Session 10 CRT - Medical Style Medical C507 Scientific...

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Unformatted text preview: Medical Style Medical C507 Scientific Writing Session 10 Definition of Style Definition The word “Style,” when applied to writing, The pertains not only to writing style but also to the basic organization of a scientific paper or other publication, the editorial style of the journal or publisher, and the typographical style of the publisher or printer printer Science Writing is Distinctive Science In 2 different ways First, it should be simple and clear; clarity is First, the essential goal the • Gettysburg Address- 267 words total, 196 of which Gettysburg were one syllable were Second, organization is important • Each paper type organized in the same way Each in General Advice on Style General Use the first person (“I” or “we’) for Use describing what you describing Use the active voice in preference to the Use passive voice passive “X crossed the membrane,” instead of “The membrane was crossed by X.” General Advice on Style General Use the past tense for observations, Use completed actions and specific conclusions conclusions Use the present tense for generalizations Use and statements of general validity and General Advice on Style General Avoid Avoid “gobbledygook” jargon and other “pompous use of long words, circumlocution and other linguistic flatulence.” flatulence.” Specialist jargon is at times necessary but Specialist is easily overdone, ie, the listing terminology of Gonstead technique, which is to me goobledygook but is clear to those in the know in General Advice on Style General If you are an ESL author, don’t apply the If same principles of style when you write in English as are used in your language English Problems of Grammar and Style Problems There are 4 principles one can use for There solving problems of style (Woodford 1968) solving Be simple and concise Make sure of the meaning of every word Use verbs instead of abstract nouns Break up noun clusters and “stacked” Break modifiers modifiers Grammar! Grammar! Parallelism- this refers to the logical Parallelism- construction of sentences construction For example: “First, we must run hard. For Secondly, we must run fast.” Secondly, Agreement of Subject and Verbs Agreement Singular subjects take singular verbs and Singular plural subjects take plural verbs plural Usually, most verbs have a form, ending in Usually, “s,” that goes with singular subjects “s,” • “She runs.” They have another form, without the “s,” that They goes with plural subjects goes • “They run.” Agreement of Subject and Verbs Agreement The rule is not rigid A series of experiments (was, were) performed A number of experiments (was, were performed) Both appear singular, but in the first, the word Both “series” refers to a group of experiments so the singular verb would be used: “was” singular In the second, number appears singular but is In certainly more than one and so we use the plural form: “were” form: Agreement of Subject and Verbs Agreement Another example: A bunch of grapes (is, are) on the table A bunch of apples (is, are) on the table Grapes come in bunches, a connected Grapes group, so is singular: “is” group, Apples grow as singles, so a bunch of Apples them is plural: “are” them Split Infinitives Split An infinitive verb form with an element, An usually an adverb, interposed between to and the verb form, as in to boldly go and These can be used in moderation, and at These times it is hard to rewrite and make the new sentence keep the sense of the old new Split Infinitives Split For Example: “I fail to completely For understand rigid rules” is a split infinitive, but try to rewrite: but “I fail completely to understand rigid rules” “I fail to understand completely rigid rules” “I fail to understand rigid rules completely” Double Negatives Double Don’t use no double negatives! Usually… “Ain’t nobody around here who knows Ain’t nuthin’ about nuthin’ nohow” is perfectly clear… clear… And we know what we mean when we say And “ I ain’t got no money” ain’t But this can sometimes be hidden Syntax Syntax This is the branch of grammar dealing with This word order: word “I knew a man with a wooden leg named knew George” George” “He was the leader of a political party that said He he could best handle the coming chaos under his leadership” his The Fundamental Principle of Syntax Syntax Modifiers should be as close as possible Modifiers to the words, phrases, or clauses they modify modify This is logical; if words relate to one another, This they should be close to one another they The Fundamental Principle of Syntax Syntax When we forget the rule, we will dangle When participles: participles: “While having lunch, the reaction mixture While exploded.” exploded.” “In analyzing the data statistically, the S. In typhimurium infections were indeed rare.” typhimurium These mistakes abound in scientific These publication publication The Fundamental Principle of Syntax Syntax Single words, usually adverbs, can cause Single problems if the writer is careless about where such words are inserted in the sentence. Consider: sentence. “Only I hit him in the eye yesterday” I only hit him in the eye yesterday” I hit only him in the eye yesterday” I hit him only in the eye yesterday” Etc. and see how the meaning changes? The Fundamental Principle of Syntax Syntax Not only is “only” a word to watch, so is Not “just” “just” Just today we visited my aunt Today just we visited my aunt Today we just visited my aunt Today we visited just my aunt Today we visited my just aunt The Fundamental Principle of Syntax Syntax There is $1000 difference between: I almost wrote a check for $1000 I wrote a check for almost $1000 The Fundamental Principle of Syntax Syntax So, do we really need to pay attention to So, syntax? syntax? I went to a town that was 20 miles away on went Tuesday Tuesday There’s the Rub There’s Try not to start a sentence with the word Try “there” “there” There is nothing wrong with starting a There sentence with the word “there… oops! sentence Nothing is wrong with a sentence beginning Nothing with “there” with Words Words “Long words name little things. All big Long things have little names, such as life and death, peace and war, or dawn, day night, love, home. Learn to use little words in a big way. It is hard to do. But they say what you mean. When you don’t know what you mean, use big words. They often fool little people.” people.” Words Words English is a wonderful language, where English many words can be used with great precision. Some words have unique meaning, but others are more nebulous. meaning, Usually we choose among words that are Usually essentially synonymous- and when doing so- choose the common or short word so- Choice of Words Choice Here are examples of the daunting nature of Here English English Over sight- may mean responsibility or lack of it Valuable and invaluable mean the same thing A reckless driver is not likely to be a wreckless driver In spite of the oddities, we can use English In reasonably if we use the short word, the known word, the word with certain meaning word, Choice of Words Choice When we were in high school we were When likely taught to vary words for the sake of variety. This is fine for literary writing. variety. In science, this is not fine. Every variation In can be confusing, and even more so to those non-natives who are struggling with English English Metaphors Metaphors Use them sparingly We risk losing comprehension of our We readers when we use words in other than their literal meanings their Non-native speakers may have no clue Non-native what we mean what If used, don’t mix metaphors Metaphors Metaphors Examples of mixed metaphors: There are a lot of shaky knees with clay feet There on thin ice on If this thing starts to snowball, it will catch fire If anywhere anywhere If Lincoln were alive today, he’d roll over in his If grave- Gerald Ford grave- The Parts of Speech The The taxonomy of English words is relatively The simple for our half million English words simple There are really nine taxonomic pigeonholes Nouns Pronouns Verbs Adjectives Adverbs Conjunctions Prepositions Interjections Articles Nouns Nouns A noun is a word for a person, place, thing noun or idea…usually or Because, there are always exceptions to Because, every rule when it comes to grammar, so remember this for every kind of word remember Types of Nouns Types There are 2 types of nouns: Proper- includes specific persons (Robert ProperRowell), places (Davenport), things (Palmer Center) and ideas (Rationalism) Center) Common- is any noun except a proper noun Two Useful Rules Two Proper nouns are virtually always Proper capitalized, whereas common nouns are not not Proper nouns, being specific, are usually Proper singular; common nouns may be either singular or plural singular Derivatives of proper nouns are also Derivatives capitalized, ie. American, from America capitalized, Two Useful Rules Two This distinction is important in science, for This reasons not so apparent reasons Generic names versus proprietary names • Doxycycline/tetracycline Makers of machine versus machines • Xerox/photocopier Scientific names of organisms versus Scientific vernacular names vernacular • Streptococcus/streptococci Common Nouns Common Can be Concrete: those persons, places Can or things we can detect with our senses or Can be Abstract: nouns, usually ideas or Can concepts, not directly detected by our senses senses This is not a problem in scientific writing Collective and Mass Nouns Collective Collective noun: indicates a group or Collective collection of persons, places, things, or qualities qualities Examples are: audience, committee, Examples personnel, army, class personnel, The general rule is that such nouns are The plural in meaning but singular in form plural The audience is restless The couple owns a a condominium Collective and Mass Nouns Collective The rule often breaks down. Whenever the The individuality of the members of a group is emphasized, the plural form of the verb is used used The couple do not live together The committee of scientists were from several The scientific disciplines scientific Collective and Mass Nouns Collective The best rule for handling collective nouns The is to decide whether the meaning is singular or plural singular Which is correct: A total of 48 petri dishes were in the autoclave A total of 48 petri dishes was in the autoclave Collective and Mass Nouns Collective Another collective noun that creates Another problems is “number” problems A number of test tubes is on the table? A number of test tubes are on the table? The second is correct, since it is tubes that The are plural here are But, “the number of test tubes on the table But, is four” is correct is Collective and Mass Nouns Collective Mass noun: a concrete noun that Mass represents a mass rather than countable units. units. Mass nouns are singular; many do not Mass have plurals (ie, air, water, wheat) have Collective and Mass Nouns Collective One of the most common grammatical One errors is the misuse of the mass noun “amount” in place of the word “number” “amount” “An amount of people” is poor grammar An because people are countable individuals because Collective and Mass Nouns Collective A related problem is the choice between related “fewer” and “less” “fewer” We use “less” to modify nouns that can’t We be counted: “This beer has less taste” be We use “fewer” to modify a noun with We countable units: “This beer has fewer calories” calories” Functions of Nouns Functions Nouns usually do something or something Nouns is done to them is A noun that does something is the subject of noun subject the sentence the If something is done to the noun, it is the If object of a verb or preposition (a word used to object relate a noun or a pronoun to some other part of the sentence) of • John hit the ball • John hit the nail on the head Functions of Nouns Functions In some sentences, nouns don’t In do do anything nor is anything done to them anything Such sentences usually present definitions Such or characteristics of these nouns. Typically these sentences contain some Typically form of the linking verb to be to Penicillin is an antibiotic Scientists are nice people Pronouns Pronouns A pronoun is a word used to replace a noun; the pronoun noun that the pronoun replaces is called the antecedent antecedent Pronouns can be tricky since there are 6 types Pronouns of them and they have different forms of Personal Demonstrative Relative Interrogative Indefinite Reflexive Pronouns Pronouns The antecedent of a pronoun must agree The in number with the pronoun, ie, a singular pronoun must have a singular antecedent pronoun If a pitcher wins 20 games, will their value to If the team increase? the I see this frequently with the use of see “he/her” or “the patient” and “their” in scientific writing scientific Pronouns Pronouns Make sure that the antecedents of your Make pronouns are clear pronouns “When Lady Carruthers smashed the When traditional bottle of champagne against the hull of the ship, she slipped down the runway, gained speed, rocketed into the water with a gigantic spray, and continued unchecked toward Prince Island.” toward Personal Pronouns Personal A personal pronoun replaces a “person” personal noun. noun. The form of the noun changes depending The on whether the pronoun is used as a subject, an object, or a possessive subject, Personal Pronouns Personal The personal pronouns are: I, me, my, mine You, your, yours He, him, his She, her, hers It, its We, us our, ours They, them their, theirs Personal Pronouns Personal You are wise to examine each pronoun to You make sure it has an appropriate antecedent antecedent No one yet had demonstrated the structure of No the human kidney, Vesalius having examined them only in dogs them Personal Pronouns Personal There are BIG problems with the use of it, There its, and it’s its, The word “it’s” is a contraction of “it is” and The this contraction is often mixed up with the possessive pronoun “its” possessive Wrong: It’s fur is fuzzy Right: Its fur is fuzzy Wrong: Its not good science Right: It’s not good science Personal Pronouns Personal And more ITS problems: A dog knows its master A dog knows it’s master Don’t choose the wrong its The problem is, the antecedent is often not The clear; “it” can often stand in for virtually any noun: any It is alright to give raw milk to your baby, but It first boil it first Personal Pronouns Personal You can often see the same kind of You problem with the word “most” problem He stole seven bicycles from neighborhood He kids. Most were later found in pieces. kids. Demonstrative Pronouns Demonstrative Demonstrative pronouns single out the Demonstrative thing referred to. thing These are ubiquitous in English writing These (and here, “These” is the demonstrative pronoun, the antecedent being “demonstrative pronouns.”) “demonstrative Demonstrative Pronouns Demonstrative There are only 4 demonstrative pronouns THIS is my day THAT is a crock THESE won’t do THOSE are okay (And these can also be adjectives as well, (And ie, “These four words…” ie, Relative Pronouns Relative Relative pronouns substitute for nouns Relative and connect parts of sentences and The common relative pronouns are Who Whom Which Whose That What Whatever Whoever Whomever Relative Pronouns Relative Example: “The laboratory director, whose office was on The whose the second floor, was responsible for all research activities.” research Relative Pronouns Relative Note that the word “that” can be either a Note demonstrative pronoun or a relative pronoun pronoun As a relative pronoun, that is often As that confused with who. Properly, who should who Properly, who be used to replace people, and that should that be used to replace animals or objects: be The man who came to dinner did not eat rice The who I saw the cat that chased the rat saw that Relative Pronouns Relative The word “that” can also be a conjunction, The which then leads to the endless “thatwhich which” argument… Interrogative Pronouns Interrogative These are essentially the same as relative These pronouns except that interrogative pronouns ask questions. Their purpose is to introduce questions: to Who goes there? What has happened? Common ones are: who, whom, which, Common whose and what whose Indefinite Pronouns Indefinite Some pronouns are indefinite, in that they Some replace nouns but not a particular person, particular place or thing. place Examples are: all, another, any, anyone, Examples anything, both, each, either, everybody, few, many, most, much, neither, nobody, none, several, some and such none, Anyone can be lucky, but few succeed few Reflexive Pronouns Reflexive The least-used type of pronoun, and often The misused misused Correctly used, a reflexive pronoun Correctly reflects the action of a verb back on the subject subject Common ones are: myself, yourself, Common herself, themselves, etc. herself, I hit myself hit myself Reflexive Pronouns Reflexive It is incorrect to use a reflexive pronoun It either as a subject or as the object of a preposition preposition Wrong: John and myself will go home Right: John and I will go home Wrong: He hit John and muself Right: He hit John and me Reflexive Pronouns Reflexive Reflexive pronouns are sometimes used Reflexive as “intensives,” words used to intensify meaning or resolve meaning I myself will do it myself I’d rather do it myself I’d myself Reflexive Pronouns Reflexive The rules are simple: the “-self” or “- selves” words are used for two purposes: selves” first, to emphasize (“Mother, I’d rather do it myself”), and second, reflexively, so that the action is turned back on the grammatical subject: grammatical I never quite accustomed myself to the never altitude of Denver altitude • Edith Schwager Verbs- Action Words Verbs Verbs describe the existence or Verbs characteristics of the named subject or describe an action of the subject describe She is intelligent She is He hit the ball He hit The chemist added hydrochloric acid The added Verbs Verbs There are two types of verbs Transitive: these take an object • He gave me a hammer (hammer is the object He gave here) here) Intransitive: these have no object • She ran Verbs can be used in both ways: • He grows roses (transitive) • The guinea pig grows well (intransitive) Verbs Verbs The “Existence or characteristic” verb The (which is intransitive) is often some form of “to be” (is, are, were, was, etc.), but other linking verbs I ie, become, taste, smell, grow) are used frequently: grow) Sulfuric acid is a common reagent Sulfuric is I am lonely am This tastes terrible This tastes Nominalizations Nominalizations One of the most frequent faults of One scientists as writers is that they often confuse actions (verbs) with agents of the action (usually nouns). Such failure results in sentences that are difficult to read at best and incomprehensible at worst. best Nominalizations Nominalizations The three most common types of agent- action confusion result from The reluctance of scientists to use first-person The pronouns pronouns The overuse of the passive voice (we will deal we with this and the above later) with The regrettable tendency to turn sharp action The words (verbs) into weighty nouns. This last problem is called nominalization nominalization Nominalizations Nominalizations When we say “I studied the effect of A on When B” we know what was done, who did ti and about when it was done about But, what if we turn the word “studied,” a But, verb, into a noun, “study?” And then use passive voice and jargon? We get: “An investigation was undertaken to determine the possible effect of A on B.” the Scientists do this all the time! Scientists all Nominalizations Nominalizations And gain: “We rejected that theory: OR “The rejection of that theory has been The reported” reported” Watch out for nominalizations. Many end Watch with “tion.” (see above) with Almost always, the action verb will give the Almost clearest meaning: “investigated” is nearly always better than “investigation.” always Nominalizations Nominalizations Look at a final example (good to worse): I told him I informed him The information was communicated to him Nominalizations Nominalizations “Language is in decline. Not only has Language eloquence departed but simple, direct speech as well, though pomposity and banality have not.” banality Edwin Newman Descriptive Words Descriptive These include Adjectives- describe or qualify the agents of Adjectivesthe action (nouns, pronouns) the Adverbs- describe or modify the action (verb) Articles- these are three words • • • • a an the the They are often treated as adjectives but have They peculiar usage peculiar Adjectives Adjectives An adjective modifies a noun or a pronoun A red apple Usually, adjectives precede the nouns the Usually, modify, but at times can follow the noun and a linking verb and The apple is red Adjectives Adjectives Two or more adjectives can modify a Two noun, but pay attention to order noun, The large red doctor’s house The doctor’s large red house Is it the doctor or the house that is red? Adjectives Adjectives Avoid unnecessary adjectives He drew his bright sword This may suggest to the reader that he has This two or more swords and he drew the bright one one Adjectives Adjectives Adjectives not only state a quality of the Adjectives noun or pronoun they modify, but they can also be used with various degrees of intensity. Each adjective can be “compared” as follows: “compared” Cold (positive) Colder (comparative) Coldest (superlative) Coldest Adjectives Adjectives BUT, some words are irregular and do not BUT, follow the “er,” “est” style: follow Much (positive) More (comparative) Most (superlative) Words can also be “compared” without the Words use of “er” and “est.” We could say cold, more cold and most cold more Adjectives Adjectives Finally, English has a number of “absolute” Finally, words which are not subject to comparison, such as: as: Unique Perfect Pregnant Infinite Something is either unique or not, but it cannot Something be more unique than something else be Adverbs Adverbs Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives or other Adverbs adverbs adverbs He went slowly (modifies a verb) He (modifies It was very small (modifies an adjective) It very He went very slowly (modifies an adverb) He very Adverbs Adverbs Many adverbs end in “ly” and are thus Many easy to identify. Other do not and thus are not. not. Many adverbs have related adjectives with Many which they can be confused which “This soup is really good” (correct) “This soup is real good” (incorrect) Adverbs Adverbs We need to be careful I feel bad I feel badly Both are correct but mean different things. Both In the first, bad is an adjective (modifying “I”) and the sentence means I feel lousy. In the second, badly is an adverb (modifying feel) and the sentence means I have poor tactile sense. tactile Adverbs Adverbs Like all modifiers, it is best to have Like adverbs near the words they modify. Adjectives do this easily, but it is tougher with adverbs, since they can modify verbs, adjectives and other adverbs. Thus, their exact placement is in a sentence is important to the meaning of the sentence. important Adverbs such as often, only and never are Adverbs often, never often misplaced in scientific writing often Articles Articles The articles The a, an and the are the most a, the common words in most kinds of writing common “A” and “an” are called indefinite articles “A” is used before words that start with a A” consonant sound consonant “An” is used before words that start with a An” vowel sound vowel Articles Articles If used carefully, articles serve as guides If to readers. The primary purpose of an article is to identify a noun. Because a huge number of words in English can be either nouns or verbs, we need articles to point to the nouns. This is confusing: point Plan moves slowly- could be • Plan the moves slowly • The plan moves slowly Articles Articles Syzygy, inexorable, pancreatic, Syzygy, phantasmagoria- anyone who can use those four words in one sentence will never have to do manual labor. never W. P. Kinsella Function Words Function There are three types of function words: Conjunctions Prepositions Interjections These often act of a glue holding the parts These of a sentence together of Conjunctions Conjunctions Conjunctions are used to connect words, Conjunctions phrases or clauses phrases Joe and Mary are going to the party Joe and She is neither in the house nor in the barn She nor He ran, but she walked He but Coordinating Conjunctions Coordinating Coordinating conjunctions express equal Coordinating weights of the joined words, phrases or clauses clauses There are 7 coordinating conjunctions: There and, but, or, for, not, so, yet and, These words can connect the two clauses These of a compound sentence of He ran, but she walked He but Coordinating Conjunctions Coordinating Because these 7 words are among the Because most commonly used English words, and because your ability to punctuate sentences depends upon your ability to recognize them, you should remember them them FANBOYS: For, And, Nor, But, Or, Yet, So Subordinating Conjunctions Subordinating These connect unequal parts; fro example, These an independent clause with a dependent clause (don’t worry about this!) clause Joe went to the party after he left the office Joe after A clause introduced by a subordinating clause conjunction is a subordinate (or dependent) clause dependent) Subordinating Conjunction Subordinating These often indicate a a time relationship These or other limiting function or The most common are: although, before, The after, because, if, where, than, since, as, unless, that, though, where, whereas, while while When the party was over, he went home Coordinating Adverb Coordinating These are like coordinating conjunctions in These that they are used to connect independent clauses clauses However, coordinating conjunctions are However, preceded by a comma, whereas coordinating adverbs are preceded by a semicolon and followed by a comma semicolon Coordinating Adverb Coordinating Coordinating adverbs include: however, Coordinating moreover, therefore, further, consequently, nevertheless, besides, accordingly, also, too too We ran out of beer; therefore, the party was We therefore the over over They can also coordinate 2 sentences We ran out of beer. Nevertheless, the party We Nevertheless the lasted until 4:00am lasted Prepositions Prepositions Prepositions combine nouns with Prepositions pronouns to form a phrase pronouns There are nearly 70 prepositions in the There English language,ost expressing direction or location or To the right In the middle Problems with Prepositions Problems There are 4 main problems we have with There prepositions prepositions Syntax- phrase needs to be close to the word Syntaxit modifies it Problems with Prepositions Problems Syntax For sale, car owned by lady with dent in rear This has 4 prepositonal phrases • • • • For sale- related to car, the item for sale By lady- follows owned In rear- follows dent But, with dent is too far from car and too close to But, lady lady Problems with Prepositions Problems A second problem is the doubling of second prepositions prepositions Inside of the park, many animals lived That question is outside of my area of interest That outside Correct would be Inside the park… Outside my area… Problems with Prepositions Problems A third problem has to do with case. third Prepositions are usually followed by objects, and so take the objective case (relates to objects), not the nominative case (relates to subjects) case Wrong: The argument was between he and I Right: The argument was between him and Right: me me Problems with Prepositions Problems A fourth problem is athe use of a fourth preposition to link an adjective (rather than a noun or pronoun) to another part of a sentence. sentence. Wrong: She is too good of a person to Wrong: of complain complain Right: She is too good a person to complain Problems with Prepositions Problems So, can you end a sentence with a So, preposition? preposition? Maybe yes, maybe no… Rules are made to be broken Interjections Interjections This is a word, phrase or sentence This expressing an emotion expressing Hey! Of course! I thought so! In scientific writing we rarely use In interjections that require exclamation points points Interjections Interjections Mild exclamations are separated from the Mild rest of the sentence by commas rest Oh, well, it was worth the try Interjecting a thought about interjections: Don’t use them! ...
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This note was uploaded on 01/03/2012 for the course CLIN 51507 taught by Professor Long during the Fall '11 term at Palmer Chiropractic.

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