Tuesday, April 29, 2008

on scientific language

by Beyond Lab

T. Ryan Gregory (an assistant professor of evolutionary biology and genome biology at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada) tried to translate scientific expressions in papers to plain language in a humorous way. This is fine. But please don't take it seriously because it is absolutely not always true.

Maybe evolution people do that (for example to hand-draw a regression line), but not all other fields can do that. Especially, if you do microarray analysis where you have millions of data points, you are always asked to deposit your raw data to a public database at NCBI, which everyone can access and analyze. --If there's any manipulation, some body will find out. Then you will be doomed.

Plus, most scientific conclusions must be reproduced by different labs before being generally accepted.

However, still he has a good point that the scientific language in published papers should be more meaningful to lay people. --Maybe a short plain version of every paper should be included while being published.


TomJoe said...

ARS (Agricultural Research Service) does this very thing. When they get published, the abstract gets placed on the internet, along with an "interpretive summary" which is written with the intention that the layman will read it, and therefore must understand it.

I think it's a good idea, and could easily be implemented for all journals.

Beyond Lab said...

I'll have to check it out. --Should be adopted by all journals.