Thursday, November 26, 2015

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Book review: Science Research Writing for Non-Native Speakers of English

October 9, 2015 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Publishing, Writing

When I wrote Eloquent Science, the most difficult chapter to write was the one for non-native English speakers. Growing up a native English speaker, I felt that I couldn’t offer much about how to help non-native speakers write better. But, I strongly felt that the book needed to say something to this audience. The books […]

Advice to writers: Treat it like teaching

January 30, 2015 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing

While helping a student write a particularly challenging chapter in his dissertation, it occurred to me that one piece of advice that may help him is to treat his writing like teaching. Imagine, if instead of communicating your science through a written report, you had to teach your ideas to students who had not seen […]

Damn the tildes and full speed ahead!

December 16, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing

Reader Matt Bunkers raised the issue of the tilde (~) in scientific writing. Some use it for “proportional to”. Others use it for “order of magnitude”. Still others use it for “approximately”. Given the wide variety of uses for the tilde, why not just write out what you mean? Doing so will make your writing […]

“Conclusions and Discussion”? What should you call the last section of your paper?

October 2, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing

Astute reader Colin Smith fired the following question my way: I find that many authors call their closing section “Conclusions and discussion”, rather than ‘Discussion and conclusions”. I prefer the latter because, to me, it is logical to first discuss your results in a wider context, and then draw conclusions. However, I also understand why […]

David Byrne: Inspiration for Good Science Writing

August 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Potpourri, Writing

About a month ago, I had finished reading How Music Works by David Byrne (formerly of Talking Heads). I was always a big fan of the music of Talking Heads and Byrne, and I found his movie True Stories quirky. I am a huge musicophile, as well, and when I saw the book on the […]

Advice on providing better feedback…

Our advisors coated the drafts of our writing in red ink. And, we, in turn, coat the drafts of our students’ writing in red ink. Does the volume of red ink challenge students to improve their writing, or do they just shrug it off (for any number of reasons)? I was just reading an article […]

“Over” versus “more than”

March 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing

Reader Russ Schumacher pointed out to me that the Associated Press has now accepted both “over” and “more than” as in “over 500 people attended” and “more than 500 people attended”. The outrage from the community is described here. Where do you stand?

My response to 3monththesis’s “Why some perfectionism is a good thing”

March 6, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing

The original post is here, and the post starts: One of the most common pieces of writing advice is to “just get words down on the page; don’t worry about detail, and don’t think too much”. This is often given as a way of overcoming writers block, or the “fear of the blank page”. Perfectionism […]

More on plain writing in the government

January 9, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing

Regular reader Brian Curran sends us this link on the Plain Writing Act and the results thereof, following up on earlier discussions of clear language in government writing. As the report card from the Center for Plain Language shows, NOAA gets a D for “Plain Writing”, although which documents were used was not stated […]

10 grammar rules you can forget: how to stop worrying and write proper

October 6, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Featured, Writing

Jim Steenburgh sent me this article from The Guardian about “what pop music can teach you about building sentences.”

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