Monday, March 31, 2008

New Book Profile: How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper

Title: How to write and publish a scientific paper (T11.D33 2006: New Book shelf)
Edition: 6th
Authors: Robert A. Day and Barbara Gastel
Publisher: Greenwood Press
Year: 2006
303 pages

...the research scientist, perhaps uniquely among the trades and professions, must provide a document showing what he or she did, why it was done, how it was done, and what was learned from it. ... Thus, the scientist must not only "do" science but must "write" science. (p. ix)
The above quotation from the preface of this book illustrates how important it is for science students to learn how to write. This book benefits from clear, concise writing and neatly demarcated sections, making it easy to skim for portions relevant to your own writing challenges. It is not meant to teach you to be a better writer but rather a better science writer, primarily addressing issues that are unique to science writing. Yet, it is not a workbook and provides few examples. Although the book is designed for graduate students and professionals, undergraduates will benefit immensely from putting its advice into practice now.

Part I addresses preliminaries such as the definition of science writing, its history and ethics. This section is useful in helping delineate the difference between the writing that you will do for your science classes versus the writing you will do in an elective class. The chapter Approaching a Writing Project offers considerations before you write, which can save time in revision later.

Part II deals with the nitty gritty of each section in a scientific paper. Chapters on the title, abstract, introduction, and materials and methods sections seem the most useful. Chapters on the Results and Discussion Section would benefit from more examples but offer a few choice tidbits. I recommend getting as good style manual rather than the book's chapter on citing.

Part III on graphs, tables, and photographs uses great examples to show when each is needed and, perhaps more importantly, when each is not needed. In addition, correct formatting of each is discussed.

Part VI on conference communications clarifies the differing types of preparation and writing needed for oral versus printed communication, and offers limited advice for handling difficult question and answer periods.

The chapter, Use and Misuse of English, is highly recommended for highlighting some of the most common mistakes I have seen (over and over again) as a copy editor, although the section on dangling modifiers may prove confusing for many students. The next chapter on avoiding jargon is also useful, but, in my opinion, even better, is Appendix 2: Words and Expressions to Avoid (one of my personal pet peeves being "in order to" which uses 3 words to simply say "to").

In addition to the aforementioned sections, the book includes chapters on conducting peer review, becoming involved professionally in scientific communication, and writing a dissertation, CV, and a grant proposal.

I am working on an annotated list of books available at Eckerd for science writing, and I will put it on the blog when it is available. If you would like to talk to me or have me look over your papers, please contact me for an appointment.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Prof. Ehrlich speaks in St. Pete

On Tuesday, I had to opportunity to hear Paul Ehrlich, professor at Stanford and author of the renowned Population Bomb, its follow-up Population Explosion, and numerous other books. His upcoming book, written with his wife Anne Ehrlich, is The Dominant Animal: Human Evolution and the Environment. Prof. Ehrlich is engaging, funny, and very earnest about his concern for the planet. He began his talk discussing his motivation for the most recent book, which came about because of the lack of science in the general curriculum at Stanford. I found this interesting as Eckerd is revising its general education requirements and working to fit various literacies (quantitative, scientific, information, and so on) into its own tight academic schedule.

He then launched into an overview of human evolution, assuming that while most of his audience knew some of the story, nobody knew it all. He became the most passionate when he expounded on the current situation. The world's population, as he sees it, is undermining our life support-- our ecosystems--in favor of enterprise. One example he gave was the Philippines, where he saw rich farmland covered over by strip malls and McDonald's restaurants, but he joked, "McDonald's is what feeds the people." He cited the original incarnation of Biosphere 2, which demonstrated how little we know about planetary interactions and the impact our current actions have for the future. He emphasized throughout his lecture the importance of a global conversation on the issues and the many complexities involved: population control, overconsumption, agribusiness, water economy, and more. He lamented the fact the the richest, most knowledgeable countries are the biggest consumers (of goods, natural resources, etc.) and quipped "there is no discussion of consumption condoms."

Yet, Dr. Ehrlich remains hopeful and confident. He recognizes the adaptability of the human race and is excited and amazed by the immense cultural changes that have taken place in his own lifetime, such as advancements in gender and racial equity. Therefore, he told the audience once again, the key is conversation and changing attitudes. He ended his lecture by stating that we have to work together to ripen the time for change.

The Dominant Animal is will be released June 13, 2008.

Eckerd Library has the following books by Anne and Paul Ehrlich, as well of a number of books penned by Paul Ehrlich alone or with other authors:

  • Betrayal of science and reason : how anti-environmental rhetoric threatens our future

Call Number: GE 195 E37 1996

  • Earth

Call Number: GF 75 .E47 1987

  • Ecoscience : population, resources, environment

Call Number: HB 871 E35 1977

  • Extinction : the causes and consequences of the disappearance of species

Call Number: QH 75 E36

  • Healing the planet : strategies for resolving the environmental crisis

Call Number: GF 75 E4 1991

  • Population explosion

Call Number: HB 871 E33 1990

  • Stork and the plow : the equity answer to the human dilemma

Call Number: HB 871 .E353 1995

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Blogging on scientific research

Research Blogging collects posts on peer-reviewed research and organizes them by topic. Many scientists are blogging about peer-reviewed research. Using code generated at Research Blogger, their posts are captured in one place for easy perusal. In the past, I have mentioned discussions with faculty and students about serendipitous discovery. Many ask if it is possible without spending time in the library flipping through journals on the shelves. Bear in mind, I do not want to discourage spending time in the library. However, Research Blogging provides another type of discovery. By clicking on a subject, such as computer science, you can read what bloggers in the field have discovered. For a post to be included in Research Blogging, it must discuss peer-reviewed research that has been read carefully by the writer. Furthermore, the review must be written from the writer's perspective, i.e., it should not be a compilation of other people's thoughts on the research. In addition, a posting should contain the full reference, including whenever possible, the DOI number. Therefore, interested students and faculty members can locate the research article being discussed. The community involved with this blog polices the entries, and abuse will lead to removal.

Current categories for Research Blogging:

  • Anthropology
  • Astronomy
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Clinical Research
  • Computer Science
  • Earth / Environmental
  • Economics
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Research / Scholarship
  • Other
A note on locating the article: Students that are not familiar with DOI numbers may expect that clicking the link will take you to the full text. The DOI number will take you to full citation information but not necessarily the full text. If you are on campus, and the library owns the full text, you should be able to access it. If you are off campus, you would have to log into the library first. Remember to use Find Journal Titles to see if we own the journal either in print or electronically (or both). Finally, don't forget that by using Interlibrary Loan, you can usually obtain the article from another library.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Tibet, a personal note

This blog is dedicated to information and resources for science students and faculty. I usually don't do personal. However, I promised to spread the word on this, and I thought the blog might help. Some of my readers are aware that I spent 10 months in India teaching English to Tibetan refugees. Also, my former husband, Lobsang Dhondup (see picture), is a Tibetan refugee, born in Lithang in the Kham province (Sichuan province in Chinese). He crossed the Himalayas on foot more than 10 years ago, and just passed his U.S. citizenship test a few weeks ago. There are thousands of troops in his hometown and Chinese "government control is absolute" (as reported by National Public Radio). He cannot reach his family because land and cell service has been cut off (as reported by Radio Free Asia).

On his behalf and the behalf of other Tibetan friends, I would ask you to consider signing a letter to the International Olympic committee from Students for a Free Tibet.

Other ways to take action are listed by the Government of Tibet in Exile:

In addition, there are more than 100 books on various aspects of Tibetan history, religion, and culture in our library. Tibet is a distant and almost mythical country. Take some time to learn more about it. A book that I enjoyed that is not available at our library is Princess in the Land of Snows.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Using Wikipedia for writing assignments

Recently information literacy and instruction librarians have engaged in a discussion on the idea of using Wikipedia as an assignment. Wikipedia encourages use in the classroom by proposing a number of project ideas that can be accessed at Wikipedia: School and University Projects. In addition, a presentation with audio, Using Wikipedia to Reenvision the Term Paper by Andreas Brockhaus and Martha Groom, University of Washington Bothell, from the EDUCAUSE conference has been made available this afternoon via Scholarship 2.0 blog. The presentation suggests that a Wikipedia assignment allows for authentic real-world feedback as well as an audience beyond their own professor. Furthermore, the students learn to question the validity of an open-source encyclopedia as they see their own work changed and edited, sometimes in ways in which they might not agree. It was their experience that students worked harder when they knew their work could be viewed outside the classroom and gained the experience of scholarly communication, building on the work of others. Also intriguing to Eckerd was the idea that this was a type of service learning. The presenters also discussed some of the difficulties they encountered and methods for overcoming them.

Here is an example from Martha Groom's class: Communal Wildlife Conservancies in Namibia

The Wikipedia project article provides guidelines, syllabus examples, suggested exercises, and current projects. For example, a developmental biology class at Columbus State University is working on the following project:

Students in Developmental Biology are collaborating to create an article on Dictyostelium discoideum and its importance as a model system in developmental biology. The goals of the assignment are to create an article of value to the developmental biology community and to give students an opportunity to experience collaborative writing.
The article "When Wikipedia Is the Assignment" from Inside Higher Ed also discusses this concept with comments from other educators.

Another forum, Eduzendium, a project from Citizendium, is designed for student projects. Citizendium works towards a higher level of accuracy.

Students, if you are interested in writing for Wikipedia as an alternative to a term paper, let your professors know. Faculty, I can help you prepare an assignment and workshops on library resources and technology for such an assignment.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Emerald Isle, for how long?

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The day when green is everywhere: clothes, hats, beer, cookies, the U.S., we turn anything green that we are able to dye. Unfortunately, the incredible greenness of the island that inspires the celebrations may be disappearing. The Irish American Climate Project has released a report on the state of Ireland's environment, which is downloadable at the Web site. In the report, filmmaker Dermot Somers, discusses the impact of a new climate on Irish culture:

We have been used to a slowness, a kind of seeping absorption, followed by a slow release of light and sensory images. That’s what Irish lyric poetry expresses, what sean-nós singing evokes. It’s the timelessness of events and sensations, and then the slow release of them into emotional perception by people. I would be very worried about the harshness of sudden change affecting that.

The report calls for those concerned with the fate of Ireland to consider the impact of their environmental choices. On this day, your celebration might include reflection on your own efforts to avert the climate crisis.

Web Guides for Going Green
How to Go Green Guides
The Green Guide, National Geographic

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day!

The math community worldwide celebrates 3/14 as Pi Day. In honor of this event, I present some Eckerd Library resources on that famous number, pi. Don't forget to join Prof. Kerr and colleagues in Sheen Lobby for fun activities and delicious fruit pie...mmmm...pie...


1/pi to 1.000.000 digits calculated by Yasumasa Kanada.
Available through NetLibrary

A history of [pi] by Petr Beckmann. Call Number QA 484 B4 1971

A history of the circle : mathematical reasoning and the physical universe by Ernest Zebrowski, Jr. Call Number Q 176 .Z42 1999

Computation of Pi by William Leonard Schaaf. Call Number QA 7 .S372 v.7

Nature and history of Pi by William Leonard Schaaf Call Number QA 7 .S372 v.6

Number [pi] by Pierre Eymard, Jean-Pierre Lafon; translated by Stephen S. Wilson. Call Number QA 484 .E9613 2004

Number Pi by Scott Hemphill. Available through NetLibrary

Pi, a source book edited by Lennart Berggren, Jonathan Borwein, Peter Borwein. Call Number QA 484 .P5 2004

Pi-unleashed by Jorg Arndt, Christoph Haenel; translated from the German by Catriona and David Lischka. Call Number QA 484 .A7513 2001

Porridge, pulleys and pi: two mathematical journeys. Ask at Circulation Desk

Pi from Mathworld Encyclopedia, contains links to many references

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The R Project

In my copious free time (yes, that is a sarcastic use of "copious"), I copyedit for Limnology and Oceanography: Methods via ScholarOne, a subsidiary of Thomson Scientific. Recently I was working on the article, Karel Van den Meersche, Karline Soetaert, Jack J. Middelburg
A Bayesian Compositional Estimator for microbial taxonomy based on biomarkers (preview of abstract available at Of course, I cannot tell you more about this article, but because Eckerd subscribes, you will be able to access it once it is published. However, reading this article, I learned about the R Project for Statistical Computing. According to its home page, "R is a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics." Given that it is free, I wanted the NAS community to be aware of this software. The article mentioned above, when published, will demonstrate one use. Eckerd students and faculty may want to investigate other uses for their own research.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Visual Elements Periodic Table

Probably the loveliest periodic table I have ever seen, the Visual Elements Periodic Table is a collaboration of artists, musicians, and scientists supported by the Royal Society of Chemistry. The Visual Elements Periodic Table was the winner of the Scientific American 2003 Sci/Tech Web Award in Chemistry, whose editors describe the site aptly in the following quote:

Using etymological roots, mythological origins, modern associations and sheer whimsy, [Murray] Robertson and the rest of the "109 project" team--so named for the number of traditionally recognized elements--has bridged the yawning gap between chemistry and fine arts by producing colorful, informative, and often beautiful icons to represent these historically rich metals and non-metals.
Flash and Quicktime are necessary for some of the functionality, however straightforward information can be obtained without these plug-ins. In addition, the site contains a history of the periodic table written by Dr. John Emsley, Science Writer in Residence at Cambridge University*. Whereas that sort of information is typical and expected on a site devoted to the periodic table, visitors to this site can find more, beyond even the wonderful images illustrating the elements.

Some elements have animation as well, although I have to admit I am not certain of the usefulness the elements, except maybe for students who are giving classroom presentations. Perhaps others have better ideas?

Unique, I believe, are the graphics illustrating the s, p, and d atomic orbitals, as well as the periodic landscapes. The landscapes are three-dimensional models, animated and put to music, depicting ionization energies, densities of the elements, relative atomic mass, and atomic radii. The landscapes are available as e-cards to send to all your scientific-minded friends.

The links section does need some updating. Neither of the links to the sites promoting periodic poetry work at this time (too bad since April is National Poetry month), but I am pleased to report the Periodic Table Comic Book is a viable link!

Free downloads for screensavers and desktop images are also offered. My new desktop image is alchemical symbols.

You can even purchase charts and other items. I am trying to decide who needs a periodic table puzzle for Christmas!

*Books written and/or edited by Dr. John Emsley available from Eckerd Library:
  • 13th element: the sordid tale of murder, fire, and phosphorus
    • Call Number: QD 181 .P1 E447 2000
  • Complex chemistry
    • Call Number: QD 461 .S927 vol. 57
  • Elements of murder
    • Call Number: RA 1195 .E48 2005
  • Elements
    • Call Number: QD 466 E48 1989
  • Nature's building blocks : an A-Z guide to the elements
    • Call Number: QD 466 .E52 2001
  • Vanity, vitality, and virility : the science behind the products you love to buy
    • Call Number: QD 75.22 .E47 2004

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

HHMI giving $300 million for independent research

The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) is looking for tenure-track faculty who have run their own labs for at least two years, but no more than 6 years. Applicants have an opportunity to receive a 6-year appointment to HHMI while maintaining status at their home institutions. HHMI anticipates offering the same challenge in 2011. For more information, see the press release from HHMI.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Eckerd Library's Women in Science

In honor of women's history month, I present you with materials available from Eckerd on women in the sciences:


"Racial" economy of science : toward a democratic future. Harding, S. G. Call Number: Q 175.55 R3 1993

A Question of identity : women, science, and literature. Benjamin, M. Call Number: PN 56 W64 Q47 1993

Athena unbound : the advancement of women in science and technology. Etzkowitz, H. Call Number: Q 130 .E85 2000

Common science? : women, science, and knowledge. Barr, J. Call Number: Q 181 .B324 1998

Death of nature : women, ecology, and the scientific revolution. Merchant, C. Call Number: Q 130 M47 1989

Female-friendly science : applying women's studies methods and theories to attract students. Rosser, S. V. Call Number: Q 181 R683 1990

Feminist approaches to science. Bleier, R. Call Number: Q 175.5 F46 1986

Gender and career in science and engineering. Evetts, J. Call Number: TA 157 E89 1996

Has feminism changed science? Schiebinger, L. L. Call Number: Q 130 .S29 1999

Hypatia's heritage : a history of women in science from antiquity through the nineteenth century. Alic, M. Call Number: Q 130 A48 1986b

Journeys of women in science and engineering : no universal constants. Ambrose, S. A. Call Number: Q 130 .J68 1997

Ladies in the laboratory? : American and British women in science, 1800-1900 : a survey of their contributions to research Creese, Mary R. S. Call Number: Q 141 .C69 1998

Lifting the veil : the feminine face of science Shepherd, L. J. Call Number: Q 130 S48 1993

Love, power, and knowledge : towards a feminist transformation of the sciences. Rose, H. Call Number: Q 130 R673 1994

Reflections on gender and science. Keller, E. F. Call Number: Q 175 K28 1985

Science question in feminism. Harding, S. G. Call Number: HQ 1397 H28 1986

Scientific pioneers : women succeeding in science. Tang, J. Call Number: Q 130 .T36 2006

Sex and scientific inquiry. Harding, S. G. O. B., Jean F. Call Number: HQ 1397 .S49 1987

The mind has no sex? : women in the origins of modern science. Schiebinger, L. L. Call Number: Q 130 S32 1989

Uneasy careers and intimate lives : women in science, 1789-1979. Abir-Am, P. G. Call number Q 130 U525 1987

Whose science? Whose knowledge? : thinking from women's lives. Harding, S. G. Call Number: Q 130 H37 1991

Woman in science : with an introductory chapter on woman's long struggle for things of the mind. Mozans, H. J. Call Number: Q 130 .Z35 1991

Women and science : the snark syndrome. Byrne, E. M. Call Number: Q 130 B97 1993

Women in science : 100 journeys into the territory Gornick, V. Call Number: Q 130 .G67 1990

Women in science : meeting career challenges. Pattatucci, A. M. Call Number: Q 130 .W655 1998

Women in science : token women or gender equality? Stolte-Heiskanen, V. Call Number: Q 130 W659 1991

Women of science : righting the record. Kass-Simon, G. F., Patricia. Call Number: Q 130 W67 1990

Recommended by Prof. Ormsby

A mile in her boots: women who work in the wild Call Number: HD 6095 .M49 2006

Women pioneers for the environment. Mary Joy Breton. Call Number: GE 55 .B74 1998


A to Z of women in science and math Call Number: Q 141 .Y675 1999

American women in science : 1950 to the present : a biographical dictionary Call Number: Q 141 .B254 1998

The biographical dictionary of women in science : pioneering lives from ancient times to the mid-20th century Call Number: Q 141 .B5285 2000

Women in science : antiquity through the nineteenth century : a biographical dictionary with annotated bibliography Call Number: Q 141 O34 1986

Secret of Photo 51 Ask at Circulation Desk

Women in science College Program Series Library Archives, ask for Cathy McCoy during business hours

I was also going to find online resources, but this excellent blog, Women in Science, by Peggy links to so many resources, it seemed redundant for me to duplicate it.


Title: Mentornet supports women in science - E-mentoring website is dedicated to furthering women's progress in science and technology
Author(s): Marasco CA
Volume: 83 Issue: 20 Pages: 55-+ Published: MAY 16 2005

Title: Women in science in Germany
Author(s): Costas I
Volume: 15 Issue: 4 Pages: 557-576 Published: DEC 2002

Title: Employment in the Life Sciences: A Mixed Outlook
Source: BioScience
Volume 55, Issue 10 (October 2005) pp. 879–886
DOI: 10.1641/0006-3568(2005)055[0879:EITLSA]2.0.CO;2

A search on terms like women, females, gender differences, sex differences, science, (different scientific disciplines), careers, jobs, research, graduate school, school, etc. will yield more articles in databases such as General Science Full Text, Web of Science, and so on.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

New Book Profile: a math coffee table book

New Book Profile

Title: Mathematical Omnibus: Thirty Lectures on Classic Mathematics (QA37.3.F83 2007: New Book shelf)
Authors: Dmitry Fuchs and Serge Tabachnikov
Publisher: American Mathematical Society
Year: 2007
463 pages

I love the self-described concept of a mathematical coffee table book. Dmitry Fuchs and Serge Tabachnikov have lofty goals for Mathematical Omnibus: Thirty Lectures on Classic Mathematics, a book they dedicate to one of their heroes Vladimir Arnold in honor of his seventieth birthday. For one, the topics covered in this work are meant to depict the beauty and classical nature of mathematics. In addition, the authors suggest the book solo as the text in an undergraduate advanced math seminar. Other suggestions include provision of topical discussion for a math club, and finally, as a coffee table book. Indeed, it is illustrated throughout with proofs, photographs of famous mathematicians, and charming chapter drawings by Sergey Ivanov.

The discussions in this book are designed for students and advanced mathematicians alike. Assumed prior knowledge is, at most, a calculus class with many discussions appropriate for high school students in advanced math. Each lesson contains exercises with solutions or references to mathematical literature, in the case of a complex solution. Topics are not limited to one aspect of math but cover the gamut from rational numbers to developable surfaces to the Poncelet Porism. Whether or not Fuchs and Tabachnikov reach their goals, I leave to the Eckerd community to decide.

Monday, March 3, 2008

AGRICOLA publishes new thesaurus

AGRICOLA, the National Agriculture Library (NAL) catalog, has published a new thesaurus. Some students in my library instruction have used the NAL thesaurus to improve their search terminology. The thesaurus lists the controlled vocabulary for the online catalog. Using the controlled vocabulary can improve your searches. Changes to the NAL Thesaurus are as follows (from USDA National Agriculture Library

Terminology associated with fuels, chocolate manufacture, bodies of water and the US National Forest System were expanded this edition. The taxonomic classification of viruses was enhanced by the addition of acronyms used by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV).
NAL provides a list of new terms as well as a list of replaced terms. For example, the term "Tetrapedia" has been replaced by "Tetrapedia (Algae)."