USING the Supermarket Botany Article

Ross Koning koning at ECSUC.CTSTATEU.EDU
Thu Jul 8 23:34:10 EST 1999

As a professor in the CSU system, I was quite
embarassed by the article that has been mentioned.
Not only does it reflect badly on ABT but also on
CSU when faculty at our sister campuses don't
put their manuscripts out for peer review.

However, several of the posts about this article
have indicated that such published articles are
useless to the teaching profession.  And, while I
agree that errors make us have to do double-time
to prevent them multiplying in school systems, there
IS one use that can be made of this article...

I recommend sending your college students to the
library (or reprinting the article with permission)
to read the article and then submit a list of errors
of botanical fact that they find in the article.  I
wouldn't tell them about the letters in later issues
or the authors' reply to the letters.  This activity
will get the students to read an article closely, and
the errors are so obvious and aggregious, that even
non-majors have a good chance of uncovering many of
them on-their-own. It also reminds students that
they shouldn't believe EVERYTHING they read in print.
You could score the student papers on a numerical scale
because of the multitude of the errors in the article.
After allowing this to reinforce the RIGHT ideas, I
would then point them on to the letters and responses
published in ABT. Were all of the errors reported?
Were the reported errors truly errata? You might even
have the students evaluate the authors' reply.  Then,
as the editor-in-chief of ABT is also the primary author
of a MAJOR Botany textbook and is a plant physiologist,
have the students compose a letter to him about his
responsibility to ABT and to the science. Finally you
can have students reflect on the whole situation and
to figure out what is RIGHT about science when the
letters are published openly in the same journal.

I plan to do this in my botany class for majors this
next spring.  We'll see how it works out.  My take on
the editor is that he is too busy writing his book on
Evolution to keep an eye on the day-to-day drudgery of
finding qualified reviewers for botanical manuscripts
in the journal. He obviously didn't read the "supermarket"
manuscript himself...he is a bright guy and knows fruits
and five-kingdoms (I use his book!), but IMHO he is
spread too thinly. There is a lesson in that for me too.


Ross Koning                 | koning at
Biology Department          |
Eastern CT State University | phone: 860-465-5327
Willimantic, CT 06226 USA   | fax: 860-465-4479

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