Technical Writing Workshop

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Transcript Technical Writing Workshop

Technical Writing Workshop
Chemistry 162
Fall 2010
Workshop Objectives

Become familiar with the structure and style of
scientific writing
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Get specific instructions for completing the
formal lab report
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Learn to avoid common errors in formal
laboratory reports
Sections of a primary research
article
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Title
Abstract
Introduction
Methods
Results
Discussion
References
Titles - style
Informative is better than indicative
“Migrating Birds Respond to Radar
Electromagnetic Fields” (informative)
“Effect of Radar Electromagnetic Fields on Bird
Migration” (indicative)
Titles - guidelines
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Should be specific and concise
Avoid superfluous phrases
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“Studies on…”
“Contributions to…”
No abbreviations
Consistent capitalization
Exercise 1
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Write both an informative and an indicative title
for Lab 3 (Amino Acid Analysis).
Abstract - guidelines
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One paragraph
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<250 words
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Avoid abbreviations
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Limited or no citations
Abstract - content
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Background (one clause)
Methods (very limited detail)
Results (key findings)
Conclusions (summarize)
Exercise 2
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In small groups, identify each of the content
components in the assigned abstract. Grade
the abstract A-F.
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Select one member of the small group to
present your findings to the rest of the class
Introduction - guidelines
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3-5 paragraphs
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Requires strong logical flow
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Requires good paragraph organization
Introduction – content
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Provide background by introducing the
scientific problem
Briefly review relevant prior research
Indicate what the present study will add to the
existing knowledge (state hypothesis to be
tested)
May end with statement of major result(s)
Exercise 3
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Working in small groups:
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Outline the Introduction of the assigned paper
Identify the scientific problem or hypothesis
Identify how the present study will address the scientific
problem
Grade the Introduction A-F.
Select a different person to present your outline and
grade to the rest of the class.
Results - guidelines
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Length depends on amount of data presented
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Avoid repetitive presentations of data
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Avoid drawing conclusions
Results – style
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Build a results narrative that “tells the story” of
your research
Organize the results to logically support the
problem/hypothesis being tested
Decide on appropriate presentation format for
each piece of data
Use the appropriate balance of methods
information
Discussion - content
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Main message
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Answers the problem posed in the introduction
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How the data support the main message
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Comparison of results to the literature
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Overall conclusions and future work
Exercise 4
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Outline the Discussion of the assigned paper.
Grade the abstract A-F.
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Select a different member of the small group to
present your findings to the rest of the class.
References
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Avoid paraphrasing – this is a form of
plagiarism
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Follow ACS format in journal Biochemistry
Workshop Objectives

Become familiar with the structure and style of
scientific writing

Get specific instructions for completing the
formal lab report

Learn to avoid common errors in formal
laboratory reports
The Formal Lab Report
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Include all sections except methods
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Title
Abstract
Introduction
Results
Discussion
References
The Formal Lab Report
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Should reference at least 2 primary research
articles
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Should be cited in both Introduction and Discussion
The Formal Lab Report:
Protein Purification Results Data
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A plot of protein concentration and enzyme activity
versus fraction number
A table showing activity, specific activity and fold
purification for the column fractions containing LDH
and the original mixture
The percent recovery of LDH
A picture of the SDS-PAGE gel and its associated
standard curve and the predicted sizes of the proteins
of interest
A copy of your HPLC chromatogram
Workshop Objectives

Become familiar with the structure and style of
scientific writing

Get specific instructions for completing the
formal lab report

Learn to avoid common errors in formal
laboratory reports
Common Formal Lab Report Errors:
Structure
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Too much detail in the Abstract
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Too long of Introduction
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3-5 paragraphs sufficient
Repetitive presentation of data in Results
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Text or Table or Figure
Do not present intermediate data (e.g. present only final
calculated protein concentration, not A280 and A260 and final
calculated protein concentration).
Common Formal Lab Report Errors:
Capitalization and Punctuation
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Capitalization
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Enzyme names are not proper nouns and don’t need to be
capitalized.
Capitalize all words except prepositions and articles in the title.
Punctuation
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Follow a period with 2 spaces before starting the next
sentence.
Rf, not Rf .
Common Formal Lab Report Errors:
Tables and Figures
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Generally, there are two types of non-text data: tables
and figures. Graphs, photographs, gels etc. should all
be presented as figures.
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Table and figure legends should be titles and not
necessarily be complete sentences.
Common Formal Lab Report Errors:
Units
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The units should be separated from the value by a
space. For example, one may write “The specific
activity of the protein in fraction 8 was 14,239 nmol
min-1 mg-1” or “The molecular mass of the protein was
17,500 kDa.”
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There are two common formats for units. The most
common is to use superscripts (nmol min-1 mg-1), and
occasionally the dividing symbol is used
(nmol/min/mg).
Common Formal Lab Report Errors:
Abbreviations
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Abbreviation should be minimized, but if used, define
the abbreviation at its first use. For example, one may
write “Purity of the lactate dehydrogenase was
analyzed by sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel
electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and reverse-phase high
pressure liquid chromatography (RP-HPLC).”
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Abbreviation particularly should be avoided in the
Abstract.
Common Formal Lab Report Errors:
Miscellaneous Style Issues
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“Fold purification”, not “fold of purification”.
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Usually “In order to…” can be condensed to “To…”.
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Enzyme names
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Writing “the protein lactate dehydrogenase” or “the enzyme
lactate dehydrogenase” instead of the more simple “lactate
dehydrogenase” is akin to writing “the monument the
Washington Monument” instead of “the Washington
Monument”.
General issues
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Remember elements of good writing
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Sentence construction
Paragraph construction
Overall organization
Use of passive voice
Spelling Counts