Friday, December 4, 2009


Please add, in the comments, any English-language (or simply American) phrases that you find odd or incomprehensible.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

What you've learned from peer review . . .

So, over the course of the semester, you have done a great many peer review memoranda. What have you learned from writing these memos to your peers? What have you learned from receiving them? Exchanging information about technical documents is a part of professional life; often this exchange of information is in a less formal form than a proper memorandum (often it is just a verbal exchange or a quick email). Nevertheless, what lasting knowledge have you gained from the peer review process? Finally, how might this process be changed and improved (for a classroom context like ours or for a professional context)?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Popular Writing About Scientific Research

Today in class we briefly discussed the Introduction to The Best American Science and Nature Writing of 2007 by Richard Preston. Omar pointed out Preston's final comment: " . . . writing about science is just another way of writing about the human condition." What do you make of this statement? Do you think this comment holds true for "academic" scientific writing (like the articles you read for research purposes) as well as for "popular" scientific writing? Does it pertain to one more than the other? What does this statement mean and do you think it is true?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Groups' Pointers for Abstract-Writing: Kojo, Mahmoud, Ehsan, and Divya

10 points for a better abstract
(These 10 points are not in any order)

Abstract should be the last one written. If written ahead, must be revised once the entire paper or thesis is written.

Abstract should be completely about our research that’s in that paper of thesis and not some line from or about others research.

Keep your abstract as small as possible and easy to read.

Each sentence by itself should be short. Break long sentences.

Revise your abstract to retain major arguments and not the minor ones.

Abstract size should never exceed 10% of the entire thesis or paper.

Reading an abstract should give a clear picture of your entire work.

There should be at least one paragraph of abstract. If there is more than one paragraph, then they must be well organized and relevant.

Main result should be included in the abstract.

The most important of all, it’s your abstract, read it, look at it and if your satisfied then Yahoo!

After discussion Kojo Anim, Mahmoud Sepehrmanesh, Ehsan Alavi and Divya Suryakumar have come to the conclusion that the above 10 points are important to abstract writing.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Groups' Pointers for Abstract-Writing: Maya, Shari, and Shoba

Instructions for writing an abstract

1. Pose the problem and state why it's important
   • State previous work, and why this study is necessary

2. State the method and approach
   • Can sometimes include instrumentation if relevant to results

3. Results
   • Use exact numbers obtained from experiments

4. Interpretation and implications of results

5. Keywords
   • Usually up to six words

For all of the above points:
Do not include references or citations in abstract
Be concise in each of the steps

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Swales moves

In your reading for Wednesday, you learned about "Swales moves." As Janet Wiles described, there are four "moves" that Swales identified as occurring commonly in introductions to scientific papers (theses, dissertations, journal articles, etc.). Wiles includes only a short section on these "moves" as they appear in introductions, but this short section should provide you with some necessary clues about the commonplace or standard features of scientific introductions. For your next assignment, the article review, I ask you to choose an article relevant to your major research topic. You will be writing a longer memorandum about this article, but for the purposes of this blog posting, I want you to only focus on the introduction of that article. Does the writer move through the structural stages that Swales identified as customary (the "moves")? How so or how not? What is missing? Or, if the writer uses these moves precisely, what do you see as the benefit to the author's "movement" through these stages?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Scientific ethos

Let's consider one compelling sentence from early in Prelli's essay. I want to know what you think of this claim: "Even those seeking explicitly to popularize science risk jeopardizing their ethos with expert audiences" (89). First off, what do you think this statement means? Second, have you seen examples of this in your own career or have you noticed this happening around you, in "popular culture"? Can you think of any examples of a scientist whose ethos was compromised as a result of the popularity of his/her research with a certain audience?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Welcome to English 501, the Graduate writing seminar!

Hello students and welcome to our graduate writing seminar!

This class will aim to help you improve or polish the kinds of written projects you will need to complete to graduate (meaning, your thesis or dissertation) and later, the kinds of texts you will create during your career (grant proposals, abstracts, journal articles, a c.v.). The course is evaluated on the basis of a student's performance on an on-going writing journal, in-class discussion, blog-posting, individual writing assignments, and a final portfolio of writing submitted at the end of the term. To begin the course, you will need to have a part of your Master's thesis (if you are an M.A. student) or your dissertation (if you are a Ph.D. student) written, ready to work on over the course of the semester.

I am looking forward to working with you this semester. I hope you will enjoy this blog, as it will give all of us an opportunity to continue the conversations we will begin in our seminar room. On our blog we will continue to discuss ways to improve, strengthen, polish, and add compelling interest to our written products. We will also have the opportunity to add comments here about the readings we do for our class, readings which concern writing in the contexts of science and technology workplaces.