The Science Of Scientific Writing    Set A      Intro to Paragraphs   Features of Maps  Examples of Maps   Exercise 1 Quiz     Diverse Organising Principles    Example Exercise for Exercises 2-4     Exercise 2    Exercise 3    Exercise 4  Adding Non-core Content   Exercise 5     Exercise 6     Exercise 7    *Exercise 8*    Final Page.

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OVERVIEW: The way to well-written science

How to do the Course


PART I: Paragraphs and Sentences

SET A: Paragraphs: The Maps Behind Them

SET B: Paragraphs: Using Maps to Meet Readers' Expectations

SET C: Paragraph Coherence and Cohesion

SET D: Sentences

SET E: Scientific Sections (including Methods)

SET F: Scientific Sections: The Discussion

SET G : Scientific Sections: The Introduction

SET H : The Paper as a Whole

Composing paragraph-friendly maps

Over the next few pages you will learn about three types of maps, corresponding to three types of paragraphs found in scientific papers. Likewise these paragraph types correspond to the three main modes of discourse in a scientific paper. And, going one step further, these modes match up well with the three main things that scientists do: they describe the world, they try to explain what they see, and they argue (with the help of experiments) about their explanations.

The three map types are:

  • Description/Report maps
  • Explanation maps
  • Argument maps


What all maps have in common

All three types of map have three important features in common.

1. Core and non-core components

A map will always have a core component, and, optionally, it might have a non-core component. The core component, as in the map below, will consist of those boxes connected by straight lines, and arranged in a strictly hierarchical, entirely nested fashion. The non-core component, as in the map below, will be any boxes joined to core boxes by squiggly lines, or just placed near the core boxes, unjoined. In Rationale, non-core boxes are "Notes".



2. The core is uni-modal

The core of a map is concerned with ONLY ONE MODE of discourse, i.e. argument, description or explanation. This limits the type of information that can be found in a core box, and the ways in which core boxes can inter-relate. The maps below show the permssible types of information, and the possible types of inter-relationship, for the core component of each of the three types of map.

Description/Report Map

These two sub-types are quite similar (and very different from the first two map types) so I am grouping them together. As you can see by the maps below, they basically only differ in whether the author of the map was or was not personally involved.


Report Map

Description Map


Explanation map


Argument Map



3. Non-core components can add information drawn from other discourse modes

The non-core components add information of a different type to the core components. For example, you might add some descriptive or explanatory text to an argument, or include discourse of a modes different from any of the three modes considered here - these possibilities will be discussed further near the end of this Set.


The question you must ask!

When you come to compose a map, EVERY time you add a new core box you need to ask yourself:

"Does this new box keep to the permissible types of information and inter-relationship for this type of discourse?"

If it doesn't, then the information might need to be added somewhere else in the core map, or it might need to be added as a non-core box.