Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Data Commentary

In Swales & Feak's article in Unit Four, the authors say that in many writing assignments, there comes a place where graduate students need to discuss data. The authors say that the data is displayed in a table, graph, figure, or some kind of nonverbal illustration. They have called these writing subtasks data commentaries.
When someone analyses data one danger is to just repeat what was said. Another danger is to read too much into the data and draw unjustified conclusions.
The authors suggest using the general-specific writing method when discussing data.
The authors offer expressions that can be used to make a commentary about data. The strongest sentence variation is "caused." From there they get weaker and go "was probably a major cause of", "was one of the causes of", "contributed to", "may have contributed to", and "might have been a small factor in."
The authors offer an article about computer viruses. They use it as a task to help the reader analyze data. Then the reader is asked to write a commentary on the data.
The authors go on to discuss the verbs in indicative and informative summaries.
The authors stress the point that highlighting statements are usually ordered from general to specific. Major claims should be followed by minor claims.
The authors discuss dealing with graphs. It is tricky to analyze data from graphs and there are a lot of pitfalls. But there is a lot of valuable information that can be discerned from graphs.
Later, the authors go on to discuss how to deal with chronological data. In cases of chronological data the general-specific rule may be substituted with chronological order. The writer can start with the earliest data and finish with the latest data.
The authors provide a lot of helpful information in regards to data commentary.

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