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Communication is important even in science

In many cases, it is done in the form of writing for the purposes of reference. Many of the scholars who are scientists are known for their writing skills that are nothing like mere articulation of their train of thoughts. The reason behind this shortfall could be explained simply because these scholars never learnt much about this art. Instead, they were only given some basic training, mostly in their first year of studies. Some of them, who are good at it, have only progressed as a result of their own effort or individual brilliance. Having this ability is helpful to the scholar in the course of personal career. This is because he or she may need to work in collaboration with other scientists and specialists. It can only be achieved easily if these professionals can write well. In the same breath, other scientists are able to comprehend well whatever the scientist is giving in his piece of work only if it is well written. Finally, well-articulated scientific work would reduce the complexity of a scholarly work to other people who are laymen (Duke University, 2013).

A number of people see science as difficult to understand in the written form

They argue that this is as a result of the hard scientific facts accompanied by the analysis of data. However, this should not be an excuse for badly written scientific pieces of work. Scientific writing should allow communication and not be just a medium through which information on science is displayed (Gopen & Swan, 1990). What is important is whether most of those who read these works are at par with whatever the writer is saying in his work.

In an analysis of the article “Scientists Identify Neurons that Register Itch”, we can say a number of things about how it has been written. First of all, the article is simple and is not full of scientific terminologies. The only technical symbol that is used in the article is MpgprA3, which is explained as a type of protein receptor found in the skin that is unique. In this way, the writer makes it easy for any reader of the article to understand what he is talking about. The main reason is that this is what most readers expect, irrespective of their background. There is no complex biological symbol or terminology used to explain his point.

In the first sentence of the article, the writer seems to have missed the right place to place the stressing word. A simplified introduction to a probable scientific explanation as to why animals generally may itch, the words “nerve endings” should have been used last in the first paragraph. The point is, even the layman needs to have an idea of what nerve endings are and that they could have something to do with itching is of interest to any inquisitive mind. This is because people generally tend to lay a lot more emphasis on the words at the end of a sentence (Gopen & Swan, 1990). In this way, the article could have been a little bit easier to understand. In the first part of the article, let’s take a look at how the writer introduces his new information. He begins by asking a question which is not bad; however, he does not answer the question respectively. Fields rather takes us around some of the basic biological things that we know about itching. The words that are new information and which should be emphasized in this case are the “unique type of nerve cell” (Gopen & Swan, 1990). The author does not put them in their appropriate position as a scientific article is supposed to feature. Instead, he harps on itching repeatedly which is just a description of what happens to a person in this condition.

There is also some information that does not come out distinctly in the article

At the start of the second paragraph, we are told about a research that the two researchers, Xinzhong Dong and Liang Hang had done in the past. Then, in the third paragraph we are told of some new research done by the same scientists (Fields, 2013). We are, however, not told about the particular time, which is important in science since we need to know the time period between the two studies. It is a very important exclusion in science and forms a logical gap in this article, where the reader has to assume this time on his own (Gopen & Swan, 1990).

In another instance, a gap in the logic of the article emerges in the third paragraph of the article, where the author talks of “itchy substances and allergens” which are not specified. The readers are thus left to imagine in their minds what these matters could be since they are quite many in a number. In the fourth paragraph, we are also told of a receptor that was biologically created by the scientists; once again we are not told what the receptor was representing in the course of scientific investigation. Further, the writer introduces another kind of receptor called capsaicin, which role the readers do not even understand (Field, 2013). The writer of this article has not been concise with his explanation. He uses too many words in numerous ways, which may not be necessary. For example, he repeats the word ‘itch” at the end of the first paragraph. He also adds the clause “just think about bedbugs for a minute” (Field, 2013). Apart of this, he uses vague words in some of his descriptions. For instance, he uses the word “mostly” while asking if itching could be to a large extent psychological. In the last paragraph, we find that the writer has used unnecessary words to explain what the implications of the scientific breakthrough could be (University of Colorado- Denver, 2013).

Finally, it may be important to demonstrate an example of what is being seen as mistakes in the article, by revising part of the article. Take a look at this first paragraph in the story that we have been discussing. “What is an itch? Scientists have speculated that it is a mild manifestation of pain or perhaps a malfunction of overly sensitive nerve endings stuck in a feedback loop. They have even wondered whether itching is mostly psychological (just think about the bed bugs for a minute). They have even thought it to be a psychological problem. A new study has come up with a breakthrough based on a unique type of nerve cell” (Field, 2013).

There are some problems that have been rectified according to Gopen and Swan (1990) on scientific writing. One observation is that the words that need emphasis need to be placed in the right part of the sentence which is in the end. The other observation is the way in which the reader knows and does not know what has been done. It has been done gradually excluding the use of unnecessary words.

Let us now take a look at another work and critique it using the article of Gopen and Swan’s (1990). The other article that is to be critiqued is called “Planet Life Floods Earth’s Atmosphere” (Sharf, 2013). This article, unlike the first one, looked like it has more complexity for an ordinary person to understand. First of all, the writer uses too many technical terms instead of simply explaining what he is supposed to explain. He also makes use of certain complex terms and words in his explanations that may take the reader quite some time to comprehend. Examples of the two observations are in the first paragraph, whereby the term “reinforce” has been used. I get the feeling that a simpler word could have been used instead. He also uses the word “biosphere,” yet there are other equivalent words that mean the same and are not scientific. The other problem with this first paragraph is how the writer rushes to break the discovery of a heavenly body in the very first sentence. To make things worse, the introduction that the author has given in italics is not even directly related to his message. In the second paragraph, he goes on to use some terms that leave the reader wondering what he means. For example, the words “external forcing” are not clear to everyone who reads them in the article. This is an example of a link that can be said to miss in an article, according to Gopen and Swan (1990). In the third paragraph, however, there appears to be some attempts by the writer to clarify almost everything that he says scientifically. He, however, overdoes it and eventually ends up creating unnecessary explanations, which he should have done in the second paragraph. In the eighth and ninth paragraph, the writer uses numbers and other notations that appear to be too technical for easy understanding. These notations and numbers need just some bit of simplification to make them much more meaningful to the reader. For example, words, such as Terawatts and Petawatts, might not be meaningful to laymen who have an interest in reading the article.

Let us take a critical look at the first paragraph and do some revision on it as advised by Gopen and Swan (1990). Below is the original paragraph (Scharf, 2013). This paragraph when revised according to the scientific writing guide would be: “In recent times, scientists have discovered two planets in a system of five that can support life. These planets are almost the same size as Earth. The star that they revolve around is known as Kepler-62. Soon, the space scientists may be able to find a planet like Earth. So much is, however, still unknown. That is why it may not be possible to know what life on those planets could be like. This discovery makes us want to know more about the other planets that are outside the solar system” (Scharf, 2013).

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