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The Craft of Scientific Communication

The ability to communicate in print and person is essential to the life of a successful scientist. But since writing is often secondary in scientific education and teaching, there remains a significant need for guides that teach scientists how best to convey their research to general and professional audiences. The Craft of Scientific Communication will teach science students and scientists alike how to improve the clarity, cogency, and communicative power of their words and images.

In this remarkable guide, Joseph E. Harmon and Alan G. Gross have combined their many years of experience in the art of science writing to analyze published examples of how the best scientists communicate. Organized topically with information on the structural elements and the style of scientific communications, each chapter draws on models of past successes and failures to show students and practitioners how best to negotiate the world of print, online publication, and oral presentation.

See a web appendix for the book.

240 pages | 21 halftones, 12 line drawings, 2 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2010

Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing

Biography and Letters

Biological Sciences: Natural History

Education: Education--General Studies

Language and Linguistics: Language--Reference

Physical Sciences: Physics--Popular Books

Reference and Bibliography


“This work would be an important manual for any scientist who wishes to publish articles that generate significant impact. Because scientific communication improves through practice, this volume would also be a useful tool to introduce science writing to students or for principal investigators to guide budding scientists.”

Quarterly Review of Biology

The Craft of Scientific Communication demonstrates quite powerfully that no scientist can survive professionally without writing well. Writing well, according to Gross and Harmon, is less a matter of following formulas and templates than it is a creative process of strategic decision-making based on the writer’s purpose and intended audience. This book enters a crowded room of ‘how to’ books for scientific authors but emerges as a unique contribution due to the authors’ extensive research of scientific communication that provides the intellectual history and social functions of the very features of good writing that scientific authors must master.”

Carol Reeves, Butler University

“Harmon and Gross distill key lessons of scientific composition from exemplar articles. By parsing both overall structures and individual sentences, they show us the relationship between scientific rhetoric and scientific thinking. Exercises allow the reader to try out those lessons and internalize the ideas. Harmon and Gross’s clear guidelines and checklists will help scientists focus on the key concepts they need to build their own arguments. The suggestions they give will help scientific authors achieve their scientific goals.”

Bruce V. Lewenstein, Cornell University

"It would be impossible to constrain my appreciation for this book, which will find eager reception wherever the need for teaching scientific writing is addressed. The Craft of Scientific Communication continues in the scholarly tradition of the authors and promises to add a refreshing wealth of pragmatic advice and illustration to any bookshelf dedicated to effective contemporary scientific writing."

Patrick Logan, University of Rhode Island

Table of Contents

What This Book Does

Part I: The Scientific Article

1          Introducing Your Problem

2          Distilling Your Research

3          Entitling Your Research

4          Turning Your Evidence into Arguments: Results and Discussion

5          Drawing Your Conclusions

6          Framing Your Methods

7          Distributing Credit

8          Arranging Matters

9          Varying Matters

Part II: Beyond the Scientific Article

10        Proposing New Research

11        Going Public

12        Presenting PowerPoint Science

13        Organizing PowerPoint Slides

Part III: Writing Style

14        Composing Scientific English

15        Improving Scientific English



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