February 13, 2012
A good critical thinker needs to understand language. It is important to know how others use words to convey information. It is also vital to know how to utilize language to support your own ideas and defend them when needed. Looking into the operations of a research lab will demonstrate the importance of language in the workplace and the informative role it plays through documentation and communication with others. My plans to improve my own language skills are outlined
Language is one essence of knowledge. Through language, information gets passed, gathered, communicated, analyzed, and recorded. On any job, when more than one person is involved, the parties must communicate with one another to share information, give direction or share feelings to achieve a common goal. Language both written and oral is the means by which this is done. Whereas there are other forms of communication among the species, human language is uniquely our own; no other species has one (Jones, Martin and Pilbeam, (Eds), Cambridge Encyclopedia of Human Evolution, Cambridge University Press, New York, p. 128, 1999). Language is defined as “a system of communication that involves a set of arbitrary symbols, whether spoken, written, or nonverbal, as in the case of sign language” (Boss, J, Think: Critical Thinking for Everyday Life, 2nd edition, page 63, McGraw-Hill 2012, New York). While language has many functions, in science, language serves primarily an informative one. The scientific community is looked upon to answer the questions that society asks. Science is dependent on language to report its findings in the name of public interest. Language facilitates putting ideas into words, allowing those ideas to be explored by the community. Through language, scientific findings are documented and shared with the rest of the world. As an example of the importance of language in science, examine the operations of a Bio-Repository lab. Bio-Repositories play a crucial role in the research industry, without them much of the research could not happen. Language is used to document specimen collection and what is going on day-to-day with the patients, whose needs are always first. A glimpse into the operations of such a lab can demonstrate the need for language to facilitate good communications. Since the workers are responsible for the communication I will examine my own need for improvement with a look at strengths and weaknesses. Bio-Repository Communication
In the day-to-day operations of the Bio-Repository language is used to communicate the daily operating room (OR) schedule. By knowing the OR schedule, workers in the repository can plan the day’s events and work around the collection of specimens. Understanding the language of others is significant to good communication. Like the Potti incident at Duke over the phrasing of “Rhodes Scholar”, which lead to the retraction of 9 research papers, years of research gone and the poor patients subjected to clinical trials all started with the misuse of language (Doherty, 2012, The Chronicle). Oral
Good oral communication is important in the lab to keep members working together as a team to get everything done for the day. Each member of the team has their individual responsibilities. One member concentrates on the collection of samples, one member concentrates on requests from principle investigators, and the manager oversees the process and lends aid in whatever capacity is needed, in addition to attending to the business aspects of the lab. If an area of work is slower than another, the team members use language to orally communicate a need and redistribute their efforts to get the job done within a set time frame. Written
Good written communication is important because e-mail is used to communicate with other labs, investigators, and other institutions...