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Transcript 131539145817

Capstone Design:
Scientific Papers and
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To the Fledgling Scientists:
“ If it dies, it’s biology,
if it blows up, it’s chemistry,
if it does not work, it’s physics”
by John Wilkes
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: an act or instance of transmitting
a : information transmitted or conveyedb : a verbal or written message
a : a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through
a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior <the function of pheromones in
insectcommunication>; also : exchange of informationb : personal rapport <a lack
of communication between old and young persons>
plurala : a system (as of telephones) for transmitting or exchanging
informationb : a system of routes for moving troops, supplies, and
vehiclesc : personnel engaged in transmitting or exchanging information
plural but sing or plural in constra : a technique for expressing ideas effectively (as
in speech)b : the technology of the transmission of information (as by print or
— com·mu·ni·ca·tion·al adjective
From « Merry Webster »
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No special talent is required nor is magic involved in
clear communication.
It’s simply a skill developed for exchainging meanings
with words and other symbols.
Meanings associated with those symbols must be the
same for both the senders and the receivers.
But eihter the author or the audience can manipulate
meanings, and being human, both probably will.
Communication is the vehicle that carries progress, but
it also carries disputes and disruption of progress.
Generation gaps, wars,and prejudices result, at least in
part, from something communicated.
On the other hand, bridges across generation gaps,
peace, and understandings are also result of
In scientific communication, be every wary of the
human elements, and communicate as concisely,
conventionally, and clearly as you
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Writing or speaking about scientific research is no more
difficult than other things you do.
It is rather like building a house.
If you have the materials you need and the know-how
to put them together, it’s just a matter of hard work.
The materials come from your own study and reseach.
Any attempt to communcate in science is fruitless
without valuable content.
Once quality ideas and data are available, you put them
together with the basic skills of scientific writing or
The hard work is up to you.
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Developing communication skills requires a combination
of mental and physical activity.
 Like any such activity, it requires regular exercise or
practice to move toward perfection.
You have been in school for many years of your life; you
know how to talk and write.
You may or may not have had much of the needed
practice in scientific writing, but you probably have had
all the grammar and rhetoric courses you want.
Don’t disparage those courses.
Bacis instruction in language use is a good foundation
for writing and speaking so long as you don’t let that
instruction inhibit your communcation.
Sloppy gammar, punctuation, and spelling can be very
distracting to a scientific message.
In this class, you will lear how to approach scientific
communication and how to produce, review, evaluate,
and revise papers or presentations.
Those tasks can be easier as you define your purpose in
communicating andPowerpoint
guidelines that will work
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for you.
 First of all, you need to come to terms with your
Why are you writing or speaking about a certain subject?
Maybe your reason for writing a thesis is to get a
degree, or you are writing a journal article to get a
Those are certainly good reasons to write.
But surely purpose goes beyond those goals.
A general purpose is the exchange of scientific
knowledge; your specific purpose willd depend on your
subject and your audience.
Once you define that purpose, you just need to develop
ideas to answer questions that might be asked about
that conclusion.
The more specifically you define your purpose, the
easier your task will be.
When you have defined why you are communicating,
your next job is how.
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 Any
exchange between scientists, is a matter of asking and
answering questions.
Answering the question before it is asked often averts
many problems.
In scietific communication, asking the questions is the
the foundation for discovery; providing answers to your
colleagues and to future generations adds knowledge
and keeps scientific progress alive and well.
From « How are you ? » or « What’s happening ? » to
« Have we discovered the final quark? » or « How
important is preservation of the tailed toad? » the
questions form the foundation for communication
whether or not they are asked.
If someone didn’t wonder about answers, science would
be in real trouble.
As you consider a paper or speech for your fellow
scientists, decide what questions are in their minds and
yours and which ones you can and should answer.
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All forms of scientific communications have a great deal
in common.
Variations in content and organization are imposed by
the questions from different audiences and the answers
you give.
An audience of sixth graders will not ask the same
questions that scientisits in your discipline will ask, but
you can cover the same subject for both groups.
In communicating about your work as a scientists,
content and orgarnization are clearly infuenced by
scientific methods of inquiry and reflect recongnition of
a problem, observation, formulation of a hypothesis,
experimentation, collecting and analyzing date, and
drawing conclusions.
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Notice that each of these steps pose a question that your
research and then your communication seek to answer .
What is the problem?
What do you observe?
What do you hypothesize?
How do you experiment or explore for a solution?
The content of your scientific paper will involve some or all
of these questions no matter who the audience is.
Another major influence on organization and content is the
use of conventional techniques in scientific communication.
An audience can understand you if you use communication
devices that they expect.
For example, most organization, whether it is for journal
articles, laboratory reports, or seminar presentations, uses
the IMRAD format
The acronym IMRAD stands for Introduction, Methods,
Results, And Discussion.
These sections are the conventional, or the expected, order
for scientific papers.
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A few journals alter this formula and present results
and discussion before methods.
They are simply answering the question
“What did you find out?” before “How did you find a
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In addition to the questions from a given audience and
the conventions that have evolved in language, your
success in communications depends on knowing who
that audience is, knowing your subject and purpose,
and recognizing your own abilities and convictions.
As you develop your career as a scientist, periodically
remind yourself about the fundamentals of that science
Visualize your audience and consider your subject and
your purpose for communicating.
What questions will that audience ask and how can you
bet answer them?
What media will best convey your message?
Finally, every individual communicates differently; you
need to think about yourself and your capabilities.
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Think first about your audience.
They are most important to the interpretation and
understanding of your scientific message.
However hard you try to send a clear message, the
completed communication rests with them.
You cannot control an audience entirely, but because
you are initiating the communication effort, you are
responsible for presenting information that is easily
interpreted and understood.
For most scientific papers and presentations, your
audience will be scientists and often those especially
interested in your subject.
However, you will need to communicate also with other
scientists and with lay audiences.
Your grand proposal may be going to an agency that
has no scientists on the staff or to a group of
politicians or government officials.
You may trying to communicate with a publisher or an
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Think in terms of how much experience and education
the members of the audience have and what their
motivation is for listening to you.
Their attitude and expertise can determine how you
will present your subject.
Regardless of their prestige and education, members of
the audience are human, and so are you.
Human beings are rarely logical, fair, and unemotional.
No matter how much you try to keep scientific
communication strictly factual and objective, the
human elements is present.
For example, if you are making a speech, the audience
will notice your appearance and your voice before they
ever hear a word you are saying.
When readers look at a page, they notice appearance;
the size of type, whether paragraphs are short or long,
and whether there are head notes or illustrations.
People have certain expectations about how a speaker
should dress and sound and how words on a page
should look.
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Once words are introduced, the reading audience or
listeners have further expectations about meanings
and patters for those words.
 Most educated people expect standard English diction
and constructions.
If either is substandard or foreign to them, a break in
communication results.
Whether you are talking or writing, if you first give the
receivers what they expect, or what they find familiar,
they can feel comfortable.
You can then lead them to your point even if it is
unexpected or unfamiliar.
It’s not always the meaning of words that matters as
much as it is the way we hang them together.
No word can be fully defined except with the content in
which it is sent and how the audience receives it.
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The extent to which a word and idea reaches the
audience with the same meaning it had when it left the
sender constitutes clarity in communication.
Other things to consider before you begin to write and
speak are your subject and purpose in relationship to
the audience.
You have to be convinced that your subject is
worthwhile, that the audience cares about it, and that
what you are telling is accurate.
For your own confidence you need a clear purpose.
Conviction is a key word that joins with concise and
conventional in producing clear communication.
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With your audience, subject, and purpose in mind,
remember that communication is essentially a question
and answer format, but often the question is neither
written nor voiced.
Your communication will likely succeed if you are
answering the same question that is being asked about
your subject.
That job may sound simple, but be judicious in deciding
what questions to answer.
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The IMRAD organization for most scientific papers
gives you the basic questions.
You’ll tell what you did in the INTRODUCTION, how you
did it in the METHODS section, and what you found out
It’s all the little questions in between that can be
Who are you? Why did you do that way? Is that like the
result that Jones got? Can you give me an example? .
These questions are not always obvious ones that
would be asked, but they require answers if minds in
the audience are asking.
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In addition to thinking about the audience and the
subject and which questions they would ask about that
subject, you also need to think about yourself.
Attitude is important in scientific communication as it
is in all our activities and accomplishments.
If you hate to write or speak, you won’t do either will.
If you love to communicate and find everything you
write or talk about a true delight, you also won’t
communicate well.
A scientific attitude of confidence but of careful selfscrutiny and a dash of humility can form the foundation
you need for successful papers and presentations.
Allow yourself to be creative, but keep an element of
scientific control on your compositions.
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You have to believe in what you are doing and what
you are saying.
Intelligence and personality go a long way, but when
you get down to the nitty gritty of doing science and
reporting it, you have to have conviction.
This dedication can carry you far in science and always
shows in your communication.
Don’t misjudge your audience.
They can tell when you are bluffing, when you don’t
care, and when you don’t believe in what you are doing
or saying.
You can learn rules for communication; you may even
be good at play acting. But without some ability,
integrity, and sincerity, your efforts in communication
will fall far short of excellent.
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Notice how all the elements in communication are
I can’t talk about subject without discussing purpose
and author and audience.
Conviction and convention also depend on all those
There are no rules.
There are questions to ask and answers to provide.
An interpretation of author and audience with subject
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