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APA writing link

22 Sep

A nice link on writing paper

22 Sep

The link above is excellent on APA style. You can even download a powerpoint presentation. Check it out.

Sentence rewrite

4 May

Today we discussed more on writing a clear paper.  Here is the sentence in question. Practice writing

Even the youngest children could make style matches and could do so even when a subject matter match was also possible, suggesting that they are sensitive to artistic style and can focus on that dimension in the face of irrelevant variation on other dimensions.

Writing Clear Concise Sentences. Reading the literature

22 Apr

As a top researcher, you must be able to write up your papers quickly and effectively.  One way to do this is to write in a direct and active way. Here is a sentence that I received  today. It makes me want to cry.  (: Luckily I can blog about my pain instead!  Yes, I’m in pain…but that is why I call my BLOG….. YES!!  NO PAIN. NO GAIN!

OLD:  It has been shown that infants younger than six months of age are capable of following their caregiver’s direction of attention and by the first year, typically developing children are competent non-verbal communicators (Trepagnier, Sebrechts, Finkelmeyer, Stewart, Woodford, & Coleman, 2006).

Here is my problem with the sentence:  If it has been shown that infants younger than 6 months follow attention – why don’t we state at what age infants do  it?  Why is the author here focusing on 6 months?  Is there a rationale?    Do we care that it has been shown that.. ? Or do we care that infants follow gaze?   What is with all of the clauses?   Avoid clauses. Write in an active way.

Write in short active sentences. Before I even begin to process this sentence I can tell it is too long and that I will be lost.  As someone who studies infants in the first days and months –  I want to jump out of a TALL building when I read something like the above… Maybe that is the aim of some… But let’s assume it is not the case in this example!   “By the first year, infants are competent non-verbal communicators”  Where did  we get this idea?    There is evidence that newborns are excellent non-verbal communicators. Are we just going to ignore the first 6 months of postnatal human  development? Even by 3 month infants pick up upon 1 second delay in interaction…. is this not a non verbal cue?  My point here is that if you become an excellent writer, people will remember what you write… and maybe even believe it!

Back to the sentence… Infants are sensitive to faces, voices, touch… is this not non-verbal communication?   All of this makes me wonder if the students read papers from my  lab – not to mention other labs.  I’m not even going into all of the evidence that infants are sensitive to joint attention in the first year (see Hoehl, Striano, etc.).

NEW: I would write the sentence as:  Three month old infants follow gaze…. Or..

Young infants follow gaze..   Young infants follow other’s attention… or or..  Give it a shot!

LAB 3: Nutrition & Labels ABSTRACTS

20 Apr

For undergraduate research methods class, students all participated in the same lab.  The laboratory was designed to assess the influence of reading a nutritional booklet on subsequent looking at nutritional labels.   Students then had to write a paper in APA format.   Here we can see how about 20 different students wrote their abstracts.   Based on what we  have learned in class, let’s look at all of these abstracts and engage in the practice of “peer-review.” This is a great way to learn how to write an abstract. It is a beneficial exercise especially for non native speakers of English and a great way for people who have not taken Striano’s Research Method’s class to learn about abstract writing.

Now I have asked students in my class to review two abstract that they did not write. How do they critique each one? How would they suggest to rewrite it based on what we have learned in class?

Please choose an abstract that has not been reviewed 3 times.

This is also a way for the professor to see who has actually completed the assignment.   It makes grading really easy at the end of the semester. The assignment is due by midnight. Let’s see who is most likely to nail this assignment and is on the way to an A+ in  my Research Methods Class. NO PAIN. NO GAIN!

External visitors to the Research Methods BLOG are also encouraged to comment on these abstracts.  My class would love to hear from you!