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Short Guide to Writing About Biology

Short Guide to Writing About Biology - 7th edition

Short Guide to Writing About Biology - 7th edition

ISBN13: 9780205667277

ISBN10: 0205667279

Short Guide to Writing About Biology by Jan A. Pechenik - ISBN 9780205667277
Cover type: Paperback
Edition: 7TH 10
Copyright: 2010
Publisher: Longman, Inc.
International: No
Short Guide to Writing About Biology by Jan A. Pechenik - ISBN 9780205667277

ISBN13: 9780205667277

ISBN10: 0205667279

Cover type: Paperback
Edition: 7TH 10

List price: $53.50

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This best-selling writing guide by a prominent biologist teaches students to think as biologists and to express ideas clearly and concisely through their writing. Providing students with the tools they'll need to be successful writers in college and their profession,A Short Guide to Writing about Biologyemphasizes writing as a way of examining, evaluating, and sharing ideas. The text teaches students how to read critically, study, evaluate and report data, and how to communicate information clearly and logically. Students are also given detailed advice on locating useful sources, interpreting the results of statistical tests, maintaining effective laboratory and field notebooks, writing effective research proposals and poster presentations, writing effective applications, and communicating information to both professional and general audiences.

Author Bio

Jan A. Pechenik is Professor of Biology at Tufts University, where he has been teaching and doing research since 1978. He obtained his B.A. in Zoology from Duke University and his Ph.D. in Biological Oceanography from the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island. To date he has published more than a hundred papers on the development and metamorphosis of marine invertebrate animals, including snails, blue mussels, crabs, barnacles, polychaetes, bryozoans, and parasitic flatworms. Professor Pechenik has also published a successful textbook on invertebrate biology, currently in its 3rd edition, and chairs the Division of Invertebrate Zoology within the Society for Comparative and Integrative Biology (formerly the American Society of Zoologists). Committed to teaching as well as research, his highly praised book on this subject, AShort Guide to Writing About Biology, will publish in its eighth edition in January 2012.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface xiii

Part I General Advice about Writing and Reading Biology 1

1 Introduction And General Rules 2

What Do Biologists Write about, and Why? 2

The Keys to Success 4

Eleven Major Rules for Preparing a First Draft 5

Seven Major Rules for Developing Your Final Draft 10

Nine Finer Points: The Easy Stuff 13

The Annoying but Essential Last Pass 14

On Using Computers in Writing 15

On Using Computers for Data Storage, Analysis, and Presentation 18

Summary 19

Technology Tip 1. Getting The Most From Your Word-Processing Program 16

2 Locating Useful Sources 21

Using Indexes 22

Using Science Citation Index 23

Using Current Contents Search 24

Using Medline and Other Databases 24

Prowling the Internet 25

Conducting Web Searches: Developing Productive Search Strategies 27

Final Thoughts about Efficient Searching: Technology Isn't Everything 31

Closing Thoughts 32

Summary 32

Technology Tip 2. Using Search Engines Effectively 29

3 General Advice on Reading and Note-Taking 33

Why Read and What to Read 33

Effective Reading 34

Reading Data: Plumbing the Depths of Figures and Tables 36

Reading Text: Summarize as You Go 41

Plagiarism and Note-Taking 42

Plagiarism 42

Take Notes in Your Own Words 44

Split-Page Note-Taking: A Can't-Fail System 48

Final Thoughts on Note-Taking: Document Your Sources 50

Summary 50

4 Reading and Writing About Statistical Analyses 51

Statistical Essentials 51

Variability and Its Representation 51

When Is a Difference a Meaningful Difference? What You Need to Know about Tomatoes, Peas, and Random Events 54

Establishing a Null Hypothesis 56

Conducting the Analysis, andInterpreting the Results 58

Degrees of Freedom 62

Summary: Using Statistics to Test Hypotheses 63

Moving Beyond p-values 63

Statistical Power 64

Effect Magnitudes and Alternative Analyses 65

Reading about Statistics 66

Writing about Statistics 66

Summary 70

5 Citing Sources and Listing References 71

Citing Sources 71

Summary of Citation Format Rules 75

Preparing the Literature Cited Section 76

Listing the References-General Rules 76

Listing the References-Using the Correct Format 77

A Sample Literature Cited Section 80

Technology Tip 3. Bibliographic Management Software 79

Technology Tip 4. Producing Hanging Indents 79

6 Revising 82

Preparing the Draft for Surgery: Plotting Idea Maps 84

Revising for Content 88

Revising for Clarity 91

Taming Disobedient Sentences-Sentences That Don't Say What the Author Means 91

The Dangers of It 94

Problems with And 96

Headache by Acronym 96

Revising for Completeness 97

Revising for Conciseness 98

First Commandment: Eliminate Unnecessary Prepositions 100

Second Commandment: Avoid Weak Verbs 101

Third Commandment: Do Not Overuse the Passive Voice 102

Fourth Commandment: Make the Organism the Agent of the Action 104

Fifth Commandment: Incorporate Definitions into Your Sentences 104

Revising for Flow 105

A Short Exercise in Establishing Coherence 107

Improving Flow Using Punctuation 108

Revising for Teleology and Anthropomorphism 109

Revising for Spelling Errors 109

Revising for Grammar and Proper Word Usage 110

A Grammatical Aside: Rules-That-Are-Not-Rules 116

A Strategy for Revising: Pass by Pass by Pass 116

Becoming a Good Reviewer 117

Receiving Criticism 119

Fine-Tuning 121

Sentences in Need of Revision 123

Checklist 124

Technology Tip 5. Tracking Changes Made To Documents 120

Part II Guidelines for Specific Tasks 127

7 Writing Summaries and Critiques 128

Writing the First Draft 129

Writing the Summary 130

Sample Student Summary 131

Analysis of Student Summary 132

Writing the Critique 133

The Critique 133

Analysis of Student Critique 135

Concluding Thoughts 136

8 Writing Essays and Review Papers 137

Why Bother? 137

Getting Started 138

Researching Your Topic 139

Developing a Thesis Statement 140

Writing the Paper 141

Getting Underway: Taking and Organizing Your Notes 141

The Crucial First Paragraph 142

Supporting Your Argument 144

The Closing Paragraph 145

Citing Sources 146

Creating a Title 146

Revising 147

Checklist 147

9 Writing Laboratory And Other Research Reports 148

Why Are You Doing This? 148

The Purpose of Laboratory and Field Notebooks 149

Taking Notes 150

Making Drawings 154

Components of the Research Report 154

Where to Start 156

When to Start 156

Writing the Materials and Methods Section 157

Determining the Correct Level of Detail 157

Giving Rationales 159

Describing Data Analysis 160

Use of Subheadings 160

A Model Materials and Methods Section 161

Writing the Results Section 162

Summarizing Data Using Tables and Graphs 163

Constructing a Summary Table 164

To Graph or Not to Graph 166

Preparing Graphs 171

(Not) Falsifying Data 173

The Question: To Connect or Not to Connect the Dots? 174

Making Bar Graphs and Histograms 177

Learning to Love Logarithms 179

Preparing Tables 182

Making Your Graphs and Tables Self-Sufficient 183

Putting Your Graphs and Tables in Order 186

Incorporating Figures and Tables into Your Report (or Not) 186

Verbalizing Results: General Principles 186

Verbalizing Results: Turning Principles into Action 189

What Is a "Figure"? 190

Writing about Negative Results 190

Writing about Numbers 190

In Anticipation-Preparing in Advance for Data Collection 192

Citing Sources 193

What to Do Next? 194

Writing the Discussion Section 194

Expectations 195

Explaining Unexpected Results 195

Analysis of Specific Examples 197

Writing the Introduction Section 201

Stating the Question 202

An Aside: Studies Versus Experiments 203

Providing the Background 204

A Sample Introduction 206

Talking about Your Study Organism or Field Site 207

Deciding on a Title 207

Writing an Abstract 209

Preparing an Acknowledgments Section 210

Preparing the Literature Cited Section 210

Preparing a Paper for Formal Publication 210

Checklist for the Final Draft 212

Technology Tip 6. Using Computer Spreadsheets for Data Collection 193

Technology Tip 7. Graphing With Excel 215

10 Writing Research Proposals 219

What Are Reviewers Looking For? 220

Researching Your Topic 221

What Makes a Good Research Question? 222

Writing the Proposal 223

Introduction 223

Background 224

Proposed Research 226

Citing References and Preparing the Literature Cited Section 228

Tightening the Logic 228

The Life of a Real Research Proposal 228

Checklist 229

11 Answering Essay Questions 230

Basic Principles 230

Applying the Principles 234

Summary 236

12 Presenting Research Findings: Writing Talks And Poster Presentations 237

Oral Presentations 237

Talking about Published Research Papers 238

Talking about Original Research 242

Talking about Proposed Research 242

The Listener's Responsibility 242

Preparing Effective Visuals 243

Using Power Point 244

Checklist for Being Judged 247

Poster Presentations 248

Layout of the Poster 250

Making the Poster 252

Checklist for Making Posters 253

13 Writing Letters of Application 254

Before You Start 255

Preparing the Résumé 255

Preparing the Cover Letter 258

Recruiting Effective Letters of Recommendation 268

Appendix A Revised Sample Sentences 270

Appendix B Revised Sample Sentences In Final Form 272

Appendix C Commonly Used Abbreviations 274

Appendix D Suggested References For Further Reading 276

Appendix E Sample Form For Peer Review 278

Appendix F Some Useful Web Sites 279

Index 281