Tips for Improving Your Scientific Writing

Tips for Improving Your Scientific Writing - Chem 391 Tips...

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Chem 391 Tips for Improving Your Scientific Writing 1. Be aware of writing as you read . As you read a textbook, a review article, or an original research paper, notice the style of writing. Critically evaluate its quality. Is it clear? Is it direct? Does it hold your interest? How and why? 2. Read about writing . Many of the ideas presented in our class derive from books like The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E. B. White (Macmillan) and On Writing Well by William Zinsser (Harper & Row) and articles like “The Science of Scientific Writing” by George Gopen and Judith Swan ( American Scientist , Nov/Dec, 1990). 3. Carefully read instructions . Follow your employer’s, publisher’s, or granting agency’s policies and formats. 4. Practice . Write often and seek continually to improve. (Prov. 1:5) 5. Get help . Have one or more people proofread your papers and offer you suggestions. “Practice makes perfect” is true only if you practice correctly. In writing, correct practice means feedback from a competent writer or editor. 6. Be humble . Accept criticism. If someone has a problem understanding your meaning, blame your writing, not your reader. 7. Revise, revise, revise . Take a day or two break, then revise again. 8. Give detailed, specific information . Don’t say “We used several physical techniques to analyze our protein.” Say “We used 13 C-NMR, FT-IR, and UV spectroscopy to follow the denaturation of aspartate aminotransferase as a function of temperature.” 9. Write concisely . The Nobel-Prize-winning paper by Watson and Crick on the structure of DNA is two pages. In your writing, cover the essentials, then quit. 10.
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Tips for Improving Your Scientific Writing - Chem 391 Tips...

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