Friday, November 27, 2015

Science and Us: in the context of Readers and Writers-I

Many of us who are learning scientific writing have so much problems regarding the word usage. The basic rule in this type of writing is, being clear, concrete and concise all the time. When we are writing a scientific article we should always focus on our audience: the readers. The readers are not always the same; they belong to different groups and their language backgrounds are vastly different. For an example, if we use "case" as in 'in this case' rather using 'in this instance' some readers might get confused; they will interpret that it is some object like a 'beer case' that we are referring to in the text. Of course in relation to the context, if the reader has read the overall text then he or she may be able to understand that idea, but we cannot let ambiguities to exist in the writing.

In this particular blog post I am more interested in discussing certain word usage in the scientific writing which I found to be more interesting to my liking but of course that interest can obviously differ from yours.

  1. Using And, But to begin a sentence:
      • Many of our school teachers have told that using and or but at the beginning of a sentence is not appropriate. But it is not true. And we can use two of these words at the start of a sentence preserving the integrity of the flow of our idea (see I have done that here also!). If your idea is clear to the reader then there is no worry. 

  1. Above, Below:
      • Well evidently these two are troublesome words in the readers point of view. It is perfectly convincing, however, in the writers point of view. But, if the writer refers to that same text after sometime then he/she will also feel difficult to grasp the idea. This difficulty causes the loss of clarity. So it is always better to use the exact figure name, heading or sub-heading, and relevant table names etc. when you are referring in the text while not using the two words- above, below- mentioned here.

  2. Compare to or Compare with:
      • In the text when the word compare appears I feel that it has something to do with analyzing the quality of being similar or equivalent. That idea is quite true. In fact, compare to means to represent as similar whereas compare with states examining differences and similarities. Therefore whenever compares to is used the idea is that the two parameters are similar; e.g. Kumar sangakkara's records as a batsman compares to that of Don Bradman's but to do that we should compare sanga's records with bradman's.
  3. What can the word Comprise do to the text:
      • I often thought that comprise is a very good word to be used in writing. But observably I was wrong. The general meaning of comprise is consist of or be made up of, but the word is also used to mean to contain, include or encompass. This multiple meanings of the word can cause ambiguities as a whole and therefore it is better to avoid the word in the writing.
  4. Due to the phrase Due to:
      • When I was asked to write my first paper, I used so many of "Due to"s that I now feel guilty. Well this particular "adjective modifier" must be used with caution; and this shall be related to a noun. If a sentence begins with "Due to the fact that..." then it can be either because the writer is trying to fill up the space as there is nothing more coherent argument to be said or just a cunning act to misguide the reader. But having contended that I must also claim that there are good uses of such writing as well!, nevertheless as a whole it is better not to use much of the specified phrase.
  5. As:
      • As we are reading and writing science, it is always observable that as is used. But when as is used to mean that or whether, it becomes confusing. Therefore it is more intriguing to use as for the sole use of as only; avoiding other uses such as to mean, because, and inasmuch as also.

This post concludes here and some more things are to be discussed in later posts.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Scientific Writing - The Introduction

Well, after a long time, I thought of raising my voice- Although you may not hear the voice, you can at least read the thoughts-  creating this article, is the result. During the past few months, I was struggling endlessly to write scientific articles; I couldn't still find a way to succeed; life sure is tough. But I have gathered few important facts about scientific writing.

Scientific writing is not just presenting facts, it is about telling your story; the one you have unveiled in the research. Generally you have to tell the story systematically so that your reader is capable of grasping the main idea of the research. It is not to be forgotten that there are various readers; each and every one of them understands the story in different ways, and that is the beauty of it. For the writer however this "beauty" comes with a great pain. The writer therefore have to put the shoes of the reader and he should write so that the reader can understand what is said. One thing has to be remembered, what scientists do in researches is creating knowledge and if that knowledge can not be transferred to the common world then there is no use of doing the research. 

The scientific story starts with an "introduction"; a small briefing to the veil that is to be unveiled. In introduction, what the writers usually do is explaining the background of the study:

Lets assume that the topic of the study is "Scientific Writing", then in the introduction it is to be explained, what exactly is "Scientific Writing"; why people use it, and what kind of pros and cons are there. In many occasions the readers will find that, by reading the introduction a general picture about the whole study can be visualized, but an introduction is just a beginning; you cannot comment on the research just by reading the introduction. In an introduction, writers may explain in brief, the ongoing studies as well as the problems associated with them. 

In my brief study about the art of scientific writing, I found that the introduction is like the key to the map to the treasure of knowledge created; the knowledge which is somewhere hidden. With every word the writer is telling us what is the destination and its significance. It is the key to the map. If someone could not put the right key there at the beginning, nobody is going to find that hidden treasure- the irony is that the scientists want that treasure to be found- but it will remain hidden.