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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

what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
Bharti
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
Daniel
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
Maciej
characteristics of micro business
Abigail
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Anassong
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 ?
s.
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.
Tarell
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
Damian
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.
Tarell
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.
Virgil
is Bucky paper clear?
CYNTHIA
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.
Harper
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
s.
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
SUYASH Reply
for screen printed electrodes ?
SUYASH
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
Ebrahim
or in general
Ebrahim
in general
s.
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
tahir
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
Cied
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
China
Cied
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
Porter
many many of nanotubes
Porter
what is the k.e before it land
Yasmin
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
Cesar
I'm interested in nanotube
Uday
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
AMJAD
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
how to synthesize TiO2 nanoparticles by chemical methods
Zubear
what's the program
Jordan
?
Jordan
what chemical
Jordan
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit 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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