Scientific Writing 3/3


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A course on scientific writing given by prof. Jaroslaw Rybicki at the Technical University n Gdansk at the University of Firenze October 2012

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Scientific Writing 3/3

  1. 1. Englishfor scientists
  2. 2. How to prepare a scientific CV?1. Don’t start with a heading “Curriculum Vitae” – it’s obvious, redundant, and takes up needed space.2. Begin with your name and surname instead.3. If the readers may not be able to surmise your gender from your name, consider putting “Ms” or “Mr” in parentheses before your name.
  3. 3. Typical information• Address and contact information (don’t forget to include your e-mail address!)• Education• (Honours and Awards)• Research• (Teaching Experience)• (Extracurricular Activities)• Publications
  4. 4. How to prepare a scientific CV?1. Make sure to list your publications and major presentations, e.g. papers given at national conferences.2. Use a standard format for references (already discussed).3. If a paper has been accepted, but not yet published, list it as “in press”.4. If it has been submitted, but not yet accepted, don’t list it under Publications, but mention it in the Research section.
  5. 5. How to prepare a scientific CV?5. A scientific CV should not contain personal information, such as date of birth, marital status, health, or hobbies.6. It is considered tacky to include a picture of yourself in your CV.7. If there is nothing to list under given category, simply omit the category.8. CVs are structured in reverse chronological order, i.e. within each category, items are listed from the most recent to the least recent.
  6. 6. How to prepare a scientific CV?9. Students: Include some contact information that is unlikely to change, not the address of your dorm or of a flat you’re currently renting.10.Consider having different versions of your CV for different uses.11.Remember to keep your CV up to date.12.Proofread your CV very carefully, or better yet ask someone else to do so.
  7. 7. Preparing a Cover LetterA manuscript should always be accompanied by a cover letter.
  8. 8. What to write in a cover letter? To which journal is the manuscript being submitted? Is it a new manuscript, a revision requested by an editor (which one?), or a manuscript being returned by a reviewer? If there are several authors, which one is the submitting author (include his/her e- mail, address, telephone number)?
  9. 9. What to write in a cover letter? Suggest the appropriate editor and possible reviewers. If not obvious, state the section of the journal that the article is intended for.
  10. 10. The Review ProcessWho is who? What happens to your paper?1. An editor decides whether to accept or reject a manuscript and designates the peer reviewers.2. The editor of a scientific journal is an unpaid volunteer scientist, often of preeminent standing.3. Whenever you object the quality of the reviews of your article, your complaint should be directed to the editor.
  11. 11. The Review ProcessWho is who? What happens to your paper?4. The managing editor is a full-time paid professional, whose role is to relieve the editor of all clerical and administrative duties in the review process.5. When problems occur at the proof and publication stages, you should contact the managing editor.
  12. 12. The Review ProcessThe editor is ready to consider the manuscript forpublication only after two preconditions havebeen met:a) the manuscript is concerned with a subject area covered by the scope of the journal,b) the form of the manuscript is suitable (e.g. two double-spaced copies with no page, tables, or figures missing; the editorial style of the journal is retained).Only then will the editor decide who should reviewthe paper.
  13. 13. The Review ProcessWho is who? What happens to your paper?6. In the case of most journals, two reviewers are selected for each manuscript.7. The reviewers must be the peers of the author, otherwise their recommendations will be valueless.8. Most journals use anonymous reviewers.
  14. 14. The Review ProcessWho is who? What happens to your paper?9. The reviewers can advise the editor to accept the paper with no or only slight revision, suggest thorough changes to the manuscript, or advise to reject the paper.10.Sometimes the opinions of the reviewers are contradictory and the decision must be made by the editor. If the editor is not familiar with the field, the paper may be sent to an additional reviewer.
  15. 15. The Review ProcessWho is who? What happens to your paper?11.The final word always belongs to the editor, who decides whether or not to accept the paper and notifies the author of the final decision.12.The editor’s decision can be either “accept”, “reject”, or “modify”.13.Normally, the decision is reached within 4 to 6 weeks. If you haven’t heard from the editor within 8 weeks, don’t be afraid to call or write them.
  16. 16. The Review ProcessWho is who? What happens to your paper?14.The accept letter is a relative rarity (and you definitely deserve a glass of wine if you should get it!).15.More likely, you will receive the modify letter, which consists of the reviewers’ comments and the covering letter from the editor.
  17. 17. The Review ProcessWhat to do with the modify letter?a) examine the comments carefully and decide whether you’re willing to modify the manuscript,b) if both reviewers point to the same problem, almost certainly it is a problem,c) if two referees misunderstood the manuscript, find out why and correct the problem before resubmitting,d) if the requested changes are few and slight, go ahead and make them,
  18. 18. The Review ProcessWhat to do with the modify letter?e) if the paper is flawed and you know it, rewrite it according to the reviewers’ comments and resubmit along with a letter indicating how you dealt with the problems,f) if one or both reviewers and the editor misread the paper, try another journal or resubmit the manuscript along with a letter, in which you give a point-by-point rebuttal of the reviewers’ comments. Be extremely matter-of-fact, polite and dispassionate.
  19. 19. The Review ProcessWho is who? What happens to your paper?16.The reject letter points out what is wrong with the paper and how to correct it, before resubmitting or submitting it to another journal.17.Make sure to read it very carefully.18.If the reviewers and the editor found major defects in your article, try to correct them, but resubmit the paper to another journal.
  20. 20. The Proofing Process1. The manuscript goes through a copyediting process, during which spelling and grammatical errors are corrected.2. The copyeditor will standardize all abbreviations, units of measure, punctuation and spelling according to the style of the journal.3. S/he may direct questions to the author, if any part of the paper is unclear or needs further clarification.
  21. 21. The Proofing Process4. You will be sent the proofs – make sure to examine them carefully, because they may contain errors; check the accuracy of the typesetting.5. Do not make substantial and/or significant changes in the proofs, this is not the time for revision, rewriting, rephrasing, etc.
  22. 22. Conference CommunicationsHow to present a paper orally?1. The best way is to organize a paper for oral presentation in the same way as for publication (IMRAD approach).2. There are certain differences. As opposed to a paper, oral presentation should not contain: all the experimental detail, extensive citation of the literature.
  23. 23. Conference CommunicationsHow to present a paper orally?3. Most oral presentations are short (up to 10-15 minutes) and thus the theoretical content of the paper must be trimmed down.4. Try not to present too many ideas too quickly, stick to your most important points or results.5. Regardless of the amount of time allotted for your presentation, if you proceed too fast, the audience is bound to lose the thread.
  24. 24. Visual AidsHow to prepare effective slides?1. Use a sans serif typeface such as Helvetica, Arial or Calibri (for increased readability). Figure source: Wikipedia
  25. 25. Visual AidsHow to prepare effective slides?2. Contrast is important – most readable slides have black (dark) text on a white (light) background.3. Slides should not be crowded – each slide should illustrate a particular point, with a bulleted text listing no more than 6 related subtopics.
  26. 26. Visual AidsHow to prepare effective slides?4. Avoid using clip art and too many fancy effects, as this is considered tacky.
  27. 27. Visual AidsHow to prepare effective slides?5. The main heading should be at least 20 to 24 points, with subtopics (preferably) no smaller than 16 points.6. To conclude your presentation, add a black slide – it’s what the pros do.
  28. 28. Visual Aids Get to the hall ahead of the audience in order to check the equipment and the lights. Slides should supplement what you’re saying and not simply repeat it! The audience for an oral presentation is usually diverse, thus avoid technical detail; define terms, and explain difficult concepts. Rehearse a paper before the members of your department or group. Be prepared to answer the questions from the audience (question-and-answer section).
  29. 29. Conference CommunicationsHow to prepare a poster?1. If due to a large number of participants your abstract is not accepted for an oral presentation, you may still have a chance to present your results at a poster session.2. Don’t start preparing the poster until you know the requirements specified by the conference organizers.
  30. 30. Conference CommunicationsHow to prepare a poster?3. You must know the height and width of the stand and the approved methods of fixing exhibit materials to the stand.4. The organizers may also specify (in the conference programme) the minimum sizes of type and the sequence of presentation (usually from left to right).
  31. 31. Conference Communications5. The poster should be organized according to the IMRAD format, but keep in mind the need for simplicity. A well-designed poster contains little text, using most of the space for illustrations. Introduction: present the problem succinctly; clearly state your purpose. Methods: use a sentence or two to briefly describe the type of approach used.
  32. 32. Conference Communications Results: the major part of a well-designed poster; use illustrations to present your outcomes. Discussion: use the heading “Conclusions” instead; present your conclusions in the form of numbered short sentences. Keep literature citations to a minimum.
  33. 33. Name (e-mail), Institution, Address
  34. 34. Conference CommunicationsHow to prepare a poster?6. Number your poster to agree with the programme.7. The title should be short, readable out to a distance of 3 metres, and should catch attention.8. Use black (dark) and bold typeface and white (light) background.
  35. 35. Poster9. Type size: Title – 30 mm (85 pts) Names of the authors – 20 mm (56 pts) Text – 4 mm (12 pts)
  36. 36. Conference CommunicationsHow to prepare a poster?10.A poster should be self-explanatory.11.The author should spend time responding to specific scientific questions, rather than explaining the poster.12.Allow lots of white space throughout the poster.
  37. 37. Conference CommunicationsHow to prepare a poster?13.A poster should contain highlights, so that passersby can easily discern whether the poster is of interest to them.14.It is a good idea to prepare handouts containing more detailed information.15.Crowds usually gather around the simple, well-illustrated posters, while ignoring the cluttered, wordy ones.
  38. 38. Conference CommunicationsHow to write a conference report?1. When you are invited to a conference, the proceedings of which will be published, you might be asked to prepare a conference report.2. The most important question is whether the proceedings volume will qualify as primary literature (valid publication).
  39. 39. Conference Communications3. The trend is to define conference reports as not validly published primary data, because: most conference proceedings are one-off publications with limited circulation and availability; most conference reports are review papers or they are preliminary reports on inconclusive concepts; conference reports are usually not subjected to peer review and proper editing.
  40. 40. Conference Communications4. If the proceedings volume qualifies as primary, prepare your manuscript in journal style. If not: the requirement of reproducibility may be ignored, the Materials and Methods section is not required, there is no need for a detailed description of the experiment, it is not necessary to provide the usual literature review,
  41. 41. Conference CommunicationsHow to write a conference report?5. A conference report is often limited to one or two printed pages (1000 to 2000 words).6. As a preliminary report, such a paper should present and encourage speculation, alternative theories and suggestions for future research.
  42. 42. Conference Communications7. The usual IMRAD approach can be abbreviated or altered: the problem is stated, the methodology is stated (not described in detail), the results are presented briefly, 1-3 tables or figures are included, the meaning of the results is speculated about (at length), the literature review describes a few related or planned experiments.
  43. 43. Conference CommunicationsConference reports are seldom rejectedby the editor.However, if the editor has distributedInstructions to Authors, make sure youfollow them.In this way the volume is likely to exhibitconsistency and be deemed estimable.
  44. 44. Useful phrasesfor conference participants
  45. 45. Opening a conference Ladies and gentlemen it is a pleasure to welcome you to the 5th Conference on... I am pleased to extend greetings to all of the participants in this meeting. It gives me great pleasure to declare the session open. At the beginning of this meeting allow me to inform you... I would like to remind you that after this meeting...
  46. 46. Chairman As chairman of this session, I have had the opportunity to preview all the papers to be presented. I will now ask Ms Smith to be good enough to give us a brief introduction. Thank you, your report has been an excellent introduction to our discussion. This afternoon we are going to discuss... The following papers will be discussed...
  47. 47. Chairman In our discussion we should concentrate on the main topic. I believe that this problem could be discussed in considerable detail. I suggest that we now begin the general discussion by hearing the following comment. I will first call upon... Thank you, Mr Morris. Your remarks were most interesting. I think you have started a very interesting discussion.
  48. 48. Chairman I am a bit confused here, I must admit. Could you explain that a little bit? Do you have any other comments to make? Has anyone else anything to say? In the interest of saving time, I suggest... We can therefore consider the point closed, and I will call upon Ms Bradford...
  49. 49. Participants I appreciate the opportunity to present my... It is the purpose of this report to describe... It is now my task to begin dealing with question... I would like to introduce another factor into our discussion. I fully agree with the views expressed by you, Mr Chairman.
  50. 50. Participants I am sure that it is quite true, (however...) Our experience has been different. It is well known that... Allow me to place strong emphasis on... I would like to clarify what I mean by... Shown in the next slide is... In Fig. 1 is displayed... As may be seen from the diagram...
  51. 51. Participants There was reason to believe that... From this fact it follows/is quite evident... Further it was assumed that... We have succeeded in calculating and explaining... As an example let us consider the following case. To cite a single example of application... This result suggests that...
  52. 52. Participants This opinion is supported by... Although the research is still in progress, the experimental results appear to be sufficiently significant to be presented immediately. Our experiments revealed that... Further interesting information regarding this problem may be found in... In addition I would stress that...
  53. 53. Participants In conclusion, I would just like to say... I am afraid, my time has expired. To answer your question, let me... It only remains for me to say... Madam Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your attention.
  54. 54.
  55. 55. Expressing opinion In my opinion, As far as I know/am concerned, If you ask me, To tell the truth... I rather think that... I should/must say that... As a matter of fact, I suppose that...Don’t forget to support your opinion withevidence!
  56. 56. Closing a conference I will now give a brief resume of the main problems dealt with at this session. In conclusion of this discussion, it should be said that... I think we can end the discussion on this point, if you agree. If no one else wishes to say anything, I think I can close this general discussion. Thank you very much for all contributions, your attention and comments. Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of your stay here.
  57. 57. Other useful expressions
  58. 58. Hotel I have a reservation for a single/ double room. I’d like a room with a bathroom/ air-conditioning/balcony. Is this a non-smoking floor? What is the charge per night? Is tax included in the price? Can I get a receipt?
  59. 59. Hotel Can I leave my luggage here for a little while? Could you order me a taxi? Do you accept credit cards? What time do you serve breakfast? Where is the dining hall?
  60. 60. Eating out A table for [number of people], please. May I see the menu? Is there a set menu? I’d like/I’ll have... May I have one of those? I am a vegetarian. What would you recommend? May we have the check please? The meal was very good, thank you.
  61. 61. Communication essentials I don’t understand. Could you repeat? I can’t speak *language+. Could you please speak more slowly? Could you help me please? Thank you very much indeed. My name is... How do you do, pleased to meet you. How are you (today)? Take care.
  62. 62. Communication essentials Keep well. Where can I get...? What time is...? What time is it (now)? How much is it? How much does this cost? Cheers! Here’s to *person’s name+! (toast) Where is the restroom/toilet? Here’s my business card. It was nice talking to you. It was nice meeting you.
  63. 63. Getting around How do I get to...? Is it far? What is the fare to...? When does the train/bus for... leave? Where is the train/metro/bus station? How long does it take to get to...?
  64. 64. Getting around A ticket to..., please. I’d like to reserve a seat, please. Do I have to change? Which platform for the train to...? Is this the right train/bus for...?
  65. 65. Practice makes perfect
  66. 66. Transliteration1. It is a form of translation, which consists in converting a text from one script into another, e.g. from the Russian alphabet (Cyrillic) into the Latin alphabet.2. Why is it even important? As scientists, you are bound to encounter foreign names, titles of scientific articles, names of institutions, etc. It is good to know how to deal with and what to make of these mysterious characters.
  67. 67. Transliteration3. The good news is that you don’t need to know Russian to do this. What you need is a set of transliteration tables.4. Many systems have been used to transliterate from the Cyrillic into Latin alphabet, the most famous system is known as scientific transliteration. However, this system is most often used by linguists and/or in linguistic publications on Slavic languages and therefore it tends to be a bit complicated.
  68. 68. Transliteration5. For our purposes, a far more intuitive and simple system would suffice. It is known as the BGN/PCGN system and is easy for Anglophones to read and pronounce. More importantly, it uses only the basic letters and punctuation that can be found on English-language keyboards.
  69. 69. Transliteration tables Source: Wikipedia
  70. 70. How to pronouncemathematical notation
  71. 71. How to pronounce mathematical notation This portion of the lecture is based on and Visit the second link for a comprehensive guide and more examples.
  72. 72. How to pronounce mathematical notation
  73. 73. How to pronounce mathematical notation
  74. 74. How to pronounce mathematical notation
  75. 75. How to pronounce mathematical notation
  76. 76. How to pronounce mathematical notation
  77. 77. How to pronounce mathematical notation
  78. 78. Bibliography1. Robert A. Day, How to write and publish a scientific paper (5th-7th Edition);2. M. Piska, C. Cihlarova, B. Hill, LESSON 16 Useful Phrases and Sentences for Conference Participants,;3. H. Väliaho, Pronunciation of mathematical expressions,;4. Lawrence Chang, Handbook for Spoken Mathematics,;5. For more information on transliteration visit:
  79. 79. THE ENDThank you for your attention!