Week 5: Anatomy of a Science Paper, Part 2

October 11, 2017

Part 2 of our deep-dive into the scientific manuscript. Today, we will continue by talking about the discussion, and will focus especially on the concept of a Topic Sentence and how it relates to good writing.

Lecture Topics

  • Recap: Reflect on our project proposals
  • Paper sections: Discussion, acknowledgments, and figures and tables
  • Focus: Topic sentences. What are they, and what are they for?
  • Focus: Abstracts

Prepare in Advance

Please bring a PDF of a fisheries science paper to class. Specifically, you will be working with that paper’s abstract - so pick one with an interesting abstract.

Also, please bring an electronic copy of your proposal from last week.


Please read the Nature guide to abstracts in advance of the lecture.


First, I will discuss the proposals you all submitted last week.

Second, we will do an activity related to topic sentences. I will provide some abstracts with the topic sentence removed. In pairs, you will craft topic sentences for those abstracts.

Third, we will take your proposals, and I’ll have you cut out just the topic sentences from that proposal and you will read them aloud to each other in groups of 4. Could you follow the narrative of the proposal with topic sentences alone? What worked and didn’t work?

Fourth, we will look at the abstract of the scientific paper you have brought to class and colour code sections of it based on the Nature Guide to Abstracts.

As always, we will have a Power 1/4 hour and meet with writing teams.

Lecture slides

Slides available via speakerdeck