Communication Skills

"After all, what are the chief differentiae between man and the brute creation but that he clothes himself, that he cooks his food, that he uses articulate speech? Let us cherish and improve all these distinctions."

Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, On the art of writing, pp 36-7

Answers to questions in Scientific Writing notes (pp 7 - 27 of the Intermediate Skills Manual)

The page numbers refer to pages in the Intermediate Skills Manual.

Question 1 (page 12) Several answers will be correct. One suggestion for each is given:

(a) It is thought that the difference in biological experimental results is mainly due to the variability between individuals in the population under study.

(b) Whether students should pay tuition fees is still under debate.

(c) Don't touch the bunsen flame.

Note that the full meaning of each sentence must be retained.

A common error : "The reason for ... is due to the ..." INCORRECT.

"The reason for ... is the..." or "The reason for ... is that the" CORRECT.

"... due to ..." is redundant if you've already told the reader you are giving a reason.

Please note that variability exists between individuals but in or within a population.

Question (page 16) (a) Sentence (ii) is the only true sentence.

(b) Sentence (i) should read "The forest ecosystem is currently under threat from logging, vandalism and the impact of feral cats and foxes."

(c) Sentence (iii) should read "The experimental conditions were optimal." or be continued to read "Although the experimental conditions were optimal, no useful results were obtained." These examples highlight the common error of writing a subordinate clause only rather than a full sentence.

Question (page 17). The problem is that the verb does not agree with the subject.

Question (page 19).

Change the punctuation ONLY. The statement must still make sense - you can't just fling commas and question marks into it willy-nilly. Here are ten possibilities. If you think of some more send them to me! ()

What is this thing called? Love?

What is this thing called "Love"?

What is this thing called? Love!

What! Is this thing called Love?

What! Is this thing called "Love"?

"What is this thing?" called Love.

"What is this, Thing?" called Love.

"What is this thing called, Love?"

What is this? Thing called "Love!".

What is this? "Thing!" called Love.

(Capitals for Love and Thing mean they are names.)

More punctuation to ponder

Punctuation and the sexes:

An English professor wrote the words "A woman without her man is nothing" on the blackboard and directed the students to punctuate it correctly.

The men wrote: "A woman, without her man, is nothing."

The women wrote: "A woman: without her, man is nothing."

How history may be changed:

King Charles spoke half-an-hour after his head was cut off.

More accurately:

King Charles spoke. Half an hour after, his head was cut off.