The first topic on the table in the new course I'm teaching is Field Notes, but I'm also hoping to use this space as my own field notes on the course and for responses from those of you "in the field" (writing, reading, blogging, practicing science). If you want to follow along - or better yet kibbitz - I'm posting the writing prompts that start off every class, some of the writing assignments and the readings.
Writing Prompt Day 1
Tell me everything you know about Jello. 5 minutes. Start.
Make a transect. Map out a linear route and then make a detailed record of what you encounter along that route. The route can be long or short, indoors or out.Be imaginative. Examples: a transect across your room, on Merion green, across a microscope slide, a lab bench top, a parking lot. You can focus on a specific element in your transect, such as plant life, bacteria, or debris. If you chose to transcribe your notes (as Darwin did), attach the originals. Your notes should be roughly 300-400 words.
Questions I think it would be interesting to think about
Are field notes/lab notebooks completely objective records of what was observed?
Do they affect the science going forward?
Is it ok to be vivid and "over the top" in field notes? Do they have to be linear? in pen?
Why do think scientists rarely "get it right" in keeping notes? (Or at least that's what E. Bright Wilson thought.)
Readings for the first week:
- First Thoughts, from Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Shambhala, 2005.
- Beginner's Mind, Pen and Paper, Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Shambhala, 2005.
- Notebooks and Records in E.B. Wilson in An Introduction to Scientific Research, Dover, 1991.
- Medicine in Translation, Danielle Ofri
- Trouble with the Editor, from Goldberg, Natalie. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within. Shambhala, 2005.
- Introduction, from Strunk, William, and E. B. White. The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition.
- Find a Voice and a Style, David Everett in Blum, Deborah, Mary Knudson, and Robin Marantz Henig. A Field Guide for Science Writers: The Official Guide of the National Association of Science Writers. Oxford University Press, USA, 2005.
- The Open Sea (excerpt), Alister Hardy in Dawkins, Richard. The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing. Oxford University Press, USA, 2008.