Being a chemist. Oops, science is POWERFUL!

ENGL 390, 390H, and (sometimes) 398V  Class Journal


Review, some phrase pointers, and etc.

Memoir links, for your pleasure:

NAS science memoir series

For pre-meds, read this on shamans and doctors

Plant scientists might like this on trains and photosynthetic bacteria

Memoir-like, James Sylvester Gates interview from On Being.

Will be a memoir eventually.....York and Chaos Theory

Sharks and Eugenie Clark, lots of good quotes here

Finally, this wow book by Noble prize winner John Mather

Arrangement pattern for review:



Author expertise/bio

point 1

point 2

point 3



Paragraph transitions: Think pearls beaded upon a string. Think train cars coupled. This UCSB guide is helpful with words that serve nicely as transition elements.  This writing guide emphasizes the value of repeating key words as a transition strategy.  You have two approaches:  tight and loose.  One "loose" transition variation relies on meta discourse, including the counting strategy.  You also have implied.

Phrases:  stacked modifiers and dangling/misplaced modifiers. More on stacked modifiers from Grammar Girl. MF or GG also takes on misplaced or dangling modifiers: start here; then, this, for some joy to help you remember.

Let's look at a visual way to remember the dangling modifier problem. This visual is courtesy of a former student, H.S. 

Piano. from Paul Rayment on Vimeo.


Piano. from Paul Rayment on Vimeo.

Posted on Wednesday, April 12, 2017 at 06:36AM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | CommentsPost a Comment

Paragraph arrangement for your review

Documents have beginnings, middles, and ends.  For this work, think LEMON-shaped.  Here is a good way to arrange your analysis:

Beginning: 1-3 paragraphs that prepare the reader to understand and trust the center portion of your analysis (three or four body paragraphs).  Think:

  • Opening (recall your seven strategies -- you can combine them.)
  • Ethos of lead author
  • Definitions/descriptions or backgrounds, which is largely common knowledge. 

Middle: 3-4 body paragraphs. Start with one paragraph per point BUT you may need to divide complex material into two shorter but connected (by transition) paragraph.

End: Taper off, with some useful information or thoughts for closing.  For example, brief critique (this is hard and will NOT count against your work grade-wise), applications, further line of inquiry, implications for society.


Posted on Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 06:34PM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | CommentsPost a Comment

Review of article underway

Guide for reading here. Copy this google do to YOUR drive and work there.  Peer review draft due next Friday. Monday, for a grade.  Work with 7-12 or so paragraphs.

  • Friday, 14
  • Monday, 17

Be thinking on your final project.  Email me ideas.  Huge amount of latitude here.  You might also find that this article review can grow into a final project.

Articles have beginnings, middles, and ends.  Think Lemon-shaped.  Interestingly, beginnings and ends have similarlties. We have a number of options; look at these seven strategies for opening.

News article openings are good for the lay audience.  Why?  Several strategies:

  • highly visual
  • interesting case
  • hook with tidbit of interesting information
  • topic (timely)

For technical audiences, open with

  • review of logos (detail of costs, population size, enormity of problem)
  • controversy
  • new application or breaking news
Posted on Friday, April 7, 2017 at 07:07AM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | CommentsPost a Comment

Reading and writing science

Let's look at this recent article in PloS One about writing scientific prose. In Science, two scientists talk about how they read articles. Ruben writes with a somewhat lighthearted approach while Pain responds to his piece with her approach. Read the comments.

We will talk about what type of article you have:  research article, literature review, meta-analysis, proof, proof-of-concept, specialized application, method, opinion or memoir.

Here is the "bible" of writing (and reading) scientific prose:  Mayfield. Now, let's look at the basic parts of the IMRAD article using this guide.

By the end of class, you should know what kind of article you have AND a sense of the research question and associated hypotheses guiding the work. 


Posted on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at 06:13AM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | CommentsPost a Comment


This week!  Due in peer review on Friday, with final version in hard copy due on Monday.

First, a lession on word choices, but let's review a few items from our worksheets on sentences (subject-verb is the heart of a good and clear sentence). Here is a good discussion on these ideas including active voice from Duke's Scientific Communication overview. Read this web exhibit, starting with Principles 2 and 3.  In your reading for your science classes, you may want to look for these techniques.

Principle 1 is new to you.  This focus concerns nominalizations.  Read this New York Times article, which calls nominazations "zombie nouns." Writer Helen Sword says:

Take an adjective (implacable) or a verb (calibrate) or even another noun (crony) and add a suffix like itytion or ism. You’ve created a new noun: implacabilitycalibrationcronyism. Sounds impressive, right? 

Nouns formed from other parts of speech are called nominalizations. Academics love them; so do lawyers, bureaucrats and business writers. I call them “zombie nouns” because they cannibalize active verbs, suck the lifeblood from adjectives and substitute abstract entities for human beings: 

The proliferation of nominalizations in a discursive formation may be an indication of a tendency toward pomposity and abstraction.

H.S.'s "Draft" -- a regular feature -- is a series about the art and craft of writing. 


Document design and directions (the next assignment): Here is a guide to planning the directions assignment. We divide the material into three sections:  
  1. front matter, 
  2. the heart of the directions (numbered, ordered commands), and 
  3. back matter.
Directions, like the resume, rely on "document design."  The way we arrange the material for the audience, context, and purpose is as important as the content.
Audience/Context/Purpose -- essential aspects of all documents.  In designing directions or procedures documents, think of the audience as a user more than areader.
Sample of a directions document:  Surviving a Cougar Attack. 



Posted on Monday, March 27, 2017 at 06:20AM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | CommentsPost a Comment