The Science Of Scientific Writing    Set I      The paper as a whole    Coherence: The thread problem et al.     Exercise 1        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

Expectations of the paper as a whole

dfIn Set H we saw that readers expect sentences to comply with the Frame of Reference + Elaboration pattern that is also expected in paragraphs and Sections. In this Set we will see that this expectation also applies, as might be expected, to the paper as a whole. Thus, with respect to this most basic aspect of text structure, the scientific paper has, like many natural structures, a fractal organisation. The pattern of the whole is reflected in the pattern of the component parts, at all levels of scale. This is a natural consequence of the fact that, at all levels of a text, the information is revealed gradually to the reader in piece-meal, linear fashion.

The other main feature that readers expect at each level of text structure is our old friend, coherence. In Set I we will also consider how to make the paper as a whole more coherent.





In terms of the paper as a whole, the Frame of Reference role is, unsurprisingly, played by the Introduction section. For the Elaboration, in one sense the entire remainder of the paper plays this role, but, in truth, readers expect that the Discussion section will function independently as an intelligible companion piece to the Introduction. Thus despite being much-separated by the Results section, and typically by the Methods section also, the reader expects that the Introduction and Discussion sections will form a coherent whole.

The structural suggestions made in this course for the Introduction and Discussion are meant to ensure that not only will be they make sense in isolation, but they will indeed operate together coherently. The most important "meshing" feature is indicated by the connection made by the blue arrow in the diagram below:



The arrow connects the Framing Sentences for each of the sections, i.e.

* In the Introduction, the sentence that states (at the very conclusion of the Frame of Reference part) the Specific Research Question of the paper.

* In the Discussion, the sentence that states (at the very conclusion of the Frame of Reference paragraph) the answer to the Specific Research Question of the paper.


An illustrative example of this approach is shown below, with only the final sentence of the Introduction's second paragraph included:


Of course, by adopting this approach, not only will you ensure the paper works for your readers, but you will have a ready-made template that keeps your own thought processes on track.