Being a chemist. Oops, science is POWERFUL!

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


Opening and closing a document (related strategies!)

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. Some rough thoughts about formality and audience type:

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

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/review at the basic parts of the IMRAD article using this guide.

(In-class, brief discussion about the ETHOS paragraph.  Think platform or journal as carrying the ethos of peer review. USE ITALICS! Do NOT put the long title of this article in your paragraph.)

Finally, little mini lesson on dangling modifiers (while walking down the street a piano fell on me) from former student Hannah S circa 2008.

Piano. from Paul Rayment on Vimeo.


Posted on Wednesday, October 25, 2017 at 07:36AM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | CommentsPost a Comment

Better image here!

Thank you for good class discussion today, Monday.  I revised the popplet here (best viewing if you open in another tab on your browser or download the PNG image.

Start writing!  You should be able to write your three-seven definitions now, in a paragraph or two.  Using bullets can work as can bolding.  Keep in mind that you may deploy them in the Cool Things paragraphs of your MIDDLE or body section.

Do you have a list of your Cool Things items, say three to five?


  • beginnings and endings
  • metadiscourse to bind your review (examples)
    • Before we turn to the key poultry capture findings in Mozafari and Shea, let's review a few definitions...
    • Reviewing these important background concepts here will make for easier reading of Jones' essential findings on gamma ray detection....
  • what do do in the Critical Analysis?  Look at methods, experiment design, or sample sizes?  Ask if this work is theoretical (thought experiment) or either an experimental study or an observational study.
  • Stat analysis?  Know what stats are being used.  Fisherian inference?  Multivariate?  Bayesian? Refresh yourself on those items.  Wikipedia is a good place to start. Many of you will need to know these two:
    • ANOVA (see cautions about imbalance; try to learn about one-way and two-way choices)
    • P-value

Posted on Monday, October 23, 2017 at 11:40AM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | CommentsPost a Comment

Popplet image of review arrangement

See if this help you see how to arrange your review. Open the image in a new tab to see all of this information. What other fruit or vegetable shapes help you?  Hint:  we talked about them in class.  Finally, I will make the due date on this Friday, November 3.  How is that?  You will need to help me make a checklist on Monday Oct 31 and Wednesday  November 1.  

Posted on Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 01:59PM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | CommentsPost a Comment

Essentials for the article review assignment

Note:  we are reviewing ONE ARTICLE and not two.  This is a bit different from last year's assignment and what is described in the syllabus rationale.  i will review the rationale over the weekend. In the meantime:

As we did with the first two memo assignments, we will work through this assignment together.  Come to class! Due around Halloween. Shall we make a checklist together?  I would need more people to contribute than last time.  TBD.  Today, we will put a structure on the board governed by a few visual supports:

  • Lemon shape of most technical articles (your review included)
  • Where definitions/descriptions placement help the reader
  • P1. . .P (11, 12, 13 or so)

On Monday, I will unveil the calendar of assignments to the end!  Roughly:

  • this review plus document design revision
  • directions
  • final project, which begins in earnest on November 12 or so

Now, for some Friday fun (a first author promise being broken):


Posted on Friday, October 20, 2017 at 05:43AM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | Comments1 Comment

Selected slides from this week

We are learning new and efficient approaches to reading science journal articles.  

  • Selected slides (six in Google presentation) on authorship conventions
  • Entire research article slides here (19-16 focus on IMRAD)

For Friday, bring your article in the format you prefer.  I want you to try to infer information about the authors from some of what we discussed.

Recall that we are not learning this information to prepare for a test; rather, we learn this to understand the complexity of knowledge construction in the sciences and how publications play a part.  To this end, I place here optional reading on two unethical practices notes (both from NIH resources):

This animation (2 1/2 minutes) highlights the discourtesy of salami slicing for readers:  make them read two articles when one would do, as well as present the findings in a fuller light. Entage is a company that supports scientists in Asian countries prepare research for English language journals.





Posted on Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 07:58AM by Registered CommenterMarybeth Shea | CommentsPost a Comment