Friday, April 11, 2008

sometimes I worry about the future of mankind. when I see people dumping garbage out their car windows, for instance, or when I read about the development of 'just in case we destroy all our food sources' seed banks in norwegian glaciers, or when I mark first year undergraduates' lab reports.

a direct quote:

"This experiment aims to investigate this phenomenon further. Looking at how the response time differs when participants are asked to report the colour, of neutral words in apposed to colour words. Whether the crucial part of the interference is the automatic process of reading the words, or more that the words themselves spell colours providing competition for the desired response."

I understand that first year undergrads have little experience reading journal articles, and as a result, may not realize that once statistics have been reported in the results section, they should not be reported again in the discussion. I understand that titles and abstracts may be too detailed and explanations of the procedure may be less than perfectly clear. if I stretch my imagination just a bit, I can even understand them thinking that a lone graph constitutes the results section. but, for the love of all that is holy, why are nineteen-year-old, native-english-speaking university students unable to form complete and grammatically-correct sentences?

never end a sentence with a preposition. capitalize proper nouns. use both a subject and a verb in your sentences. choose the past or present tense and stick with it. run the bloody spell-checker. results don't find effects, they show effects. hypotheses are confirmed or not confirmed; they are never proven. neither are theories.

tomorrow I return their papers and methinks we shall have us a nice wee discussion about how to write a lab report...

No comments: