Introduction to the Analysis of the Discourse of Science

The Discourse, or group, of science is detail-oriented and specific. To be a scientist, one must be:

— curious

— enthusiastic

— organized

— courageous

— creative

How Do You Get Into A Scientific Group?

In order to be in the Discourse of science, you must have the right saying-doing-believing-writing combination. Many things are significant in understanding how to enter a scientific group.

These three influential texts could help you:

  1. James Gee: Literacy, Discourse, and Linguistics

— analyzes how one gets into a society, also known as a Discourse.

2. Christina Haas: Learning to Read Biology

— analyzes how one gets specifically into the Discourse of science.

3. The IMRaD Cheat Sheet: Carnegie Mellon University’s Global Communication Center

— serves as a step-by-step guideline on how to gain confidence and fluency in the writing part of the scientific Discourse.

Basically, you need to do more than act the part to be considered a part of the group.

You must have the right values and beliefs, but more importantly you must do the right things to be considered a part of the Discourse.

Scientific Writing

There is an order and fluidity to writing scientifically. It is described in the order “IMRaD”:
  1. Introduction & Importance
  2. Methods
  3. Results
  4. Discussion

Why is this order important?

It is vital because it acts as a way for scientists to communicate their experimental values and discoveries to one another.

In fact…

Your paper wouldn’t make sense if you discussed the results before stating what you were studying. You would not have had as cohesive of a scientific paper if you described how you created the experiment before giving background information about why it is important.

The IMRaD Cheat Sheet acts as a gateway into the writing of scientific Discourses and acts as a template to place in your own ideas and experimental values.

How Can I Get Into The Mindset of a Scientist?

Haas’ subtitle is for Learning to Read Biology is “One Student’s Rhetorical Development in College”

What does that mean?

  • The goal of college is to develop into a rhetorical mindset.

Who has a rhetorical mindset?

Someone who can look at a text and not believe it as fact. One has to ask further questions and display curiosity. Haas uses her experimental acquaintance, Eliza, to display how one enters a scientific Discourse. During her first year, Eliza looks at facts like autonomous texts, which are texts that need no further background knowledge to understand.

But why is a rhetorical mindset better?

Haas glorifies rhetorical reading by telling her audience:

“Scholars…have acknowledged that within their disciplines, texts are best seen not as static, autonomous entities but as forms of dynamic rhetorical action: Authors create texts and readers read texts in a complex of social relationships, motivated by goals sanctioned (or not) by the surrounding culture, to achieve purposes that are always in the broadest sense persuasive” (44).

As a freshman it’s easy to just accept everything as fact. Eliza definitely did that. Throughout her progression in secondary education, from being a first year to a senior, she began to view texts and statements as ideas that had the possibility of being disproven.

At the end- she was questioning everything in a rhetorical frame of mind. A rhetorical frame of mind was described by Haas as a way of approaching text:

…that helps readers account for the motives underlying textual acts and their outcomes. Elements of the rhetorical frame include participants, their relationships and motives, and several layers of context. For instance, when readers approach a discourse situation, they presumably have some knowledge or representation of the parücipants, including the identity, knowledge, and background of author and intended readers. (47)

She eventually adopted the mannerisms and mindset to question what is “known,” which made her a true part of the scientific Discourse.

Apprenticeship may help you….but why?

Eliza begins as a freshman and has to adapt to the college lifestyle.

As she acquires her undergraduate degree and evolves as science evolves. Haas describes,

“…By the time a textbook is written it’s out of date. To really learn the stuff, you have to read the journals” (66).

“Authors create texts and readers read texts in a complex of social relationships, motivated by goals sanctioned (or not) by the surrounding culture, to achieve purposes that are always in the broadest sense persuasive. Disciplinary texts, like all texts, are intensely situated, rife with purpose and motive, anchored in myriad ways to the individuals and the cultures that produce them. This is true not only for texts within the humanities and softer social sciences… but also those within “harder” disciplines such as economics…,physics…,and — more to my purposes here — the life sciences” (Haas 44).

Being able to connect subjects allows us to view texts in a much more rhetorical view. the ability to question things, to wonder and to offer new ideas based develops from this mindset.

Science is a very precise Discourse. It demands the right disposition, language, writing, and actions.

In the bigger scheme…

Getting into the Discourse of science is essential, for any student who is pursuing a career in the field of science, to succeed. Understanding science is vital. It helps us evolve into “better” beings and helps us defeat our curiosity.

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