Why is web-communication important?

guidelinesThe world-wide web is a very powerful tool and is used by many scientists, conservation agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as their first point of information dissemination and outreach. As part of the assessment for this module, you will create informative and detailed articles, written in the style of “The Conversation“, a site that cites “academic rigour with journalistic flair“. It also encourages discussion about topics that are presented through the commenting system on their site. “The Conversation” has received millions of visits, covers a vast array of topics and is written largely by scientists. As such, it is a port of call for many who are looking for well-informed and well-written news.

With Extreme Marine, we attempt to follow the example of “The Conversation”, by presenting succinct, focussed, well researched articles on novel subjects and discuss these using commenting tools provided.

Building your articles

Throughout the course of the semester, you are asked to write three articles in total, each of a maximum 1000 words. There are no bottom limits on word counts, you simply have to ensure you cover your topic in enough detail. Often, shorter is better, with topic breadth kept narrow to avoid having to explain too many topics or concepts.

You will have to sign up to write pages at www.extrememarine.org.uk, and ensure you create a profile page. Our site uses the latest WordPress installation, which is designed to be as user friendly as possible. Your articles will be available for public view on the internet. Whilst this might be scary, you have to learn to communicate widely, just writing an essay for an academic will never increase your confidence. Our site has been viewed by people all over the world, and even illustrious deep-sea scientists have commented on the site with, and I quote, “extreme enjoyment”, “excellent idea and articles by your students”.

The one thing that really makes this work, is that everyone must comment on at least nine articles over the course of the semester. This means reading each other’s work. In science, you do not work in isolation, you are surrounded by new findings, new articles and often, new grant proposals. The only way to improve is to read other people’s work, learn what you like and dislike, and ultimately hone your style into something that works. As everyone is encouraged to comment on individual pages, which means: do not leave the complete development of your pages until the deadline, as you may miss out on feedback.

Example articles

Remember the key is EXTREME! However, you can choose to present any habitat/species that you wish, if it is not obviously extreme, then you may need to justify this (somehow!). Examples: deep-sea sediments; deep-sea sponge aggregations; cold-water corals; tropical corals; brine lakes; sea ice, hydrothermal vents. You can also choose to focus on a habitat in a particular geographic locality, for example Rainbow Hydrothermal Vents, Antarctic sea ice, The Mingulay Reef complex and so on. It is also fine to concentrate on a component of a organism or ecosystem such as a biological process e.g. bioluminescence.

Contribution to this module?

This assessment accounts for 40 % of your total mark for this module.

Submission

This is very important, you must complete your three articles online (limit of 1000 words each) at www.extrememarine.org.uk. You must also submit a portfolio of the three articles through TurnitinUK, with the deadline set to a few weeks before the end of term (see My Bangor for the date).

So that is three components:
1. Three articles during the course of the semester.
2. Export your articles to PDF and submit through TurnitinUK.

Timeline and minimum expectations of feedback

In order to avoid congestion of article writing at the end of the year and allow you to gain some feedback that you can use to improve future articles, I have developed a staggered deadline timeline that includes feedback breakpoints. However, you can write your articles at any time and submit your printed portfolio on the deadline. There is NO NEED to leave everything to the last minute, please don’t as it leads to a nightmarish situation for you, no feedback and generally low satisfaction.

  • Article 1 Feedback BreakpointSee Blackboard –  If your article is on the site BEFORE this date/time, you are guaranteed feedback from Andy Davies, and your colleagues are expected (minimum of 3 individuals) to comment on your article as well.
  • Article 2 Feedback BreakpointSee Blackboard – If your article is on the site BEFORE this date/time, your colleagues are expected (minimum of 3 individuals) to comment on your article as well.
  • Article 3 Feedback – You will receive feedback on Article 3/your whole portfolio (as well as your mark) after Christmas, along with marks for your printed article portfolio, markers will include Andy Davies, Chris Richardson and Coleen Suckling.
  • Definition of feedback
    • From Andy Davies during breakpoint 1 – He will read your article, and comment on overall structure, content and writing style. He will point out any issues with respects to meeting the requirements of the mark scheme. You should expect feedback back within 2 weeks maximum.
    • From colleagues during breakpoints 1/2 – Your colleagues should as a minimum, read your article, highlight any interesting parts, provide critique on areas that you may have missed. All comments should be constructive and written with a “if I got this, would I be happy to use it” style in mind. Derogatory comments, flaming etc will not be tolerated.
    • Final feedback during marking – You will receive a grade for your portfolio of articles, a standardised mark sheet, with comments on areas that you can improve on, and areas you are strong in. You may receive comments on your articles as well.
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