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Education & Language - Professional & Vocational Education | The Craft of Scientific Writing

The Craft of Scientific Writing

Alley, Michael

3rd ed. 1996, XV, 282 p.

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In October 1984, the weak writing in a scientific report made national news. The report, which outlined safety procedures during a nuclear attack, advised industrial workers "to don heavy clothes and immerse themselves in a large body of water." The logic behind this advice was sound: Water is a good absorber of heat, neutrons, and gamma rays. Unfortunately, the way the advice was worded was unclear. Was everyone supposed to com­e up for air? Be­ completely submerged? 

The writing conveyed the wrong im­pression to the public. The report came across as saying "go jump in a lake" -- not the impression you want to give someone spending thousands of dollars to fund your­ research. Chances are that Dan Rather will not quote your documents on national television. Still, your writing is important.

On a personal level, your writing is the principle way in which people learn about your work. When you commu­nicate weIl, you receive credit for your work. When you do not communicate weIl, or are too slow to communi­cate, the credit often goes to someone else. On a larger level, your writing and the writing of other scientists influence public policy about science and engineering.

Content Level » Professional/practitioner

Keywords » Design - Scientific Writing - Style - research writing - science writing - science writing book - scientific language - writing for engineering - writing for science

Related subjects » Engineering - Linguistics - Physics - Popular Science - Professional & Vocational Education

Table of contents 

1. Introduction: Deciding Where to Begin. 2. Structure: Organizing your Documents. 3. Structure: Depth, Transition, and Emphasis. 4. Language: Being Precise. 5. Language: Being Clear. 6. Language: Being Forthright. 7. Language: Being Familiar. 8. Language: Being Concise 9. Language: Being Fluid. 10. Illustation: Making the Right Choices. 11. Illustration: Creating the Best Designs. 12. Handling Special Stituations. 13. Actually Sitting Down to Write.

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