The Science Of Scientific Writing    Set C    Coherence &Cohesion    Coherence I   Exercise 1    Coherence II    Exercise 2    Cohesion   Exercise 3     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

Exercise 2

Each of the four paragraphs below has one or more major or minor problems with coherence. Paragraph four is from an early version of a previous wildlife student's original research project proposal. In each case:

  • determine the cause of this uncertainty, making a note of what you think it is, and
  • revise the paragraph so that the uncertainity is reduced.

It may help you to map the paragraphs but that decision is up to you.


1. While the idea that continents move relative to the earth's surface was considered as far back as 1596, it was not until the early twentieth century that a proposal was put forward based on more than the complementary coastal outlines of the major land masses. Even then, when Alfred Wegener used a wealth of fossil distribution and geological data to support his continental drift hypothesis in 1912, the idea was mocked by nearly the entire geological community. I find the reluctance to consider alternative hypotheses one of the most disturbing characteristics of scientists. Not until five more decades had passed, and the overwhelming evidence was coupled with a plausible mechanism for continental movement, did the proposal of the long-dead Wegener begin to attain the unanimous scientific acceptance it commands today.


2. In much of the world, when people think "monkey" they are probably thinking "macaque". Apart from humans, macaques are the most widespread of the world's primates. In peninsular India, there are three species of macaque. Peninsular India is sometimes defined as that part of the country south of the Tropic of Cancer, or in other cases, as that part south of Gujarat. The most threatened of the Indian peninsular macaques is the Lion-tailed Macaque, classified as "Endangered". This macaque gets its name from the tuft at the end of its long slender tail. The Rhesus Macaque, another peninsular species, is classified as "Near Threatened". Rhesus monkeys are well-known for being extensively used in biological and medical research. The "Rhesus factor", a supplementary category of the ABO system of human blood grouping, derives its name from them. The least threatened species is the Bonnet Macaque, which is currently considered of "Least Concern".


3. The abundance of ant species at four heights along an altitudinal gradient (500m, 1500m, 2500m, and 3500m) in the north-western section of the Greater Himalayan National Park (GHNP) was determined. The GHNP is the most recent addition to the National Parks system of India and is one of the most important sanctuaries for the preservation of western Himalayan plant and animal communities. It is also a primary source of water for the region with four major rivers being fed by the park's glacial run-off. Five transect lines were selected, and at each height point on each line the number of ant nests in 5 x 1 square-metre quadrats was determined. The species of ants in each nest was also determined. We used the number of nests as a proxy for ant numbers, based on a previous study in the area which had indicated that the average number of ants in a nest is similar for all the species found in this part of the park. We used an ANOVA to examine for any statistical variation in ant abundance at the four altitudes.


4. The striped hyaena is the only member of the hyaenidae family with a distribution range extending beyond political boundaries of Africa. Conventionally 28 sub-species of striped hyaena were recognized until Pocock (1938) condensed them into 5 provincial sub-species (Wagner 2006). The nocturnal and shy nature of the striped hyaena along with its large home ranges and low densities make it a difficult species to study. The only published scientific literature available on the biological attributes of the species is an outcome of studies conducted on the H. h. dubbah in Africa (Kruuk 1976, Leakey et al., 1999, Wagner, 2006) and H. h. syriaca (Mendelssohn and Yom-Tov, 1988) in Israel. This acts as a severe impediment in planning management strategies with respect to the species and has been recognized as a concern globally (IUCN/SSC, Ray et al., 2005). The importance of hyaenas in sanitizing the forest eco-system and enabling recycling of minerals from dead organic matter is an essential ecological requirement, enhancing the biological importance of the largest and most efficient mammalian scavenger in the tropical eco-systems.