2.5- Practice examples

دوره: Writing in the Sciences / فصل: strong, active verbs / درس 5

2.5- Practice examples

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Notice that I got rid of that it should be emphasized that, the nots, the awkward phrasing, and I boiled it down to the main point, the possible explanation for the shift in proportions That the authors have observed. Important studies to examine the descriptive epidemiology of autism, including the prevalence and changes in the characteristics of the population over time, have begun. Sort of summarizing the rest of this sentence in short of form, which may lead to layer metabolic costs during maximum sprinting.

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In this next module, we’re going to practice applying the concepts that you’ve learned in both units one and two. I’m going to flash some sentences up on the screen and then I’m going to walk you through how I would edit them. It’s fine to just watch the video from start to finish, but if you want some extra practice, you might try pausing the video and attempting the edits on your own before watching my edits. I have provided the text as a resource alongside this video. This is a two sentence example that I love, because it has a good story behind it. When I first started teaching at Stanford, some of my students were taking a course on statistics in another department. And the textbook for that course was about three inches thick, I’m only exaggerating slightly. The students struggled with that course. I think largely attributable to that hard to read textbook. And I ended up teaching an alternate course in statistics for them, which was the generation of my teaching statistics at Stanford. Here, I’m showing a couple of sentences from the introduction of that textbook. This is not even any of the Technical material but it gives you a sense of why that book was unnecessarily long and hard to read. In particular, I’m going to highlight the problems that this passage has with verbs. We’ll also clean up some sentence clutter. The first sentence reads, the fear expressed by some teachers that students would not learn statistics well if they were permitted to use canned computer programs has not been realized In our experience. All right, what’s the subject of that sentence? The subject is the fear. It’s a really long subject, though. Because we don’t get into the main verb or the predicate until has not been realized. So this is an example where the authors take too long to get to the main verb of the sentence and then the verb is a boring passive verb. Also this is an instance where we have got a noun the fear which could have been an exciting verb to fear. Now look at the second sentence it has the same issues Again we have this incredibly long subject. The subject is the monitoring with all of this extra description about the monitoring afterwards. And we don’t get to the main verb until revealed. Which is also a boring verb. Notice again that monitoring is a noun that could have verb, to monitor. I’ll just point out a few other issues with this passage. Notice the use of negatives. They would not learn statistics, that has not been realized. Last week we talked about turning negative constructions into positive constructions. And here’s an example where you can see just how awkward those nots sound. So we should try to edit those out. Also, in the second sentence, you get this hedge word. No appreciable change in student’ performances. Be careful with hedge words. Scientists love to put the hedge words in, but they are often unnecessary and raise all sorts of questions. When I read that hedge word, it opens up a can of worms for me. I’m like, this was written by statisticians. And what do they mean by no appreciable change? Does that mean there was a change and it just didn’t achieve statistical significance? What are they trying to bury in that word, appreciable? So be careful. If there was really no meaningful change, then just say there was no meaningful change. Get rid of the hedge word. So here’s what I edited this down to. Many teachers feared that the use of canned computer programs would prevent students from learning statistics. We monitored student achievement levels before and after the introduction of computers in our course and found no detriments in performance. Notice how I turned the nouns fear and monitoring back into verbs, feared and monitored, which allowed me to get the subject of the sentence and the main verb. Close together, at the beginning of the sentence. And I also cleaned up the language a bit. Notice how it reads much more smoothly now. Here’s another example, “Review of each center’s progress in recruitment is important to ensure that the cost involved in maintaining each center’s participation is worthwhile.” This example and the rest of the examples in this module are all real examples from papers I was editing. Here, we’ve got another long subject. Right? The subject of this sentence is review of each center’s progress in recruitment. So again, that problem with very long Subjects. We also have the issue of verbs turned to nouns. Review is a noun. A review that could have been a verb, to review. Instead of getting a nice verb review here, we get that boring verb, is. Boring “to be” verb. We also have some empty, vague descriptors like “important” and “worthwhile.” These are vague because what specifically makes it important? What makes it worthwhile? Try to avoid empty words like that. Be specific. We also have some clunky phrases like involved in maintaining. That sounds a little awkward. What I did to edit this one is instead of saying the review is important to do. I made it an imperative. We should review each center’s recruitment progress to make sure its continued participation is cost effective. Notice that instead of saying worthwhile, which is vague, I’m saying cost effective, which is more specific. This is specifically what we’re going to be evaluating about these centers. You could probably even strip a few more words from this sentence, but it’s a big improvement on the first version. Here’s another example. It should be emphasized that these proportions generally are not the result of significant increases in moderate and severe injuries, But i n many instances reflect mildly injured persons not being seen at a hospital. As I read this out loud, you can hear that it’s awkward, right? First, we get this kind of dead weight phrase. That clearing of the throat, it should be emphasized that. We can cut that completely. The fact that you are writing about something in your paper, means you’re putting emphasis on it. Then we get these proportions, it’s a little bit vague. Here the authors are referring back to something they’ve been talking about in a previous sentence. But, it would be helpful if they used a more, Formative adjective. I’m actually going to change this one to shifting proportions because that’s what the authors are referring to here. There is a shift in proportions, they are seeing more severe in moderate injuries and fewer mild injuries at the hospitals with a shifting proportion We then get an adverb, remember I’ve told you to cut adverbs so we’re just going to cut generally. Doesn’t add anything so we can remove it. We also get some wordiness, the result of. That can just be shortened to due to, we also get In many instances which also can be cut or shortened and you could just say often. You probably also heard those nots right? Not the result of. not being seen in a hospital. You can hear how awkward that sounds so let’s try to turn those into positives. Let me get a little bit of an awkward to be verb. Not being seen at a hospital. That’s a little bit awkward so let’s change that. You don;t actually have the context here, so to edit this, you just need to step back and kind of ask yourself, what is it the authors were trying to say? They’re trying to explain an observation, that all of a sudden hospitals are reporting more severe injuries and less mild ones. What they’re telling you is that this shift may not reflect a real increase in modern In severe injuries, but rather might have to do with people with mild injuries just not ever checking into a hospital. And it may be doctors are deciding not to admit milder cases into the hospital to save money. So I Rewrote this one to shifting proportions in injury severity may reflect stricter hospital admission criteria rather than true increases in moderate and severe injuries. Notice that I got rid of that it should be emphasized that, the nots, the awkward phrasing, and I boiled it down to the main point, the possible explanation for the shift in proportions That the authors have observed. Here’s another one. Important studies to examine the descriptive epidemiology of autism, including the prevalence and changes in the characteristics of the population over time, have begun. All right, what are some of the problems with this sentence? Notice, again that the subject, and name verb, are too far apart. The subject of that sentence is, the studies. We don’t get to the main verb, until way at the end of the sentence, have begun. so we need to fix that. Also again, watch those vague fluff words like “important”. In this case, it sounds like the others are saying that these studies are important but that might imply that there are other studies out there that aren’t important. And it also raises the question, what makes them important? And who’s judging that they’re important? And what do you mean by important? So watch those kinds of fluff words. We also get this. This changes over time. Did you notice that? This is redundant since you cannot have changes that are not over time. Changes, by definition, always occur over time. So changes over time is kind of like successful solutions. Like we saw last week. Finally, the of the population, at the end. That’s vague. Unless you’re going to specify a particular population, then of the population is just too vague. It doesn’t add anything, so we should cut it. So I edited this one to, Studies have begun to describe the epidemiology of autism, including recent changes in the disorder’s prevalence and characteristics.Notice I’ve moved the verb, have begun, way up in the sentence. I also condensed “examine the descriptive epidemiology” to “describe the epidemiology” note the use of the verb there. I also get rid of “important” and I drop “of the population”, so it’s much cleaner and more Direct now. Here’s another example. There are multiple other mechanisms that are important but most of them are suspected to only have a small impact Or are only important because of impact on one of the three primary mechanisms. We don’t have the context here, but you can figure it out. In the previous sentence, the authors must have talked about the three primary mechanisms and in this sentence they’re trying to qualify That there are other mechanisms at work, but there not going to devote much attention to them. That’s the gist. Lets go through and see what things we can edit. First of all notice that there are I told you last week that you often cut out. There are, altogether. This is one of those instances we can cut out there are and just jump right into multiple other mechanisms. And then we get important. I’ve already told you before to watch out for that fluff word. We can get rid of that word important. We don’t need it at all. Here the word important in a way Is actually contradictory, because the authors are saying in one breath that these other mechanisms are important, but in the next breath they’re saying, they only have small impacts. Those two things don’t dovetail, so let’s just again remove the word important. I also what to get rid of this boring to be verb, the ‘are’ here Instead of saying multiple mechanisms are, we could say multiple other mechanisms play a role, play a role [INAUDIBLE] and then we get to, most of them are suspected to only have a small impact, that’s very wordy, are suspected to Is needlessly wordy and it’s also a hedge word that we probably don’t here. We don’t need to hedge. We’re really saying they have small impacts so there’s no need to hedge. So we could say, multiple other mechanisms and then let’s just dive in and be really direct. Mulitple other mechanisms play only a small role. If we say play only a small role we can get rid of all of this. Play, we’ll change this to only a small role. Or are important because of impact and one of the three primary mechanisms, well we can condense that a little bit. We can say multiple other mechanisms play only a small role or work by impacting one of the three primary mechanisms. Get me get rid of that important again and because of impact. We can work by impacting or work, By impacting, One of the three primary mechanisms. So it all boils down now to multiple other mechanisms play only a small role Or work by impacting one of the three primary mechanisms. Notice how much we were able to drop here. And notice, we didn’t lose anything by getting rid of that hedge, that are suspected to, we really didn’t need a hedge in there. Okay, here is another example. After rejecting paths with poor signal-to-noise ratios, We were left with 678 velocity measurements of waves with 7.5 second periods and 891 measurements of 15 second waves. You can hear that there’s some repetition in here, there’s several things we can get rid of. One thing is, we’ve got this, after rejecting paths with poor signal-to-noise ratios, we were I think we can shorten that just a little bit. I would just say, rejecting paths with poor signal-to-noise ratios left us with. We can just be a little bit more direct and drop a few words. That does make that subject a teeny bit long here. But I actually think it works in this case. And then the fact that you rejected them left a certain number of measurements. And we can condense this description of the measurements a little bit we’ve got some repetition here so left 678 velocity City measurements of and let’s just say 7.5 second waves. That’s a little bit shorter, so 7.5 second waves and 891 891 15 second waves. Let’s just get rid of the extra measurements, we’ve already said measurements. So we can boil this one down to rejecting paths with poor signal to noise ratios left 678 velocity measurements of 7.5 second waves and 891 of 15 second waves. All right, here’s the next example. It is suspected that the importance of temperature has more to do with impacting rates of other reactions than being a mechanism of disinfection itself since ponds are rarely hot enough For temperature alone to cause disinfection. We have to guess the context a bit here, but probably in the prior sentence, the authors were telling us something about the importance of temperature in disinfecting ponds. In this sentence, now, they’re telling us that it’s not that the high temperature directly causes the water to boil, and directly kills the microorganisms It’s not that the heat directly kills them, rather the disinfection might be happening because the hotter temperatures speed up other reactions that disinfect. I’m actually going to reorganise this sentence. It starts with, it is suspected that, again there’s that hedge. Instead of using all those hedge words you might just say likely or may, And then we get importance, again that word important. That importance of temperature. Probably the previous sentence already told us that the temperature was important. So I’m going to just kind of strike all that. And in fact, I’m going to reorder this [INAUDIBLE] the part I liked best was at the end here, when it says, ponds are rarely hot enough for For temperature alone to cause disinfection. I like just jumping in to that explanation. We’re expecting that maybe it’s the temperature itself that causes the disinfection? And they’re right off the bat saying no that’s not the case. So let’s start with that kind of nice direct, I’m going to make that the beginning of the sentence. And and then, I’m just going to tack on a little bit at the end that gets to this and the rest of these ideas here. So I’m going to put a semicolon Ponds are rarely hot enough for temperature alone to cause disinfection thus, and let’s get the rest of the explanation now, thus the effect of temperature is likely mediated for it’s impact on the rates of other reactions. So does the effect of temperature Is likely mediated and I like this word, mediated, that gets the idea here that it was likely mediated, that’s a good verb. And then we can just do through the rates other reactions, and we can get rid of all of this, and I’ll just put the complete edit here without me writing the whole thing out. So ponds are rarely hot enough for temperature alone to cause disinfection Thus, the effect of temperature is likely mediated through its impact on the rates of other reactions. Finally, one more practice example. This was actually the last sentence of an abstract, and so the authors were trying to tell you what their conclusion was. It’s a little hard to get that, because they’re being really indirect here by saying it was a assumed that. We’d rather have something like, we concluded. It was assumed that is confusing. There is a lot of things we can cut here, it was assumed that obviously we want to get rid of that all together, that is just confusing. Then we get to this due to reduced work At the joints of the lower limbs and less energy loss in the prosthetic leg. Let’s be more direct here, what the authors are trying to say is that the prosthetic leg has an effect that they discovered Covered in their paper. It seems to reduce the work of a lower leg joint and to reduce the energy loss in the lower leg joint compared with a healthy ankle. So let’s just rearrange this to say this directly, so we can just say The prosthetic leg, And we’ll say reduces because this is an observation that they’re about to explain. The prosthetic leg reduces work and energy loss We don’t need to repeat lower limb twice. Reduces work and energy loss compared with a healthy ankle joint. And I’m going to get rid of the word complex. We don’t need healthy ankle joint complex. Let’s just say compared with a healthy ankle joint, so I’m actually going to kind of get rid of this and I’m going to condense this at the end. So we’re going to say compared with, A healthy ankle joint. And then that observation from the paper leads them to speculate about something. And we’re going to put the speculation at the end, so I’m just going to tack that on the end. I’m going to add on. Sort of summarizing the rest of this sentence in short of form, which may lead to layer metabolic costs during maximum sprinting. I’m not going to write that out, I’ll just shown you the final edit here. So we start by doing direct for prosthetic log reduces work and energy loss compared with a healthy ankle joint And then that observation leads the authors to believe that that may lead to lower metabolic costs during maximum sprinting.

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