Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded Paperback – Nov 29 2011
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"The book is well produced ... [and] could form a solid basis for a scientific writing course." --Ecology
About the Author
Joshua Schimel is Chair of the Environmental Studies Program and Professor of Soil and Ecosystem Ecology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a leading environmental scientist, studying how soil processes regulate ecosystems and the earth's climate. He has authored over 100 papers and has served on panels for the National Science Foundation, NASA, and other agencies.
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Also, I was expecting this book to be helpful, but dry read, but was pleasantly surprised by how engaging it was. Who would have thought that a book on science writing would actually be entertaining and funny, while being reassuring at the same time? It really is an entertaining and easy read, though.
I have already had all of my graduate students read this book, and have been talking about it incessantly at meetings. My postdoc has been doing the same thing - without any prompting from me. It has had a profound influence on the way the folks in my lab think about science writing, and has altered my perspective on writing forever. Be warned, however, that after you read this book you will want to start relentlessly editing all of the scientific writing you read.
I recommend both Schimel's book and Lindsay's for anyone who has to write about scientific research. If you want to choose only one, Lindsay is quicker, but Schimel is better.
In writing the book, Dr. Schimel practiced what he preaches. It is an excellent and entertaining read, with lots of stimulating and interesting anecdotes and broad linkages (such as to the speeches and writings of Winston Churchill and other non-scientists). The structure, flow and readability of the book are exemplary (as one would expect), but in addition he makes excellent use of short tight and longer more expansive sentences, as well as dashes and semi-colons. Furthermore, the text includes some real gems including why the process of writing science actually improves the intellectual quality of your science, and why when someone else edits your work, or you edit theirs, the initial edited text changes may be changed again - even changed back to the original text! There are very useful chapters dedicated to the particular challenges of writing science for non-native English speakers, and of writing successfully for non-specialist public audiences. Furthermore, there's a whole chapter of excellently described ideas for dealing with the thorny issue of the various limitations that underlie almost any science study. Finally, the author analyses numerous relevant examples of scientific text for their strengths and weaknesses, and even includes several whole paragraphs which he systematically improves through a detailed series of suggested remedies.
Overall, this really excellent book is likely to greatly benefit not just science students, but also a huge proportion of apparently `fully fledged' scientists. Understanding and applying the tools described here will benefit both your writing and your science.