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Writing Lab Reports

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Transcript of Writing Lab Reports

Writing Lab Reports
The University Writing Center
Presents
The University Writing Center
The Learning Commons at PCL
M-Th 10-8; F 10-4
Sun 1-7PM
512-471-6222
The University Writing Center
Anyone enrolled in a UT class
One-on-one expert writing help
45 minute personalized consultations
Any piece of writing at any stage
Non-directive
Non-evaluative
Diagnostic outside readers
Today's Agenda
Questions?

Comments?

Concerns?

Thanks!
University Writing Center
PCL 2.330 | 512-471-6222 | uwc.utexas.edu
Created by Elizabeth Goins and Tom Lindsay
Last updated by Tom Lindsay, February 2012
Information, writing help, teaching resources, and
online appointment-scheduling
available at:
uwc.utexas.edu
Writing in
Process
Preparation
Creation
Revision
Individual
Non-linear
Flexibile
Lengthy
For consultations...
Make an appointment (
online
at uwc.utexas.edu).
Walk in.
Be sure to bring...
The writing prompt or assignment description
Your brainstorming notes
Your current draft
Instructor comments
Any other materials related to the piece of writing
Bank of stock frames:
Writing in
Process:
Preparation
Creation
Revision
Individual
Non-linear
Flexible
Social
Assess your audience.
Assess the assignment.
Who is your audience?
What is their level of technical knowledge or expertise?
Do they belong to a particular academic or professional community?
What do you know about that community?
Assess your purpose.
In addition to sharing the data you generated in your experiment, why are you writing your report?
Why does your audience want to read your report?
What will your audience hope to get out of your report?
What is the prompt asking me to do?
Who is my audience and what do I know about them?
What is the required format and style?
Creation
Draft a thesis that helps you and your reader.
How can I use my thesis to delinate or narrow the scope of my topic?
How can I use my thesis to communicate an argument?
"Would UT benefit if more students utilized public transportation?"
"UT would benefit if more students utilized public transportation."
How can I use my thesis to establish an organizational game plan for my paper?
"If more students utilized public transportation, UT would benefit economically, socially, and environmentally.
Be a question you answer with your paper,
Title:
focus or scope of inquiry
research (or thesis) question
answer to research question
argument
purpose
Introductions
Three goals:
1. Engage your reader and introduce your topic.
2. Deliver your thesis.
3. Deliver an organizational plan.
Tips for composing introductions:
Thesis statements typically come at the end of the introduction.
Thesis statements can be more than one sentence.
Your readers should be able to read your thesis and say to themselves, "This paper will show, argue, explore, etc., X, Y, and Z.
Tips for composing theses:
Body Paragraphs
Three goals:
1. Deliver a claim.
2. Provide evidence for that claim.
3. Provide analysis.
The claim of a paragraph typically comes in the paragraph's topic sentence or at the end of its analysis.
Evidence comes in many forms: quotes, paraphrasing, rich description, data, etc.
Don't allow your sources to drown out your voice: balance quotes and paraphrases; evidence and analysis.
If your thesis is a road map, use transitions as road signs.
Always remember: claim, evidence, analysis.
Tips for composing body paragraphs:
how your evidence supports your claim
Conclusion
Three goals:
1. Restate your thesis.
2. Recap your claims.
3. Answer the "So what?" question.
Recap without repeating.
Use different words.
Summarize and synthesize your claims to demonstrate how they work together to support your thesis.
Tips for composing conclusions:
When readers finish reading a paper, they want to know why that paper is important.
Consider, why should readers spend their time and energy reading your paper?
When answering the "So what?" question, consider questions such as...
Your thesis will probably change in form and/or focus as you go through the creation process.
Writers often free-write or brainstorm socially before arriving at a thesis and/or a list of supporting claims.
Writers also free-write and brainstorm socially in order to overcome writer's block.
Some writers find it difficult to design organizational structures before composing drafts.
These writers often reverse the process, composing very rough drafts that they then re-organize.
Writers often write their introductions and conclusions last.
When
Papers,
Creating
Be Flexibile!
Revision
Ask yourself...
Seek out feedback.
Do my objectives match the assignment?
Do I have all the necessary sections?
Does each section contain the necessary information?
Are all my paragraphs coherent and devoted to one main idea, or to one cluster of closely related ideas?
Have I described my experiment in way that will be clear and useful for my audience?
Are my sentences, concise, active, and direct?
Ask a third party to assess the paper using the questions above.
Other people will notice things about the paper that you will not.
Other people will help you assess the paper in the way your reader will.
Revision
Responding to self assessment and feedback will prompt you to...
And then to...
Return to an earlier stage in the writing process, and
Rethink your audience,
Draft a new thesis statement,
Generate new claims,
Find different evidence, etc.
Cut content,
Generate new content,
Rearrange content,
Rewrite content, etc.
Revising
vs.
Editing
Revising results in "global-level" changes to: thesis, content, structure, claims, etc.
Editing results in "local-level" changes to: syntax, grammar, word choice, punctuation, etc.
Polishing your writing through editing enhances your credibility as a writer. It is very important, but it should be the very last thing you do before submitting a paper.
Return to an earlier stage of the writing process and do things such as...
Your thesis may...
Be revised as you learn more about your topic,
Or be revised to match what you've written.
After you finish revising, edit your work.
Ease the reader in by providing necessary background or context.
Hook the reader with something relevant and striking, e.g. statistics, an anecdote, etc.
Avoid huge generalizations, e.g. "Since the founding of America..."
Creation
Creation
We believe that the best writers allow themselves the time and flexibility to move back and forth through their writing processes multiple times before arriving at finished products.
Does my thesis connect with the themes of the class?
Is my thesis relevant to wider societal trends or phenomena?
Does my analysis provide new insight?
Does my research suggest new areas for inquiry?
Creation
No writer can create a fully coherent and polished draft in one sitting. So, start early, work often (if only for brief periods of time), and plan to take breaks.
Develop a topic.
Do preliminary research or exploration.
Brainstorm, free-write, talk it out.
Remember, you probably have more ideas than you realize!
The central focus of your report is always the data you generated in the lab, but how you
present
that data depends on your
audience
and your
purpose
. A company executive, a lay reader, and a fellow researcher may all be interested in your research, but they will all be interested for different reasons and will have different levels of knowledge and expertise.
Preparation
Start your writing process in the lab.
No amount of sophisticated writing can make up for bad data.
Prepare and run your experiment carefully.
Keep a thorough, detailed, legible notebook.
Plan ahead.
Set up your schedule to ensure that you can start creating your lab report immediately after your experiment is complete.
At this point, you will have a better recollection of what happened in the experiment and will have an easier time creating a successful report.
Even the best kept notebook cannot take the place of a fresh, lucid memory.
Preparation
Assess your audience.
Who is your audience?
What do you know about them?
What is their level of technical knowledge or expertise?
What academic and/or professional communities do they belong to?
What do you know about that community?
What expectations will your audience have of you as a writer?
Assess your purpose.
In addition to sharing the data you generated in your experiment, why are you writing your report?
Why does your audience want to read your report?
What will your audience expect from your report?
What will your audience hope to get out of your report?
In addition to the data generated in your lab, do you need to provide your audience with any additional information?
The central focus of your report is always the data you generated in the lab, but how you present that data depends on your audience and your purpose. A company executive, a lay reader, and a fellow researcher may all be interested in your research, but they will all be interested for different reasons and will have different levels of knowledge and expertise.
Creation
Consult style guides.
The CSE, ACS, APA and other style guides include more than just guidelines for formatting your references.
They include advice and instructions for writing clear prose, using numbers and symbols correctly, creating and incorporating visual aids, and more.
Creation
Your title should be detailed, specific and informative.
Abstract:
Your abstract should clearly and concisely summarize the important aspects of your entire report,
i.e. your purpose, scope, methods, results, and conclusions.
Introduction:
Your introduction should tell your audience your objectives for running the experiment, give important background information, and describe relevant predictions and hypotheses.
Materials and Methods:
Your materials and methods section should describe the experiment itself. It should be detailed enough to enable someone else to duplicate the experiment.
References:
Your references should provide full citation information for all your reference material. Check with your instructor about which style guide you should use (CSE, APA, etc.)
Creation
Results:
Your results section should present your data, but not interpret it. It should form the center of your report. If your data is badly presented, the rest of the report will not matter.
Discussion:
Your discussion section interprets your results in light of your predictions and of current hypotheses. It will probably be the longest section of your report. Discussion sections are often the most important part of college lab reports because they demonstrate that students are clearly thinking about and understanding experimental material.
Sentence-Level Style*
Effective science writing requires sentences that are:
To achieve this sentence-level style:
Avoid unnecessary words and phrases.
Use active voice whenever possible.
Don't turn verbs into nouns.
Put the main verb early in the sentence.
Concise
Active
Direct
Creation
Avoid Unnecessary Words and Phrases
Dead weight words and phrases
e.g. "as it is well known," "as it has been shown," "it can be regarded that."
e.g. "basic tenants of," "methodological."
e.g. "muscular and cardiorespiratory performance."
e.g. "illustrate/demonstrate," "challenges/difficulties."
e.g. "very," "really," "quite," "basically," "generally."
e.g. "muscular and cardiorespiratory performance."
Creation
Avoid Unnecessary Words and Phrases
As it is well known, increased athletic activity has been related to a profile of lower cardiovascular risk, lower blood pressure levels, and improved muscular and cardiorespiratory performance.
Increased athletic activity lowers cardiovascular risk and blood pressure and improves fitness.
Creation
Use Active Voice Whenever Possible
Passive Voice:
Object-Verb-Subject, or just Object-Verb.
Passive voice obscures who/what is doing the action.
Examples: "Mistakes were made by us," or just "Mistakes were made."
Active Voice:
Subject-Verb-Object, or just Subject-Verb.
Active voice highlights who/what is doing the action.
Examples: "We made mistakes," or just "We messed up."
Creation
General dysfunction of the immune system has been suggested at the leukocyte level in both animal and human diabetes studies.
Both human and animal studies suggest that diabetics have general immune dysfunction at the leukocyte level.
Use Active Voice Whenever Possible
One study of 930 adults with multiple sclerosis (MS) who were receiving care in one of two managed care settings or in a fee-for-service setting found that only two-thirds of those needing to contact a neurologist for an MS-related problem in the prior six months had done so.
Revise.
Rewrite your report according to your self-assessment and feedback.
Before you submit your report, remember to edit it.
Some lab reports may contain sections other than those named here, or they may contain these sections but refer to them in different terms. If you are unsure how to write a particular section of your lab report, or what to include in that section,
refer to your assignment prompt or ask your instructor
.
Creation
Avoid Unnecessary Words and Phrases
Don't use multiple words when one will do!
A majority of
A number of
Are of the same opinion
Less frequently occurring
All three of the
Give rise to
Due to the fact that
Have an effect on
Compare these phrases...
...with these words.
most
many
agree
rare
the three
cause
because
effect
Creation
Don't Turn Verbs Into Nouns
Turning verbs into nouns complicates and weakens sentences.
Obtain estimates of
Has seen an expansion in
Provides a methodological emphasis
Take an assessment of
Provide a review of
Offer confirmation of
Make a decision
Shows a peak
estimate
has expanded
emphasizes methodology
assess
review
confirm
decide
peaks
Compare these phrases...
...with these words.
Creation
During DNA damage, recognition of H3K4me3 by ING2 results in recruitment of Sin3/HDAC and repression of cell proliferation genes.
During DNA damage H3K4me3 recruits ING2 and Sin3/HDAC, which together repress cell proliferation genes.
Don't Turn Verbs Into Nouns
Creation
Readers are waiting for the verb!
Put the Main Verb Early in the Sentence
One study found that, of 930 adults with multiple sclerosis (MS) who were receiving care in one of two managed care settings or in a fee-for-service setting, only two-thirds of those needing to contact a neurologist for an MS-related problem in the prior six months had done so.
Writing in process
Preparation
Creation
Structure
Sentence-level style
Revision
The following slides have been adapted from Thomas Blackburn and Kristin Sainani's 'Fundamentals of Effective Scientific Writing -- Manuscripts and Grants,' http://acswebinars.org/sainani
*

Empty words and phrases
Long words or phrases that could be short
Unnecessary jargon
Repetitive words or phrases
Adverbs
PCL Learning Commons Resources

The Public Speaking Center

UT Librarians by appointment

UT Libraries "Chat with a librarian"

The University Writing Center
Full transcript