George D. Gopen and Judith A. Swan [The Science of Scientific Writing] (1).pdf – Download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online. *Examples and explanations from Gopen, George D. and Judith A. Swan. “The Science of Scientific. Writing,” American Scientist 78, no.6 (November-December . Among other things, I was told to read The Science of Scientific Writing, by George Gopen and Judith Swan. Being told that you suck is great;.

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There is nothing wrong with passive sentences, which are common in scientific writing; however, use of the active voice, at least occasionally, will bring your writing to life. First, grammatical subjects should be followed as soon as possible by their verbs; second, every unit of discourse, no matter the size, should serve a single function or make a single point; and, third, information intended to be emphasized should appear at points of syntactic closure.

What you want to present is not necessarily what your audience needs.

Scientists are rarely trained to write and speak clearly and effectively; we are expected to develop these skills on our own. That by itself would be little more than a truism.

Readers expect to be provided with old information context at the beginning of a sentence, which prepares them for the new information to be given at the end.

To make matters worse, I had no idea why that happens. It occurred to me that this principle could be applied to writing papers and proposals or giving conference talks. The sentence I listed earlier also minimizes the number of words between subject and verb: Nor is it the length of the sentence.

I learned to always distill my message before leaping into writing a paper or preparing a conference talk or seminar. Subject-verb separation is just one way a writer can confuse the reader.


Are they science literate but know nothing about your particular topic? Distill, distill I learned to always distill my message before leaping into writing a paper or preparing a conference talk or seminar.

The point is that you can make it easy for the viewer or reader to grasp the substance of your information or you can make it difficult by using tortuous language.

Learning to distill my message has helped me write better journal articles…and blog posts! The process of crafting that sentence made me think harder about my message and what I wanted to get across in the paper.

If we reverse this order, the new information appears before we know the context: This wording lacks the details about Species A and B, but these are not really needed.

Are there some interesting applications based on your work? That is brilliant advice.

In the process of answering such questions, we discover a new way of looking at our science. The problem is that the construction makes the reader work harder to parse out the context and the new information. What was new or innovative? If you use cryptic, equivocal, or imprecise hopen, you risk the audience misinterpreting your message.

Gopen and Swan | The Scientist Videographer

The revised sentence is much easier to understand and is more memorable. Gopen and Swan argue that good writing is about successfully managing the expectations of readers.

When you are done, you will probably want to know that Gopen has written an entire book on this topic, called The Sense of Structure: In the other sentence, the action of the subject is expressed in the verb: An improved version might read: You may have even decided that it was your fault—that your lack of comprehension was due to a lack of background in whatever topic was being presented.

Only later did I realize that this was not enough.


A Summary of “The Science of Scientific Writing”

True, there is nothing grammatically gpen, and most readers qnd understand what is meant. We suffer from the curse of knowledge, which cannot san be set aside. Now we have a much clearer picture: Simple means easy to understand or uncomplicated. Poor communicators tend to ignore the needs of their audience. Here is an excerpt:. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. But now that I have read some of what the authors have to say, I am no longer entirely clueless.

Why is your research important to society? My problem was that I was presenting information I wanted the viewer to ogpen rather than what they needed to know. Being told that you suck is great; you get to learn so much from it! Did you give up about half-way through? In the next post, I will talk about Part 2: In the first post of this series, I described the first lesson I learned, which has had a huge effect on my overall communication skills: An improved version might read:.

I have read my good share of writing advice, and although I have gotten better at throwing away needless words, the structure of the sentences I write always swsn clunky. Why should people care about my work? This sentence would be suitable for both a professional audience and a lay audience. Focus on Your Audience Share this: Have they heard of sea-level rise? I urge you san go and read the whole thing. Actually, the fault lies entirely with the author or presenter.

Unlike much that is written about writing, however, this article actually gives concrete ways to improve your own sentences.