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Helping students understand the goal of "readability" for their papers

Several researchers have tried to define "readability" as features of a text that enable readers to grasp the message or information quickly. However, the experience a reader has with the subject being discussed and his or her familiarity with the vocabulary and concepts affects how quickly and effectively the reader interprets a text. Indexes developed in the mid-twentieth century (such as the "fog index") focused on the number of words as well as the number of polysyllabic words per sentence. Today experts advise paying attention to the audience's level of expertise in choosing words and controlling sentence length. They also emphasize using sentences that put the agent (human, concrete, or abstract) into the subject and the action into the verb (with the object following) to make sentences easy to comprehend.

Consider the following example:

Original : In approaching the resin coated male dummies with larger claws and with raised claws (vs. claws in the resting position), a strong preference for the larger and raised claws was shown by female fiddler crabs in the study.

  • Structure: prepositional phrase, action, object, agent

Revised: Female fiddler crabs that approached resin-coated male dummies in the study strongly preferred males with larger claws or raised claws over those with smaller or resting claws.

  • Structure : agent, modifying clause, action, object

Helping students understand coherence: "the given/new contract"

Linguists contend that readers expect writers to begin with concepts both readers and writers understand (the “given”) and then to add elaborating details or new information (the “new”). When writers break this contract by introducing new information that is not linked to shared understanding, the reader must hesitate, extrapolate or infer meanings, and risk misunderstanding.

Figure 1 was taken from a student paper in Introductory Biology at Rice University. In this paragraph, the writer discusses the primary finding of research on how the Hawaii amakihi bird persists in its habitat despite the introduction of infectious disease to the area. The arrows in the text demonstrate how "new" (later) information elaborates on already "given" (earlier) phrases.

Help students look for the pattern of "given" and "new" concepts in the articles they read. These patterns will help them understand how the argument is organized. If the pattern is broken, it will help them figure out why they are having difficulty following the authors.

The honor code and consulting as mentor

From 2002 rice student handbook:

Re: Pre-grading assistance. Tutors or consultants may discuss homework, papers, projects or assignments on which the student is working, but they may not provide the answers to problems or suggest the exact wording to be used on a paper. They may coach a student who is mastering scientific concepts, developing a line of scientific reasoning, evaluating paper topics, brainstorming or formulating a thesis, but the tutor or consultant may not perform the specific intellectual task on which the student is to be graded. Tutors and consultants may use similar problems or examples to show students the process they are to go through. A labbie may weigh a different sample to demonstrate how to use a balance; labbies should not weigh students' samples for them.

Questions & Answers

do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Mueller Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Becoming a professional scholar. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10871/1.2
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