An ambiguity is a word, phrase, or sentence that can be interpreted in more than one way. Whereas poets win awards for ambiguity, engineers and scientists are sued for ambiguities. The three films of this lesson teach you to be sensitive to four common sources of ambiguity in scientific writing: word choice, word order, pronouns (particularly it and this), and missing punctuation. (16 minutes)
Overall perspective on avoiding ambiguity.
Avoiding ambiguity, particularly with word choice and word order.
Avoiding ambiguity, particularly with pronouns and punctuation.
Instructor Lesson Plan
Forthcoming will be a plan for instructors to incorporate this summary lesson into a class period of their course. Included with this plan will be discussion questions, student activities, and a comprehension quiz.
Sponsors and Editors
Leonhard Center, College of Engineering, Penn State
National Science Foundation, NSF EAGER Award 1752096
Michael Alley, Teaching Professor, College of Engineering, Penn State
Elaine Gustus, College of Engineering, Penn State
Richelle Weiger, College of Engineering, Penn State
Casey Fenton, College of Engineering, Penn State
For the academic year 2019-2020, we are collecting comments, questions, criticisms, and suggestions for the films, text, and quizzes of each lesson on scientific writing. To help us understand your input, would please let us know what your discipline is and whether you are a student, professional, or faculty member?