August 26, 2021 0 Comments

Author(s): George D. Gopen and Judith A. Swan Source: American Scientist, Vol. 78, No. 6 (November-December ), pp. Published by: Sigma Xi. *Examples and explanations from Gopen, George D. and Judith A. Swan. “The Science Writing,” American Scientist 78, no.6 (November-December ): pp. Gopen, G.D, Swan J.A (). The Science of Scientific Writing. American Scientist Vol. 78 pgs. Add to My Bookmarks Export citation. Gopen, G.D .

Author: Shaktizragore Kagor
Country: China
Language: English (Spanish)
Genre: Politics
Published (Last): 4 August 2017
Pages: 168
PDF File Size: 20.38 Mb
ePub File Size: 15.89 Mb
ISBN: 198-9-86243-840-5
Downloads: 73931
Price: Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]
Uploader: Vuzil

Although linkage and context can derive from several sources, they stem primarily from material that the reader has already encountered within this particular piece of discourse. If the actions are not to be found in the verbs, then we as readers have no secondary structural clues for where to locate them. A unit of discourse is defined as anything with a beginning and an end: Those problems turn out to be only a small part of the difficulty.

Many problems that had existed in the original have now surfaced for the first time.

Is the author arguing that recurrence rates must vary because fault movements often vary? Note that only the first of our examples the paragraph about URF’s could be revised on the basis of the methodology to reveal a nearly ogpen passage. We cannot begin to do so if we are left in doubt as to what those hypotheses might be—and if we are using most of our energy to discern the structure of the prose rather than its substance.

Most people assume that its difficulties are born out of necessity, out of the extreme complexity of scientific concepts, data and analysis. Large earthquakes The rates Therefore The smaller the standard deviation of the average recurrence interval, the more specific could be the long term prediction of a future mainshock.

These revisions lead us to a second set of reader expectations.

A Summary of “The Science of Scientific Writing”

As critical scientific readers, we would like to concentrate our energy on whether the experiments prove the hypotheses. We prefer the new, important information on the right, since its job is to intrigue the reader.

A reader has reached the beginning of the stress position when she knows there is nothing left in the clause or sentence but the material presently being read. We argue here that complexity of thought need not lead to impenetrability of expression; we demonstrate a number of rhetorical principles that can produce clarity in communication without oversimplifying scientific issues. Here is a second example of scientific prose that we shall attempt to improve in subsequent discussion:.


If we try to piece together the relationship of each sentence to its neighbors, we notice that certain bits of old information keep reappearing. We hear a good deal about the recurrence time between earthquakes: Here are two possibilities: Fortunately, it does not matter where we start, since xcientist to any one structural problem eventually leads us to all the others. We proceed to the first of several reader expectations.

When old information does not appear at all in a sentence, whether in the swxn position or elsewhere, readers are left to construct the logical linkage by themselves.

Writing with the Reader in Mind: The methodology of reader expectations articulates the reader’s needs explicitly, thereby making writers consciously aware of scientizt problems and ways to solve them. If the two sides of this simple table are reversed, it becomes much harder to read.

We put subjects and verbs together to lessen the reader’s syntactic burdens; we put the material we believed worthy of emphasis in stress positions; and we discarded material for which we could not discern significant connections. If we applied the three principles we have developed to the rest of the sentences of the example, we could generate a great many revised versions of each.

As we recognize that the sentence is drawing toward its conclusion, we begin to exhale that mental breath. Second, any reader expectation can be violated to good effect. In all the other examples, revision revealed existing conceptual gaps scientits other problems that americxn been submerged in the originals by dysfunctional structures. We tend to take something like a “mental breath” as we begin to read each new sentence, thereby summoning the tension with which we pay attention to the unfolding of the syntax.

View the discussion thread. The enthalpy of hydrogen bond formation between scientixt nucleoside bases 2’deoxyguanosine dG and 2’deoxycytidine dC has been determined by direct measurement. But at least now we can recognize that the author has not explained the connection between “limit” and “inhibit. Information is interpreted more easily and more uniformly if it is placed where most readers expect to find it.

Our examples of scientific writing have ranged from the merely cloudy to the virtually opaque; yet all of them could be made significantly more comprehensible by observing the following structural principles: In our experience, the misplacement of old and new information turns out to be the No.

  AMOT 4057 PDF

This interplay between substance and structure can be demonstrated by something as sciejtist as a simple table. We refer to that location as a “stress position.

The Science of Scientific Writing | American Scientist

Each sentence now proceeds logically from its predecessor. In place of the word-limit concept, we offer the following definition: Such success will follow from authors becoming more consciously aware of the various reader expectations presented here.

We refer to this familiar, previously introduced material as “old information. This is the kind of passage that in subtle ways can make readers feel smerican about themselves. We have taken several passages from research articles either yopen or accepted for publication and have suggested ways of rewriting them by applying principles derived from the study of reader expectations.

In other words, writers cannot “merely” record data, even if they try. Here is one version of what we think the authors meant to say, with two additional sentences supplied from a knowledge of nucleic acid chemistry:. Using these principles, we can begin to unravel the problems of our example prose. Such an understanding has recently become available through work done in the fields of rhetoric, linguistics and cognitive psychology.

A Summary of “The Science of Scientific Writing” — Lawrence A. Crowl

It misleads the reader as to whose story is being told; it burdens the reader with new information that must be carried further into the sentence before it can be connected to the discussion; and it creates ambiguity as to which material the writer intended the reader to emphasize. Anything of length that intervenes between subject and verb is read as an interruption, and therefore as something of lesser importance.

Let us say that in tracking the temperature of a liquid over a period of time, an investigator takes measurements every three minutes and records a list of temperatures. Thus amerrican whole list, numbered and indented, can occupy the stress position of a sentence if it has been clearly announced as being all that remains of that sentence.