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Hugo van den Berg MOAC and Systems Biology Doctoral Training Centres Warwick University 2010
I. COMPOSITION “Grammar don’t matter, do it?” The following is a list of elements of style, grammar and spelling, to which you must pay attention whenever you write something to hand in. You may object that this is unfair: that all that matters is the quality of your scientific insight, knowledge, and achievements, not your grasp of grammar or the elegance of your writing. Indeed, you may be more cynical and suggest that success in science does not even depend primarily on the quality of your work. Still, if you wish your written work to have lasting value and appeal to people in future generations whom you cannot influence by other means, you will have to learn to write with clarity. Moreover, it is easy to grossly overestimate how well you understand a given topic. Attempting to write with clarity is a useful reality check. You may object that language is just a set of conventions. True, and you must adhere to these conventions for the same reasons you observe the Highway Code. Remember that written text is a poor medium, compared to conversation. When speaking to a person, he or she can indicate that you need to explain something in more detail (or, on the contrary, that they know all about it so you can cut to the chase). But when you are writing you lack all these clues, and the elements of style that make up good prose constitute one way of making up for these shortcomings. An asterisk (*) indicates that an incorrect sentence or clause follows. Error codes used when marking students’ work are indicated in bold face. Agreement (Ag) The grammatical number of the verb must be the same as that of the corresponding noun: * The pH of the P-phase and the N-phase were measured. The pH of the P-phase and the N-phase was measured. This is a typical example where the plurality of the intervening clause causes the writer to forget that it is the pH that was measured. Note that statistics, dynamics, genetics, proteomics, genomics are all singular. Data is actually the plural of datum, but is nowadays treated by almost all speakers as a singular mass term (which raises the question of what to call a single data item: a data point? an observation? say datum and you sound like the professor who ordered a martinus). one bacterium one criterion one phenomenon one ganglion two or more bacteria two or more criteria two or more phenomena two or more ganglia
people’s. has been in use since ten years. the second sounds like something a Ukrainian gangster might say (the grammar.). Handy’s). Such things can and do change. They are kindly requested not to refer to a data projector as a beamer. too. German students should refrain from referring to their mobile phones as handies (or. due to Al et al.v. not the maths). Thus. or two or several bacterial species.Bacteria (the plural) might refer to several bacterial cells. many still view singular they as a colloquialism (q.. The rule is different for its. which like the pronouns theirs and hers is a possessive without an apostrophe. it’s means it is or it has. Apostrophe (Apo) The apostrophe indicates relations of possession: the enzyme’s = of the enzyme the enzymes = more than one enzyme the enzymes’ = of more than one enzyme The rule is no different for acronyms and abbreviations: the RNA’s = of the RNA the RNAs = more than one RNA the RNAs’ = of more than one RNA although some writers feel the plural of an acronym needs an apostrophe. the Joneses’ new car). the latter being a car manufactured by BMW. moreover. but remember that you should not use contractions in academic writing. with the exception of timehonoured luminaries (Jesus’ teachings). but this is best left to native speakers. even worse. The locution they for a singular person looks and sounds much better than he or she or (s)he. but in written text it is jarring because it looks too much like an agreement error and. the two juxtaposed sentences mean different things: *Analyse about… *A problem about… . as in: *The protocol. They should avoid nonidiomatic constructions such as *This is how it looks like. The first of these must be the most common example of non-idiomatic English uttered in seminars. *We now have the possibility to obtain an asymptotic result. Asians should take care to avoid incorrect locutions with about: * Discuss about… * Mention about… Already and yet require a perfect past tense: *The experiment was done already by Ed et al. even though retail signage invariably reads *menswear. In each of the following pairs of sentences. Do not use since where for is correct. Names ending in -s follow the same rules (Bridget Jones’s Diary. men’s clothing is men’s wear. Irregular plural possessives are formed thus: children’s. Bastardized English (BE) Foreign students should take care to note that not everything they have come to believe is English actually is English.
unless of course you really really mean it (to ban all such words outright would be pedantic. add a phrase that explains the very and renders it superfluous. *When studying spiders. jejune. so last decennium. or. the key equation follows. Mentally substitute the word damned for very whenever you want to write the latter and decide whether you really do feel that strongly about it. is that each of them can mean many different things. Colloquialisms (Coll) Strive to write as you speak (indeed. definitely. One reason why these words are overused in conversation. Avoid dropping successfully in sentences reporting even the slightest of accomplishments. *Anaerobic bacteria are ideally suited to this sort of thing. . *The law of large numbers is da bomb. *Hopefully the octopus makes another attempt to copulate. *Separation of variables is a very important technique. If you are tempted to use such a word. quite. an expression such as this sort of thing might not be out of place. be careful). or strained when it is too informal: *This leaves the RNA polymerase molecule in a bit of a bind. considerably. genuinely. I am interested. like. instead of really consider truly. For instance. the mutant enzyme had a lower Km. try to think of a synonym with a less wide meaning. While hopefully could be defended as an elliptic idiom. *Using these definitions. The first example may well be perfectly acceptable ten years from now. Separation of variables is a technique that often proves useful in practice. the trouble is that the third sentence can be read as imputing hope to octopi. nonetheless.I like to express my gratitude. I would like to express my gratitude. which is probably not what is meant (although the sentence would be acceptable as part of a wildlife video narration). Here. Dangling elements (Dang) A dangler is a participle or gerund that is not linked to a corresponding noun: *Considering the affinity. fairly. and look so sloppy in writing. In particular. The ones on the left express distinctly oddball sentiments. I am interesting. the need to eliminate very prompted a more precise and informative rephrasing. instead of very consider extremely. intensely. better yet. whereas the second example will be. Diplodocus was a giant herbivore. you will avoid most syntactical errors if you simply avoid writing things you would never say) but remember that written text lacks some of the advantages of interpersonal contact. utmost. salticids are not easily mistaken for something else. *Having spoken at various conferences. really. nice) should be avoided. written text can look odd. In a slightly informal expository text. Overused filler words (very.
Anything that detracts from this goal should not be there. semi-colon. Diplodocus. Irrelevant material (Irr) Your essay.The -ing forms that start these sentences express an action not possible for the subjects of these sentences (enzyme. Some students. Such errors occur very frequently and can easily be prevented simply by listening to what you have written. which will make you sound like a robot). even when it is a long subject complement clause: . the mutant enzyme had a lower Km. comma. they should be avoided in view of the comical effect they can have. Green squiggles The built-in grammar checker that puts green squiggles underneath some bits of your prose is usually right. as a mode of existence. When in doubt. *Genomics includes alternative splicing. The subject of your sentence does not end with a comma. and that you will do better when you become one). While danglers could be defended as idiomatic elliptical constructions. Colon. Whereas this is not strictly wrong. detailed proofs) should be delegated to appendices. should be compared to autotrophy (a key component of which is the biochemical pathway of the Calvin cycle). salticids. such clunky use of in terms of does not make for attractive prose and is symptomatic of lazy writing. Material that interrupts the flow of the text too much but should be there to serve the needs of some readers (long tables. will seek the safety of the following construction: *In terms of affinity. Heterogeneous co-ordination (Het) Nouns that are syntactically co-ordinate should belong to the same category of meaning: *The Calvin cycle is more costly than heterotrophy. *Multiple signaling pathways control homeostasis. although intriguingly salticids do seem to be keen observers of fellow arachnids). assignment write-up. equation. use a full stop (unless all your sentences end up being less than 10 words long. Above all. Mixed construction (Mix) The construction of the sentence should not change in mid-stream: *Meiosis is when the diploid genome becomes haploid. full stop (Punc) The colon is the “double dot” and is used when the following material elaborates the implications of the initial statement: Substance X is a non-competitive inhibitor: it changes Vmax but not Km. vaguely remembering that -ing forms at the beginning of a sentence are associated with some sort of trouble. do not succumb to the feeling that you need to include material merely to showcase your knowledge or understanding (some lecturers do play “gotcha” but if this happens you can console yourself with the knowledge that they are poor teachers. The semi-colon is the “dot-comma” and separates statements that are complementary and parallel. but not always. Heterotrophy. or research report is there to get a point across (or a cluster of related points).
read your sentences out loud and pause where you have written commas. but a semi-colon for a full stop may look pretentious. A subordinate clause which you would read out in a lower voice should be flanked on both sides by commas: The Van der Waals forces. Having a full stop where one should have a semi-colon is usually admissible. it should be followed by a comma: However. The comma should not be regarded as a one-stop shop for connecting any old pair of related thoughts: *The mutant ligand is ineffective. A comma is nowadays more and more used where one would traditionally expect a semi-colon or a full stop: *Microarrays chart gene expression patterns. and that two many short sentences following upon one another result in a staccato “machine gun” effect. named after one of the many brilliant Dutch physicists. Full stops also end abbreviations. however. When however has its other meaning of “regardless of” it is not followed by a comma: The neurone did not hyperpolarize. Full stops (periods) end sentences. The word however has two meanings. Instead. however much ATP was added. You will hear superfluous commas as unnatural pauses. use a full stop or an appropriate co-ordinating conjunction: The mutant ligand is ineffective. however should be flanked by commas or. this is not too bad as a general rule of thumb. because it is unable to bind the receptor. have been used more recently. you should rephrase it. did not confirm our hypothesis. the advantages of differential equations. play a key role in intramolecular interactions. with main verb and predicate. To develop a feeling where commas should go. The microarray analysis. two systems are available. it is unable bind the receptor. but not those that end in the last letter of the unabbreviated word: . From this discussion you may get the impression that a full stop is your best bet when in doubt. *We will explain with the aid of examples. In the meaning “be this as it may” (or simply “but”).*Integrative homeostatic dynamics models. This sounds as if the writer does not properly understand the logical connection between the two clauses. if it appears at the beginning of a sentence. If you are afraid the sentence becomes too difficult to parse without the comma. as long as you remember that each sentence should be complete. Note that you could not use therefore instead of because in this last sentence. The last sentence requires either another comma (before with) or that the one that follows examples be left out. the second experiment showed an unexpected result.
s.e. crocodiles. nor meant to be. there certainly are other blood components that have been left out. tigers etc.) By all means use wikipedia. its editing process means that pages often do not even concord with their own references! Fragments of text that you lift from your sources should be put between quotation marks and be attributed. Sensu lato and sensu stricto are usually written out in full. The abbreviation et al. (Of course. Note that . (Another legitimate use of etc.e.e. than i. both to pay tribute to the original contribution and to assign responsibility. In the second sentence. but you are unlikely to find yourself needing this in scientific writing.doctor: Dr mister: Mr doctors: Drs misters: Messrs A selection of Latin abbreviations that occur regularly in scientific writing: cf. = and so on (et cetera) When speaking. = which one should look up (quod vide) s. = and others (et alia) No period follows et which is a complete word. c.g. if the reader can easily supply more examples: Specialized training is required to treat zoo animals such as monkeys. if the wikipedia page does not provide them. although you should feel free to do so. Wikipedia cannot be trusted. try to say “that is” and not “Aye ee”. = namely (videlicet) The abbreviation c. at the end of a list or enumeration when you have a vague feeling you may have forgotten one or more similar items (and are afraid. but always follow up references. in the narrow sense (sensu stricto) viz.\ or: i. = and fellows (cum suis) et al. input i. You can always use including or some phrase to similar effect to indicate the fact that the enumeration is not complete. = strictly speaking. = in the broad sense (sensu lato) s. avoid saying “egg seterah”. perhaps. find your own. It is lazy writing to put etc. = in which case (casu quo) It does not mean “or”. c.s. Quotations & reference (Quo) Always attribute facts and findings to the source that provided them.\ e. nutrients. so it is better to write i. enzymes etc.s. you are not required to italicize these abbreviations. that the reader will take you to task for it). is now spelled et al without the full stop by many scientific journals.l. If you fail to do this you are plagiarizing. Also.\ et al. Only use etc. elephants. = compare (confer) It does not mean “see”. q. and note in passing that a single full stop will do the job of ending both abbreviation and sentence). = for example (exempli gratia) i. *The blood transports oxygen. = that is (id est) When speaking. etc.q.) In the type-setting language LaTeX. your source is in no way responsible for any misinterpretations on your part. e. is to refer to a usually prominent person together with the people he or she works with or who follow him or her.v.\ to obtain proper spacing following the full stop (omit the second backslash if the abbreviation actually ends the sentence. is to abbreviate a formula such as a list of honorifics. but they do not belong to a single category and the list is therefore not readily extendable. e. Microsoft Word is hopeless at this sort of thing.
It would be incorrect to put a comma before that and/or following lactate. whereas Boston has six million inhabitants. Arguing from a strictly logical point of view. is found in red blood cells. we need to better understand the key regulatory factors. you can put the mentioned words in italics (Boston has six letters). a more detailed analysis is required. In British English. Nevertheless. Spelling (Spell) Use the facilities available (automated spelling correction.com). If you use that instead of which in the previous sentence. If you quote sentence fragments. whereas standard practice reverses this order. Spell checkers do not pick up mistakes if the misspelled word happens to spell something else: weather = a meteorological condition. but this is not the case: such words still jump from the page and may trigger outrage. Restrictive versus non-restrictive (Res) Compare the following: The fuel of red blood cells is the carbohydrate glucose. oed. you imply that there is also a nonproteinaceous lactate dehydrogenase (which could be true but is probably not what you meant).opening quotes are “sixes” and closing quotes are “nines”. Alternatively. you should feel free to follow either convention. Split infinitive (SI) It is not always wrong to split an infinitive: (*?)To fully understand the effect. The second sentence suggests (incorrectly) that glucose is the only carbohydrate. In the last sentence the nines precede the full stop. in some cases it is better avoided: *The parasite attempts to forcefully enter the host. Additional (non-restrictive) information appears between commas: Lactate dehydrogenase. which = that whether = if in the subjunctive sense witch = gothic-looking woman who casts spells . make sure they are syntactically contiguous with the surrounding text. Single sixes and nines can be employed to distinguish the mention of a word from its use: ‘Boston’ has six letters. glucose. but that can only appear in a restrictive clause. (*??)To systematically elucidate the relationship between HDL and atherosclerotic risk. which is a protein. Defining (restrictive) information cannot appear between commas: The enzyme that converts pyruvate to lactate is found in red blood cells. *The fuel of red blood cells is the carbohydrate. it is acceptable to use which instead of that in a restrictive clause. In scientific prose the need seldom arises to quote whole paragraphs (this is different for scholarly work). you would expect that offensive words become inoffensive when you mention them rather than use them.
principal = main. to improvise. to revise. complimentary = courtesy-wise to is the preposition to advise (verb) to extend (verb) to save (verb) to price (cost). an effect = a consequent phenomenon. to forgo = to give up on. to do without to effect = to make happen. *Al responded differently. a prize (award) insure = what an insurance company does If you find a paper in which the authors perform *“principle component analysis” you should wonder whether the authors have any idea what they are talking about. However. not spelling: an mRNA molecule a uniform an LSD-derivative a Yemenite an x-axis a utopia an NYPD officer a NASA initiative Symbols at beginning of sentences (Sym) Avoid beginning a sentence with a mathematical symbol or a chemical formula or a digit: *f is defined by an ordinary differential equation. its precise meaning may elude the reader: *For larger parameter values. two stationary points appear. Verbs ending in -ize or -ise present a special problem. to advise. to precede to affect = to modify. One solution is to use -ise in all cases (as William Shakespeare has a character exclaim: “Thou whoreson zed! Thou unnecessary letter!”). etymology and phonetics both favour -ize in most cases (to characterize. to apprise. foremost. alter. confusion is unlikely to arise: This phenomenon is called ‘stochastic resonance’. to despise. *4 mutants were selected for further study. to excise. but you should be consistent in your choice. When this refers back to an element in a preceding sentence. The indefinite article is written either a or an. This is a bifurcation. This When this is followed by its referent. to prize (appreciate) ensure = make sure principle = fundamental element. Exceptions (which should always be spelled with an s) include: to devise. influence an affect = a certain cognitive state complementary = supplying the remainder too = also an advice (noun) an extent (noun) safe (noun and adjective) a price (cost). Four mutants were selected for further study. to surmise. to supervise. Correct usage follows phonetics. to comprise. It is safer to augment such occurrences of this with a noun or clause that recapitulates the referent: . to analyze). to exercise. British and American spelling are equally valid. Aluminium responded differently. axiom to forego = to go before. The function f is defined by an ordinary differential equation.
a paragraph or sentence that contains nothing new. II. but not always: Work hard and you will succeed.) irrespective (or: regardless) less money. the collective noun of butterflies is a kaleidoscope). farther (distance) to imply (A implies B) to compare = seek similarities uninterested = not interested *warm/cold temperature *expensive/cheap cost or price *irregardless few people. and it is to be expected that written English will follow suit within the next few decades.. We say red here because it is a predicative adjunct (it says more about what the door becomes than about the painting process). Shakespeare would still have written hardly here and not meant it in the modern sense. so not all repetition is automatically bad. less water Fewer than is now almost invariably replaced by less than in everyday speech. a few attempts It suffices to show.. Stick to words that belong to your normal voice and if you do try something new. Not everything that seems to explicate a verb is an adverb: *The door was painted redly.. PRESENTING STATISTICAL RESULTS . The advice to native speakers is not to add -ly where their instinct tell them to leave it out. less daunting. or does not permit the reader to view the matter in a different way. but do not be tempted by the delicious unusual words you see along the way (the plural of rhinoceros is rhinocerotes.. Other things to bear in mind: We need only show. Adverbs in English tend to end in -ly or -wise or -ways. make sure the word or phrase means what you think it means.. different from. Usage (Usage) Note the difference between whether and if: We must see whether the weather allows it. and if it does. Repetitive material (Rep) Saying things more than once in different ways is a key technique in exposition.*This variation of the number of stationary points as the parameter value changes is known as a bifurcation. (never *different than) further (anything else) to infer (a person infers B from A) to contrast = bring out differences disinterested = without a stake in the matter high/low temperature high/low cost/price (or: prohibitive etc. we will go. However.. serves no purpose and had better be omitted. A thesaurus is a good tool if you momentarily cannot think of the expression that is on the tip of your tongue.
Altogether the findings are clinically inconclusive. if you cross a certain busy road two times a day with a probability of 5 percent to be run over. which is commendable. traditionally. but it is what most medics use). damned lies.).05 even though the latter is of course also true. and 0. so that on the whole it makes sense to do a pilot study first.005. Statistical significance versus scientific importance Report the P-value. report P<0.05 although you may encounter other values. SEM versus SD The SEM is the standard error of the mean. Whether or not a finding is statistically significant is much less important than the associated confidence interval. as the number of observations becomes ever larger. almost all scientists incorrectly use the SEM nowadays because it is invariably smaller than the SD. that depends. you are encouraged to adopt this usage and re-educate your supervisors. If this is not possible. not P<0. ‘standard error’. It is a measure of the variability (often called “spread”) in the data around the sample mean. The finding is statistically significant. 0. Why not do the study with more subjects straight away? Because resources are scarce. the 50th percentile).01. but this is not the case when the distribution from which the data were sampled is skewed. In the latter case. Returning to the drug example. it may be better to report the median. Is it clinically significant? Well.01. you are negligent if you fail to heed the following points of advice. The SD should be used when one is reporting data. The median is any number such that half the data are larger than this number (i. and statistics” You will learn about statistics in a separate module and you may well decide that mastering the technical nitty-gritty of it is not for you.e. You may agree that the very term ‘significant’ tends to obfuscate the issue. If your supervisor is one of these people. Many statisticians nowadays prefer the term statistically detectable. More observations mean higher statistical power (q.001. A few quality journals have moved the goal post to 0. Mean versus median The mean is the average of the data (the sum of the observations divided by their number).“Lies. The confidence interval may be 2 to 14 mm Hg. The SEM is often (incorrectly) abbreviated to SE. try to re-educate him or her.v. Thus. Now the confidence interval is 7 to 10 mm Hg. It is therefore right and proper that P-values above 0.05 are not considered to indicate a statistically significant result. The latter is unknown. say. (They are. present the lowest of the conventional cut-off values that is higher than the P-value. the SEM shrinks to zero. The higher end of this range is clinically important. The SD is the sample standard deviation. P=0. if P=0.04 is not much better. Thus. Suppose that a drug is found to lower blood pressure on average 8 mm Hg from 100 to 92 mm Hg (mm Hg is not the SI unit of pressure. since this provides an unbiased estimate of the standard deviation of the distribution from which the data were sampled. You should use the one marked σn-1 on your calculator. which means that smaller differences become statistically detectable. whereas the lower end is not. which is a clinically significant range.) Now. but you should remember that. . but is of course more reliably estimated when the sample size increases. 0. suppose that the study is followed up by a similar study with more observations. However. Be that as it may. In symmetric distributions. the mean is a median. your chances of being alive next week are worse than even and you will almost certainly be dead a year from now.001. It estimates the accuracy of the sample mean as an estimate of the population mean.
Fishing for significance Genomics. which presumably means that one in 200 women diagnosed with breast cancer die every year. which has the drawback that it is far too conservative for the modern “omics” environment. In such cases it is permissible to exhibit the curve that represents this preprocessing. Perhaps there is just no percentage in honesty— there certainly is little honesty in percentages.). richly structured data sets that can be subjected to any number of significant tests.5 percent. with an all too predictable effect on public opinion.) But one usually hears these things quoted as a percentage. proteomics and metabolomics all afford huge. in fact.v. per kiloannum. For instance. III. you can present a curve derived from this model together with the data. if you keep at it long enough (there are many different ways of forming subgroups of the objects in your study. breast cancer mortality is reported as 0. since you are in effect adding pseudo-data. Early diagnosis reduces this rate. Any number of statistically detectable differences can be found. smoothing) is used. More suitable for this environment is the step-down procedure (q. and some preprocessing (e.39 % during a breast cancer screening trial. This good news was reported as a 24 percent reduction in the media. dashed. and use the new findings as a pilot upon which you base a study specifically directed at the new finding. Line graphs For time series. do the exact opposite. Percentages There is a bizarre perception. a natural way to express mortality and morbidity is in terms of per person. Sometimes the data are going to be used in a calculation. For instance. This leads to the difficulty that the observations may throw up something important and unexpected. deeply ingrained in our culture. (Annum means year. Quite often this is simply not the case. (A) Use straight lines to connect the means at the various time points sampled. Smooth interpolating curves are best not used when the purpose of the graph is to report the data. Do enough tests and you are bound to come up with a statistically significant (better to say: statistically detectable) result or two.g. a line graph is usually better than a column chart. solid. and always try to select honest ways of expressing your own findings. The proper way to deal with this is to report the original hypothesis with the originally projected test in one paper. it is unethical. Be deeply suspicious of any science-related percentages being bandied about in the media. in Sweden it was found that the rate went down from 0. (B) Use different line styles (e. dotted) to distinguish multiple time . Worse. There are various ways to deal correctly with multiple testing situations. Of course it is inappropriate to report only the statistically detectable findings. if they have several attributes).g. For example. The ethical entanglements can be side-stepped by specifying in advance which tests are going to be carried out. A simple and straightforward procedure is the Bonferroni correction (q. that things are somehow easier to understand in terms of percentages. If you have a mathematical model that purports to capture the processes that gave rise to the data. GRAPHICAL PRESENTATION OF RESULTS The message of this section can be summarized in a single sentence: whatever the MS-Excel default would have you do.51 % to 0.).v. Usually the curve is shown for the parameter values that result in the closest “fit” to the data set.
Such charts are extremely space consuming (one could print them smaller to save space. graphs that are much wider than they are tall are appropriate. Instead of mean and SD. Such a graph is called a ‘column chart’ (‘bar chart’ if the bars are horizontal). Keys and legends Graphs are easier to interpret if key information appears in the field of the panel (e. Pie charts Categorical data that add up to 100 % are often depicted in a pie chart. (C) Use axes of even length. A default choice is to let the column length correspond to a sample mean.g. A traditional format is the box-and-whisker plot (q. . For long time series. Column charts and bar charts A set of vertically (occasionally horizontally) arranged bars is often used to represent data sets. Moreover. Readers can assess the shape of the distribution and the spread in the data for themselves. roughly) 40 data points. 25th. Use this option wisely. peptide. Different symbols at the data points simply do not work well. This made sense in a time when graphs had to be prepared by artists who would (typically) not quite understand the subject matter. (D) In graphs with linear scales. which caused graphs with keys and labels to go through many time and money consuming iterations. It is not unusual for experimentalists to be coy about their raw data.v. Today. The length of a column or bar is proportional to the value you wish to depict. and to adorn the column with T-shaped extensions that indicate the standard deviation (or. which has the drawback of being tremendously space-consuming Slightly more economical is an open column without fill colour and horizontal bars at the percentile points. This is particularly useful if a number of distributions are to be compared. Three dimensional column charts show the data as a Manhattan cityscape. with the name of the drug next to it). although you may decide to deviate from this rule to avoid too much waste space in the panel. The same information can be depicted in a column or bar with differently coloured (or cross-hatched) subsections. and 95th percentiles. there are journals that insist that all of this information must appear in the legend (the caption below the graph).0). Disadvantages are that the chart becomes too crowded if the data set contains more than (say. there is no good reason to adhere to this practice. or whatever the case may be. Instead. it is easier to see if alleged statistically significant differences are due to outliers or groups of outliers. but then they become harder to interpret). labels for the various lines. one could show the raw data as a cloud of points along the centre line of where the column would go. arrows that indicate when a drug was added. but it is not appropriate to deviate from squarish proportion in order to exaggerate the impression you want the graph to make. and that cognoscenti can glean more from your chart than you wish to reveal. where each observation corresponds to a different treatment.courses in the same graph from one another. This has several advantages. when investigators can prepare the graphs themselves on a computer. 75th. incorrectly. Incredibly. Quite a bit of information is conveyed in the same amount of space a column chart would occupy.). the most objective representation is obtained if the axes cross at the point (0. their averred stock-in-trade. mutant. the standard error). which is important to judge whether appropriate statistical tests have been used. one can show the 5th. 50th. and do not be tempted to add a phony third dimension to what is really a conventional graph. These are mostly used to represent categorical data rather than time series.
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