A Student Handbook for Writing in Biology
Fifth Edition   ©2019

A Student Handbook for Writing in Biology

Karin Knisely

  • ISBN-10: 1-319-23953-6; ISBN-13: 978-1-319-23953-4; Format: e-Book Agency, 224 pages


Instructors

Contents

Preface XIII

Chapter 1 The Scientific Method 1

An Introduction to the Scientific Method 1

Ask a question 2

Look for answers to your question 2

Turn your question into a hypothesis 2

Design an experiment to test your hypothesis 3

Record data 5

Summarize numerical data 6

Analyze the data 7

Try to explain the results 7

Revise original hypotheses to take new findings into account 8

Share findings with other scientists 8

Chapter 2 Developing a Literature Search Strategy 9

Databases and Search Engines for Scientific Information 12

Comparison of databases 13

Database Search Strategies 15

Understand your topic 15

Define your research goals 16

Subdivide your topic into concepts 16

Choose effective keywords 17

Connect keywords with the operators and, or, or not 18

Use truncation symbols for multiple word endings 19

Search exact phrase 19

Use the same keywords in a different database or search engine 19

Evaluating Search Results 19

Finding related articles 23

Obtaining full-text articles 23

Managing References (Citations) 24

ProQuest RefWorks 24

Chapter 3 Reading and Writing Scientific Papers 31

Types of Scientific Communications 31

Hallmarks of Scientific Writing 32

Scientific Paper Format 32

Styles for Documenting References 34

Strategies for Reading Journal Articles 35

Acquire background information on the topic 36

Formulate questions 36

Read selectively 38

Recite 38

Review 38

Share your knowledge 39

Strategies for Reading Your Textbook 39

Survey the content 39

Go to class and take notes 40

Formulate questions 40

Read selectively 40

Recite 41

Review 41

Concept (mind) mapping 41

How to Succeed in College 42

Study Groups 43

Plagiarism 44

Information that does not have to be acknowledged 44

Information that has to be acknowledged 44

Paraphrasing the source text 45

The Benefits of Learning to Write Scientific Papers 46

Credibility and Reputation 47

Model Papers 47

Chapter 4 Step-by-Step Instructions for Preparing a Laboratory Report or Scientific Paper 49

Timetable 49

Format your report correctly 51

Computer savvy 51

Getting Started 53

Reread the laboratory exercise 53

Organization 53

Audience 53

Writing style 54

Start with the Materials and Methods Section 55

Tense 55

Voice 55

Level of detail 55

Do the Results Section Next 59

Preparing visuals 60

Tables 62

Line graphs (XY graphs) and scatterplots 64

Bar graphs 70

Pie graphs 72

Organizing your data 73

Writing the body of the Results section 75

Equations 80

Make Connections 81

Write the discussion 81

Write the introduction 84

Effective Advertising 87

Write the abstract 87

Write the title 88

Documenting Sources 89

The Name-Year system 90

The Citation-Sequence system 92

The Citation-Name system 94

Unpublished laboratory exercise 94

Personal communication 95

Internet sources 95

Journal articles 96

Databases 98

Homepages 99

Emails and discussion lists 101

Chapter 5 Revision 103

Getting Ready to Revise 103

Take a break 103

Slow down and concentrate 104

Think of your audience 104

Editing 104

Evaluate the overall structure 104

Do the math at least twice 105

Organize each section 106

Make coherent paragraphs 106

Write meaningful sentences 108

Choose your words carefully 112

Construct memorable visuals 120

Proofreading: The Home Stretch 121

Make subjects and verbs agree 121

Write in complete sentences 122

Revise run-on sentences 122

Spelling 124

Punctuation 125

Abbreviations 129

Numbers 129

Format 132

Get Feedback 133

Tips for being a good peer reviewer 134

Have an informal discussion with your peer reviewer 135

Feedback from your instructor 135

Biology Lab Report Checklist 138

Chapter 6 Sample Student Laboratory Reports 141

A "Good" Sample Student Lab Report 141

Laboratory Report Errors 149

A Lab Report in Need of Revision 154

Chapter 7 Poster Presentations 163

Why Posters? 163

Poster Format 164

Layout 164

Appearance 164

Font (type size and appearance) 165

Nuts and bolts 166

Making a Poster in Microsoft PowerPoint 166

Design 166

Adding text, images, and graphs 166

Aligning objects 168

Proofread your work 168

Final printing 169

Poster Content 169

Title banner 169

Introduction 170

Materials and methods 170

Results 170

Discussion or Conclusions 171

Literature citations 171

Acknowledgments 171

Presenting Your Poster 172

Evaluation Form for Poster Presentations 172

Sample Posters 172

Chapter 8 Oral Presentations 173

Structure 173

Plan Ahead 174

Prepare the First Draft 175

Make the Slides Audience-Friendly 175

Focus on one idea at a time 176

Write complete thoughts 176

Use more visuals and fewer words 177

Keep graphs simple 177

Make text easy to read 179

Provide ample white space 179

Use animation feature to build slide content 180

Appeal to your listeners’ multiple senses 180

Deal proactively with lapses in audience attention 180

Rehearsal 181

Delivery 182

Presentation style 182

Interacting with the audience 183

Group presentations 184

Fielding listener questions 184

Slide Decks as References 184

Feedback 185

Appendix 1 Word Processing in Microsoft Word 189

Introduction 189

Good Housekeeping 190

Organizing your files in folders 190

Accessing files and folders quickly 191

Naming your files 192

Saving your documents 192

Backing up your files 193

AutoCorrect 193

Long words 194

Expressions with sub- or superscripts 196

Italicize scientific names of organisms automatically 196

Endnotes in Citation-Sequence System 197

Equations 198

Feedback Using Comments and Track Changes 199

Format Painter 201

Formatting Documents 201

Margins 201

Paragraphs 202

Page numbers 203

Proofreading Your Documents 204

Spelling and grammar 204

Prevent section headings from separating from their body 204

Prevent figures and tables from separating from their caption 205

Errant blank pages 205

Finally, print a hard copy 205

Sub- and superscripts 205

Symbols 206

Tables 208

Appendix 2 Making Graphs in Microsoft Excel 213

Introduction 213

Handling computer files 214

Formulas in Excel 214

Writing formulas 215

Copying formulas using the fill handle 220

Copying cell values, but not the formula 220

Formatting the Spreadsheet 220

Wrap text 220

Increase or decrease decimal 220

Format cells 221

Sort data 221

Tables 221

The Page Layout tab 223

Views 223

Adding worksheets to the same file 224

Plotting XY Graphs (Scatter Charts) 224

Saving and Applying Chart Templates 236

Adding Data after Graph Has Been Formatted 237

To incorporate additional data points in the same series 237

To incorporate additional lines on the same graph 237

To change the legend titles 238

Multiple Lines on an XY Graph 239

Plotting Bar Graphs 239

Clustered Column Charts 245

Pie Graphs 246

Error Bars and Variability 249

Adding error bars about the means 251

Data analysis with error bars 253

Appendix 3 Preparing Oral Presentations with Microsoft PowerPoint 255

Introduction 255

Handling computer files 257

Planning Your Presentation 258

Designing Slides 258

Selecting a theme 258

Choosing a slide size 260

Views 260

Slide layouts 260

Reusing slides from other presentations 261

Adding animation 262

Importing Excel graphs 263

Working with shapes 263

Adding videos 265

Text formatting shortcuts 266

Delivering Presentations 267

Presenter View 267

Rehearsal 267

Resources at the presentation site 269

Presenter tools 270

Speaker notes, handouts, and sharing electronic presentations 272

Bibliography 273

Index 277