Monday, February 20, 2012

Reading Notes for Writing in the Sciences (Ch 05)

The Review Article

Research reviews typically present a synthesis of findings rather than a synthesis of view.

Direct quotations are rarely found in research reviews.

Review in this context means to synthesize or characterize a body of information, not simply to point out flows.

Locating the Literature

Research reviews focus on primary sources -- original reports of individual studies published in professional research journals -- as opposed to secondary sources such as textbooks or magazine articles written for non-expert audiences.

``forward'' from an article, by identifying other sources in which it was later cited.

Summaries and headlines from PLoS (

Reading Previous Research
  • What does the field already know about this topic?
  • What kinds of studies have been done?
  • What methods have been used, and how useful have they turned out to be?
  • What has been found?
  • What kind of information is till needed?
Identifying Trends and Patterns

The grid: research question, methods, and principal results

Organizing the Review
  • Introduce your discussion by establishing the significance of the topic
  • Organize the body of review to reflect the clusters or subtopics you have identified, using headings if the review is length.
  • Use topic sentences at the start of paragraphs and sections to highlight similarities and differences and points of agreement and disagreement.
  • Conclude with an overview of what is known and what is left to explore.
Citing Sources in the Text

The Council of Science Editors identifies three primary citation systems used in scientific journals: name-year, citation-sequence, and citation-name.

For works with more than two authors, use ``et al.'' or ``and others''

  • Ann M. Penrose, Steven B. Katz. Writing in the Sciences (3rd edition). Longman. 2009

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