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Autor: anton 10 June 2011
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Rhetorical Analysis of Timothy Quinn's article "Coyote (Canis latrans) Food Habits in Three Urban Habitats Types of Western Washington"
In the book Engaging Inquiry, Judy Kirscht and Mark Schlenz detail the specifications of a scientific article. They speak about what each section should contain and what questions each section should answer. The article "Coyote (Canis latrans) Food Habits in Three Urban Habitats Types of Western Washington" was written by Timothy Quinn, a graduate student at the University Of Washington. Quinn follows the K and S model for writing a scientific article. Although he dose deviate from the set model by adding sections in which he feels are important and not completely addressing questions that should have been raised in others, this paper still upheld a scientific standard over all.
According to K and S the title should not be rhetorical rather it should be descriptive, that is, titles are designed to give information, not to attract attention (K and S 33). Quinn's title of his article, "Coyote (Canis latrans) Food Habits in Three Urban Habitats Types of Western Washington," (Quinn 89) is not descriptive in any means. It dose not invite the reader to read it, but what it dose do is completely inform the reader to what the article is going to be about. Quinn includes intricate details that inform his audience what the article is going to entail such as using the scientific name for the coyote, Canis latrans. In his title Quinn also gives what he will be studying and the location of his study. This information is pertinent to his audience, because it informs them not only to what he studied but the location of the coyotes that he is studying.
The next section in the K and S model would be the abstract. The abstract according to the K and S model should be "An overview of the whole, a concise statement of the type of study, its purpose, method, and results" (K and S 33). In Quinn's abstract he starts off with why he has done the study, "The Coyote ( Canis latrans) is a common resident in urban areas through out the United States, yet little is know about coyote diets in these environments" (Quinn 89). This statement serves to alert the audience about why Quinn is performing his study, "there is little know about the Coyote diets in these environments" (Quinn 89). Quinn's next statement in his abstract goes into his methods reviewing what he did, which was to characterize the annual diet of coyotes in an urban environment. He also speaks of his study area, which was in Western Washington. Quinn also went into detail about how he preformed his analyses, and his definition of residential, mixed agriculture- residential, and mixed forest residential. Quinn included his results in his abstract. Quinn's abstract follows all of the requirements of the K and S model, expect for being concise. Quinn answers all the questions posed by K and S for the abstract, he is very clear about what he is talking about. He gives a small excerpt from each of his sections which are good for his intended audience, because it allows them an overview of the whole article with out reading it. This thorough paragraph saves Quinn's intended audience time, in that if the abstract is not pertaining to the area of study they need they do not have to read it.
The introduction, which is the next section according to the K and S model, is a statement of the object and purpose of your study and the specific questions on identification, behavior, variation, and interaction that you sought to answer. (K and S 34) so the questions that need to be answered would be "what are you studying and why"(K and S 32)? Quinn states that there is little known about the diet of coyotes in area that he is studying. He also mentions the scientist that covered the material before him, stating the flaws in their work. "MacCraken's (1982) description of the annual diet of coyotes in residential habitat was based on a small number of scats (n=97) collected during a single month. Atkinson and Shackleton (1991) described the diet of coyotes in an area that was mostly agricultural" (Quinn 89). These mentions of previous studies are meant to show the gaps in previous works that he intends to address, "Additionally, none of these studies looked at the diets as a function of human density" (Quinn 90). Quinn goes on to mention his objective, "My objectives were to document the annual diet of coyotes in three types of urban habitats of western Washington and to qualitatively asses how coyote diets changed as a function of land use patterns and human density" (Quinn 90). This statement is very clear and to the point because Quinn wants his audience to know exactly what his objective is and he dose not want his objective to be unclear. This goes to the fact that Quinn is writing this paper with the goal of earning his doctorate degree. This fact may contribute to such a clearly stated objective. Quinn's introduction, as it relates to the K and S model, answers all the questions that are suppose to answer.
The next section addressed by Quinn is the study area. The study area is not a section set aside by the K and S model but in this section Quinn goes into great detail about the specific areas covered in the study. Quinn begins with "the low elevation ( 50% commercial dog food (estimated visually) originated from the dog. Commercial dog food was easily identified under low magnification by the abundance or grain particles." In this section Quinn gives the details needed for the K and S model. He goes into enough detail so that his experiment can be reproduced with great accuracy. The most important details included in this section would be the dates and the temperatures in which the scats where taken. Quinn included these specifics to make sure that who ever was going to reproduce his experiment could replicate it exactly. This is very important to Quinn's audience because he was writing this paper with the intent of gaining a degree so his paper was under review not by his peers of the scientific community but by his teachers, so he had to insure that all of his information was thorough and correct, in the event that some one needed to check behind him. "I used Knowlton's (1964) method for estimating coyotes because it produces an easily understood qualitative measure of food importance" (Quinn 92). Quinn mentioned Knowlton's method so that he was not producing a new method for measuring what he need to measure, when the mode in which he was measuring was not in question. Quinn ends this section with "Because I did not sample from replicate habitat types, I made only qualitative comparisons among habitat types" (Quinn 91). This speaks to Quinn's results and almost excuses his results if someone questions them.
The results section follows the methods section. The results section according to the K and S model should describe your observation as thoroughly and completely and objectively as your method (K and S 34). In this section Quinn made use of a very important tool in time saving; graphs. The graphs that Quinn used illustrate all of the results that were gathered in his study. Presenting this information in a graph is the most objective thing a scientist can do because you can not impose beliefs on numbers. Quinn goes into great detail to describe the graphs also "figure 1 Percentages of mammals (top panel) and fruits (lower panel) in the seasonal diet of coyotes from three habitat types in Western Washington." This is important to the audience so that they are not confused when they are looking at the graphs they know exactly what they are looking at. Quinn also puts into words what is sad exactly in his graphs. "Coyotes in mixed forest habitat had the highest proportion of fruits in the diet followed by coyotes in residential habitat (Table 1)(Quinn 93)
K and S put the discussion section after the results section. In the discussion section the question of what your observations mean should be answered. In this section personal inferences can be made and questions to other researchers should be posed ( K and S 35). Quinn began talking about what was similar in each habitat and what is different. But in large majority he gave credit to other whose research he proved was correct. "This study was consistent with other studies that have shown fruits to be important dietary components in many coyote populations throughout North America (Dibello et al 1990, MacCraken 1982, Toweill and Anthony 1988)" (Quinn 94). This is where Quinn gives credit to other scientist who had done the research previous to himself. Quinn ends his paper with "My study suggested that coyotes in western Washington eat large quantities of food that results from human activity and that coyote diet may change as a function of human density and land use" (Quinn 95). Quinn did not include questions that were raised from his study because he did not feel confident enough in the community in which he was writing to pose questions to them.
Keeping his audience in mind, Quinn made a section dedicated to Acknowledgments where he mentioned why the study was conducted and thanked the people that helped him, "This study was conducted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a PhD at the University of Washington"(Quinn 95).
In this article Quinn did take some liberties with the K and S method of writing a scientific article. He added a study section and did not address all points that were supposed to be addressed in his conclusion section. The liberties that were taken did not subtract any value from the paper. For the purpose of this article the deviations taken were necessary; they also added value to the article.
Kirsch, Judy, and Mark Schlenz. Engaging Inquiry: Research and Writing in
Disciplines. Upper Saddle, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002.
"Coyote (Canis latans) Food Habits in Three Urban Habitat Types of Western
Washington" Engaging Inquiry: Research and Writing in Disciplines. Upper
Saddle, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2002.
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