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Journal Article

The Science of Scientific Writing

01 Jan 1990-American Scientist-Vol. 78, Iss: 6, pp 550-558

AbstractScience is often hard to read Most people assume that its difficulties are born out of necessity, out of the extreme complexity of scientific concepts, data and analysis We argue here that complexity of thought need not lead to impenetrability of expression; we demonstrate a number of rhetorical principles that can produce clarity in communication without oversimplifying scientific issues The results are substantive, not merely cosmetic: Improving the quality of writing actually improves the quality of thought

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Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: A proposed standard protocol for describing IBMs and ABMs, developed and tested by 28 modellers who cover a wide range of fields within ecology, and considered as a first step for establishing a more detailed common format of the description of IBm and ABM.
Abstract: Simulation models that describe autonomous individual organisms (individual based models, IBM) or agents (agent-based models, ABM) have become a widely used tool, not only in ecology, but also in many other disciplines dealing with complex systems made up of autonomous entities. However, there is no standard protocol for describing such simulation models, which can make them difficult to understand and to duplicate. This paper presents a proposed standard protocol, ODD, for describing IBMs and ABMs, developed and tested by 28 modellers who cover a wide range of fields within ecology. This protocol consists of three blocks (Overview, Design concepts, and Details), which are subdivided into seven elements: Purpose, State variables and scales, Process overview and scheduling, Design concepts, Initialization, Input, and Submodels. We explain which aspects of a model should be described in each element, and we present an example to illustrate the protocol in use. In addition, 19 examples are available in an Online Appendix. We consider ODD as a first step for establishing a more detailed common format of the description of IBMs and ABMs. Once initiated, the protocol will hopefully evolve as it becomes used by a sufficiently large proportion of modellers.

2,394 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The definition of ODD is revised to clarify aspects of the original version and thereby facilitate future standardization of ABM descriptions and improves the rigorous formulation of models and helps make the theoretical foundations of large models more visible.
Abstract: The ‘ODD’ (Overview, Design concepts, and Details) protocol was published in 2006 to standardize the published descriptions of individual-based and agent-based models (ABMs). The primary objectives of ODD are to make model descriptions more understandable and complete, thereby making ABMs less subject to criticism for being irreproducible. We have systematically evaluated existing uses of the ODD protocol and identified, as expected, parts of ODD needing improvement and clarification. Accordingly, we revise the definition of ODD to clarify aspects of the original version and thereby facilitate future standardization of ABM descriptions. We discuss frequently raised critiques in ODD but also two emerging, and unanticipated, benefits: ODD improves the rigorous formulation of models and helps make the theoretical foundations of large models more visible. Although the protocol was designed for ABMs, it can help with documenting any large, complex model, alleviating some general objections against such models.

1,957 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: A standard format for documenting models and their analyses is proposed: transparent and comprehensive ecological modeling (TRACE) documentation, which will disclose all parts of the modeling process to scrutiny and make modeling itself more efficient and coherent.
Abstract: Ecological models are important for environmental decision support because they allow the consequences of alternative policies and management scenarios to be explored. However, current modeling practice is unsatisfactory. A literature review shows that the elements of good modeling practice have long been identified but are widely ignored. The reasons for this might include lack of involvement of decision makers, lack of incentives for modelers to follow good practice, and the use of inconsistent terminologies. As a strategy for the future, we propose a standard format for documenting models and their analyses: transparent and comprehensive ecological modeling (TRACE) documentation. This standard format will disclose all parts of the modeling process to scrutiny and make modeling itself more efficient and coherent.

343 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The integration of performance traits within the pace-of-life-syndrome concept has the potential to fill a logical gap between the context dependency of selection and how energetics and personality are expected to interrelate.
Abstract: The study of phenotypic evolution should be an integrative endeavor that combines different approaches and crosses disciplinary and phylogenetic boundaries to consider complex traits and organisms that historically have been studied in isolation from each other. Analyses of individual variation within populations can act to bridge studies focused at the levels of morphology, physiology, biochemistry, organismal performance, behavior, and life history. For example, the study of individual variation recently facilitated the integration of behavior into the concept of a pace-of-life syndrome and effectively linked the field of energetics with research on animal personality. Here, we illustrate how studies on the pace-of-life syndrome and the energetics of personality can be integrated within a physiology-performance-behavior-fitness paradigm that includes consideration of ecological context. We first introduce key concepts and definitions and then review the rapidly expanding literature on the links ...

329 citations

Book
25 Sep 1998
Abstract: PART ONE: BACKGROUND Writing as Conversation Managing Scholarship PART TWO: BEFORE WRITING BEGINS: CHOICES THAT MAKE PUBLICATION MORE LIKELY Choosing a Topic Identifying Conversants Using Exemplars PART THREE: BASIC COMPONENTS OF SCHOLARLY WRITING Title and Abstract Making an Outline (Really!) Introduction and Conclusion Presentation Body of the Paper/First Full Draft Revision, Submission, Revision and Publication

243 citations


References
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Book
07 Aug 2002
Abstract: In his preface, Joseph M. Williams says that Style: ten lessons in clarity and grace focuses on “the single most serious problem that mature writers face: a wordy, tangled, too-complex prose style.” His book deals with that problem admirably. Indeed, the advice and examples furnished by Williams are varied and sophisticated enough to make it a useful resource for any mature writer — even the mature writer whose prose is clear and concise.

369 citations