I attended a talk by Jean Beatty at Virginia Tech last Friday afternoon. He specializes in philosophy and history of biology. The talk was about narratives and how they can be used. He showed multiple examples of chains of events. He highlighted how narrative can be used to let a reader think about other possible events that might have happened if the narrated path had not been taken.
For me this was an interesting way of looking at science and for example writing an article. For a better quality publication, a narrative could be used. For example in case of a relatively recent publication (Watkins et. al. 2013) the authors take the reader through a narrative. First they studied the connection between bacterial gene expression and mouse interferon response to its presence and absence during bacterial infection. They found interferon gamma, a molecule inducing inflammation, levels are increased when the gene of interest is present. Next they wanted to know which cells of the host secreted the interferon and found that neutrophils, immune cells capable of engulfing bacteria, were the source. As the finale they found what this means for the host.
This Type of set-up allows the reader to appreciate the thought path taken and also shows that other options were studied and found not possible for this story line. For example the T lymphocytes as main source of the interferon was ruled out. This narrative building could be a good tool for me personally to write up my thesis and plan my experiments.
Watkins, R. L., O. W. Zurek, K. B. Pallister, and J. M. Voyich. 2013. The SaeR/S two-component system induces interferon-gamma production in neutrophils during invasive Staphylococcus aureus infection. Microbes Infect 15: 749-754.