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Eschew Obfuscation
 

Eschew Obfuscation

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    Eschew Obfuscation Eschew Obfuscation Presentation Transcript

    • “Eschew Obfuscation” a review of The Craft of Scientific Writing Michael Alley 3rd Ed., Springer, New York 1996 by Kyle Jensen 12 December 2002 Science is built up with facts as a house is with stones. But a collection of facts is no more science than a heap of stones is a house. J. H. Poincaré
    • Motivation Challenger disaster of 1986   Caused by a failure in the O-ring of rocket boosters ¡ Engineers knew about the problem, but failed to ¡ communicate the risk effectively K.L. Jensen Bioinformatics and Metabolic Engineering slide 2/10 12/12/02 Laboratory at MIT
    • Document Titles Orients the reader to your work and   separates your work from others' Effects of Humidity on the Growth of Avalanches Effects of Humidity on the Growth of Electron Avalanches in Electrical Gas Discharges Studies on the Electrodeposition of Lead on Copper Effects of Rhodamine-B on the Electrodeposition of Lead on Copper K.L. Jensen Bioinformatics and Metabolic Engineering slide 3/10 12/12/02 Laboratory at MIT
    • Document Abstracts Two kinds of abstracts   Descriptive This paper describes a new inertial navigation system for mapping oil and gas wells. In this paper, we will compare the mapping accuracy and speed for this new system against the accuracy and speed for conventional systems. Informative This paper describes a new inertial navigation system that will increase the mapping accuracy of oil wells by a factor of ten. The new system uses three-axis navigation that protects sensors from high-spin rates. The system also processes its information by Kalman filtering (a statistical sampling technique) in an on-site computer. Test results show the three-dimensional location accuracy is within 0.1 meters for every 100 meters of well depth, an accuracy ten times greater than conventional systems. K.L. Jensen Bioinformatics and Metabolic Engineering slide 4/10 12/12/02 Laboratory at MIT
    • Document Bodies Narrative strategy   chronological ¡ spatial ¡ flow ¡ Sectioning   Pam Am Flight 103 Report Debris Recovery Completed Work Cataloguing Recovering Debris Interpretation Cataloguing Debris Results Interpreting the Debris Placement Preliminary Results of Work Bomb Makeup Placement of Bomb Work to Be Done Construction of Bomb Interpretation Future Work K.L. Jensen Bioinformatics and Metabolic Engineering slide 5/10 12/12/02 Laboratory at MIT
    • Clarity in Language Avoid needless complexity   Short words are best, and old words, when short, are best of all. Winston Churchill utilize use facilitate cause “The elevated temperatures of the liquid approximately about propellant fuel facilitated an unscheduled implement carry out irrevocable disassembly.” firstly, secondly,... first, second,... hitherto until now “The higher temperatures caused the liquid propellant to explode” Avoid ambiguity   “Because the receiver presented the radiometer with a high flux environment, it was mounted in a steel container.” “T cells, rather than B cells, appeared as the lymphocytes migrated to the thymus gland.” “In low water temperatures and high toxicity levels of oil, we tested how well the microorganisms survived.” K.L. Jensen Bioinformatics and Metabolic Engineering slide 6/10 12/12/02 Laboratory at MIT
    • Punctuation Colon   Introduces a formal list, long quotation, equation, or definition. We studied five types of marsupials: opossums, bandicoots, koalas, wombats, and kangaroos. Joins two independent clauses (closely linked in Semi-Colon   thought) or separates complex items in a list. The reactor was cold; however, the reaction preceded as planned. Acts as a parenthesis to separate items that can't Dash   be separated by commas. Because two isotopes of hydrogen—deuterium and tritium—are lightweight, can be produced easily, and require little energy, they are prime candidates to begin the fusion process. Comma   Separates details in a sentence. X-ray backscatter systems, which are relatively inexpensive, require the operator’s attention. K.L. Jensen Bioinformatics and Metabolic Engineering slide 7/10 12/12/02 Laboratory at MIT
    • Style of Language Avoid common redundancies   already (existing) introduced (a new) alternative (choices) mix (together) at (the) present (time) never (before) (completely) eliminate none (at all) (currently) being period (of time) Use the active voice   The voltage was displayed on the oscilloscope. The oscilloscope displayed the voltage. Use the first person judiciously   It was determined that... We determined that... The authors assumed that.. We assumed that... K.L. Jensen Bioinformatics and Metabolic Engineering slide 8/10 12/12/02 Laboratory at MIT
    • Other Readings Graphic design   E. R. Tufte., The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Graphics Press, Cheshire, CT (1983) Typesetting   L. Lamport, LaTeX: A Document Preparation System. 2nd Ed., Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA (1994) Mechanics (grammar)   W. Strunk, E. B. White, and R. Angell, The Elements of Style. 4th Ed. Allyn & Bacon, Boston, MA (2000) K.L. Jensen Bioinformatics and Metabolic Engineering slide 9/10 12/12/02 Laboratory at MIT
    • The End Acknowledgements   Bill, who reads everything I write ¡ Professor Stephanopoulos ¡ Dr. Rigoutsos ¡ K.L. Jensen Bioinformatics and Metabolic Engineering slide 10 12/12/02 Laboratory at MIT /10
    • Document Introductions Introductions answer four questions   What exactly is the work? ¡ Why is the work important? ¡ What is needed to understand the work? ¡ How will the work be presented? ¡ Readers should not reach the body of the document with these questions unanswered. K.L. Jensen Bioinformatics and Metabolic Engineering slide 11 12/12/02 Laboratory at MIT /10
    • Document Structure Beginning Tell them what you will tell them.   title ¡ abstract ¡ introduction ¡ Body Tell them.   Conclusion Tell them what you told them.   K.L. Jensen Bioinformatics and Metabolic Engineering slide 12 12/12/02 Laboratory at MIT /10
    • Document Endings Endings have two purposes   analysis of the most important results from the ¡ document's discussion future perspectives on the work ¡ Common errors   new evidence: “Perry Mason” ¡ K.L. Jensen Bioinformatics and Metabolic Engineering slide 13 12/12/02 Laboratory at MIT /10