Friday, September 14, 2012

Students Writing for Science...

Students Writing for Science...
need to cite sources and follow style manuals.  Sometimes, they complain about this.  These are basic writing skills, however and need to be applied in science as in other fields.

Look at the previous post and you can see a link to instructions for authors  of the new journal.  Every journal has a section guiding authors to the style needed to be followed for that journal.  Students can gather from this professional use of style that the exercise in the classroom does have merit in the real world... and even in the virtual one (since that journal is on-line only.)

Another indication of relevance to citation is any scandal on plagiarism. Schools, colleges, and universities have rules against plagiarism.  It is against the law in many countries if not all.  The recent scandal at Harvard shows none are exempt from having people break the rules: harvard-cheating-ring-uni_n_1844104.html, however, students are often not aware of what plagiarism is.

Pointing out what needs to be cited, and, identifying both quotations and paraphrases, is helpful.  Students may cite quotes but forget to cite paraphrases.  They need to be reminded to cite both quotes and paraphrases/.  Book publishers have been known to copy, even from this blog, without citing.  Imagine! (I am giving them a chance here to "fess up," and make right.)   But, we all need to be vigilant and give credit to authors for their ideas.  Style manuals and instructions for authors give us the correct ways to cite for a particular publication. Even young students can learn to cite correctly:  I have seen kindergarteners do it well (age 5).

Often students who did cite didn't know of style manuals.  They did it according to their grade school or high school teacher's assignment sheets (which may have used APA, MLA,  or other style manual as a base (Were these cited?)

Where can you get style manuals?  Ask the reference librarian at your local library.  For your information,. there are some style manuals at the bottom of the blog post.  Feel free to add others in the comments.  Thanks.

Note:  Special Thanks to the Librarians at Thrall Library (and likely librarians at many other libraries)  for making every effort to educate students on the library skills they need to stay current throughout their lives..

Applications in Plant Sciences (APPS): A New Journal on Novel Protocols and Technological Advancements

In the Botanical Society of America's June 2012 newsletter that, "the American Journal of Botany's online-only, open access section, AJB Primer Notes & Protocols in the Plant Sciences, will be launching as an independent journal in January 2013."  Source:, Accessed 14 Sept 2012.

The APPS Editorial Board consists of  Theresa Culley (Editor-in-Chief)Richard Cronn, Mitch Cruzan, Kent Holsinger, Jeff Maughan, Mike Moore, Pam Soltis, and Lisa Wallace.  Source:, Accessed 14 Sept 2012.

Submission guidelines, article types, and other pointers may be found in the Primer Notes Instructions for AuthorsSource:, Accessed 14 Sept 2012.

Manufacturers in the United States who pay attention here may have some new products to develop.

(c) 2012 J S Shipman

Canadian Sustainability Group Provides a Role Model

Here's a link to a Canadian sustainability group:

The Biorenewables Cafe meets informally and provides a networking forum for people interested in sustainability.   The September meeting featured a speaker, Dr. Richard Chandra, from the UBC Faculty of Forestry.  Dr. Chandra is a research associate in the Forest Products Biotechnology/ Bioenergy Research Group. His talk, "Bio-fuels and Bio-products from Biomass:  Breaking apart something that's meant to stay together," will springboard the networking session.  Here is a quote of the abstract from his presentation:

Bio-fuels and Bio-products from Biomass: Breaking apart something that’s meant to stay together! 
The major hurdle to overcome when trying to unlock the energy in leftover agricultural biomass and woody waste to supply our needs for renewable fuels and products is the inherent recalcitrance of the biomass itself. Nature has interwoven the chemical components of biomass into a structure that resists breakdown by biochemical means, thus necessitating various processes called pretreatments. Pretreatments aim to cleanly separate these chemical components in a usable form and, in many cases are analogous to processes used in the pulp and paper industry. This presentation will examine the biology, chemistry and physics responsible for the resistance of biomass to breakdown, while detailing the various pretreatment processes that are currently being examined at UBC which aim to maximize the value obtainable from biomass.
This Canadian sustainability group serves as a model because many of us could form such groups in our own communities where we can learn from one another, listen to experts, read, discuss, and improve science literacy on sustainability.  In fact, global sustainability will increase as more and more of us educate ourselves and each other about how we can sustain the Earth. 

In school communities, each student could spend time becoming a mini-expert by reading up on a particular aspect of sustainability, or, even by "slogging" through a journal article and slowly learning its vocabulary, and content.  Then, students could come together after 2 weeks or three of their independent or small group work and could then learn in a cooperative manner, but also have fun, by having their own Sustainability Cafe...healthy snacks included (by assisting parents and school volunteers).  Please feel free to report back here on your experiences either by adding a comment or by submitting a post. (Please put BLOG POST in the re: line.  Thanks.)

Forest Products Biotechnology/Bioenergy Research Group:
Biorenewables Cafe on Linked-in:

(c)2012 J S Shipman.  All rights reserved.