320 pages, 17 tables
The ability to write clearly is critical to any scientific career. The Scientist's Guide to Writing provides practical advice to help scientists become more effective writers so that their ideas have the greatest possible impact.
Drawing on his own experience as a scientist, graduate adviser, and editor, Stephen Heard emphasizes that the goal of all scientific writing should be absolute clarity; that good writing takes deliberate practice; and that what many scientists need are not long lists of prescriptive rules but rather direct engagement with their behaviors and attitudes when they write. He combines advice on such topics as how to generate and maintain writing momentum with practical tips on structuring a scientific paper, revising a first draft, handling citations, responding to peer reviews, managing coauthorships, and more.
In an accessible, informal tone, The Scientist's Guide to Writing explains essential techniques that students, postdoctoral researchers, and early-career scientists need to write more clearly, efficiently, and easily.
"A tremendous resource for new science writers. Heard writes so that you want to keep reading, which of course is the skill he's teaching in this book. The Scientist's Guide to Writing is carefully considered, engaging, and full of useful ideas."
– Mikaela Huntzinger, coauthor of How to Do Ecology: A Concise Handbook
"Delightfully informative. Heard covers nearly every circumstance in which a scientist may need to write – from preparing a scientific paper for publication, to preparing a grant application, to responding to reviewers. This book is a gold mine of useful guidelines and good advice."
– Mark P. Silverman, author of A Certain Uncertainty: Nature's Random Ways
"Writing skills are vital for scientists, contrary to persistent myths among some undergraduates. Stephen Heard has produced a helpful, tightly written guide that will help many in their quest to communicate their research elegantly."
– Jeremy T. Kerr, University of Ottawa
Part I. What Writing Is
1. On Bacon, Hobbes, and Newton, and the Selfishness of Writing Well 3
2. Genius, Craft, and What This Book Is About 11
Part II. Behavior
3. Reading 17
4. Managing Your Writing Behavior 22
5. Getting Started 30
6. Momentum 42
Part III. Content and Structure
7. Finding and Telling Your Story 57
8. The Canonical Structure of the Scientific Paper 74
9. Front Matter and Abstract 79
10. The Introduction Section 84
11. The Methods Section 89
12. The Results Section 99
13. The Discussion Section 120
14. Back Matter 126
15. Citations 132
16. Deviations from the IMRaD Canon 138
Part IV. Style
17. Paragraphs 149
18. Sentences 159
19. Words 174
20. Brevity 182
Part V. Revision
21. Self-Revision 193
22. Friendly Review 204
23. Formal Review 211
24. Revision and the "Response to Reviews" 222
Part VI. Some Loose Threads
25. The Diversity of Writing Forms 233
26. Managing Coauthorships 247
27. Writing in English for Non-Native Speakers 260
Part VII. Final Thoughts
28. On Whimsy, Jokes, and Beauty: Can Scientific Writing Be Enjoyed? 273
Permanent URLs 299
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Stephen B. Heard is professor of biology at the University of New Brunswick in Canada and associate editor of the journal American Naturalist.