FOR 694 Writing for Scientific Publication

1/16/08

Dusty Wood:  North American Maple Project plots: vulnerability of stands to damage following defoliation by forest tent caterpillar.  He has a second paper that's ready for review.

Sanae Kuwagaki:  Effect of manganese on sugar maple and Norway maple seedlings.

Nick Kaczmar:  Physiological and anatomical factors in transgenic and non-transgenic American elm that might correlate with disease resistance.

Why Publish?

Fame and notoriety.  Really, it's good for your resume.

To share the information with other researchers in that field.

Add to the knowledge base that's out there, more generally than the specific project.

If you find something new and different, it's important to get it out there.

In the Introduction and Discussion, you have a chance to summarize what's known in the field.

It's not exactly a requirement for the degree, but it's the most important product.

You can pave the way for future researchers.

The experience of writing a paper will make us better at writing future papers.

The review process can reveal flaws or otherwise improve the paper.

After it's published, you will continue to get feedback and influence the conversations in your discipline.

What's hard about it?

The results can be disappointing.  For example, Nick tried for two years to get a gene into elm.  Are those results publishable?  Sanae found that adding Mn improved plant growth; it's supposed to be toxic.  Dusty has lots of variables to throw into a regression model.

There's a huge literature, which is hard to pull together and make relevant to what he's done.

Identifying genes in the plant with a radioactive probe, also not working.

Choosing a journal that's likely to accept your work.  How about writing for a more general audience than the scientific journals?  We should do that more.


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