Advice on writing a clear scientific paper, from Virgina Dale

Advice on writing a clear scientific paper from Virgina Dale, Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Environmental Management since 2001. She says:

  • Scientific papers are not mystery novels. It is important to present the key results in the abstract of the manuscript and to have the introduction of the paper make clear both the impetus for the study and what is be presented in the manuscript.
  • Authors need to give the greatest attention to the parts of paper most likely to be read. Most people do not read a scientific paper from beginning to end but rather first focus on the title, then the abstract, and next the figures and tables. If the information presented is of interest, then the conclusion will be perused. Only those studies that have particular pertinence to the reader will be read in their entirety.
  • Organization of the material is critical. Almost all scientific papers should follow the standard format: introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion.
  • Authors should check that the methods are complete and that most figures and tables are presented in the results section.
  • Each paragraph should start with a strong topic sentence, which presents the main idea and hence is an overview of what is to come. The concluding sentence should summarize the paragraph and provide a logical flow to the next one.

Dale, V. H. 2014. Environmental Management: Past and Future Communications. Environmental Management  54:1–2

A great week for radio

What a great week for radio and matters geospatial+web. On Wednesday last week we finished out our GIS class with a talk about the geoweb and issues of access, bias, motivation, control, and of course privacy. I used alot of William Gibson's previous writings about Google (posted here earlier) in that lecture. Yesterday TTBOOK re-aired a great interview with Gibson, on the topic of writing, but also about the internet. I recommend it. Additionally, last week Talk of the Nation had a interesting interview with Jerry Brotton about his new book "A History of the World in Twelve Maps"; the interview touched on Google Earth and representation, why north is up, and many other fantastic questions raised through the history of cartography. Check them out!

The future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed. Or maybe it is.

William Gibson (yes that one) in the NYTimes Opinion page, writes about Google, and the way it has changed how we interact with information and the world. It is a really interesting article touching on human choice, surveillance, and the catch-up game the law plays with technology. This visionary author of Neuromancer says "Science fiction never imagined Google..." and goes on to describe its omipresence, our ready participation in this process, and our discomfort at the result. He is a fantastic writer. Check it:

Google is not ours. Which feels confusing, because we are its unpaid content-providers, in one way or another. We generate product for Google, our every search a minuscule contribution. Google is made of us, a sort of coral reef of human minds and their products.

Wow. Here is another example of his engaging and illuminating prose:

Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon* prison design is a perennial metaphor in discussions of digital surveillance and data mining, but it doesn’t really suit an entity like Google. Bentham’s all-seeing eye looks down from a central viewpoint, the gaze of a Victorian warder. In Google, we are at once the surveilled and the individual retinal cells of the surveillant, however many millions of us, constantly if unconsciously participatory. We are part of a post-geographical, post-national super-state, one that handily says no to China. Or yes, depending on profit considerations and strategy.

The title of this post comes from his oft-cited quote in 2003 in The Economist.

*About the Panopticon from wikipedia: The Panopticon is a type of prison building designed by English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in 1785. The concept of the design is to allow an observer to observe (-opticon) all (pan-) prisoners without the incarcerated being able to tell whether they are being watched, thereby conveying what one architect has called the "sentiment of an invisible omniscience."

Hot of the Presses! Field Guide to California Agriculture

Anyone who travels California's byways sees the many faces of agriculture. A huge entwined business, farming and ranching are the state's dominant land use. Yet few Californians understand what animals and crops are raised or how agriculture reflects our relationship with nature. This fascinating and gorgeously illustrated field guide gathers essential information about agriculture and its environmental context, and answers the perennial question posed by California travelers: “What is that, and why is it growing here?” Paul F. Starrs's lively text explores the full range of the state's agriculture, deftly balancing agribusiness triumphalism with the pride of boutique producers, sketching meanwhile the darker shadows that can envelop California farming. Documented with diverse maps and Peter Goin's insightful photographs, this book captures the industry's energy and ingenuity and its wildly diverse iconography, from the mysteries of forbidden crops (like marijuana) to the majesties of scale in food production.

Check it.