Passage 1:Doctors, whose first allegiance is supposed to be to their patients, have traditionally stood between drug company researchers and trusting consumers. Yet unless there is evidence of misconduct (the deliberate misrepresentation of something as fact by someone who knows it is not), it is very difficult to discover and virtually impossible to prove that a piece of biomedical research has been tainted by conflict of interest. No study is perfect, and problems arise in the labs of even the most conscientious and honest researchers. Although biomedical research incorporates rigorous scientific rules and is often critically scrutinized by peers, the information can nevertheless be warped—by ending a study because the results are disappointing; changing rules mid-study; not trying to publish negative results; publicizing preliminary results even with final and less positive results in hand; skimming over or even not acknowledging drawbacks; and, especially, casting the results in the best light or, as scientists say, buffing them.
Passage 2: Consumers must trust that the research that has gone into the manufacture of new drugs is safe. But it is hard to know if a conflict of interest between doctors, researchers, and the drug company stockholders has tainted the results. Biomedical researchers incorporate strict rules of science into their work, which is examined by peers. Yet the resulting information can be warped for five reasons: ending a study too soon, not publishing negative results, publishing results too early, skimming over or ignoring drawbacks, and “buffing” the results by showing them in the best light (Crossen, 1994, p. 167).
Reference: O’Conner, P. (2003). Woe is I: The grammarphobe’s guide to better English in plain English. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.
A good writer is one you can read without breaking a sweat. If you want a workout, you don’t lift a book—you lift weights. Yet we’re brainwashed to believe that the more brilliant the writer, the tougher the going.
The truth is that the reader is always right. Chances are, if something you’re reading doesn’t make sense, it’s not your fault—it’s the writer’s. And if something you write doesn’t get your point across, it’s probably not the reader’s fault—it’s yours. Too many readers are intimidated and humbled by what they can’t understand, and in some cases that’s precisely the effect the writer is after. But confusion is not complexity; it’s just confusion. A venerable tradition, dating back to the ancient Greek orators, teaches that if you don’t know what you’re talking about, just ratchet up the level of difficulty and no one will ever know.
Don’t confuse simplicity, though, with simplemindedness. A good writer can express an extremely complicated idea clearly and make the job look effortless. But such simplicity is a difficult thing to achieve because to be clear in your writing you have to be clear in your thinking. This is why the simplest and clearest writing has the greatest power to delight, surprise, inform, and move the reader. You can’t have this kind of shared understanding if writer and reader are in an adversary relationship (pp. 195–196).
This last passage was written by a student who wants to use the O’Conner resource in a paper and is trying not to plagiarize. Analyze the student’s work for evidence of plagiarism and/or paraphrasing.
Some people think the most intelligent writing should be difficult for readers to comprehend. However, this is a misconception about writing. Complicated sentences create unnecessary confusion and prevent readers from understanding the main ideas. Instead, simple and clear writing helps readers understand even the most difficult concepts. Therefore, writers have an important responsibility to express their thoughts and ideas in a way that is succinct, comprehensible, and engaging. A good writer should be mindful of who the target readers are and then use simple and clear language to communicate ideas (O’Conner, 2003).
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