by a study's author) to describe the major topics included in the document. To find the document, one must specify the same keyword that the author has chosen (or a part of it see wildcard characters later in this chapter). Language gets much of its meaning through context, however. As a result, typing in keywords during an...

Legal Matters

Scientists must use each other's ideas and inventions if progress is to be made. However, using something that belongs to someone else brings us into the realm of legal, as well as ethical, issues. The rule is simple - if a work is not yours, find out whose it is and get permission before you use it. The application of the rule is somewhat more complex. Below are some handy things to know. For more detail, Strong (1999) is a useful reference, but when you have really important questions about...

Let authorship guide collaboration and vice versa

An early decision about authorship allows the work of writing to be divided accordingly When several people are collaborating on a typescript, one's first temptation may be to simply assign a section to each and compile the sections. This poses potential problems - including illogical strategy, weak transitions, and inconsistencies in language, to name a few of the more common. An alternative method of dividing responsibility that often works better is to designate the best writer in the group...

Limit logarithmic and scatter graphs to professional audiences

A logarithmic graph has a series of open and grouped vertical lines in which the top and bottom of each group, called a cycle, is a decimal or multiple of ten. It is Number of Flowering Plant Species in West Suffolk County Fig. 3.5. In this effective pictograph, the length of the flower stems corresponds to the number of plant species. Increase in heart disease reported to the We 11 hear) Clinic during the past thirty years Fig. 3.6. A pictograph that uses heart symbols to show disease...

Locate and use reference databases and abstracting services

Reference databases (Table 1.1) are particularly fruitful sources of information. Maintained by both private and public organizations, these services focus on a specific kind of document (such as theses and dissertations) or field (such as agriculture or medicine). At present, most include only titles and abstracts, but full-text databases are becoming more prevalent and probably will be the norm in the future. Table 1.1. Examples of helpful literature abstracting and indexing databases...

Make it easy to relocate relevant material

Write the full journal source on each photocopy or computer printout, if the source is not printed somewhere on the page. For material obtained from online sources, list the author, if available title, document, file, or website date of the material name of the database or other online source date you accessed the source and the full electronic address or Uniform Resource Locator (URL). It is particularly easy to forget how one actually located online material. To minimize this problem, it is a...

Mind your Ps and Qs

Whether you photocopy journal articles, request reprints, or print potentially helpful information from the Internet, you will soon amass a great many facts and ideas couched in the words of others. The old advice from typesetting days, mind your Ps and Qs, is worth remembering in this new context. First, watch the Ps - print materials. It will be tempting to use these copies as a substitute for taking notes. However, because of the way that writing and thinking are related to each other, it is...

Minimize distractions any way you can

While you are writing, it is worth making the effort to remove or escape from as many distractions as possible. Because each sentence in a scientific paper depends so much upon those around it, losing momentum usually leads to losing one's train of thought. Try to find a time and place when you can be relatively undisturbed. Inevitably, from time to time your thoughts will tend to fly off in surprising directions while you are immersed in your work. Don't try to remember one set of ideas while...

Other applications of the fair use doctrine

Over the years, the courts have defined certain conditions as fair use of copyrighted material without permission. This doctrine is applied on a case-by-case basis, with decisions generally being based on four aspects the purpose of the use, publication status, amount used, and potential for competition. Every case is unique, but in general classroom use has almost always been considered fair. Educational uses have been viewed more favorably than if the use is for profit. If the material has...

Pay attention to size and scale

Even when there is no overt attempt to deceive, it is possible to present a compelling visualization that through choice of perspective can obscure or distort data. For example, reducing the size of artwork for publication can do strange things to scale. Reduction minimizes some flaws, but accentuates others. Use computer software capabilities or a photocopier with reduction abilities to check what a figure will look like after reduction. A horizontal rectangle, with a longer horizontal than...

Pay special attention to transitions and your conclusions section

Transitions play a particularly important role in a well-done oral presentation. When people read information, they can always turn back a few pages if they forget something. As a speaker, you have to remind your audience where you are headed as you advance through the presentation. Conclusions are also even more important than in paper copy, because they are the part of the talk that people remember best. To create a solid organization, construct the conclusion at the same time as you create...

Plan an effective search strategy

For efficient use of time and energy, carefully define the scope of your literature review right at the beginning. How extensive do you want it to be Do you want to get a broad list that includes records even slightly related to your topic, or just a few most relevant ones To what extent do you need to rely upon informal channels versus formal ones Then, be prepared for a bit of trial-and-error. Identify a limited number of concepts that may be useful to describe the research question at hand,...

Poster construction the unit method and the computerprinted single sheet

Increasingly, posters are being printed as a single large page after developing them with PowerPoint templates. It can seem strange at first to think of using a slide format for such a large item, but many people find it works well. At some meetings, this is already the predominant construction mode. Various poster sizes can be constructed by combining slide size and printing size options. Currently, the largest slide size available in PowerPoint is 56 x 56 inches (142 x 142 cm). Posters are...

Practice humility

Be careful not to overstretch the limits when interpreting your data. There are many truths in this world, and no single set of factors can explain everything. Furthermore, whether we choose to consciously acknowledge the fact or not, every one of us is the product of our social and personal beliefs. As Davis (2005) notes, Individual and cultural prejudices have troubled scientific research and reporting for centuries, and we are not without prejudices today. Be respectful of others' opinions,...

Preface to the second edition

Mend your speech a little, lest it mar your fortune. The catch phrase Publish or Perish - or its more upbeat variant, Publish and Flourish - seems to have as much validity as ever in the minds of scientists everywhere. The scientific community has long emphasized quantity and quality of scholarly publications as a way to judge the eminence of scientists. Granting agencies appear to do the same. Scores received by renewal applications for National Institutes of Health funding for research in...

Prepare attractive figures but beware ofglitziness

Even a cursory look through the scientific literature will reveal that published illustrations differ widely in their quality Many details in format lettering and labeling call for careful attention, and seemingly small things can make the difference between a so-so illustration and an excellent one. If professional graphic artists and photographers are available, consult them, and provide them with samples from the journal. Increasingly, scientists are using their computers (with associated...

Preparing to write

Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style. Most of us were drawn to science because, like Vonnegut, we found a subject we feel deeply about, not just because we wanted to write about it. However, all scientists recognize that research must be made known if it is to have lasting value. This is how science moves forward, with...

Proportion and scale the shape ofgraphics

In general, graphics should be greater in length than in height unless the nature of the data suggests otherwise. Tufte (2001) suggests that graphics be about 50 wider than tall. He uses the horizon as an analogy our eye is naturally practiced in detecting deviations from the horizon, he says, and graphic design should take advantage of this fact. Furthermore, horizontal graphics can more easily be labeled. It is easier to write and read words that stretch horizontally from left to right,...

Read in order to write

Learning to write well takes effort and practice, and writing well in a second language takes even more. Although consulting books such as this one can help your effort, ultimately no book can actually teach you how to write, any more than a rule book could teach you how to play soccer or a music theory book teach you to play a symphony. Just as with sport or music skills, writing skills can be developed only by actual practice over time. In many ways, scientific English in your chosen field of...

Read the proof carefully

Examine individual sentences slowly, word by word and line by line. To detect spelling errors, try reading lines backward to view each word separately. Compare the typeset material with the original typescript to ensure that no material has been omitted or repeated. Examine numbers carefully, especially in tables. Errors at this stage can be difficult to catch when working alone. If possible, enlist a friend's aid, so that one person can slowly read the original typescript aloud while the other...

Recognize the signs of bogging down

At some point in the writing process, you may feel overwhelmed. It can be an intense emotion, but be reassured that most writers experience these feelings as a very natural reaction to the magnitude of their task. Words rarely flow effortlessly all the time for anyone. Professional writers struggle, just like you do. Everyone also experiences times when their writing efficiency seems to decline or die. Instead of quitting altogether when such feelings strike, switch to writing a different...

Regularly assess your research design progress and direction

Begin by asking yourself some important questions about your plans for the research itself (Table 1.2). Seek advice on these matters. If necessary, modify your plans accordingly. At regular intervals, pause to check the direction your work is taking. Force yourself to sit down and describe your progress in writing. The discipline of marshaling words into formal sentences will compel you to think about it more clearly. Although peer-reviewed formal research publication is the major emphasis of...

Report statistics sensibly and accurately

Statistical inference is an orderly means for drawing conclusions about a large number of events on the basis of observations collected on a sample of them. As such, it forms an important part of scientific inquiry. All measures of variable biological parameters should be reported with statistical measures of this variability In general, the sample mean and standard deviation or standard error of the mean (always appropriately labeled ) should be stated. Medians and ranges may also be given,...

Research paper types and validity

Though they may be designated by slightly different sets of names, research papers in the biological and medical sciences fall into four general categories -research articles, case histories, reviews, and case-series analyses - and shorter variants with such titles as research notes or brief communications. Each category is most appropriate for different sorts of messages. Research articles and case histories are the usual avenue for valid publication of original results. Both types of papers...

Resist premature cosmetic work

Because it is so easy to make superficial changes, it is tempting to make each draft technically perfect, with every comma in place, every word spelled correctly, every margin perfectly aligned. Then, because the paper looks so good, one becomes rather hesitant to change it further, even though the basic structure may need a major overhaul. A paper like this can be compared to a beautifully painted house with termites - lovely outside but unsound within. Trust us - it's unlikely to fool editors...

Return proofs promptly

Galley proofs are extremely time-sensitive from the publisher's standpoint. Read and correct the proof and return it immediately to the editor. Delays at this point are costly to everyone. As the final step in the publication process, the editor organizes and makes up an issue from proofed papers, and sends the entire issue to the publisher. The publisher then prints and mails the issue to journal subscribers. Reprints are usually mailed to authors within a week or two of publication. Now you...

Reveal general relationships with bar graphs

Bar graphs (Fig. 3.3), also sometimes called column graphs, are used to present discrete variables in a visually forceful way. They are a single axis graph used Fig. 3.3. This effective bar graph relates insect type to left and right turning choices. Fig. 3.3. This effective bar graph relates insect type to left and right turning choices. to compare size and magnitude of discontinuous data. They are superior to circle and line graphs for showing relationships, magnitudes, and distributions...

Revising to increase coherence

Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light. Almost every writer needs to correct and improve his first drafts. Those who can write a finished document and first draft at the same time are few, and might be compared to the rare musical prodigy who can play symphonies without ever taking a music lesson. Revision most often is the step in scientific...

Save your work often and always make backups

Computers do lose material - both during and after you've worked on it - and you must take extra steps to safeguard yourself from this catastrophe. During every working session, save your document at regular intervals. If a power failure or other problem causes the program to shut down while you are working, you can recover everything entered before the last save command. If your program has the option of automatically saving documents, learn about this feature. For extra security, keep a...

Shorten modifying phrases and clauses

Restrictive (that) and nonrestrictive (which) clauses have a valuable place in scientific writing, but they are often overused. These types of phrases have shorter equivalents. Replace that and which phrases with participles or other verb forms Wordy The organism that Chu (1993) found was a guppy that laid eggs. Better The organism Chu (1993) found was an egg-laying guppy. Prepositional phrases are also often overused. Scrutinize all prepositional constructions, especially those introduced by...

Simple choices still work well

The simplest of visual aids for a spoken talk is a chalkboard, whiteboard, or large paper pad (flipchart). From the presenter's point of view, the downside of these simple aids is that they can be difficult to prepare in advance. However, from the audience perspective, this is an advantage because a live performance is always more interesting to observe than a prepackaged one. The most effective way to use these aids is selectively. Intersperse face-to-face commentary with written items. Midway...