George D. Gopen and Judith A. Swan [The Science of Scientific Writing] (1).pdf – Download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online. *Examples and explanations from Gopen, George D. and Judith A. Swan. “The Science of Scientific. Writing,” American Scientist 78, no.6 (November-December . Among other things, I was told to read The Science of Scientific Writing, by George Gopen and Judith Swan. Being told that you suck is great;.

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I have read my good share of writing advice, and although I have gotten better at throwing away needless words, the structure of the sentences I write always feels clunky.

What was my main finding and its significance? In other words, the important clause in your sentence should be placed where the syntax of this clause is entirely determined by what came before it.

What you want to present is not necessarily what your audience needs.

This wording lacks the details about Gopeb A and B, but these are not really needed. What is innovative or new? Even if you are communicating with a specialist audience in your field, you need to consider their needs and zwan it as easy as possible for them to understand what you did, what you found, and why it is important. I learned to always distill my message before leaping into writing a paper or preparing a conference talk or seminar.

The revised sentence is much easier to understand and is more memorable.

Only later did I realize that this was not enough. In the first post of this series, I described the first lesson I learned, which has had a huge effect on my overall communication skills: Here is an excerpt:. In the other sentence, the action of the subject is expressed in the verb: Poor communicators tend to ignore the needs of their audience.


If we reverse this order, the new information appears before we know the context: Subject-verb separation is just one way a writer can confuse the reader. But now that I have read swzn of what the authors have to say, I am no longer entirely clueless.

The Science of Scientific Writing

My problem was that I was presenting information I wanted the viewer to know— rather than what they needed to know. Your audience must expend mental energy taking in the content, but they also have to strive to understand your word choice, syntax, anv emphasis.

Nor is it the length of the sentence. If you use cryptic, equivocal, or imprecise language, you risk the audience misinterpreting your message. When you are done, you will probably want to know that Gopen has written an entire book on this topic, called The Sense of Structure: The process of crafting that sentence made me think harder about my message and what I wanted to get across in the paper.

True, there is nothing grammatically wrong, and most readers will understand what is meant. First, grammatical subjects should be followed as soon as possible by their verbs; second, every unit of discourse, no matter the size, should serve a single function or make a single point; and, third, information intended to be emphasized should appear at points of syntactic closure. This third principle was a true eye-opener to me. Distill, distill I learned to always distill my message before leaping into writing a paper or preparing a conference talk or seminar.

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

I urge you to go and read the whole thing. Ewan should people care about my work? The problem is that the construction makes the reader work harder to parse out the context and the new information.


One remedy is to ask yourself simple questions about a prospective audience. Here is an excerpt: It occurred to me that this principle could be applied to writing papers and proposals or giving conference talks.

There is nothing wrong with passive sentences, which are common in scientific writing; however, use of the active voice, at least occasionally, will bring your writing to life. Scientists are rarely trained to write and speak clearly and effectively; we are expected to develop these skills on our own.

In the process of answering such questions, we discover a new way of looking at our science. A final point is that this reverse construction is passive because the verb is acting on the subject: Are there some interesting applications based on your glpen That is brilliant advice.

The Science of Scientific Writing

Simple means easy to understand or uncomplicated. For more insight into how structure affects comprehension of scientific writing, see Gopen and Swan Focus on Your Audience Share this: Readers expect to be provided with old gopeh context at the beginning of a sentence, which prepares them for the new information to be given at the end.

The point is that you can make it easy for the viewer or reader to grasp the substance of your information or you can make it difficult by using tortuous language. I also learned that I needed to use a structure that anc ensure they would pay attention and remember my information.