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A Short Guide to Writing About Biology, CourseSmart eTextbook, 8th Edition

By Jan A. Pechenik

Published by Longman

Published Date: Jan 5, 2012

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This best-selling writing guide by a prominent biologist teaches students to think as biologists and to express ideas clearly and concisely through their writing.


Providing students with the tools they'll need to be successful writers in college and their profession, A Short Guide to Writing about Biology emphasizes writing as a way of examining, evaluating, and sharing ideas. The text teaches students how to read critically, study, evaluate and report data, and how to communicate information clearly and logically.

¿Students are also given detailed advice on locating useful sources, interpreting the results of statistical tests, maintaining effective laboratory and field notebooks, writing effective research proposals and poster presentations, writing effective applications, and communicating information to both professional and general audiences.

Table of Contents


General Advice about Writing and Reading ] Biology  

1—Introduction and General Rules  

What Do Biologists Write about, and Why?  

The Keys to Success  

Eleven Major Rules for Preparing a First Draft  

Seven Major Rules for Developing Your Final Draft  

Nine Finer Points: The Easy Stuff  

The Annoying but Essential Last Pass  

On Using Computers in Writing  

On Using Computers for Data Storage, Analysis, and Presentation  


             Technology Tip 1. Getting the Most from Your Word-Processing Program  


2—Locating Useful Sources  

Using Indexes  

Using Science Citation Index  

Using Current Contents Search  

Using Medline and Other Databases  

Prowling the Internet  

Conducting Web Searches: Developing Productive Search Strategies  

Final Thoughts about Efficient Searching: Technology Isn’t Everything  

Closing Thoughts  


             Technology Tip 2. Using Search Engines Effectively  


3—General Advice on Reading and Note-Taking  

Why Read and What to Read  

Effective Reading  

Reading Data: Plumbing the Depths of Figures and Tables  

Reading Text: Summarize as You Go  

Plagiarism and Note-Taking  


Take Notes in Your Own Words  

Split-Page Note-Taking: A Can’t-Fail System  

Final Thoughts on Note-Taking: Document Your Sources  



4—Reading and Writing About Statistical Analyses  

Statistical Essentials  

Variability and Its Representation  

When Is a Difference a Meaningful Difference? What You Need to Know about Tomatoes, Peas, and Random Events  

Establishing a Null Hypothesis  

Conducting the Analysis, and Interpreting the Results  

Degrees of Freedom  

Summary: Using Statistics to Test Hypotheses  

Moving Beyond p-Values  

Statistical Power  

Effect Magnitudes and Alternative Analyses  

Reading about Statistics  

Writing about Statistics  



5—Citing Sources and Listing References 

Citing Sources  

Summary of Citation Format Rules  

Preparing the Literature Cited Section  

Listing the References—General Rules  

Listing the References—Using the Correct Format  

A Sample Literature Cited Section  

             Technology TIP 3. Bibliographic Management Software  79 Technology Tip 4. Producing Hanging Indents  



Preparing the Draft for Surgery: Plotting Idea Maps  

Revising for Content  

Revising for Clarity  

Taming Disobedient Sentences—Sentences That Don’t Say What the Author Means  

The Dangers of It  

Problems with And  

Headache by Acronym  

Revising for Completeness  

Revising for Conciseness  

First Commandment: Eliminate Unnecessary Prepositions  

Second Commandment: Avoid Weak Verbs  

Third Commandment: Do Not Overuse the Passive Voice  

Fourth Commandment: Make the Organism the Agent of the Action  

Fifth Commandment: Incorporate Definitions into Your Sentences  

Revising for Flow  

A Short Exercise in Establishing Coherence  

Improving Flow Using Punctuation  

Revising for Teleology and Anthropomorphism  

Revising for Spelling Errors  

Revising for Grammar and Proper Word Usage 

A Grammatical Aside: Rules-That-Are-Not-Rules  

A Strategy for Revising: Pass by Pass by Pass  

Becoming a Good Reviewer 

Receiving Criticism  


Sentences in Need of Revision  


             Technology Tip 5. Tracking Changes Made to Documents  




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A Short Guide to Writing About Biology, CourseSmart eTextbook, 8th Edition
Format: Safari Book

$26.99 | ISBN-13: 978-0-205-85585-8