I asked my students to write a Review Paper using the sources from the literature review part of research papers they submitted in their major courses. Like the Review of Related Literature in research reports, a review paper is "not an original publication" reporting research findings, but one that is written "to review previously published literature and to put it into some kind of perspective" (Day, 1998). Blackwell and Martin (2011) defines their purpose: "they review, or summarize, knowledge of the subject addressed...[and] critically appraise, relevant parts of many previous studies...rather than describing a single study."
Unlike the Review of Related Literature in research reports, however, the review paper is "the principal product." Some journals publish review papers meant "to compile and annotate but not necessarily to evaluate the papers on a particular subject during a defined time period.... [But other journals] prefer, and some demand, authoritative and critical evaluations of the published literature on a subject.... [Early review papers] tended to present historical analyses...[and] were often organised in a chronological order.... [But more recent review papers are] 'state of the art' reviews or reviews that provide a new understanding of a rapidly moving field" (Day, 1998).
Review papers are usually written following the IMRAD format, but with an expanded Introduction and Discussion part, and minus the Methods and Results (Day, 1998). A standard format would include (Blackwell and Martin, 2011):
Here are some tips I gave my students as pre-writing steps:
Here are some tips I gave my students in writing the review paper:
My BS Agribusiness Economics junior students will be writing works based on their previous papers submitted in their major courses. That means we can concentrate on the writing part; and that means I don't have to worry about the research protocols that may be unique to their discipline.
For their first exercise, I asked them to choose a scientific books they used in their previous studies. I limited their choice, however, to monographs and trade books. Scientific books may be classified into four types: (1) textbooks; (2) references like specialized encyclopedias, bibliographies, handbooks, etc.; (3) monographs or specialized texts written by scientists for other scientists; and (4) trade books or those "that are sold primarily through the book trade" (Day, 1998).
Having chosen a monograph or trade book, I asked them to analyze the readers the text addresses. While textbooks are meant for student readers and reference books may range from a general to specialized audiences, monographs are generally written for a specialized group of readers. On the other hand, trade books on agribusiness economics may include a general audience interested in the field but may also be valuable to specialists.
I reminded the students that their book reviews should do the following: (1) report on a book's contents and its treatment; (2) present an argument (the student's take on the book) and not just a summary; and (3) critically evaluate the book's contents and treatment for prospective readers.
I told my students to follow the book review format: (1) imprint information (book title, author, place of publication, publisher, year of publication, and number of pages), written after the title and separated from the body text; (2) introduction; (3) summary of contents; (4) analysis and evaluation of the book; and (5) the conclusion.
I gave my students the following tips before writing their book review:
Then in writing their book review:
After writing drafts of their book reviews, I asked my students to peer-edit each other's works. ✍
Got assigned this term to teach "Writing the Scientific Paper" for BS Agribusiness Economics juniors. The students, according to one of their professors, need to hone their skills in effective and clear writing. I'll focus on the "clear writing" part then, and work with the students in enhancing their prose (specifically the scientific or technical style).
I'll be using mainly Robert Day's How to write and publish a scientific paper (5th ed.; Oryx Press, 1998) as reference. In his book, Day has very succinct step-by-step chapters starting with a definition of scientific writing, followed by a brief history, then a description of the scientific paper, and chapters on how to write the title of the paper, the abstract, the Introduction, and so on.
Other references that will come in handy include: John Blackwell and Jan Martin's A scientific approach to scientific writing (Springer, 2011), Michael Jay Katz's From research to manuscript: A guide to scientific writing (Springer, 2006), and Jean-Luc Lebrun's Scientific writing: A reader and writer's guide (World Scientific Publishing, 2007). Michael Alley's The craft of scientific writing (3rd ed.; Springer, 1996), Emmanuel S. de Dios's Form and functions: A guide to technical writing in Economics (UP Press, 2004), and John Kirkman's Good style: Writing for science and technology (2nd ed.; Routledge, 2005) are also valuable references for the nitty-gritty of constructing clear sentences and coherent paragraphs that make up an effective scientific paper.
Because scientific papers are written "to communicate new scientific findings" (Day, 1998) and "for recording meaningful scientific observations" (Katz, 2006), they have to be written clearly and with the use of appropriate language. But it wasn't that way when the first scientific journals, Journal des Sçavans (France) and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London (England), were first published in 1665. It was only in the 19th century, with Louis Pasteur writing (but still with rather long-winded sentences) and introducing the IMRAD format, that scientific writing soon got to be "tightly written and well organized." The IMRAD format (short for Introduction, Methods, Results, And Discussion) became the standard and, because it saved page space, allowed science journals to publish more articles. It also "convinced [editors] that it was the simplest and most logical way to communicate research results" (Day, 1998).
For this term's class, I'll start off my students with a book review, one type of scientific writing usually given as an academic assignment. This will prepare them for writing other forms of scientific writing: the Review Paper "designed to summarize, analyze, evaluate, or synthesize information that has already been published"; the Conference Report, "a paper published in a book or journal as part of the proceedings of a symposium, national or international congress, workshop, roundtable, or the like"; the Oral Presentation, a condensed version of a research report read in conferences; the Scientific Poster, a poster presentation of a research report; and the Scientific Paper, "a superbly prepared research report" published in a "primary journal or other primary publication" (Day, 1998). I'll also be requiring my students to attend a forum or conference so they can write a Seminar Report.
Here's to a grueling term ahead (good luck to marking papers, too). ✍
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