A Short Guide to Writing about Biology / Edition 8

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Overview

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 Biology emphasizes writing as a means to examine, evaluate, share, and refine 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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780205075072
  • Publisher: Longman
  • Publication date: 1/17/2012
  • Edition number: 8
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 204,095
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

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, AS hort Guide to Writing About Biology, will publish in its eighth edition in January 2012.

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Table of Contents


PART I

General Advice about Writing and Reading ] Biology

1—Introduction and General Rules

What Do Biologists Write about, and Why?

The Keys to Success

Eleven Major Rules for Preparing a First Draft

Seven Major Rules for Developing Your Final Draft

Nine Finer Points: The Easy Stuff

The Annoying but Essential Last Pass

On Using Computers in Writing

On Using Computers for Data Storage, Analysis, and Presentation

Summary

Technology Tip 1. Getting the Most from Your Word-Processing Program

2—Locating Useful Sources

Using Indexes

Using Science Citation Index

Using Current Contents Search

Using Medline and Other Databases

Prowling the Internet

Conducting Web Searches: Developing Productive Search Strategies

Final Thoughts about Efficient Searching: Technology Isn’t Everything

Closing Thoughts

Summary

Technology Tip 2. Using Search Engines Effectively

3—General Advice on Reading and Note-Taking

Why Read and What to Read

Effective Reading

Reading Data: Plumbing the Depths of Figures and Tables

Reading Text: Summarize as You Go

Plagiarism and Note-Taking

Plagiarism

Take Notes in Your Own Words

Split-Page Note-Taking: A Can’t-Fail System

Final Thoughts on Note-Taking: Document Your Sources

Summary

4— Reading and Writing About Statistical Analyses

Statistical Essentials

Variability and Its Representation

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

Establishing a Null Hypothesis

Conducting the Analysis, and Interpreting the Results

Degrees of Freedom

Summary: Using Statistics to Test Hypotheses

Moving Beyond p-Values

Statistical Power

Effect Magnitudes and Alternative Analyses

Reading about Statistics

Writing about Statistics

Summary

5—Citing Sources and Listing References

Citing Sources

Summary of Citation Format Rules

Preparing the Literature Cited Section

Listing the References—General Rules

Listing the References—Using the Correct Format

A Sample Literature Cited Section

Technology TIP 3. Bibliographic Management Software 79 Technology Tip 4. Producing Hanging Indents

6—Revising

Preparing the Draft for Surgery: Plotting Idea Maps

Revising for Content

Revising for Clarity

Taming Disobedient Sentences—Sentences That Don’t Say What the Author Means

The Dangers of It

Problems with And

Headache by Acronym

Revising for Completeness

Revising for Conciseness

First Commandment: Eliminate Unnecessary Prepositions

Second Commandment: Avoid Weak Verbs

Third Commandment: Do Not Overuse the Passive Voice

Fourth Commandment: Make the Organism the Agent of the Action

Fifth Commandment: Incorporate Definitions into Your Sentences

Revising for Flow

A Short Exercise in Establishing Coherence

Improving Flow Using Punctuation

Revising for Teleology and Anthropomorphism

Revising for Spelling Errors

Revising for Grammar and Proper Word Usage

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

A Strategy for Revising: Pass by Pass by Pass

Becoming a Good Reviewer

Receiving Criticism

Fine-Tuning

Sentences in Need of Revision

Checklist

Technology Tip 5. Tracking Changes Made to Documents

PART II

Guidelines for Specific Tasks

Prelude: Why are you writing papers and giving talks?

7—Writing Summaries, Critiques, Essays, and Review Papers

Writing[ Essays and Critiques

Writing the First Draft

Writing the Summary

Sample Student Summary

Analysis of Student Summary

Writing the Critique

The Critique

Analysis of Student Critique

Writing Essays and Review Papers[

Getting Started

Researching Your Topic

Developing a Thesis Statement

Writing the Paper

Getting Underway: Taking and Organizing Your Notes

The Crucial First Paragraph

Supporting Your Argument

The Closing Paragraph

Citing Sources

Creating a Title

Revising

Checklist for essays and review papers

8— Answering Essay Questions

Basic Principles

Applying the Principles

Summary

9—Writing Laboratory and Other Research Reports

Why Are You Doing This?

The Purpose of Laboratory and Field Notebooks

Taking Notes

Making Drawings

Components of the Research Report

Where to Start

When to Start

Writing the Materials and Methods Section

Determining the Correct Level of Detail

Giving Rationales

Describing Data Analysis

Use of Subheadings

A Model Materials and Methods Section

Writing the Results Section

Summarizing Data Using Tables and Graphs

Constructing a Summary Table

To Graph or Not to Graph

Preparing Graphs

(Not) Falsifying Data

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

Making Bar Graphs and Histograms

Learning to Love Logarithms

Preparing Tables

Making Your Graphs and Tables Self-Sufficient

Putting Your Graphs and Tables in Order

Incorporating Figures and Tables into Your Report (or Not)

Verbalizing Results: General Principles

Verbalizing Results: Turning Principles into Action

What Is a “Figure”?

Writing about Negative Results

Writing about Numbers

In Anticipation—Preparing in Advance for Data Collection

Citing Sources

What to Do Next?

Writing the Discussion Section

Expectations

Explaining Unexpected Results

Analysis of Specific Examples

Writing the Introduction Section

Stating the Question

An Aside: Studies Versus Experiments

Providing the Background

A Sample Introduction

Talking about Your Study Organism or Field Site

Deciding on a Title

Writing an Abstract

Preparing an Acknowledgments Section

Preparing the Literature Cited Section

Preparing a Paper for Formal Publication

Checklist for the Final Draft

Technology Tip 6. Using Computer Spreadsheets for Data Collection 193 Technology Tip 7. Graphing with Excel

10—Writing Research Proposals

What Are Reviewers Looking For?

Researching Your Topic

What Makes a Good Research Question?

Writing the Proposal

Introduction

Background

Proposed Research

Citing References and Preparing the Literature Cited Section

Tightening the Logic

The Life of a Real Research Proposal

Checklist

11— Presenting Research Findings: preparing Talks and Poster Presentations

Oral Presentations

Talking about Published Research Papers

Talking about Original Research

Talking about Proposed Research

The Listener’s Responsibility

Preparing Effective Visuals

Using PowerPoint

Checklist for Being Judged

Poster Presentations

Layout of the Poster

Making the Poster

Checklist for Making Posters

12—Writing Letters of Application

Before You Start

Preparing the Résumé

Preparing the Cover Letter

Recruiting Effective Letters of Recommendation

Appendix A Revised Sample Sentences

Appendix B Commonly Used Abbreviations

Appendix C Recommended Resources

Appendix E Sample Form for Peer Review

Appendix F Some Useful Web Sites

Index


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