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SUNY ESF
Exercises

Getting Started Exercise

PDF Version of Exercise

You may find it easiest to answer Question 3 first, then 2, then 1 and 4.

  1. Briefly explain why this research is important.  To whom does it matter?  Make your answer relevant to the broadest possible audience. 
  1. Objectives: What question(s) will you answer with your research?
  1. Describe the results of your work, in a small number of phrases.  These results should answer the question you posed in part 2, above.  If they do not, change your question so that they do.
  1. Write the conclusions to your paper.  The conclusions should relate to the general motivation for the paper that you describe in part 1.  If you accidentally write about your Results, move those statements to the Results.  You may want to revise your answer to part 1 to match the answer you give here.

Getting Started Exercise Example

  1.  Briefly explain why this research is important.  To whom does it matter? Make your answer appeal to the broadest possible audience.

Global warming threatens ecological systems, coastal cites, and decisions about energy use.  If C loss from terrestrial ecosystems is increased by warming, this amplifies the greenhouse effect.

  1. Write a statement that identifies the problem you  were trying to solve in your research.  You may write the statement as a question or as a declaration of the problem that you addressed. 

Try composing two different statements below.  Limit each response to a single question or sentence that is written succinctly and without ambiguity.

  1. What is the effect of increasing nighttime temperatures on net C flux in terrestrial ecosystems?
  2. Increased night temperatures should cause increased C losses, because of higher respiration, but also increased C sequestration, because growing season length is limited by night temperatures.  Will the positive effect of increased growing season length overcome the negative effect of increased respiration?
  1. Describe the results of your work, in a small number of bulleted phrases. Include only results that are relevant to your conclusions. These results should answer the question you posed in part 2, above.  If they do not, change your question so that they do.

Respiration losses exceed growing season gains in most ecosystems.

Night warming causes net C loss.

  1. Write the conclusions to your paper.  The conclusions should relate to the general motivation for the paper that you describe in part 1.  If you accidentally write about Results, move those statements to the Results.  You may want to revise your answer to part 1 to match the answer you give here.

Models that do not account for differential warming between night and day will not correctly predict the effect of global change on C balance.  Estimates of terrestrial C loss with warming may have been underestimated.

Authorship Exercise

  1. Use the point system described by Carlos Galindo-Leal in Ecology 101 (Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, October 1996).  Make a column for each of the possible authors of your paper, and assign points for your various contributions.  Include yourself!
    1. Planning
    2. Executing
    3. Analyzing
    4. Interpreting
    5. Writing
  1. Do the five categories of contributions suggested by Galindo-Leal seem appropriate for your project?  If you prefer, try applying a point system with different categories, such as those suggested by Hunt or Dickson and Conner.
  1. Name your authors, in the order you propose to list them on your publication.
  1. Does your list agree with any objective point system?  If not, what were the other factors that influenced your decision?

  2. Who will you list in your Acknowledgements section?

  1. Identify two or three internal reviewers who might be willing to read your manuscript before it is sent out to a journal (or to this class for peer review).  The fewer authors you have reading your paper, the more you need "friendly" reviewers.

Knowing Your Journal

Identify five refereed journals in which you feel a manuscript describing your research could be published.  Find and copy the most recent instructions to authors published by these journals.  Instructions often appear in the first or last issue of a volume and may appear only once each year in journals that have more than one volume annually.  Alternatively, find them on the publisher's website.

Be prepared to discuss factors that may influence the choice of a journal for your manuscript in the next class.

  1. List two to five factors that are influential in your selection of the most appropriate journal for this particular manuscript.  List them in decreasing order of importance.
  1. Given the factors you listed above, name two to four journals for which you feel your manuscript could be written.  Circle the name of the journal you have selected.
  1. Characterize your perception of the journal you’ve chosen (reputation, audience, overall quality, time to publication, acceptance rate). 
  1. Does your journal specify
    1. length of the text
    2. length of the abstract
    3. number of figures or tables
    4. page charges
    5. required sections (must results be separated from discussion?  Is there a separate conclusions or summary section?

Table and Figure Exercise

Objectives: This exercise will give you a chance to think about the comparative advantages of presenting data in tabular or graphic formats.  It will also give us some material to use in class when we ask what qualities contribute to effective tables and figures.

You may use some of your own material for this exercise, or you may use a table or figure from an article of your choice in any refereed journal (presumably one similar to the one you will publish).  If you make your own, follow the format required by the journal in which you will publish.

Assignment:

Select a table from your own manuscript or a published paper.  Using some or all of the data in the table, create a two-dimensional figure (plot, graph) that depicts the results.  Consider carefully whether to use a line plot, scatter plot, histogram, etc.  You might want to try more than one type of plot, but submit only the one you think is most effective.  Provide an informative caption for the figure you have constructed.  Submit the table you selected along with the figure you produced.

Alternatively, select a figure from your own manuscript or a published paper.  Estimate the data points and construct a table to present them clearly.  Use the table format accepted by the journal to which you plan to submit your article.  Provide an informative title for your newly constructed table.  Submit a photocopy of the figure you selected along with the table you've produced.

If you use your own material, produce both a table and a figure from the same data set. 

Please share a link to your graph on the FOR 694 Google doc.

Finally, write a paragraph or two in which you provide a general critique of the advantages and disadvantages of using tables vs. figures (plots, graphs) to depict data.  Then discuss which method was best for the data you used.  Please be sure to address the following questions in your response.

  • Why do you prefer one method over the other for these data?
  • How did you decide what type of plot to use?
  • Would it be preferable to place some or all of these data in the text rather than in either a table or a figure (plot, graph)?Why?