A Short Guide to Writing about Biology

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  • Edition: 8th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-01-03
  • Publisher: Pearson
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Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


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 Biologyemphasizes 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.

Author Biography

 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.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
General Aduice about Writing and Reading Biologyp. 1
Introduction and General Rulesp. 1
What Lies Ahead?p. 1
What Do Biologists Write About, and Why?p. 2
The Keys to Successp. 4
Avoiding Plagiarismp. 13
On Using Computers in Writingp. 15
On Using Computers for Data Storage, Analysis, and Presentationp. 18
Summaryp. 19
Using Shortcuts and Autocorrectp. 16
Locating Useful Sourcesp. 21
What Lies Ahead?p. 21
Easy Ways to Access the Primary Literaturep. 22
Using indexesp. 23
Using Science Citation indexp. 24
Using Current Contents Connectp. 25
Using Medline and Other Databasesp. 25
Prowling the Internetp. 26
Conducting Web Searches: Developing Productive Search Strategiesp. 28
Final Thoughts about Efficient Searching: Technology IsnÆt Everythingp. 32
Closing Thoughtsp. 33
Summaryp. 33
Using Search Engines Effectivelyp. 30
General Advice on Reading and Note Takingp. 34
What Lies Ahead?p. 34
Why Read and What to Readp. 34
Effective Readingp. 35
Reading Data: Plumbing the Depths of Figures and Tablesp. 37
Reading Text: Summarize as You Gop. 42
Take Notes in Your Own Wordsp. 43
Final Thoughts on Note Taking: Document Your Sourcesp. 47
Summaryp. 48
Reading and Writing About Statistical Analysesp. 49
What Lies Ahead?p. 49
Statistical Essentialsp. 49
Summary: Using Statistics to Test Hypothesesp. 61
Moving Beyond p-Valuesp. 61
Reading about Statisticsp. 64
Writing about Statisticsp. 64
Summaryp. 68
Citing Sources and Listing Referencesp. 69
What Lies Ahead?p. 69
Citing Sourcesp. 69
Summary of Citation Format Rulesp. 73
Preparing the Literature Cited Sectionp. 74
A Sample Literature Cited Sectionp. 78
Bibliographic Management Softwarep. 77
Producing Hanging Indentsp. 77
Revisingp. 80
What Lies Ahead?p. 80
Preparing the Draft for Surgery: Plotting Idea Mapsp. 82
Revising for Contentp. 85
Revising for Clarityp. 89
Revising for Completenessp. 94
Revising for Concisenessp. 96
Revising for Flowp. 102
Revising for Teleology and Anthropomorphismp. 106
Revising for Spelling Errorsp. 106
Revising for Grammar and Proper Word Usagep. 108
Becoming a Good Reviewerp. 114
Checklistp. 121
Tracking Changes Made To Documentsp. 119
Guidelines for Specific Tasksp. 123
Prelude: Why Are You Writing Papers and Proposals and Giving Talks?p. 123
Writing Summaries, Critiques, Essays, and Review Papersp. 125
What Lies Ahead?p. 125
Writing Summaries and Critiquesp. 125
Sample Student Summaryp. 128
Writing Essays and Review Papersp. 132
Checklist for Essays and Review Papersp. 141
Answering Essay Questionsp. 142
Basic Principlesp. 142
Applying the Principlesp. 146
Summaryp. 148
Writing Laboratory and Other Research Reportsp. 149
What Lies Ahead?p. 149
Why Are You Doing This?p. 150
The Purpose of Laboratory and Field Notebooksp. 150
Components of the Research Reportp. 155
Where to Startp. 157
When to Startp. 158
Writing the Materials and Methods Sectionp. 158
Writing the Results Sectionp. 164
Citing Sourcesp. 195
What to Do Next?p. 195
Writing the Discussion Sectionp. 196
Writing the Introduction Sectionp. 203
Talking about Your Study Organism or Field Sitep. 209
Deciding on a Titlep. 209
Writing an Abstractp. 211
Preparing an Acknowledgments Sectionp. 212
Preparing the Literature Cited Sectionp. 212
Preparing a Paper for Formal Publicationp. 212
A Note about Co-Authorshipp. 214
Checklist for the Final Draftp. 214
Using Computer Spreadsheets for Data Collectionp. 194
Graphing with Excelp. 217
Writing Research Proposalsp. 221
What Lies Ahead?p. 221
What Are Reviewers Looking For?p. 222
Researching Your Topicp. 223
What Makes a Good Research Question?p. 224
Writing the Proposalp. 225
Tightening the Logicp. 230
The Life of a Real Research Proposalp. 230
Checklistp. 231
Presenting Research Findings: Preparing Talks and Poster Presentationsp. 232
Oral Presentationsp. 232
Checklist for Being Judgedp. 242
Poster Presentationsp. 242
Checklist for Making Postersp. 248
Writing Letters of Applicationp. 249
Before You Startp. 249
Preparing the CVp. 250
Preparing the Cover Letterp. 253
Recruiting Effective Letters of Recommendationp. 263
Revised Sample Sentencesp. 264
Commonly Used Abbreviationsp. 268
Recommended Resourcesp. 269
Indexp. 272
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