1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - [VOTING CLOSED]

Anything that doesn't fit anywhere else below.

Moderators: Calilasseia, ADParker

Vote for your favourite article

Poll ended at May 01, 2010 2:58 am

Towards a natural system of organisms: proposal for the domains Archaea, Bacteria, and Eucarya - OgreMkV
5
24%
Speciation By Hybridisation In Heliconius Butterflies - Calilasseia
3
14%
Sex under the microscope - Allan Miller
2
10%
Going For A Wander: Random Walks and Quantum Mechanics - Hackenslash
5
24%
Mathematical Principles of Reinforcement - Mr.Samsa
6
29%
 
Total votes : 21

1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - [VOTING CLOSED]

#1  Postby Mr.Samsa » Mar 17, 2010 6:02 am

The topic for this month is: "Dissect a scientific article and present it to a general audience".

This will be the first monthly science writing award here at RatSkep! For those unfamiliar with the competition, check out this thread: Monthly Science Writing Competition for more information.

"Dissect a scientific article and present it to a general audience": This means that you need to select one article from a peer-reviewed scientific journal (which can either be recent or historical, and from any field of science, on any topic you wish), and then explain what the article is about. As a general guide, it would be a good idea to discuss what the article is investigating, the historical factors that made the question relevant, what they found, and what significance these findings have for science and our understanding of reality. So whilst the focus of your essay should be explaining the details of the article you have chosen, it will obviously be necessary to discuss other relevant research as well to put the article into context.

This thread is for DISCUSSION ONLY, if you want to submit an essay then please visit this thread: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Submissions.

Thanks, and enjoy!
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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#2  Postby cateye » Mar 17, 2010 1:22 pm

In addition to the general rules of the competition (found here), at the beginning of your essay all participants must include: (1) the full reference to the article they are discussing (which includes the author(s), title, publication details, year etc), (2) a link to the article, and (3) the abstract. This will make it easier for the audience to get an idea of what the following discussion will be about - however, this will not be included in your post count.

For the article that I intend to discuss an abstract is not available. Should I just leave it out in that case? Or am I supposed to knock up an abstract myself?
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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#3  Postby hackenslash » Mar 17, 2010 1:25 pm

Have you got the title of the article or paper? If it's based on a submission to a peer-reviewed journal, I may be able to get the paper for you from one of our good friends. PM me with deets if you wish.
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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#4  Postby cateye » Mar 17, 2010 1:33 pm

I think an abstract for that article simply does not exist, however I sent you the link to the paper via PM, just in case.
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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#5  Postby hackenslash » Mar 17, 2010 2:47 pm

I think you're probably right, given the paper. Never mind, somebody might turn up the original paper in English, which would be a big help.

To be honest, it was all a trick so I could find out what your essay was going to be about. :naughty2:

Seriously, though, I'm looking forward to your essay.
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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#6  Postby cateye » Mar 17, 2010 3:06 pm

hackenslash wrote:I think you're probably right, given the paper. Never mind, somebody might turn up the original paper in English, which would be a big help.

I've spent considerable efforts in finding a translation myself - unfortunately to no avail.

hackenslash wrote:To be honest, it was all a trick so I could find out what your essay was going to be about. :naughty2:

Hopefully I managed to scare you away from the competition, then :P

hackenslash wrote:Seriously, though, I'm looking forward to your essay.

As do I to reading yours - this is supposed to be fun and educating at the same time, and I am sure it will be. We both seem to have picked tricky subjects, but hey: theres no fun without a challenge, right?

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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#7  Postby Calilasseia » Mar 17, 2010 6:01 pm

I now have a submission for the competition. However, it's 3,466 words, which means it's somewhat over the word limit. This does, however, include extensive quotes from the paper, which are necessary, and without those extensive quotes, the count of my own words is only 1,827. Would this entry be acceptable in the light of this?
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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#8  Postby Darkchilde » Mar 17, 2010 6:11 pm

I think that the word limit is about your own writing, and not about the quotes from the article. And in this case, as quotes from the article might be necessary, then the word limit should not include the quotes.
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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#9  Postby Calilasseia » Mar 17, 2010 6:14 pm

While I'm minded to agree Darkchilde, I'll await Mazille's adjudication on this. After all, he's running the competition. :)
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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#10  Postby cateye » Mar 17, 2010 6:17 pm

Darkchilde wrote:I think that the word limit is about your own writing, and not about the quotes from the article. And in this case, as quotes from the article might be necessary, then the word limit should not include the quotes.

Does this also apply to quotes which I have (necessarily) translated? Because, even though my article is not complete yet, I can foresee to run into similar difficulties to the ones Cal is having. My first first part, which is supposed to be about 1/3 of the article, is 1.125 words, where 132 words are from a quote. Also, the biblography (22 sources yet) is another 265 words and growing...

Mazille?
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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#11  Postby Mazille » Mar 17, 2010 6:26 pm

The bibliography doesn't count at all, cat.
Other than that. :dunno: I guess we can let it slip, at least for this round, as there will surely be others who will face similar problems.

I'd say go for it, but don't call me out on it if I'm not that lenient in upcoming rounds.
I would, however, wait for Mr. Samsa to say something. This month it's him who's running the competition.
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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#12  Postby cateye » Mar 17, 2010 6:30 pm

Mazille wrote:The bibliography doesn't count at all, cat.
Other than that. :dunno: I guess we can let it slip, at least for this round, as there will surely be others who will face similar problems.

I'd say go for it, but don't call me out on it if I'm not that lenient in upcoming rounds.
I would, however, wait for Mr. Samsa to say something. This month it's him who's running the competition.

Aye, let's wait for Mr. Samsa, then. And no, I won't call you out on it. :)
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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#13  Postby ashley » Mar 17, 2010 9:54 pm

If as has been said, the word limit is there not simply to encourage conciseness, but to ensure that we can read all the entries in a reasonable amount of time before voting, then it should apply to everything the reader is expected to read. If these quotations are necessary to understand the essay then it makes no sense to exclude them.

Just saying. :shifty:
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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#14  Postby hackenslash » Mar 17, 2010 10:22 pm

For those who are entering, and indeed for anybody else who wants to help get this really well attended, a little forum-wide advertising might be useful, so I made a little banner. if you wish to use it, simply copy the following code into your signature box:

Code: Select all
[url=http://www.rationalskepticism.org/announces/1st-monthly-rs-science-writing-award-t3005.html][img]http://i139.photobucket.com/albums/q301/hackenslash_album/RatSkepSciwriting-1.jpg[/img][/url]
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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#15  Postby cateye » Mar 17, 2010 10:37 pm

ashley wrote:If as has been said, the word limit is there not simply to encourage conciseness, but to ensure that we can read all the entries in a reasonable amount of time before voting, then it should apply to everything the reader is expected to read. If these quotations are necessary to understand the essay then it makes no sense to exclude them.

Just saying. :shifty:

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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#16  Postby ashley » Mar 17, 2010 11:08 pm

cateye wrote:
ashley wrote:If as has been said, the word limit is there not simply to encourage conciseness, but to ensure that we can read all the entries in a reasonable amount of time before voting, then it should apply to everything the reader is expected to read. If these quotations are necessary to understand the essay then it makes no sense to exclude them.

Just saying. :shifty:

:bat:
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I personally think the word limit is too low anyway.
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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#17  Postby Mr.Samsa » Mar 18, 2010 12:19 am

Mazille wrote:The bibliography doesn't count at all, cat.
Other than that. :dunno: I guess we can let it slip, at least for this round, as there will surely be others who will face similar problems.

I'd say go for it, but don't call me out on it if I'm not that lenient in upcoming rounds.
I would, however, wait for Mr. Samsa to say something. This month it's him who's running the competition.


Yeah I agree, bibliography/references obviously don't count and I think for this round quotations won't count toward the word limit too - because they are necessary for people to explain what the article is about. (EDIT: only quotations from your selected article will be excluded from your word count, any quotations from other articles will count as per usual).

I'll amend the rules.
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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#18  Postby cateye » Mar 18, 2010 12:28 am

Mr. Samsa, could you quickly comment on how to proceed if an abstract for the article that I am discussing is not available, please? I will send you a link to the article in question via PM.
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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#19  Postby Mr.Samsa » Mar 18, 2010 12:35 am

cateye wrote:Mr. Samsa, could you quickly comment on how to proceed if an abstract for the article that I am discussing is not available, please? I will send you a link to the article in question via PM.


Oh yeah sorry. Hmm... That's annoying!

If you can find a couple of lines of text which basically summarises what they are doing, such as "Therefore, this article sets out to investigate etc etc.." then just use that. If there isn't anything like that, then just write 'no abstract available' or something and then maybe write 1 to 2 lines just briefly stating what the article is about - i.e. what field of science it is, what topic they're looking at, what they set out to demonstrate/investigate/test and what they found etc. So yeah, essentially write up an abstract yourself but it doesn't need to be well written, or comprehensive - just something simple so people know what they are about to read.
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Re: 1st Monthly RS Science Writing Award - Discussion

#20  Postby cateye » Mar 18, 2010 12:44 am

Mr.Samsa wrote:
cateye wrote:Mr. Samsa, could you quickly comment on how to proceed if an abstract for the article that I am discussing is not available, please? I will send you a link to the article in question via PM.


Oh yeah sorry. Hmm... That's annoying!

If you can find a couple of lines of text which basically summarises what they are doing, such as "Therefore, this article sets out to investigate etc etc.." then just use that. If there isn't anything like that, then just write 'no abstract available' or something and then maybe write 1 to 2 lines just briefly stating what the article is about - i.e. what field of science it is, what topic they're looking at, what they set out to demonstrate/investigate/test and what they found etc. So yeah, essentially write up an abstract yourself but it doesn't need to be well written, or comprehensive - just something simple so people know what they are about to read.

I sent you a summary, which I think might do. Should I go with that?
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