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REU Communications Class The Science of Science Writing Lauren Shepherd lbshelby@u.washington.edu Foege N303 Quotes on Scientific Writing

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reu communications class
REU Communications Class

The Science of Science Writing

Lauren Shepherd

lbshelby@u.washington.edu

Foege N303

quotes on scientific writing
Quotes on Scientific Writing

Write for a scientist in another field. Don't underestimate your readers' intelligence, but don't overestimate their knowledge of a particular field. When writing about science, don't simplify the science; simplify the writing.Julie Ann Miller, Editor of Science News

One way to find out if you have succeeded (in writing clearly) is to show your draft to colleagues in other specialties. If they do not understand, neither, very probably, will The Lancet's staff. The Lancet

objectives

Disseminate knowledge

Objectives
  • Communicate finding
  • Provide record of work
types of articles
Types of Articles
  • Research - original findings
  • Review - summarize field
  • Brief communication - “hot method”
reminders

Don’t plagiarize

  • Don’t falsify data
  • Publish original work
Reminders
writing suggestions
Writing Suggestions
  • Use active voice (avoid passive when at all possible)
  • Use past tense*
  • Balance substance and structure

*Introduction & discussion

tips for logical prose
Tips for Logical Prose
  • Determine main message(s)
  • Topic ➙ emphasis
  • Old ➙ new
  • Find the action
  • Clarify!
strategies for writing
Strategies for Writing
  • Determine key ideas
  • Think in sections
  • Flesh out details
  • Add transitions
article structure
Article Structure
  • Title
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Materials and methods
  • Results
  • Discussion (conclusion)
  • Acknowledgments
structural details
Structural Details

Beginning:

objectives and hypotheses

Middle:

methods and data

End:

conclusions and implications

slide13

Title

  • Succinct and catchy
  • Attract attention
  • Describe message

A reversible wet/dry adhesive inspired by mussels and geckos

A structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid

Imaging the biogenesis of individual HIV-1 virions in live cells

slide14

Abstract

  • Summarize paper (150-300 words)
  • Acts as gatekeeper to paper
  • 1-2 sentences per section
  • Give away take-home message
introduction

Background

  • Objective
  • Survey field
  • Review status
  • Construct motivation
  • How you fit in
  • Hypothesis
  • What’s novel
Introduction
slide16

Materials and Methods

  • Enough detail for peers to reproduce
  • Describe and cite (general reader)
  • Supplemental information (expert)
slide17

Present the Data

Results

  • ‘Big picture’ description of experiments
slide18

Results

  • Support objectives and hypotheses
  • Present in logical order
  • Present analyzed data
  • Integrate text and data
slide19

Discussion

  • Place results in context
  • Examine and explain results
  • Discuss implications (theoretical & practical)
  • Summarize evidence for conclusions

Discuss − do not repeat − Results

slide20

Acknowledgments

  • Significant assistance
      • discussions
      • physical and technical
      • reagents or supplies
  • Facilities
  • Funding
5 practical tips
5 Practical Tips
  • Create figures and results
  • Outline each section
  • Provide context and impress
  • Connect dots for readers
  • Have peers review paper
homework due july 30
Homework: Due July 30
  • Create a rough draft of your paper
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Preliminary figures and results
  • Revised Poster
  • Introduction
  • Methods graphics or schematic
  • Preliminary figures and results
resources
Resources

Books and Articles:

How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper, Robert Day.

Doing Science, Ivan Valiela.

The Science of Scientific Writing, Gopen, G. and Swan, J. American Scientist, 78, 550-558: 1990.

Me Write Pretty One Day: How to Write a Good Scientific Paper. Wells, W. Journal of Cell Biology, 165, 757-758: 2004.