4 Model texts

Academic Writing for International Students of Science - Jane Bottomley 2015

4 Model texts

Model text 1: VLEs

Most universities have Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) such as Blackboard and Moodle. These provide an online space for course modules where students can access information on course content, assessment, and further study. VLEs are also used for the electronic submission of assessed work, which enables lecturers to use software such as Turnitin to check for plagiarism in students’ work. A further function of VLEs is to provide a space for students to enter into discussion with each other. Whilst this would appear to be an excellent opportunity for all students to develop their ideas and understanding, and for non-native speakers to practise their language skills, it would seem that many are reluctant to engage in this type of activity. The reasons for this remain unclear.

Model text 2: Paediatrics

Paediatrics is a branch of medicine that deals with the care of infants, children and adolescents up until the age of eighteen. Paediatric medicine differs from adult medicine in terms of physiology, and also in terms of individual legal status, in that children, unlike adults, are not able to make decisions for themselves.

Model text 3: Copper extraction

A number of techniques are used to extract copper. These include hydrometallurgy, solvent extraction, liquid—liquid electrochemistry and electrowinning. Each of these processes is described below, with the main focus of this project being liquid—liquid electrochemistry.

Model text 4: The discovery of graphene

Graphene is the thinnest, strongest material known to science. In addition, it is more effective than copper in conducting electricity. Geim and Konstantin, the two Manchester University researchers who discovered it, were subsequently awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics. They extracted graphene, which is comprised of a flat layer of carbon atoms tightly packed into a two-dimensional honeycomb structure (Figure 1), from the common material graphite, which is used in pencil leads. The method they used to extract the graphene was somewhat unusual: they applied the common, everyday product sticky tape to remove thin strips of carbon. Initially, they obtained flakes comprised of many layers. However, each time the process was repeated, the flakes became thinner.

Model text 5: Recycling

It is better to recycle products rather than disposing of them. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, using recycled materials means that there is less need to extract raw materials from the earth. Secondly, it requires less energy to refine and process recycled materials than it does to refine and process natural resources.

Model text 6: Additives and chemicals

Many foods contain chemical additives. These take the form of preservatives, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavourings, and colouring agents, all of which are added by the manufacturer during production. Chemicals are also added to the food chain in agriculture through the widespread use of fertilisers and pesticides on crops, and the provision of antibiotics and supplements for livestock. The maximum allowed levels of these chemicals are strictly controlled by law. Therefore, quality control of raw materials and commercially-manufactured foodstuffs is essential to ensure that they are not contaminated beyond regulatory levels. One technique used to perform this quality control is high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), which is a technique used to separate, identify and quantify components in a mixture. This is used in combination with a detection system, often ultraviolet—visible (UV—VIS) spectroscopy.

Model text 7: Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology can be defined as the understanding and control of materials at the nanoscale, i.e. at approximately 1 to 100 nanometers, where a nanometer is one billionth of a meter. The sheer scale of this can be understood if these measurements are applied to an average sheet of paper, which is approximately 100,000 nm in thickness.

The physical, chemical and biological properties of materials at the nanoscale are very different to those of atoms, molecules and materials in bulk.

The goal of nanotechnology is to exploit the unique properties of nanomaterials to enable novel applications. One promising area for these applications is medicine, where, for example, researchers are working at the nanoscale to develop new drug delivery methods.

Model text 8: Carbon emissions

Whilst acknowledging that carbon dioxide emissions reached a new high in 2012, the authors (PBL Netherlands Environmental Agency, 2013) note that the actual increase in global emissions for that year was the lowest for a decade. They conclude that this decrease reflects a shift towards greener energy use.


Carbon dioxide emissions reached a new high in 2012. However, the actual increase in global emissions for that year was the lowest for a decade (PBL Netherlands Environmental Agency, 2013). This decrease appears to reflect a shift towards greener energy use (PBL Netherlands Environmental Agency, 2013).

Model text 9: The balance

Atkins (2013) argues that the birth of the balance, which brought with it the possibility of weighing things precisely, constituted a truly significant development in science, and heralded the transition from alchemy to chemistry. He attaches great importance to the fact that the balance allowed ’meaningful’ numbers to be attached to matter, bringing their study into the domain of the physical sciences, where they can be subjected to rigorous quantitative analysis.

Model text 10: Antibiotics

Antibiotics are a type of medication used to treat infections caused by bacteria, such as syphilis, tuberculosis, salmonella. They act by killing bacteria or slowing down their growth (Nordqvist, 2013).

The use of antibiotics began in 1929 with the discovery of penicillin. The decade following the Second World War saw the discovery and development of a number of important antibiotics, and in the 1950s, described by Davies as ’the golden age of antibiotic discovery’ (2006: 287), one half of the antibiotics in common use today were discovered. Combined with improved hygiene, antibiotics have been responsible for a huge reduction in global bacterial-related morbidity and mortality (Davies, 2006).

However, increased use and misuse of these drugs in humans and animals has led to a phenomenon known as ’antibiotic resistence’ (US Food and Drug Administration; Davies, 2006). This resistance develops when harmful bacteria change, thus reducing or negating the effectiveness of the antibiotics previously used to treat them (US Food and Drug Administration). The emergence of ’superbugs’, such as MRSAs, in hospitals and the wider community has raised serious concerns (McCracken and Phillips, 2012: 152).

Davies notes that much recent antibiotic research has been geared towards the discovery and design of new compounds which will be effective against resistant pathogens (2006). However, deep concerns remain. Britain’s most senior medical advisor, Dame Sally Davies, has warned that the rise in antibiotic resistance could ’trigger a national emergency comparable to a catastrophic terrorist attack, pandemic flu or major coastal flooding’ (in Sample, 2013). She has also pointed to the threat of what she calls an ’apocalyptic scenario’ in the near future, when patients could die from routine infections after surgery because of a lack of effective antibiotics to treat them (in Sample, 2013).

The aim of this essay is to assess the extent of antibiotic resistance in today’s society, and to explore the possible solutions to this problem.


Davies, J. (2006) Where have all the antibiotics gone? Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases and Medical Microbiology, 17(5), 287—290.

McCracken, K. and D. Phillips (2012) Global Health: An Introduction to Current and Future Trends, Abingdon: Routledge.

Nordqvist, C. (2013) What are antibiotics? How do antibiotics work? Medical News Today, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/10278.php [accessed 1st December, 2013]

Sample, I. (2013) Antibiotic-resistant diseases pose ’apocalyptic’ threat, top expert says, Guardian, 23rd January, http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/jan/23/antibiotic-resistant-diseases-apocalyptic-threat [accessed 15th January, 2014]

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Combating antibiotic resistance, http://www.fda.gov/downloads/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/UCM143470.pdf [accessed 2nd December, 2013]

Model text 11: Equation

If a soap film is stretched across a frame with a moveable wire, the force required to hold the wire in place is:

where l is the length of the wire, y is the surface tension of the soap film/air interface and the factor 2 is introduced because the film has two surfaces.

Model text 12: GM foods

Genetically modified (GM) foods are becoming more widely available. Many see the increased production of GM crops as an important tool in the fight against world hunger. However, others are concerned by the possible effects of these foods on health.

Model text 13: Newton’s three laws of motion

Newton’s three laws of motion state that:

✵ a body continues in its state of rest of uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force;

✵ the rate of change of momentum of a body is proportional to the applied force and takes place in the direction in which the force acts;

✵ for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.