Welcome to the Biology/Environmental Science 304 — Principles of Ecology Subject Guide. You will use this resource to help you with all of your writing assignments and your climate change project for this course.
Why learn to write?
Writing is a life skill
As a professional, you will be writing on a regular basis. You will write letters (emails) and memos, reports, research papers, and outreach materials. Some of you may even go on to write books. If you think writing is easy, think again. It is work. It takes time and care. It is both a craft and an art.
As a biology major, you are lucky. Your education requires you to constantly practice the craft. And, scientific writing forces you to be a good writer. If you can master scientific writing, you can master any form of writing (except maybe the great American novel, but even in that realm, you will be better off for your education than your peers).
Here are a few quotes from some of our great writers. Words to live by as you work on your lab report.
"A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." — Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades
"Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences." — Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
"The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do." — Thomas Jefferson
"One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple." — Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums
Scientific writing is hard
Translating complex scientific ideas and data into a simple narrative is not an easy task. To do well on your writing assignments, you will need to work hard to understand the scientific narrative. For example, for your lab report you will be writing about the story of allelopathy. You will work to understand how the experiment that you conducted and the data that you collected fit into the bigger narrative, the story of, allelopathy in plants. You will be writing about how your work fits into this bigger picture. You will articulate your understanding of this phenomenon in a short paper that could be understood by your grandmother. You will need to do this for all of your writing assignments in this class.
In this course
In this course, your writing assignments include writing brief scientific reports, scientific papers (lab reports), letters to the editors, long scientific reports, and other professional communications.