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#### Society of Dairy Technology (SDT) webinar on Thursday the 17th of November.

It is important that students understand accuracy, precision and error before embarking on research projects and reflect this understanding in reports and dissertations.

There is a free tutorial by Cecil McIntosh on Sophia that explains these concepts and also provide self assessed questions to test understanding.

Many postgraduate students find it challenging to write their first research or review paper.

A guide produced by the author and Camilla (Millie) Preece may help.  A draft version of the guide in the form of a PowerPoint presentation can be accessed here. The guide is currently being formatted by Wiley and will be available on the International Journal of Dairy Technology website for viewing and download. Millie Preece is a PhD student from Harper Adams University in the UK.

This article explains how to convert numbers to scientific notation and back again to standard format. It also contains two calculators that will enable calculations to be checked and that provide feedback on common data entry input errors.

## How do you convert numbers to scientific notation?

In mathematics, science and engineering students frequent have to work with very small, e.g. 0.000005, and very large, e.g. 3200000000 numbers. For example, students in microbiology are often required to write the number of colony forming units (CFU)/mL or gram in scientific notation. To avoid dealing with these large and small numbers mathematicians, scientists and engineers have developed a particular way of expressing numbers; this is called scientific notation.

There are a range of formulae that can be used to assess the readability of written text.  While these all have limitations, judicious use of several ‘readability' predictors can improve the clarity of writing of articles, theses, reports and assignments.

The software used here, an online readability calculator, will return a number of indicators including the average words per sentence, Fog index, Flesch reading ease score, and Flesch-Kincaid grade level. These readability indicators may be of help in editing and developing your written work.

It is unclear how useful computer programmes are for analysing scientific writing since the language used tends to be complex. However, some studies have shown that the indicators derived using the software here do have value.

If you are submitting assignments, essays or theses then you are required to correctly reference any ideas, images, data, reference lists you have used which are not your own. This also includes data and information you have obtained from electronic sources including the Internet.

Failure to give credit to the work of others can result in you being accused of plagiarism which if proven could result in no marks being given for your work or suspension from your course or even expulsion from your College or university.

So you want to know how to cite a reference?  Here you can use 50 Harvard reference wizards to generate a bibliography, "Works Cited", references or citations to books, speeches, images, legal rulings, websites and many other sources of information using the Harvard style, author-date citation method; the legal rulings are not referenced using the Harvard system but are included because many students need to cite at least one legal citation.

Over the past 10-15 years, there has been an enormous increase in the sources of information available to students; if you are an academic just look at your own thesis and determine how many different citations you used.  If you graduated more than 10-years ago it is unlikely that you used more than 10-different reference types. The diversity of information sources that today's students encounter can create difficulties when it comes to correctly citing some sources, particular electronic sources, let alone judging the validity of the source. Perhaps it should not be a surprise that referencing causes so many problems across higher education wherever it is undertaken!

Following my experiences as a research supervisor, lecturer, education manager and external examiner I decided that I would try to make referencing a little easier by creating a series of 'wizards'; these are forms in which information is entered, and if entered correctly, will  result in a correctly formatted reference. Hopefully through this facility, supervisors may avoid the tautology of citations with ISBN numbers, incorrect Mintel citations and web references!

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