Reading Scientific and Technical Papers

Assignment 4: Contemporary Paper

The purpose of this activity is to analyze a piece of contemporary science as reported in a peer-reviewed scientific research journal using the following summary technique. You will write and rewrite this assignment several times. The final draft is due the first day after Winter Break — Tuesday, January 2, 2018.

Method for Analyzing a Scientific Paper

Write a series of sentences, appropriately grouped into paragraphs, that address the following questions in this exact order …

  1. What objects were studied? (Objects exist in space and time. Concepts or relationships are not objects.)
  2. What records were made of these of objects? (What devices were used to observe the objects?)
  3. What facts were extracted from the records? (How were the records turned into data?)
  4. What transformations were the facts put through? (How were the data transformed into "better" data that were more useful or meaningful?)
  5. What results were obtained from the data? (In what form was the transformed data represented — tables, charts, graphs, cartoons, etc?)
  6. What interpretations, explanations, generalizations were made from the results? (What does the transformed data show?)
  7. What knowledge claims is the author making? (What new knowledge has the author discovered or generated?)
  8. What value claims did the author make or did the author's discovery acquire? (Why is this paper important?)

When you submit the analysis for grading, please observe the following conventions …

Analysis of a contemporary paper in the Common Core standards

Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects: Grades 11–12 students.

  1. Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.
    1. Introduce precise, knowledgeable claim(s), establish the significance of the claim(s), distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and create an organization that logically sequences the claim(s), counterclaims, reasons, and evidence.
    2. Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant data and evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both claim(s) and counterclaims in a discipline-appropriate form that anticipates the audience's knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases.
    3. Use words, phrases, and clauses as well as varied syntax to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims.
    4. Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing.
    5. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from or supports the argument presented.
  2. Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/experiments, or technical processes.
    1. Introduce a topic and organize complex ideas, concepts, and information so that each new element builds on that which precedes it to create a unified whole; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
    2. Develop the topic thoroughly by selecting the most significant and relevant facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience's knowledge of the topic.
    3. Use varied transitions and sentence structures to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships among complex ideas and concepts.
    4. Use precise language, domain-specific vocabulary and techniques such as metaphor, simile, and analogy to manage the complexity of the topic; convey a knowledgeable stance in a style that responds to the discipline and context as well as to the expertise of likely readers.
    5. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation provided (e.g., articulating implications or the significance of the topic).
  3. Students' narrative skills continue to grow in these grades. The Standards require that students be able to incorporate narrative elements effectively into arguments and informative/explanatory texts. In history/social studies, students must be able to incorporate narrative accounts into their analyses of individuals or events of historical import. In science and technical subjects, students must be able to write precise enough descriptions of the step-by-step procedures they use in their investigations or technical work that others can replicate them and (possibly) reach the same results.
  4. Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  5. Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.
  6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.
  7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
  8. Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the strengths and limitations of each source in terms of the specific task, purpose, and audience; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and over reliance on any one source and following a standard format for citation.
  9. Draw evidence from informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
  10. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for reflection and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.

Source: Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2010). Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects [pdf].

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