In a bid to explain writing conventions for different audiences to Materials science and Chemistry students

I came across this really interesting article from MIT which featured a pertinent example of the impact of cutting edge research, experimentation and serendipity. This discovery could lead to cost-effective and environmentally friendlier metal-production systems than those involved in most traditional metal smelting. With this process, researchers paved the way for the potential fabrication of more abundant and economically important metals such as copper and nickel.

When I read the actual paper in nature communications  and a few other science-related but not always scientific websites, I noticed stark differences between the writing style, wording, structure, argumentation and evidence.

In a bid to introduce fine nuances between academic and journalistic writing i.e. writing for different audiences, I put together a selection of articles on the same topic and asked my students to find similarities and differences. Then, I asked them to come up with “guidelines” or “rules” regarding academic/scientific writing. Following contentious discussions of “do’s and don’ts”, I then asked them to rank their rules in terms of importance, which created havoc among them as they could never reach consensus.

It worked out to be a great but time-consuming activity that enhanced not just students’ noticing skills but critical thinking. At the end of the lesson, students had to write a critical comparison of the scientific and the not-so-scientific articles.


Author: Kallia Katsampoxaki-Hodgetts

EAP/ESP lecturer and instructor Academic Writing Specialist School of Science and Engineering University of Crete Tel. (0030) 2810 545102 Office Γ301, Chemistry Department Panistimioupoli Vouton, Heraklion, Crete, 71003

2 thoughts on “In a bid to explain writing conventions for different audiences to Materials science and Chemistry students”

  1. The academic science article vs popular science article difference is an interesting one, isn’t it? There are such big differences, but they’re often missed by both students and, sometimes, teachers. I did a really interesting interview with an editor from New Scientist magazine a while ago which provoked quite a bit of comment on my blog – it’s a two-parter so you’ll need to scroll down for the first part:

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