How Not To Write Boring Literature
There are many ways to write science, but for such an exciting subject many see reading science as pure drudgery. In “How to write consistently boring scientific literature” Kaj Sand-Jensen explores ten examples of scientific writing that we could all do without. In class on January 28th you started to buck the the trend by coming up with ideas how you would like to write scientific literature. In your first post I want to to choose one example of boring scientific writing and one example of what you consider good scientific writing. You can use two papers or both examples can be from the same the same paper. Tell me what you like and dislike about your examples and be sure to comment on two other folks posts.
Hey! You found the comment area. Leave your responses here.
One article that I have found that is an excellent example of a piece of “boring scientific literature” is called: ‘Comparative Clinical Study of Canine and Feline Total Blood Cell Count Results with Seven in-Clinic and Two Commercial Laboratory Hematology Analyzers.’ It is a prime example of how writing should not be unclear, as well as have abbreviations or medical terms that may not be common knowledge throughout their audience/readers. A specific excerpt, “If PLTs were clumped, “clumped platelets” were reported. If PLT were evenly distributed on the blood film, the mean number of PLT per field in 10 × 100 objective fields was multiplied by 20,000 to estimate PLT numbers/μL.17 When PLT counts were ≤ 50 × 109/L, the thrombocytopenia was classified as severe.”
Although, in that same article, I found an exceptional piece that supported one of the key ideas the class had discussed on Friday. The idea that visual and “hands-on”, if you will, evidence or concepts is a good tool in order to help your readers better understand the scientific figures or statistics that are given in the text. It mentions here that, “all in-clinic analyzers (see Table 1) and the CELL-DYN 3500 were available for immediate analysis in this laboratory, while an aliquot of each blood sample was sent overnight on ice to another laboratory (IDEXX Laboratories Inc., Westbrook, ME, USA) for analysis on the ADVIA 120 analyzer (Siemens, Deerfield, IL, USA).” “See table 1” is an important piece of visual evidence in order for the reader to understand some of the medical terms used in this passage. The link for the table is right underneath this excerpt in the article.
Becker, Martina, Andreas Moritz, and Urs Giger. “Comparative Clinical Study of Canine and Feline Total Blood Cell Count Results with Seven In-clinic and Two Commercial Laboratory Hematology Analyzers.” (2008). PubMed Central. Web. 30 Jan. 2011. .
Susan- Great examples. It may also be important to think about what makes a successful visual aid, rather than assuming that the use of visuals is necessarily always beneficial to reader understanding.
You know Susan, I found the same paper and didn’t even bother going through the whole thing. If I’m not mistaking I don’t think it ever said what “PLT” meant. This will definitely confuse the reader.
A paper I found to be an example of “boring science writing” was
Application of RNA interference in treating human disease. This constitutes as boring science writing to me I believe because are avoiding any personality and originality. Within the first paragraph of the introduction two different sources have already been cited, clearly avoiding any original work and relying off the work of others. For example, “Epigenetic regulation of gene expression is a heritable change in gene expression that cannot be explained by changes in gene sequence. It can result in repression or activation of gene, referred to as gene silencing or gene activation, respectively (Vaucheret et al. 2001)”. Thats the first two sentences within the paper and already someones work is cited. Within the same paper I also found however the paper to be structurally organized and they did a proper job using abbreviations but first explaining what the abbreviations were. For example, “During the 1990s, a number of gene-silencing phenomena that occurred at the posttranscriptional level were discovered in plants, fungi, animals and ciliates, introducing the concept of posttranscriptional gene silencing (PTGS)” This allowed the reader to properly understand what PTGS was when they came across it in the paper again.
The pubmed ID for this paper was: 21273705
J’nelle- That really is a great example of a productive use of abbreviations. When you look at the use of outside sources, be careful not to completely disregard a paper just because it relies on outside sources-secondary sources are still critical aspects of research. I would agree that it can be problematic when secondary sources are used in excess. What do you think would have been a more appropriate number of outside sources for this article, or for research in general? Also, how much does this depend on the content of the paper?
When it comes to reading scientific literature, I’m not a big fan. My professor usually assigns something that’s usually 5-10 pages referencing some new discovery or question that has been discussed among the scientific world. I attempt to read the paper but usually end up reading only half or nothing at all. My attempts usually go like this; my head rocking side to side, eyes lids slowly shutting, falling asleep, waking up with the paper stuck to my face & in all me getting nothing done. When I am assigned scientific literature to read, it is often dull and long. It tends to go on and on in great detail until the point is finally explained and made towards the end which grinds my nerves. Additional Detail in papers isn’t always needed; it should be straight to the point. Most often they contain too many advance words that make the paper confusing to understand. Often the papers are all over the place, not organized like they should be. An example of bad scientific writing I found was in a paper I found titled “MR staging of endometrial cancer: needed or wanted?” In this excerpt, the author uses language that may not be known by all readers and is a bit unclear; “MR imaging is recommended as a pre-surgical staging examination for women with newly diagnosed endometrial cancer based on meta-analysis and cost analysis. Its management is primarily surgical. Its cardinal symptom of post-menopausal bleeding (PMB) brings patients to medical attention at an early stage and surgery is usually curative….” This could easily be simplified & a rewritten to make it more appealing and so readers don’t get lost in the paper while reading.
Good Scientific writing in my opinion is very organized and straight to the point. It’s very relatable and simplified, with the ability to appeal to all readers. Good scientific papers pull their readers in and keep them intrigued. Scientific writing with charts, examples, pictures and situations are great and give readers an idea of what exactly they are reading about. An example of what I think is a good scientific paper that I found is “MR staging of endometrial cancer: needed or wanted?” The paper starts off stating, “….He thought she probably had complex benign disease and that MR imaging would confirm his suspicions and allow a simple resection rather than cancer surgery. We looked at our packed diary and pointed to a handful of pending request cards. He made a wry comment that he could probably do without most of the endometrial cancer staging requests as they had far less impact on how he, as a Cancer Centre surgeon, managed his patients than did other gynaecological MR examinations. A lively discussion ensued.” After reading this, I was automatically drawn in and wanted to know more. I wanted to know the view point of the doctor and the rest of the workers in the office.
Marvin- You introduced this response well, through the use of personal anecdote. Be wary, as you yourself praise concise scientific writing, that you do not spend too much time introducing your response.
You frame your quotes well. You suggest that the example of boring writing could easily be rewritten-perhaps in future responses such as this one, think about what that revision would actually look like. Would you be able to rewrite it?
In “How to write consistently boring scientific literature” Kaj Sand-Jensen explores ten recommendations for scientific writing that does not make a good scientific paper. One example of boring scientific writing is “Down syndrome, paternal age and education: comparison of California and the Czech Republic.” The abstract tries to avoid focus by not talking anything about Down syndrome when that should have been the main focus. It starts off by saying “the association between maternal age and risk of Down syndrome has been repeatedly shown in various populations.” Also it diverts from the focus by not giving a clear hypothesis which shows the paper is not giving the reader their aims or directions of their experiment. In the background, when they do give information about Down syndrome they again try to avoid focus by quickly moving on and taking more about the experiment. Also the paper does not have any illustrations at all but it does have few tables. Although there are some tables, they are not so helpful especially Table 1, Table 2, and Table 3. In the tables, there are so many numbers scattered all over the place that the readers will try to avoid looking at the table just to avoid the numbers. The table is so plain that readers can’t tell what’s important and what’s not because everything on the tables looks the same. There weren’t any bold or highlighted words to show something is important.
One example of what I consider good scientific writing is showed in “On the origin of trisomy 21 Down syndrome.” It shows what a good scientific paper should have. The abstract is so simple and straight to the point that people who do not understand science will be able to read it and understand it. It starts off with Down syndrome and tries to maintain focus by saying “Down syndrome, characterized by an extra chromosome 21 is the most common genetic cause for congenital malformations and learning disability.” The paper also mentions the hypothesis so clearly to maintain focus by saying “we hypothesize that maternal trisomy 21 ovarian mosaicism might provide the major causative factor.” In the background, the paper gives some information about Down syndrome and then moves on to the experiment, which shows that the paper is trying to maintain the focus throughout the whole time by keeping a balance. Also there are some colorful illustrations and diagrams to enhance the writing, which makes it easy for the reader to understand the paper. The illustrations are colorful and informative at the same time with some writing, especially Figure 2, Figure 3, and Figure 4. The tables and the graphs are also well organized with colors and numbers keeping the balance between the two, which is shown in Figure 1, Figure 5, Table 1, and Table 2.
Dzurova, D., and Pikhart, H. (2005). Down syndrome, paternal age and education: comparison of California and the Czech Republic. BMC Public Health. Published online 2005 June 17.
Hulten, M. A., Patel, S. D., Tankimanova, M., Westgren, M., Papadogiannakis, N., Jonsson, A. M., and Iwarsson, E. (2008). On the origin of trisomy 21 Down syndrome. Mol Cytogenet. Published online 2008 September 18.
Ummea- I like how you introduce this response with reference to Sand-Jensen’s article. This frames your writing and gives it purpose.
While you argue that the paper is avoiding focus, the first line that you quoted seems to be pretty relevant. It might be interesting to think about how the paper ends up diverging from this initial argument.
An article that I have found to be a good example of scientific writing is “Alzheimer’s disease therapeutic research: the path forward”. It portrays techniques such as focus and uses few abbreviations, that are clearly defined. The paper begins with a relatively simple and direct abstract that thoroughly outlines what the author plans to talk about, without using any complicated language. Just as the title suggest, the author clearly explains the goals and problems of therapeutic research, making it very easy to understand. Any abbreviation used was first used in the extended version and then abbreviated-“amyloidogenic Aβ fragment from its transmembrane amyloid precursor protein (APP);”. All abbreviations used were also listed at the end of the document. One thing that this paper could’ve included is some more graphs that help to visualize the results of the drugs he spoke about.
i completely agree. i think that visuals really help a scientific paper become more interesting. also the fact that they did not use many abbreviations helped me understand exactly what the author was trying to get across
Luis- I think this response is to the point and gives great examples. You might consider incorporating quotes into future responses, as evidence of your argument.
The article that I found fitting the points of being “boring scientific literature” was the one I read in the Biology course last year. I recall having read “How Beach Life Favors Blond Mice” as an assignment was frustrating. The reason of being was the article not only containing tons of information but also explaining the experiment particularly. In the beginning of the article, it describes how the way they trapped mice for their experiment of determining the evolution of the coat color really detailed. Furthermore, by expressing the experimental process, it contains several conversations among themselves that keeps the article growing longer. Besides that, the article explaining the experiment in extremely details and adding the unimportant points which disperse focus through the reading; therefore, keeping the readers hardly following it clearly.
In contrast, the article “Skin Deep” I read was considered to be a good scientific literature despite it is two times longer than the previous article, the idea of this article is easy to catch. The reasons for the consideration are its well- organization and sample illustrations. The way which this article starts is first explaining the structure of the human skin. By well-explaining the structure, it uses illustrations which make the readers understand easily. Then, it begins to talk about the way the skin absorb the sunlight in a great detail and explains how the human skin evolutes. Finally, it connects the relationship between color’s differences and the regions from the earth by illustrating out and providing the sample pictures. Well-organized article allow the readers to review certain points easily and efficiently which this article is achieved.
ELIZABETH PENNISI. How Beach Life Favors Blond Mice: SCIENCE VOL 325 11 SEPTEMBER 2009. Published by AAAS
Nina G Jablonski and George Chaplin. Skin deep: Scientific American; New York; Oct 2002
John- I think you paraphrase the essays very well, which helps a reader understand to what kind of essay you are referring.
I’m glad you point out here that there is a difference between wordiness and length. While concise writing is often the goal in science, sometimes a more complex idea just needs more space.
As you write future responses, I would recommend doing some proof-reading aloud to ensure that meaning is not lost through grammatical errors. This is something I want recommend to everyone in the class, but I was just thrown off by some of the typos here.
An article that I have found to be good example of scientific writing is “Vitamin D”. It uses a lot of colorful pictures and charts which is easily to understand and is straight to the point. It also has some important notes that are helpful and clearly defined. The article begins with good pictures that shows how sunlight helps to create Vitamin D in our body and how much sun do you need per day for your body to make Vitamin D. The author clearly shows by his pictures what person need to do and to eat at different ages to make more Vitamin D for your organism. The paper has so many colorful illustration that is so straight to the point that person who never study or understand science will easily get it.
Another article that I foung is a perfect example of “boring scientific literature” is called “Polymorphism in genes involved in folate metabolism as maternal risk factors for Down Syndrome in China”. This is article has all examples how scientific literature can be hard to understand with bad diction and unclear information. There are a lot of medical terms and abriviations which is hard to read not only to understand. For example “The reduction in enzyme activity associated with the 677C-T MTHFR polymorphism raises the dietary requirement for folic acid to maintain normal remethylation of homocysteine to metionine”. Person that never study and been in scientific field will never get it or understand.The author should use pictures or charts to make information more easy and understandable.
You know Susan,I read the same article that you wrote response about.I have the same idea about the article.Its so boring from the beginning and hard to understand.The author use very hard medical abriviation and words,which hard to get.
I like the article too.Its easy understand information about Alshiemer’s disease, it’s symptomps,causes and new treatments.The article has nice charts which makes information more easier.The author use pretty easy words that helps get the article faster.
I like the article that you chose.It has clear information that explains symptoms,causes,and goals to find new treatments of the Alzhiemer’s diease.The author used the charts to make article even more easier.He also use pretty easy words which helps to get the information faster.
Comment on Kateryna Bushnyak’s Blog
I think Kateryna “Polymorphism in genes involved in folate metabolism as maternal risk factors for Down Syndrome in China” is surely an example of boring scientific literature. I also came across the same article on Down syndrome and I think you have noticed my two papers above on Down syndrome. I think you are right, the paper was little hard to understand because their choice of dictions were not so good since it made the paper hard to understand. They did use medical terms and abbreviations, which were hard to understand. I also think people who never studied science will have hard time understanding these types of paper. There weren’t any illustrations either to enhance the writing, which makes it even harder to understand the paper.
Also I think the paper on “Vitamin D” is a good example of good scientific writing. I think using colorful pictures and charts makes it easier for the readers to understand the paper. I also mentioned that sometimes when papers use illustrations and diagrams, it really enhance the writing. It makes the writing more understandable and it can even clear some questions that the readers might have about the paper. They can even make the readers understand something they did not understand before. I think having some writing under the picture can also help to clearly explain something that cannot be explained in words. I also think people who never studied science will find these illustrations and diagrams helpful to understand scientific papers.
The article I found is “Depressive Symptoms and Deliberate Self-Harm in a Community Sample of Adolescents: A Prospective Study”. Right from the beginning I knew exactly what the article was going to be about. It stated at the end of the introduction “This raises the question how depressive symptoms and self-harm are associated”. One can understand from this sentence that the article was goin to walk you through the relationship between depressive symptoms and self-harm. This is a perfect example of what my peers and I discussed that a scientific article should be. It is very straight to the point; the foucu is there. You don’t have to wonder around the whole article to know what the point it.
On the other hand, this article “Xanthomatous Infiltration of the Rotator Cuff and Long Head of Biceps with Rotator Cuff Tear in a Patient with Mixed Hyperlipidemia: A Case Report with MRI Imaging” refused to define acronyms. for example, it stated that “HDL 40, triglyceride 294, and LDL of 171. His highest LDL level reached 210 and total cholesterol level up to 275”.Through out the whole article I couldn’t find the meaning of HDL and LDL. Some of us may know,but what about does who don’t.
I completely agree with you Nancy. i read the same article that you first mentioned. You are very right, most of the article was mostly clear on its meaning and only digressed a few times which usually seemed necessary to the explanation of the experiment.
You are so right. I actually almost read the whole article because it was very easy to understand. Couldn’t use it because you already did. The focus was there.
when i think of reading something interesting its sad to think that the last thing i want to read is any scientific literature. its sad because the topics that these papers are on are very interesting. one article that i found myself reading was about lymphoma. the reason i found this article so boring is because first i knew lymphoma was cancer of the lymph nodes but i did not have any other knowledge about it. therefore immediatly i started to get bored and lost interest in the article all together. the article was called “Lymphoblastic lymphoma”. the main reason that i found this article boring was they used too many acronyms to follow. but the good news is there are some interesting science articles out there. i really liked reading this article, it was called “Dental pulp stem cells in regenerative dentistry”. it was much better then the last article. i feel they used simple language that the everyday person can understand.
i agree with John Leung on the article called “skin deep” being an example of good scientific writing. i also agree that it was very long but the article was written in great detail and the illustrations helped emmensely grasp the concepts they were trying to portray. i also liked how they linked evolution of humans to skin color
Though I feel that many scientific articles are boring, there are some good ones out there if one knows where to look. Many articles contain terminology that is quite hard to understand or the topic in general is too complicated, but there are authors who can turn science into something fun and interesting without boring the audience. An example of good scientific writing is the article, “Pharmacogenomics and the Yin/Yang Actions of Ginseng: Anti-tumor, Angiomodulating and Steroid-like Activities of Ginsenosides.” The article itself is long, but it starts off with a precise abstract that explains what will be explained in the text and words are followed by definitions. The background gives readers an idea of where ginseng comes from and what beliefs it brought to the Chinese culture. After, it goes deeper into the effects of ginsenosides on angiogenesis, which causes tumors to grow. With precise information on all the researches done with ginseng and its effects, the article comes to a summarized conclusion of everything that was explained in the article, in case readers forgot what they read, which happens to me often. There are also abbreviations at the end for readers to look up words that were hard to understand. The addition of images also made the article less boring for those who were more of a visual reader. This article was well organized and had vocabulary definitions, but it can also be an example of bad scientific writing, mainly because of all the facts and large use of technical terms. Definitions in the end are helpful, but it can be bothersome when flipping back and forth several times because one sentence contains two to five words that were difficult to know. Too much technical terms can discourage readers; some would rather read something short and simple.
I also happen to read the “Pharmacogenomics and the Yin/Yang Actions of Ginseng: Anti-tumor, Angiomodulating and Steroid-like Activities of Ginsenosides.” article. I agree with you Michelle. I read a little of the full paper and it did drag out a little but the author was pretty clear and explained very much of her terms and complex ideas that would be a little confusing without a definition or something.And although the conclusion summarizes her idea very well, however i feel like the bad part of the author’s writing is the fact that she goes a little too deep into the author’s own thoughts that the main idea of the paper is sometimes lost or forgotten by the reader.
I agree with what you wrote, especially with how reading scientific articles can make a person go to sleep and that too much advance words can make an article more confusing. If most scientific papers start out as a story or scene, it would draw readers into reading it, but that would destroy the format of a science research paper. Writing should be more exciting and understandable to readers, especially since science has so many different topics.
I agree that a paper should focus on the main point throughout the whole time in order to become well organized and understandable. Changing from topic to topic or going all over the place is confusing and will mislead the reader. Adding diagrams or images will keep the paper balance; readers can look at what they’re reading and takes some of the dryness out of the paper.
Comment on Marvin Payen’s Blog
I think Marvin “MR staging of endometrial cancer: needed or wanted?” is definitely an example of bad scientific writing. You are absolutely right many scientific papers do contain too many advance words that makes the paper confusing and makes it even harder for the readers to understand the paper. But I think they are writing for more scientific readers rather than people without scientific background. I think they assume that people that are reading the paper already knows the meaning of those words they use on their paper. I agree that the paper is already very complicated and on top of that adding advance words makes the paper even harder. I also think many papers lose most of their readers because of this reason.
Also I agree that “MR staging of endometrial cancer: needed or wanted?” does have some good scientific writing component as well, even though it has flaws. It is definitely straight to the point, even thought it uses advance words and hard to understand languages. One of my papers of Down syndrome had this problem of not being straight to the point and it kept losing focus. I also agree that the paper is well organized and I think a well organized paper can help the reader understand the paper better. It’s not like those disorganized paper that makes the paper hard to follow and makes it difficult for the readers to comprehend all the materials. This can help many readers follow through the paper easily and without any problems.
I read “Topography of Cerebellar Deficits in Humans” by Grimaldi and Manto. Although I am really interested in cerebellar ataxia, I found this article to be quite boring. Not because the subject matter started to bore me, but because I felt as though this article was full of facts rather than explanations. Also, because there was so much terminology that they did not fully explain, it was hard for me to understand, making it less interesting. This article contained too much information instead of focusing on certain points that they needed to make, making it confusing. Too many points made the article somewhat dull. However, I liked the way it was organized, making it somewhat more easier for me to understand what the authors were trying to say.
I found this article called “Considering theories of aggression in an emergency department context”. It had some good in it, but it didn’t completely catch my interest for two reasons. I already had an idea of aggression and how it could be caused. But when I started to read the article, it already seemed like too much to handle. While it is true that the article was detailed and attempted to cover the issue of aggression from numerous aspects like neurological and biochemical explanations, there was a quantity of interesting terms that came up like D2 TaqA1… In any case, it was boring on the first read but that’s only because it was too detailed for a psychology book. In other words, it wasn’t exactly in the everyday connotation despite the fact that it mostly a collection of words that we use in everyday life.
A good quality for the same article, is the diversity of sources used to create the opinions of many aspects of aggression. I feel to read this kind of information, you have to sort of prepare a mindset for it, otherwise it would automatically give the ‘boring’ impersonation.
As i stumbled upon an article called “The Microbiota and Allergies/Asthma” i thought it would be an interesting article to read considering the fact that i have both allergies and asthma. I would expect an article to help explain and clarify any concerns or questions i have, but this article definitely exemplified a few aspects of bad writing, for example the first paragraph totally lost me with extremely high terminology and ideas that i never could understand, but as i moved past the high end vocabulary i started to notice how the article repeated and stretched out alot of the facts and research. A good scientific article should be able to deliver all of the information concisely and not have the reader be confused.
An example of good writing was displayed in “Food Allergy is Associated with an Increased Risk of Asthma” this was actually a really interesting article that really helped me understand a few of the problems im faced with everyday. The main reason why i think this was a well written article because it started off with a little brief pertaining what allergies consist of and the cause of these happenings. I thought that was a good way to ease into such a complicated topic, because it allowed the reader to have some background information on what they’re about to read. As i continued reading i noticed how this article went step by step explaining the different research that has been done, rather than just throwing the reader with a bunch of statistics that dont make any sense. I believe the main difference between a well written article and a poorly written article is how well the author can deliver the message and how effective his/her message can be without confusing the reader.
To be frank, I haven’t ever really read science. I DO it. I work it out. Because every time I find myself reading science, I find myself reading the first sentence of the chapter over and over again, simply because I can’t seem to engage myself. There’s reading. And then, there’s reading with understanding. For science, there’s no point in reading, if there’s no understanding. So I wanted to find an article that interested me on PubMed; something that would attract me. I went into the journals delving into pediatric cardiology, something I was thinking of specializing in, back in High school. Then I stumbled into this article: “Techniques for transcatheter recanalization of completely occluded vessels and pathways in patients with congenital heart disease”.[PMCID: PMC3017918] First of all, really?! Could the author not pick a longer title? I immediately divert my attention to something else (since clearly, the title didn’t attract me at all): word choice. The vocabulary used in this article was much too high for my feeble-minded brain to comprehend. I was struggling to find the meaning of words, Dictionary.com sitting on the next tab over. Sentence structure, diction, syntax… I couldn’t follow anything; mainly because of the terminology. There were thousands of abbreviations used, I was sitting here and writing them down, so I could keep track. What I DID like about the article, and probably the only thing I could understand from it, was the fact that he split the article up into sections. The title’s of each section were specific, in that if I was ever looking for something, I could find where it is instantly. But throughout this read, I could not focus at ALL, and so I’ve concluded that it’s horribly written.
However, I did find a well-written article: “Myocardial dysfunction in malnourished children” [PMCID: PMC3017913] I loved that the title was very clear-cut, and straight to the point. I knew what to expect from the rest of the article, whereas, in the previous article, I was still trying to wrap my mind around words like ‘recanalization’ and ‘transcatheter’. I liked how the authors were able to break the article down into language I can understand. Even though there were some terms I was unfamiliar with, I was still able to follow the author in his exposition. He had good diction and syntax; his sentences were very succinct. He went in order; he didn’t switch up. I was able to follow him, detail by detail, and that’s why I think I was able to read this article and understand it. It was as though he was talking to me. Connections were made while reading, which pushed me to read more. The authors also presented graphs, which really brought out the comparisons mentioned in the articles.
I definitely agree with what you had to say about Marvin Payen’s blog. I was thinking the same thing while reading my blog. You can’t blame the authors for using such large terminology, because they have targeted an audience of strong science backgrounds. The article is featured in a science journal, not your typical People magazine. Not every person in every home is reading this. It’s not in your newspaper. It’s in a science journal, and chances are, either a doctor, nurse, scientist, or someone who’s involved in health professions, or the science world in general, will be reading it.
I agree with this statement you made: “Well-organized article allow the readers to review certain points easily and efficiently…” I found this especially true in scientific literature. With normal english literature, if we lose track, we can somehow find our way back. But with scientific literature, it’s a lot more difficult, because thousands of different concepts are being thrown at you. When a scientific article is well-written, it’s like a walk in the park. You walk hand in hand with the author; you understand his viewpoint. You are able to grasp concepts. You can find whatever you’re looking for. However, when it’s badly written, it’s almost as if you’re being stoned.
Hey Luis, after reading the article you found, I agree that the selection uses good scientific writing techniques. This selection uses sub-titles helping the reader to be aware of topics that the writer wants to discuss. The abbreviations is an important technique of good scientific writing because some readers are turned off from seeing long scientific words. Once the word has been introduced to the reader, the writer can then use abbreviations.
I looked at “Stem Cells for the Treatment of Skeletal Muscle Injury” by Andres J Quintero. This piece used an example of good scientific writing techniques that we discussed in class such as visual diagrams of the topic being discussed and brief direct facts of the topic. When the writer was describing the steps of skeletal muscle injury, he used images to help the reader have a better understanding of the degeneration, inflammation, regeneration, and fibrosis phases that occur inorder for muscle repair to take place. [PMCID: PMC2630112]
After reviewing this article, “Mechanisms of liver disease: The crosstalk between the NF-κB and JNK pathways” written by Salvatore Papa I was overwhelmed. This piece was definitely one of those boring science writing. The amount of information that is given for each individual topic can lead to confuse and frustration from the reader. Before that redear can attempt to comprehend the idea, another comes up after it. The worst are when the ideas are not related, which was another bad form of scientific writing.
El-Shawn, I can relate with you concerning the writer using a lot of information in describing a topic. In the article that you found you mentioned that there were numerous aspects including neurological and biochemical. These additional aspects could help a reader that is familiar with a topic but to a new learner, they might cause an initial confusion of the topic.
@ Michelle Mai. I agree with the fact that there are some scientists who can stick to the point and do it in an interesting way including visual evidence of the information. It really does shed light for those who are not so familiar with the terms but want to at leas get a jist of what they are actually looking at
I agree with Maryanne that “For science, there’s no point in reading, if there’s no understanding.” There is a lot of time spending on looking up and finding out the meaning of lots of vocabulary and scientific terms from the dictionary, and leading me to hardly comprehend on the article. As a result, I think that is really important to find an article which is able to understand not easily but mostly, so that it is absolutely obtain the information and gain scientific knowledge from it.
@ El-Shawn Wheeles
I agree with El-Shawn Wheeles that “it wasn’t exactly in the everyday connotation despite the fact that it mostly a collection of words that we use in everyday life.” Although providing information that the readers might have not known is knowledgeable, when lots of tiny pieces of information show up, it will lead the article to be more disgusting and want to through it to the garbage can right away. Too much information not only could confuse readers more likely but also grasp the readers’ attention away gradually.
I completely agree, this article was a very easy read and to the point. It is definitely an example of a well written article. Any abbreviations used were clearly defined before the abbreviation was used making it very simple to either go back and find what the abbreviation means or simply remember what it was.
I completely agree, that article made little to no sense right from the start with the terminology they used. From the beginning to the end I felt like I needed to use a dictionary at some parts to even understand the point the authors were trying to get across.
While I agree with the fact that it may not be entirely original work, it also represents a very important idea of good writing: backing up your argument. The fact that the author is citing their sources doesn’t necessarily mean that that is basis to say their work is unoriginal; the author was merely providing evidence in order to support his/her research on the matter.
I think that you broached a subject in your response that is extremely important in writing scientific literature that I’m not sure we discussed in class. If you are going to discuss/write about a disease or condition, give the reader a little background information on the basics of it, first. For a reader, diving into a complicated article is confusing and can only create more questions, as you said.
@ Chris Wokocha
Just reading the title-“Mechanisms of liver disease: cross-talk between the NF-kappaB and JNK pathways”- is a a turnoff from this paper. The article is also very hard to read not only because of the complex words and confusing abbreviations, but also because it seemed like every sentence was a run-on sentence. It did not flow well at all. The illustrations were not helpful at all either.
I agree that the article you chose is an example of good scientific writing, it was well structured and basically guided the reader through the article with the background information. Overall it was definitely an interesting article.
The study that I chose to focus on was called “Risk factors for disability in older persons over 3-year follow-up.” I found that this article demonstrates “good” and “bad” qualities that we discussed during class. The article’s main focus was about the elderly and the factors that can impair their activities of daily living. I found this article to be informative and I liked the way that the author presented the information. It was not wordy, the author explained all of the abbreviations and the conclusion was clearly stated (and to the point). One of the things that I did not like about this article was the extreme amount of numbers, percentages and data that floods the analysis. Even though statistical information is an important part of an article, sometimes it is easy to get lost in a paper that has too much factual information. As we discussed in class, I feel that articles such as this one are boring just because they lack personality. It is easy to read the entire article and then realize that you do not remember a single thing that you just read. I think that sometimes the articles can be boring because they are geared towards an audience that can understand scientific language.
I agree with one of the points made by Michelle Mai, it would be helpful to have a section of the paper designated for “defined terms.” Even though it would be annoying to have to keep going back and forth between the paper and the definitions, some articles are really hard to understand and that would most likely make it easier for a beginner to read/interpret.
I also agree that “Vitamin D” (pointed out by Kateryna Bushnyak) is an example of good literature. Pictures and diagrams are helpful for someone who has difficulty understanding scientific articles. Sometimes when authors include factual information it is so hard to follow because it is not organized enough for the reader to make connections between the article and the data. Vitamin D was a good example of the right amount of visuals to help the reader understand.
In my search for a good scientific article, I came across a piece of writing that caught my eye. Being observant is the key factor for finding an adequate research paper. The first thing you notice is the title of the article and in this journal I found that the title interested me because it was associated to the topic I was learning in my class, “ Allele-specific expression of TGFBR1 in colon cancer patients.” As I began reading, I realized this article had some good and bad qualities. In the introduction, it provided sufficient amount of information as to what the main idea is supposed to be. The article focuses on the indebt research behind colorectal cancer, whether or not it can be inheritable. One aspect I liked was the statistical data that they provided, “Case control studies suggest a first-degree family risk ratio ~3 (2). Among all CRC patients, a positive family history of colon cancer in a first-or second-degree relative occurs in 20–30%. High-penetrance susceptibility genes account for <5% of all CRC.” But as I continued to read, that’s when my eyes began to wander. The terminology became absolutely confusing and they abbreviated almost every scientific word. They went into information that was too complicating for me to comprehend especially in this topic. I feel that a good scientific article should explain the terms they are using, or simplify the language just a bit because they have to realize that not only scientist are interested in reading about these new inventions or further discoveries.
I absolutely agree with J'nelle Oxford because when it comes to a research paper you should be original with the work you’re trying to find answers too. I personally dislike research papers that basically cite everyone else’s work. I don’t get the point as to why you are restating it. I feel that they aren’t discovering anything new and just giving credit to someone else. Go out there and make some new research!
I agree with Luis Graica. I thing that I disliked about my article is the amount of abbreviations they used without explaining them. The terminology was confusing and didn’t make sense to me. I had to continuously research the terms and go back to the article. But in Luis’ article it was explained excellently and thoroughly. I actually enjoyed reading about Alzheimer’s disease. I find that topic alone to be interesting and the information provided was understandable especially with the charts they provided.
In order to write a good scientific paper that not only keeps the reader interested in its topic but also is able to make the reader attain the information read the writer has to simplify and explain medical terms, give examples to memorize complex ideas, include a visual in order to help remember the information, and keep focus in the paper’s topic. A good example of scientific writing is “Peroneal Nerve Dysfunction in Patients with Complex Clubfeet”. The author starts explaining the disease and it’s difficulty treating it. From the beginning the author informs the reader of the main topic and explains it, covering the first requirement of a good paper. The author does not give common day examples to describe common ideas but he does simplify them for the reader. When talking about the complications of Ponseti Casting Technique, he describes it as “the cast slips very often with the resulting abnormal forces on the foot, heel and possibly the leg that lead to the characteristic deformity” which simplifies the technique and also provides a visual. The author also provides a table to give a summary of the patient’s data which also provides a visual. The last requirement is to keep focus on the paper which the author does very well. He has a thesis in the beginning to explain that “repeated neurological evaluations and very careful cast placement should be performed during the treatment of complex clubfeet” and throughout the paper he stay on topic explaining the different procedures. This paper has all the requirements that make me as a reader interested to keep reading and learn as well.
Writing a bad scientific paper is easier than writing a bad one. Many factors, such as avoiding focus, using abbreviations and not explaining the meaning to medical terms or acronyms, can be neglected by the writer. An example of boring scientific writing is “Transient Fulminant Liver Failure as an Initial Presentation in Citrullinemia Type I”. The title itself scares the reader and anticipates an agonizing read. The author uses many abbreviations for the different types of Citrullinemia. He also gives number and acronyms for things the reader is not aware of what the meaning is. He also gives medical data for certain patients regarding the elevation or decrease of a certain things such as citrulline and he also give the normal levels. The writer also seems to go off topic a lot and not explain the new topic he proceed to talk about. Most of the paper is confusing and hard to concentrate on what the purpose of it is. In his results the writer neglects to explain what he was trying to achieve in his abstract. The paper overall lacks originality and does not keep the reader interested at all.
I found an article! It is the perfect example of GOOD scientific writing. The title of the article is “Iron and Mechanisms of Nuerotoxicity”. The first thing that caught my attention was the title. It was one of the first titles that I found without numbers, dashes, or abbreviations. As I scrolled through artlicles on pubmed central, I noticed articles with multiple sentences as titles. This title is short and to the point. It tells the reader exactly what to expect. The article was short (5 pages) and included very descriptive illustrations.
1. “The accumulation of transition metals (e.g., copper, zinc, and iron) and the dysregulation of their metabolism are a hallmark in the pathogenesis of several neurodegenerative diseases. This paper will be focused on the mechanism of neurotoxicity mediated by iron”.
One of the most important habits to incorporate into scientific writing is to include examples. Most scientist learned about transition metals in middle school or maybe even elementary school; but, the writer still took the time out to include examples of transition metals. I had to think twice about exactly what transition metals were. After the author inlcuded a few examples I was reassured that the author thoughts and mine were in sync.
2. Secondly, the writer clearly states the focus of the paper. The paper focuses on mechanisms of neurotoxicity mediated by iron. Period. In the introduction the author states background information about what science has uncovered about the nuerotoxicity and all heavy metals, but he/she quickly returns the main focus of iron and nuerotoxicity.
Iron and Mechanisms of Neurotoxicity
Gabriela A. Salvador, Romina M. Uranga, and Norma M. Giusto
Int J Alzheimers Dis. 2011; 2011: 720658. Published online 2010 December 27. doi: 10.4061/2011/720658.
I found a horrible article. The title of the article is “Ceramide and Related-Sphingolipid Levels Are Not Altered in Disease-Associated Brain Regions of APPSL and APPSL/PS1M146L Mouse Models of Alzheimer’s Disease: Relationship with the Lack of Neurodegeneration?” Well I’m not sure if this title is a question or statement. Is the author asking our opinion? Or will they be answering their own question in their writing? All the abbreviations for the regions of the brain could have been omitted in the title and elaborated on somewhere in the article.
1. “Since there are neither neuronal loss nor toxic Aβ species accumulation in APPSL mice, we hypothesized that it might explain the lack of ceramide accumulation, at least in this model.”
The writer doesnt explain what AB species are and he/she is stating his uncertain hypothesis in his abstract. From my understanding, a scientific paper should acknowledge experimental findings and not all uncertainties. There is a place for speculations in the conclusion, not in the abstract or introduction.
2. The authors conclusion was 99.5% speculation. It was filled with ‘mights’, ‘mays’, ‘unsures’, ‘maybes’, etc. To my understanding, the author did not discover any thing that was a definite yes or no.
Ceramide and Related-Sphingolipid Levels Are Not Altered in Disease-Associated Brain Regions of APPSL and APPSL/PS1M146L Mouse Models of Alzheimer’s Disease: Relationship with the Lack of Neurodegeneration?
Laurence Barrier, Bernard Fauconneau, Anastasia Noël, and Sabrina Ingrand
Int J Alzheimers Dis. 2011; 2011: 920958. Published online 2010 December 27. doi: 10.4061/2011/920958.
I also tend to dislike articles that seem to have more facts than explanation. Although facts are necessary to understand concepts or vocabulary words, if they are not explain in a way that the reader will understand then it is useless in the article. Terminology is probably my biggest concern. I feel like writers use it because they expect the reader to have knowledge of the topic prior to reading it but it is not always the case.
I think diction is important as well in scientific papers, well just any papers over all. If the paper does not speak the same language I do, not literally of course, they my mind will blank out while reading. It will read but not process the information, therefore, the paper is erased from my memory as well as a waste of time.
I completely agree with you. Authors shouldn’t include fractions, decimals, and percentages into their writing. A more presentable way to display such statistics would be a through a graph, chart, or other forms of illustration. Numbers and letters together tend to confuse the reader especially since most people don’t understand what 2 parts per million (ppm) is compared to 5 ppm and a chart would help the average person understand what that looks like.
It’s funny because I had a similar article title. I literally had to take a deep breath to finish reading the entire title. And then after reading the title, I had to reread the title. ‘Comparative Clinical Study of Canine and Feline Total Blood Cell Count Results with Seven in-Clinic and Two Commercial Laboratory Hematology Analyzers.’ Feline and Canine wre the only words that I understood from that title.
If the authors of “How to write consistenly boring scientific writing” read “Use of grainsetron transdermal system in the precention of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: a review”, by Albert Tuca, they would have been proud. First of all,just the title of this article is hard to understand, and in the first sentence alone there were four words I have never heard of. Even the ‘keywords’ section is filled with extremely difficult vocabulary. The author bombards you with an excessive amount of complex information, which completely turned me off from wanting to finish the article. Another reason this article was so painful to read was the length. Although this article presents alot of information, I felt that some details were unnecessary and could have been left out because they just confuse readers more. If the article was shorter it would have been alot easier to read. Another reason I thought this could be a good article is because I find cancer treatment to be a very interesting topic, but Tuca’s use of sophisticated terms and unclear examples, made this article anything but interesting. The thing that I found most upsetting was that I found this article under ‘toxicological sciences’, obviously an area we are all interested in, and this article made me never want to read another toxicological sciences article ever again! A slightly positive this article had in response to good scientific writing is that after every few sections there were tables and graphs that simply summed up wordy paragraphs. These illustrations slightly helped to understand what was going on in the article and as I continues to read, I actually looked forward to seeing them since I knew they would provide a way to understand all of the information this article hits you with. Something else I would consider positive about this article is that it has a long bibliography, showing that the author clearly did his research. Even though this research was presented in a boring way, I consider good science writing to include well researched facts, and thats one of the few things this author has done right.
Published on Dec 16 2009 by Dove Medical Press Ltd.
To Valentina Dargam: I completely agree when you say that writing a bad science article, is easier than writing a good one. All of the reasons you listed, espeically not explaining medical terms is definately a turn of when reading science papers, and something I feel many authors tend to do. While reading my article I had to constantly google words I didnt know, and I found this very annoying and also made me lose my train of thought while reading.
To Luis Gracia: You wrote about the article so ethusiastically that I actually looked it up myself to skim through it and I couldn’t agree with you more. To me, this article is a great example of good scientific writing. I really like how in the beginning the author gives you background on Alzheimer’s disease , instead of jumping into long unclear explanations like many science articles do.
As I was searching for a scientific journal, one caught my attention. It’s called “Prevalence of Weight Concerns and Obesity Among Smokers Calling a Quitline”. As I read it, it was interesting because I never knew that when a person stopped smoking, he or she could gain weight. The experiments and research of this scientific journal states that smokers tend to have low tendency and motivation to quit smoking due to the fear they might gain weight. Although quitting smoking is a good cause and it may bring good health back, but the side effect of it could cause another health concern. Putting on weight could lead to other new illnesses. This article teaches smokers that aren’t aware of this fact that weight gain is expected after quitting smoking and they could expect what is coming next. Some parts of the scientific journal were boring and confusing. For example, there were a lot of statistical and percentage data and numbers. Some of the experiment results that were listed led a sort of digression from the main focus of the research question. This could cause the reader to stop reading halfway or even have a hard time to continue reading and comprehending the article because they may have limited math knowledge. They might not know what a t-test or chi-square analysis is. Overall, this is an interesting discovery in the relationship between obesity and quitting smoking. Perhaps, in the future, new methods will be invented to stopping smoking and remove the weight gain negative effects.
An article that I have found that is an excellent example of a piece of “boring scientific literature” is called: ‘Epigenetic profile of the euchromatic region of the human Y chromosome.’ This paper follows many of the sins of a boring scientific paper. It is a very long paper that goes on and on, unorganized and does not seem to stay on track. One would assume that the materials and method should be short and straight forward so that others would be able to repeat the experiment to get the same results. An example of this is:
In brief, about 108 cross-linked cells were resuspended in 2 ml SDS lysis buffer containing protease inhibitors. After 10 min of incubation on ice, 200 µl aliquots were sonicated using Bioruptor (Diagenode). These aliquots were pooled, mixed well and again split into 200 µl aliquots. Then ChIP was done using H3K9Me3 (Upstate), H3K9ac (Upstate), H3K27Me3 (Upstate) and CTCF (Abcam) antibodies on WBCs of two different individuals, 8 experiments in total.
This was anything but brief. Within these the 2 sentences, there were so many abbreviations and large words that no average reading can understand. Even as I type this up in Microsoft Word I can see all these red lines under these words. But I must admit of one was able to stay focus from the beginning; they might understand ChIP was Chromatin immuno-precipitation. I must have seen H3K4, like a million times and still I do not know what it is exactly, all I know is that it is a tri-methylation of what seem to be chromatin. The use of their visuals do not aid the reader in understanding, at least it is colorful. The paper stated “The Y chromosome is one of the smaller chromosomes (∼57 Mb) in the human genome (13,14) and has been fascinating to researchers due to its peculiar genetics, role in sex determination and evolutionary history (15–17).” Instead of great explanation of the important science, there we find a sentence that is trivial and self-evident, yet it was cited on numerous occasions.
A piece of good scientific writing would have to be ‘Influence of early feeding practices on celiac disease in infants.’ This is a good piece of literature because it is very straight forwards and easy to understand. In the beginning, the first sentence already explains what celiac disease is. Even when they exalain the patients from the study, it was very straight forward. Majority of the paper sounded like:
We found that breastfeeding, although generally short, reduced the risk of celiac disease occurrence in the first year of life. Some observational studies claimed that breastfeeding at the time of gluten introduction and longer breastfeeding were associated with delay and prevention of the disease (5)….In our study, gluten introduction before the fourth month was not associated with an earlier onset of celiac disease, but the introduction after 6 months delayed the disease. These older infants had also been breastfed longer. According to the literature, the optimal period in which food antigens, such as gluten, should be introduced in order to maximize tolerance is between the fourth and sixth month (3).
The text was not full with a ton of science words. It was informative and helpful. Many of the figures are just boring tables but they are clear and understandable. Overall it was a good read and something many parents might read.
In response to: Marvin Payen
I am also like you, if the 1st paragraph does not interest me, I get bored and distracted. Unfocused and tired I would give up and stop reading. What should take me about one hour to read ends up taking up days. If I was to re write the quote “MR imaging is recommended as a pre-surgical staging examination for women with newly diagnosed endometrial cancer based on meta-analysis and cost analysis. Its management is primarily surgical. Its cardinal symptom of post-menopausal bleeding (PMB) brings patients to medical attention at an early stage and surgery is usually curative….”, I would say MR imaging is recommended in women diagnosed with endometrial cancer before surgery because it is cost effective and can stage the progression of the cancer. The post menopausal bleeding is the main reason why patients seek medical attention. During the early stages surgery can cure it.
In response to: Melissa Halle
I agree that looking at too many numbers can get confusing. I looked at the tables and I did not know if the numbers were the sum of the patients or what, the figures were not really explained. The tables looked very similar and I did not know what a p value is. By the time I got to the 3rd table, I could not understand it at all. It was just a bunch of numbers that explains if it made ADL worse or cause a new ADL disability.
Many people believe that scientific writing or a mature level of writing can only be achieved using big words, sentences, confusing technical terms, and completely bland writing. What they don’t realize is that those pieces of writing, whether they are research articles, term papers, or responses to papers, people not only don’t want to read them but half the time, they have no idea what the writer is saying. For example is the article “Family History, Diabetes, and Other Demographic Risks…” about hereditary playing a factor on diabetes can be very confusing as it jumps from one idea to another. Although it has charts and graphs that are meant to simplify the data, the chart’ titles and labels are very confusing so the basic information seem are misunderstood. Another major problem with this particular article was seen right in the beginning with the introduction; you had to dig around to figure out the point of this article, the main focus. It wasn’t until the end of the introduction that you found the goal of this research. Writers cannot make their articles simple and concise turning their papers into a scavenger hunt. The results as well were pretty confusing. There were numbers in parenthesis that made no sense and were no explained, along with those confusing charts. And the implications could have been concise.
The article, :The Correlation between Rates of Cancer and Autism: on autism definitely has better writing style than the previous article on diabetes. The introduction gives a clear concise background about autism and then talks about the purpose of the paper, no scavenger hunt. The results as well we told after we have the reason for the article which in many ways is better. The results as well are described in a concise manner although the charts should definitely be improved. However, the discussion could have been more concise. Although certain parts can be improved, the overall article was organized and focused on autism and cancer rates instead of going off on tangents.
PubMed ID: PMC1327713
the second PubMed ID: PMC2826417
I agree with Kateryna because good illustrations with detailed captions explain things easier and also very understandable. Sometimes a whole page of writing couldn’t do the simple and easy job of just a picture. When an article is published, the author should stick to the words that are known by the general public. Not medical terms that are known but not limited to health professionals.
I agree with Nancy because the objective of the article and its author is to direct the findings from the their experiments to the public. Straight to the point is best method to start and continue the article. There should be no implication or any hidden meaning of anything. Everything should be explained thoroughly so as to assume the reader has never encountered any information in the article before.
I found that many papers were like that. Many articles were completely boring but other articles weren’t 100% boring. Many had parts that were pretty understandable, concise, and had some originality although many of the charts and methods sections needed clarification. And many papers were organized in terms of introduction, method, results, conclusion but still needed further editing to keep focus.
One of my articles was the same way when describing results. Many percentages and statistical data that were not explained properly and confused the hell out of the readers. Like you said, many people including me would stop reading once they no longer understand what they were reading. People do not want to waste their time reading what they cannot comprehend. Regardless of their extent of math knowledge, many people want the basic results not extensive, over the top numbers that cannot help further discussion.
This article “expression of the dnmt3 genes in zebrafish development: similarity to Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b” PMID: 21258815 is an example of boring scientific writing. First of all, the title of the article is quite confusing already. Through out the whole article, the authors never mentioned what this abbreviation dnmt3 stands for not did they explained the functions of the genes clearly. The authors only said the expression patterns of the dnmt6 and dnmt8 are resembled to the mammalian dnmt3 genes, but they never actually explained how they are resembled specifically. The structure of this article is not organized and the diction is not very clear. The two distinct gene expression patterns were never explained what exactly that patterns. The whole article gets very confusing at the end. However, a good example of scientific writing can be found in this article “The development and inflammatory features of radiotherapy-induced glossitis in rats” PMID: 21196832 The authors first started with the objective of the experiment, informing the audience what this experiment is about. Many of the abbreviations were explained, for example, RTOM stands for radiotherapy-induced oral mucositis and RTG is radiotherapy-induced glossitis. The authors even provided the types of animal models that they use for RTOM, such as mice, rats and hamsters. Following the objective, the authors clearly mentioned all the procedures for the experiment by telling the audience about the size of the experimented rat’s tongue, and the type of the radiation that was used. The condition of the rat were also measured and recorded daily. Finally, for the conclusion, the authors clearly explained the condition of the rat due to the effect of the radiation after certain amount of days. This article can clearly tells the reader what the whole experiment is about, how the experiment was processed and what the result of the experiment.
@Sadia Ahmad-I totally with Sadia on how the article should not jump from ideas and ideas. That is a major problems for reader to understand the whole purpose what the author is trying to say. An extremely long title can confuse readers and many will not want to read it immediately. When the results and the conclusions are not explained clearly, it would confuse the reader even more.
@Adedayo Oduwole-when I first read the title of the article I couldn’t understand it at all! It is so long and confusing. The abbreviations in the articles were not clearly explained either. I also agree with you that the conclusion of the article contains words like “might” showed that the authors themselves are not absolutely sure about the answers.
An example of a ‘boring scientific literature’ can be found in the article, “Telomeres and telomerase in cancer.” This article attempts to explain the significance of telomeres and telomerase with cancer development. As I started reading this article, the content started becoming overly complex as if the author was expecting the reader to have lots of background knowledge of the material. Before long, the article became stretches of abbreviations and connecting sentence one after another. An example of this is:
“Telomeric repeat binding factor 2-interacting protein is a TRF2-interacting factor, related to Rap1p, a critical telomere-binding protein in Saccharomyces cerevisiae (10). Unlike yeast Rap1p, mammalian telomeric repeat binding factor 2-interacting protein does not bind telomeric DNA directly but is instead recruited to telomeres through its interaction with TRF2, where it may act to aid in repression of non-homologous end joining (11,12). TRF1-interacting nuclear factor 2 also interacts with the subcomplex of shelterin that binds the single-stranded overhang—TPP1 and POT1, two oligonucleotide/oligosaccharide binding (OB)-fold containing proteins (13–15). ”
Besides the fact that this quote might have been redundant in the beginning, the author expects the reader to know the definition of “Saccharomyces cerevisiae” and “Rap1p”. Examples of boring writing include excessive abbreviations and sentences that are chained together with minimal explanation. In this quote, it goes from talking about TRF-2 to TRF-1 to TPP1 and POT1 within 3-4 sentences. Another fault of boring writing that is also seen in this quote is the use of long sentences. The longer the sentences are, the hard it is for the reader to understand the material.
Besides the difficulty of reading through the confusing and complex article about telomeres, I did come across an article that occupied “interesting scientific writing”. This article is called, “Midlife Serum Cholesterol and Increased Risk of Alzheimer’s and Vascular Dementia Three Decades Later”. This article efficiently explains how high cholesterol while in the 40s-and 50s can lead to an increase chance of developing Alzheimer’s Disease or vascular dementia. The article is very concise, straight-forward and thorough with explaining abbreviations and pertinent information related to the topic without going off-topic. An example of this is:
“High cholesterol levels as defined by the 2002 ATP III guidelines (≥240 mg/dl)  represented a significant risk factor for AD as well, besides the well-known connection to cardiovascular disease risk. Cholesterol values >250 mg/dl have been previously linked to an increased risk of dementia/AD in the Finnish population (CAIDE study, Finnish cohorts of the Seven Countries Study) [2, 3]. The results of the present study point to an even lower threshold, as additional analyses with cholesterol levels categorized into quartiles indicated that midlife cholesterol values >220 mg/dl increase the risk of developing AD 3 decades later.”
This serves as a perfect example of how science should be written. Although the sentences might be a bit long, the point is clear and everything is conveyed effectively. The author explains how AD means Alzheimer’s Disease early on in the article and even explains why he even thinks cholesterol may even be linked with AD. The style of the text is very fluent and the reader is able to follow along very well.
In response to Adedayo Oduwole,
I agree that in order to help understand the basis of the article, a good, short and descriptive title is needed. A good article, like you described, needs to include specific examples to help make the content more relative to real life situations. The refresh on what transitional metals are is essential to help the reader know what exactly the author is talking about. The author does not give a lecture about transition metals but does give a reminder of how it differs from other metals/gases.
To further on the ‘horrible article’ you described, the author did not seem like he knew what he was talking about when he said “at least in this model.” He made it seem like there is a high chance of exceptions on top of the thing he uncovered. This style of writing forces the reader to question the accuracy of the experiment and also the reliability of the results as well. Authors need to be confident about what he or she is talking about while not misinform the reader at the same time.
In response to Gabrielle Barshay,
I completely follow you when you say how the abbreviations and complex vocabulary makes it ever harder for the reader to understand the text. I know how it feels when you look at something and everything is just capitalized letters with tons of numbers and just a little bit of English. If a research article is supposed to be like this, then it would not be different from just an analysis from the stock market. It would be great if the author provided visuals and pictures to explain his findings but even the advanced terminology would make it hard to comprehend. It is useless to give statistics without thorough interpretation and relevance to the topic. Otherwise, we would all have our eyes wandering around the paper, not knowing how to read it.
@ Luis Garcia
I agree with the points you made on what makes a good paper from your reading, “Alzheimer’s disease therapeutic research: the path forward.” I have come across numerous papers where abbreviations which were used throughout the paper w/o being defined or extended. Readers are usually confused or lost when reading & they are not able to grasp the point of the paper. Papers that are simple and direct are better and more informative than those filled with complicated language and unnecessary info. They serve no purpose if the reader isn’t grasping the point of the information written in the paper.
On Friday, we discussed the topic of what makes a “good” scientific writing. The entire discussion could be summarized in four major points: straight to the point, a captivating main idea, strong examples, and simple vocabulary. The article “Quality of life in patients with esophageal stenting for the palliation of malignant dysphagia”, the authors do a fantastic job at not only captivating the reader with its opening statement about esophageal cancer, but goes on further to define and explain all the abbreviations found within the article (for example: HRQoL: Health-Related Quality of Life, and Self Expanding Metal Stents or SEM). This article also does not meander around the thesis, but instead goes straight into it by supplying supporting details towards what Esophageal Cancer is and the relevance of their study over this topic. This allows for the reader to gain a greater understanding over the topic, and does not demand a larger understanding behind the concepts found within the article.
Another article that I came across was “A Slow ATP-induced Conformational Change Limits the Rate of DNA Binding but Not the Rate of β Clamp Binding by the Escherichia Coli γ Complex Clamp Loader”, and this article does a great job of demonstrating some of the mistakes authors make when writing for scientific purposes. The first thing that came to mind when reading this article was that authors intentionally wrote this article for people would already know the subject. With that in mind, a lot of the explanations are tedious and tend to confuse the reader regardless. The one redeeming factor about the article, is that it organizes it’s information in sections, making it little bit easier to follow their experiment. Regardless, the article made it quite difficult to understand the basis of some of the concepts behind the E. Coli γ Complex Clamp Loader.
@ Jason Chen: I agree with your explanation on how your first article was difficult to follow up on because of how meandered around at certain parts, and at the same time didn’t explain the purpose of why the Y chromosome was interesting to scientists. AS for the second article, it was an excellent choice that essentially covered the “good” writing aspects of scientific writing.
@ Sadia Ahmad The second article was indeed needed to be more concise, but generally follows the discussion on what makes good writing. The only thing I disliked was that the article continuously asks for the reader to look back to the initial tables and charts within the article, I would preferably like them to just explain the idea they are talking about rather than having the reader look back and forth.
This paper “An Integrative View of Obesity” by David Heber is a good sample of writing. What I like about this article is that it is easy to read and to understand but still getting the point across at the same time without being too simplified. It stays on topic and explains things as it goes so it does not get confusing. It is a example of good writing because i could follow it without getting lost while also understanding it.
This paper “From Emergence to Eradication: The Epidemiology of Poliomyelitis Deconstructed” by Neal Nathanson and Olen M. Kew is a perfect example of bad writing because it is confusing and did a great job of getting me not to want to finish it and also not understand almost a single thing that I read from it. I think that it almost exactly follows the guidelines given in “How to write consistently bad scientific Literature”.
I understand where and why you think and probably like everyone here that overly complicated work can seem confusing and hard to read/ understand. I know that bad and confusing writing can make reading a paper or studying for a test or anything about learning information difficult. The one that we have to realize and understand is that 1. boring writing is easier to do and 2. these ‘boring/difficult’ to read papers may not be that boring to the people or audience that they were meant for.
In life in general it is always easier to relate things. It makes them simpler to learn and to remember. It also makes things slightly more interesting. I know if i read something that is about something i am interested in or already know something about to help further my knowledge on the subject i enjoy it a bit more.
The article “Lactose Intolerance Among Severely Malnourished Children with Diarrhea Admitted to the Nutrition Unit, Mulago Hospital, Uganda” was surprisingly clear and straightforward. The abstract introduction was fairly clear but I thought that the article was going to become increasingly confusing and complex as the author spoke about lactose intolerance within the children. However, the language in the article was not overly scientific and any uncommon concepts or terms known were described in detail e.g., A severely malnourished child was one whose weight-for-height was less than -3SD or less than 70% of the median National Centre for Health Statistics .
I also liked that although the article was lengthy and informative, it read quickly and clearly. There were, however a few parts of this document which were a little boring. In the “data management and analysis” section of it there were 3 paragraphs about how data was recorded by basic statistical methods. This section would have been difficult for me to understand, had I not taken a Statistics class last semester. The section is very detailed and contains a lot of statistical language. In my statistics class, I became accustomed to describing my results using everyday language. I believe this section would have been clearer, if it had a summary of the statistical methods at the end of the three paragraphs.
The article lost a majority of its clarity in the Discussion part. The author got a little boring and many of the discussions were not clear. Some short examples from the text:
“…in addition to oxidative stress. Failure of the intestinal barrier from bacterial overgrowth and passage of lipopolysaccharide to the systemic circulation and uncontrolled stimulation of the inflammatory mechanisms probably also have a part to play.”
“Six of the study participants had Cryptosporidia on modified ZN stain, only one of whom had evidence of lactose intolerance and this was not statistically significant”
Another problem was that at the end of the article, difficult words and concepts were not redefined. Although they were defined in the beginning of the article, the definitions were forgotten and it was necessary to search for the meaning. Example: “ in children with kwashiorkor 27/75 (36.0%) than in those with marasmic-kwashiorkor 6/25 (24.0%) and marasmus 17/96 (17.7%),” I believe the quick definition of the words such as kwashiorkor would have been helpful and would have saved time. To conclude this article as a whole is clear and organized (especially compared to other scientific articles), it however includes some “boring” writing methods.
IN REPLY TO Gabrielle Barshay : This response caught my attention because you liked the statistical data presented in your article. I had a much different experience with the statistical data in my article. The author of my article used confusing statistical terms and made it very confusing. I like how the author of your article presented it, and it would be a good example of how statistical data should have been presented in my article. I also like and completely agree with your comment– “I feel that a good scientific article should explain the terms they are using, or simplify the language just a bit because they have to realize that not only scientist are interested in reading about these new inventions or further discoveries.” This is true. My article was actually clear and rarely used abbreviations or jargon.
IN REPLY TO Hoi Ki Lau When I saw your title — “expression of the dnmt3 genes in zebrafish development: similarity to Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b” — I honestly felt that it was going to be your example of a boring article. I agree with you completely about why you feel your article is boring. That type of article would only really be appreciated by someone who knew exactly what the abbreviations meant and were familiar with the subject information. These types of articles are never going to be read by the common person. If scientific articles were written so they were appealing to the general educated public, scientific studies would more commonly read. However, most subjects on pub med will never be interesting to the general educated public.
@ El-Shawn Wheeles
I agree with the points made by El-Shawn dealing with his reading of “Considering theories of aggression in an emergency department context.” I have come across papers that cover topics that I have of an idea of which is why I’m interested in reading it. I figure it I might learn something I didn’t know before about the specific topic. As I begin to read, it seems to too much handle with all the extra unnecessary detail, words, etc… This eventually leads to boredom and my attempt to grasp new some knowledge is abruptly ended.
The article that I found to be boring science literature was “Changes in mineral metabolism in stage 3, 4, and 5 chronic kidney disease”. The cause of kidney disease as stated is the failure of retention of phosphorus and the malfunction of making calcium. Vitamin D was used to counteract the imbalances because it increases intestinal absorption of phosphorus and calcium. In my opinion this article was way to lengthy and contained details that were irrelevant. The introduction wasn’t too appealing and it didn’t catch my attention the moment I read it. The vocabulary was also very intense and by the time I was half way down reading it I lost interest. When the author began talking about alternatives to kidney diseases he failed to discuss about the benefits of Vitamin D. This piece of literature contained many flaws and it way too informative and didn’t really catch my interest.
The article that I believe that was considered a good example of scientific writhing was “Intravenously administered vitamin C as cancer therapy: three cases.” This article caught my eye mainly because when I was a young boy I often got sick a lot. My parents advised me to eat lots of fruits rich in vitamin C such as kiwi, apples, and oranges. Later on my immune system greatly improved. I was surprised however than Vitamin C could be a possible application in treating patients with terminal cancer through intravenous injection. Patients who were treated with large doses of Vitamin C had improved symptoms and had longer life spans. Vitamin C is toxic to cancer cells but not to normal cells. I considered this article as informative as well coherent. It was factual and had details to back up the author’s research. I learnt that vitamin C has not only been able to improve immune system response but also it prevents disease such as scurvy, protects body against oxidative stress and can also be used to treat terminal cancer. I considered this a good example of scientific writhing because it was simple and straight forward and it wasn’t too lengthy. It was organized and the before and after diagram of the patient shown was helpful. The patient in the diagram showed a significant improvement and also how successful the injections were in destroying the cancer.
Often times boring writing is equated with scientific writing for many reasons. The components of boring writing include avoiding focus, avoiding originality and personality, suppressing humor and flowery language, and degrading biology to statistics. I encountered some of these elements in the article, “Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI): Clinical Characterization”. The reason I chose this article was because I am interested in the neurological field, planning to eventually become a neurosurgeon. This article starts off understandable. As I was reading the beginning I thought to myself maybe I have been misjudging scientific writing all along. However, as I started to get into the middle of the article, I came across the description of statistics, “CSF Aβ-42 levels were assessed at baseline and were correlated with clinical diagnoses, performance on the ADAS-Cog, and changes in performance on the ADAS-Cog over 1 year (table 3). Baseline Aβ-42 levels decreased significantly across the diagnostic categories as follows (mean ± SE): normal controls 206 ± 5; MCI 164 ± 4; AD 143 ± 4 (p < 0.001). Higher levels of Aβ-42 were associated with better performance on the ADAS-Cog in normal subjects (r = −0.21; 95% CI −0.38 to −0.03) and subjects with MCI (r = −0.22; 95% CI −0.035 to −0.08). The correlation with the ADAS-Cog in AD was not significant. Similarly, the annual rate of change on the ADAS-Cog against Aβ-42 at screening suggested that higher baseline levels of Aβ-42 were associated with a smaller change over 12 months in the normal subjects (r = −0.23; 95% CI −0.40 to −0.05) and in MCI (r = −0.29; 95% CI −0.41 to −0.16). The mixed effects models suggested that higher levels of Aβ-42 were associated with improved performance on the ADAS-Cog in normal subjects (p = 0.01) and in subjects with MCI (p < 0.00). The interaction of Aβ-42 and time also had a significant effect on ADAS-Cog scores in subjects with MCI (p = 0.00), but not in normal subjects. There was no significant baseline Aβ-42 effect observed over 12 months in the subjects with AD.” The tables that are accompanied with this information appear to be understandable at first, but become complicated as the article progresses. This information that I cited appears to me to be just letters and numbers jumbled together. Even as I try to read through it to comprehend it, I end up confusing myself and start reading the whole section over again. Anyone at first glance, would just skip this article just because of this section alone, mind you I almost did. However I understand that data analysis cannot be put to into simple terms, hence the many different units and symbols. These symbols and units could have been written out, but for it to qualify as boring writing, it must be prolonged writing. Instead of skipping straight to the point, the author of this article used various abbreviations in order to accomplish this extended effect.
The second article that I read was, “Cerebral Venous Thrombosis and Venous Infarction: Case Report of a Rare Initial Presentation of Smoker's Polycythemia”. While the article did have some of the elements of boring writing, it had better qualities than the paper on Alzheimer’s disease. It actually explains what polycythemia is accompanied by understandable statistics. According to the article, “Polycythemia is a rare condition involving myeloproliferative clonal cells. It is usually diagnosed based on the guidelines published by the Polycythemia Vera Study Group (PVSG), which are subject to constant revision by scientific researchers [1,2,3,4]. Polycythemia can present in a variety of ways in patients. Thrombosis is a serious complication of polycythemia and can lead to death in up to 8.3% of patients .” One reason that this article might be easier to understand is that it is a case study of smokers. It appears to be easier to me to read an article knowing certain details about the subject and background of the disease being tested. Although it does have some vocabulary that I do not understand, I get the general idea. The title itself was not too hard to understand either. I knew it was a case study from the start and I knew it was about the neurological effects of an aged smoker. It was a relief to finally be able to understand at least a small portion of what was being said in articles of this caliber.
PMCID: PMC2809036 “Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI): Clinical Characterization”
PMCID: PMC2999731 “Cerebral Venous Thrombosis and Venous Infarction: Case Report of a Rare Initial Presentation of Smoker's Polycythemia”
I agree with Mike. The title alone “Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI): Clinical Characterization” speaks for itself. The vocabulary and the context was too difficult to understand and it seemed more factual then interesting. Most of the context was statistics and interpreting it was very difficult.
I agree with Luis. The article “Alzheimer’s disease therapeutic research: the path forward” was a very a very straight forward and direct article. The vocabulary was moderate and I understood everything that was said.
I agree with everything you said in your blog, especially this statement, “I haven’t ever really read science. I DO it. I work it out. Because every time I find myself reading science, I find myself reading the first sentence of the chapter over and over again, simply because I can’t seem to engage myself.” When you said this I remember reading the biology textbook and at times not understanding what they were saying. Since science is something that people can become “hands on with” by experimenting, the writing portion explaining what was done experimentally should not be painstaking. Science should not be written so that people can only understand what is going on through the lab. It should be written and organized so that by just reading a scientific article, the common person can understand what occurred in the lab and gain valuable knowledge.
I agree with your take on the article, “Intravenously administered vitamin C as cancer therapy: three cases”. It’s a short compact article that is quite interesting. I myself was never aware that Vitamin C could be used for purposes such as improving the immune system, preventing disease, protecting the body, and could even be used to treat terminal cancer. This article managed to catch my attention and was a fairly easy read for me. In my opinion, this is how scientific writing should be like. It should catch the reader’s attention and prove to be useful knowledge for any one.
A good scientific paper I read was “Activation of Nuclear PPARγ Receptors by the Antidiabetic Agent Pioglitazone Suppresses Alcohol Drinking and Relapse to Alcohol Seeking.” I initially chose this article because the title had ‘boring’ written all over it! But I was surprised when I read the article. This article was essentially very well written and easy to understand. The authors clearly defined what Pioglitazone and rosiglitazone were. They wrote “Pioglitazone and rosiglitazone belong to the class of thiazolidinediones (TZDs). They were first developed as antioxidants and then approved for the clinical treatment of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes.” They also go on to define what the role of thiazolidinediones (TZDs) are, “TZDs bind with high affinity and activate peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma (PPARγ) receptors, which in the brain are expressed both in neurons and in glia.” The authors expressed this background knowledge in such a way that any layman can understand the basic content of the paper. This allows a broader audience to appreciate the article. The main problem in scientific writing is that it is very detailed, and those layman that are in a different field of expertise will find it difficult to understand such detailed scientific language. Therefore, if scientific writers took a simple extra step as to define the relevant scientific language in their paper, it would appeal to a broader audience and essentially not be as boring. The authors of this article also clearly explained their results. When they wrote “The effect was blocked by pretreatment with the selective PPARγ antagonist GW9662 (5 μg/rat) given into the lateral cerebroventricle” they went on to explain what this entails, “suggesting that this TZD’s effect is mediated by PPARγ receptors in the central nervous system.” Moreover, the authors stated “Pioglitazone abolished reinstatement of alcohol seeking…” and went on to explain that that is a “relapse-like behavior which is induced by yohimbine…” and farther explained that yohimbine is a pharmacologic stressor. Nonetheless, I learned something new from an article that I assumed would be boring and that I would never understand! I now know that pioglitazone may be a candidate to treat alcoholism.
PMID: 21276964 [PubMed]
@ Marvin Payne
I agree with Marvin when he states “this could easily be simplified & a rewritten to make it more appealing and so readers don’t get lost in the paper while reading. Good Scientific writing in my opinion is very organized and straight to the point. It’s very relatable and simplified, with the ability to appeal to all readers.” It is clear that the article that I read was very relatable and simplified and a good example of good scientific writing compared to the article he read on MR staging.
An example of boring scientific writing is the paper “Lack of PPARα exacerbates lipopolysaccharide-induced liver toxicity through STAT1 inflammatory signaling and increased oxidative/nitrosative stress.” The first sentence of the paper states “Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-α (PPARα) has been implicated in a potent anti-inflammatory activity”. However, it never attempts to explain what (PPARα) exactly is. The authors state “Using age-matched Ppara-null and wild-type (WT) mice, we demonstrate that the deletion of PPARα aggravates LPS-mediated liver injury through activating STAT1 and NF-κB-p65 accompanied by increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.” There is a lot of detail in this one sentence, which should be broken up into a few sentences with clear explanations for the readers. To make this paper less boring, the authors should clearly expand on the LPS-mediated liver injury, STAT1 and NF-κB-p65. Nonetheless, the authors of this scientific paper are consistently writing in scientific language without explaining farther in layman terms. The other paper that I read which was a good example of scientific writing made it simple for me to understand what I was reading. However, with this paper I have to consistently reread every sentence to try to understand what the authors are stating. I feel as if this is a problem in many scientific papers. Readers that are not scientists or that do not have expertise in the specific field acknowledged in the paper are either forced to give up reading or have to spend extra time to read more slowly and more than once to actually understand the paper. Unlike the other scientific paper I read, I did not understand anything from this paper.
PMID: 21262334 [PubMed]
@ Kateryna Bushnyak
I agree with Kateryna when she states that medical terms and abbreviations make a scientific paper difficult to understand. It is for this reason that I did not find my boring scientific paper interesting. My example of good scientific writing included scientific terms and abbreviations but they were clearly explained to the reader. Also, charts and graphs always make a scientific paper more interesting and easier to grasp.
The article “Why human lifespan is rapidly increasing: solving “longevity riddle” with “revealed-slow-aging” hypothesis” by Mikhail V. Blagosklonny was an article that was at first confusing due to the fact that in the abstract part of the article the author tries to make a correlation about how “robustness and fast aging may be associated and slow-aging individuals died prematurely” he uses the term slow aging as if we have already read his theory about it and understands the idea of it. As the article progress I see the author provide many background information and historical facts in order to guide the reader through the article making his point more potent. On top of all that the Author also provides us with scenarios that really put all his fact into prospective.
An article that I would consider “boring scientific literature” would be “IL-21 and T follicular helper cells” by Rosanne Spolski and Warren J. Leonard. Right off the bat without any warning the introduction and the abstract part of the article starts hurling vocabulary and abbreviations at you as if you were working on the research. The article starts off with “Upon encounter with antigen, CD4+ T cells differentiate into effector Th subsets with distinctive functions that are related to their unique cytokine profiles and anatomical locations” and the Authors never tried to explain what was CD4+ T cells was or anything background information on other abbreviations. I don’t mind trying to go online looking for certain things I don’t know, but sentence after sentence it contained new terms that were crucial to understanding the article and it just goes deeper and deeper into one another.
CD4+ T cells
Response@Victor: The second article that you read seems to be a like the one I read about helper cells because I can see that the first sentence they started off with “In Escherichia coli, the γ complex clamp loader loads the β-sliding clamp onto DNA.” I believe that the average person would know E-coli then the rest would be a blank to anyone besides the experts themselves
Response@Jason: I can see exactly what you mean by unorganized about the article “Epigenetic profile of the euchromatic region of human Y chromosome.”I tired to keep up with what they wanted to talk about in the Article and just when the reader kind of is on track and trying follow along they throw in a term and topic that just diverges from the main point.
The article i found is based on Air Laser seem to portray few examples of good writing that can motivate the reader to stay on focus and it also portrays few examples of bad writing that can make the reader want to rip the paper apart. This article’s positive point is that it stays on focus of its topic and it explains throughly of what happened and how it happened. By using quotes necessary to amplify the the facts they gather for the article allows the reader to stay on topic and not drift apart. However the article portrayed to me to be boring and out of style in writing perspective. it gave me an impression of a dull report based on a straight forward question and answer.
@ian ramgobin, I agree with Ian on the fact that the article strikes to be boring on the first sight. Also, as the article progress the terms that are written in the article seem to be difficult to understand and I found myself questioning “what does this mean?”
@Susan Henderson, about the same response I can give to ian. The article bores me like the most I’ve read because it lacks clarity and personality. The main problem of this article that I can agree on is its clarity. I’ve had to search on a separate tab to find out what PLT stands for.
I never really thought about reading any articles that is related to science, in fact they should be interesting to me and others. Articles should should grap the reader to it and make them want to read it and not make them bored. There are some interesting scientific articles that grap my attention while others dont, and sadly most of the time they dont. However, as i read this article called ” solving the dilemma of gender imbalance” by Yvonne Kaul. I found this article quite boring for few reasons. The author is not focused on one topic which makes the reader confused and lose focus easily, also big and not simple words that not everyone can understand made me stay out of focus and not want to read it anymore. Another thing that that made me bored was using a lot of statistical numbers in an article makes it quite boring.
@ Sadia ahmad
i totally agree with you, because i personally lose focus when the writer uses big words or tries to write alot to make it seem its good but its the opposite.
@ Ling Lu
Its true that most writers use alot of information which is the main reason why i get bored from articles like that that provide too much information that has nothing to do with the article.
@Karishma Vyas: i completely agree with you on the fact that when an author introcudes a topic or begins to explain such a complicated issue you would think they would want the reader to understand, but rather in a few of these articles we are completely dumbfounded by the terminology and concepts that many of us are not familiar with.
@ Sadia Ahmed: As you said in your blog, that even tho many of these articles may be well written they tend to drift off onto tangents that dont pertain to the main topic. It may not necessarily be all that bad, but as a reader you may begin to lose focus on the critical points/details and retain the useless information instead
The two articles that I have posted both represent examples of scientific writing. Both articles attempt to explain an issue, one article is a bit more research oriented, yet, they still succeed in familiarizing the readers with the point the author is trying to convey. Informative as they were, only one article held my attention from beginning to end. With its clear and easy to understand writing style and relatively clear concept, the article dealing with capital punishment was both interesting and informative without lacking in depth. The article regarding ear infections in children, however, seemed to just drag. Informative as it was, the article’s verbosity seemed to be written in a way (whether intentional or not) that isolated readers who may not be too familiar with the focus of study.
Presentation makes a difference. The article dealing with capital punishment had a bigger font and a picture which instantly makes it more welcoming and less pedestrian than the very academic/professional appearance of the NEJM article which immediately signals to readers that this type of writing just might be a bit too advanced for their comprehension. However, the NEJM wasn’t necessarily constructed for common consumption. The New England Journal of Medicine is one of the most respected publications in medicine, thus, considering the intended demographic is a group of professionals with intellectual and academic achievements greater than the “average” person, the article’s distant, academic nature may not only be understandable but expected.
As you have mentioned, the style with which the author uses to write and develop a scientific can really cause the reader to either be drawn or isolated. I tend to find myself fighting sleep while reading several different examples scientific writing for a variety of reasons it could be, as you mentioned, the choice of big, fancy language. Also, as you mentioned, I cannot follow an article that is with focus and is very wide-ranging. I believe that puts the reader as a disadvantage as he or she cannot take full advantage of the writing because of a lack of focus.
It’s awesome that you kept an open mind while reading the first article. This has once happened to me, I saw an article with a relatively boring title after reading the article, not only was I not half asleep, I was intrigued and actually did some further outside research. As science students, we must make sure that we don’t allow ourselves to be turned off by exciting research and discoveries because of the boring presentation and writing that we have, unfortunately, become accustomed to!
One paper i found that was an example of horrible science writing is “MR staging of endometrial cancer: needed or wanted?” this paper is both length and confusing. This is the type of paper that my group was discussing as something we would definitely not want to be reading. First of all even from the very beginning it was difficult to understand exactly what was going on. Next, it didn’t help that there were about 5 words in a 10 word sentence that you didn’t understand, nor that were explained very well. I can understand that in all research and science there are big and difficult words that the general public many not be familiar with, however i believe that at least a small definition should be included so that say a student that is interested in the subject can follow the thought of the author.
A good example of writing i found was in an article by the name of “Alzheimer’s disease therapeutic research: the path forward.” this article from the very beginning was very clear and precise as the what the different complications and issues of Alzheimer’s is. the author was able to digress little from his point and was able to stick to few abbreviations and complex words. although the article itelf is a little dry the author did a sufficient job at making a clear statement in his paper and made that statement clear and understandable. this is some of the things that my groupmates and i i discussed as things to include in “good” writing.
I believe that “boring scientific writing” is completely based on an individual’s personality and where their interest lies. Science has so many different fields that almost anyone has the ability to enjoy a certain aspect of science. Vision: Insights and Horizons, is a magazine that touches base on all aspects of human life. I enjoy the magazine mainly because of the scientific articles that are published. I can’t say that I enjoy all of the scientific articles coming from vision’s scientific authors because I have distaste for environmental science. “Revisiting the state of the planet”, published on April 21, 2008, is an article that I would categorize as “boring scientific writing”. The article is very organized and has a steady flow of information that connects one topic to the next, but I feel that this article is mainly composed of dates of events in which a certain someone brought up a valid point about the status of Mother Earth. Don’t get me wrong I was able to comprehend what was being discussed throughout the article; it is only my lack of interest in environmental science that initially made me iffy on the article. The constant reference to dates and events of the same idea being mentioned in different ways was the icing on the cake to completely take my mind off the article as a whole.
When the authors of Vision change the scientific subject to neuroscience I become immediately hooked. “Are We in Need of a Neuromorality?” was published in the spring 2008 issue. The article is focused on the breakthrough methods of examining a person’s brain; to allow people to look deeper into emotions, personality traits, predispositions, and more. My reason for selecting this article as an example of “good” scientific writing is not only because the subject happens to be one of my favorites, but also the format of the article and the constant addition of ideas and possibilities. One of my favorite parts of the article is when the discoveries on neuroscience are connected to an ethical point of view. After this, the article revolves around an argument that is very much active throughout society: science vs. ethics. I admire how the article mentions advances in neuroscience and then continue on to question the need for these very advances. I believe there is no bias throughout the article, and the information stated easily entices the reader to continue throughout the entire piece of literature. However, I could be wrong, because as I stated before my interest lies within the dimensions of “Are We in Need of a Neuromorality?”, and not in “Revisiting the State of the Planet”.
Is millipred an over the counter drug