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  1. Defining your research question CSC Clinic 6 May 2011

  2. Research question Attention getter Motivating background Intro Research question Approach

  3. Example Retinal neovascularization causes blindness • -3 polyunsat. fatty acids protect against neovasc. • -3’s metabolized by COX and LOX enzymes into active metabolites • COX inhibitors commonly used Which enzyme mediates effects of -3s? Model: oxygen-induced retinopathy in mice lacking one of each type of COX and LOX Sapieha et al. Sci Transl Med 2011

  4. Purpose • With the attention-getter, explains • Why you’re interested • Why the audience should be interested • What does the audience do if you leave it out? • Tune out or stop reading • Spend extra effort trying to determine how the pieces fit together and what your motivation was • If it’s a talk, this could distract the audience from listening

  5. Getting it right • What happens if the question doesn’t match the results? • Audience may be disappointed by results • Audience may have trouble following the rest of the story • What happens if you state a hypothesis instead? • Outcome seems predictable • Makes you more likely to include more background that suggests your outcome

  6. How is the intro of a talk different from that of a paper? • Detail • What’s text vs. images or spoken material • NOT structure

  7. How does the length of a talk affect your intro? • Length of intro • Shorter for shorter talks • Not proportional to lengthof talk • Breadth of question • Narrower for shorter talks • Content • Depends on situation/audience

  8. How does the diversity of the audience affect your intro? • Departmental seminar or journal article • Work harder to explain why your work is important • Postdoc interview talk for lab in same area • Explain only what they wouldn’t know

  9. Practice • Spend ~5 minutes planning and jotting notes • Find a partner • Take turns explaining your research question in ~2 minutes

  10. Review as a group • Explain your partner’s research question to the group • How many understand why that person is studying that? • What did most people seem to leave out? • How would you change your explanation to make it more easily understood by a broad audience?

  11. Resources • English Communication for Scientists on Nature Education/ Scitable • UCSF Career Development’s handouts on how to give a talk and write an introduction