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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

Application of nanotechnology in medicine
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
Damian
yes that's correct
Professor
I think
Professor
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
Rafiq
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
Damian
How we are making nano material?
LITNING Reply
what is a peer
LITNING Reply
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
LITNING Reply
What is STMs full form?
LITNING
scanning tunneling microscope
Sahil
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Santosh
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
Mahi
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
Rafiq
if virus is killing to make ARTIFICIAL DNA OF GRAPHENE FOR KILLED THE VIRUS .THIS IS OUR ASSUMPTION
Anam
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Anam
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
Bob
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
brayan
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Damian
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
Renato
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
?
Kyle
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
Adin
why?
Adin
what school?
Kyle
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Joe
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
research.net
kanaga
sciencedirect big data base
Ernesto
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
hi
Loga
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
Bharti
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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