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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The process of crafting that sentence made me think harder about my message and what I wanted to get across in the paper.

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

This wording lacks the details about Species A and B, but these are not really needed. To make matters worse, I had no idea why that happens. The sentence I listed earlier also minimizes the number of words between subject and verb: I learned to always distill my message before leaping into writing a paper or preparing a conference talk or seminar. Simplify, simplify I also began paying more attention to the language I used in writing and speaking.

Distill, distill I learned to always distill my message before leaping into writing a paper or preparing a conference talk or seminar. The problem is that the construction makes the reader work harder to parse out the context and the new information. An improved version might read:. Here is an excerpt: True, there is nothing grammatically wrong, and most readers will understand what is meant.

It occurred to me that this principle could be applied to writing papers and proposals or giving conference talks. Even if ajd are communicating with a specialist audience in your field, you need to consider their needs and make it as easy as possible for them to understand what you did, what you found, and why it is important.

Incidentally, there must be a link between what Gopen and Swan say about writing and our theories about how people understand visualizations; I have to learn more about this!


Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. In the process of answering ajd questions, we discover a new way of looking at our science. Poor communicators tend to ignore the needs of their audience. Nor is it the length of the sentence. The sentence I listed earlier also minimizes the number of words between subject and verb:.

That by itself would be little more than a truism.

My problem was that I was presenting information I wanted the viewer to know— rather than what they needed to know. 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.

Readers expect to be provided with old information context at the beginning of a sentence, which prepares them for the new information to be given at the end. 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.

Are they science literate but know nothing about your particular topic? But now that I have read some of what the authors have to say, I am no longer entirely clueless. Did you give up about half-way through? I urge you to go and read the whole thing.

Your audience must expend mental energy taking in the content, but they also have to strive to understand your word choice, syntax, and emphasis. What was new or innovative? 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: 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.

For more insight into how structure affects comprehension of scientific writing, see Gopen and Swan Subject-verb separation is just one way a writer can confuse the reader. Now we have a much clearer picture: If you use cryptic, equivocal, or imprecise language, you risk the audience misinterpreting your message.


Many writers will see nothing wrong with this construction. We test the accuracy of the DDA by using the DDA to compute scattering and absorption by isolated, homogeneous spheres as well as by targets consisting of two contiguous spheres.

Why should people care about my work? Distill Your Message 2.

The Science of Scientific Writing

The revised sentence is much easier to understand and is more memorable. I also learned that I needed to use a structure that would ensure they would pay attention and remember my information.

Here is an excerpt:. In the other sentence, the action of the subject is expressed in the verb: What is innovative or new? You may have even decided that it was your fault—that your lack of comprehension was due to a lack of background in whatever topic was being presented.

Unlike much that is written about writing, however, this article actually gives concrete ways to improve your own sentences. Have they heard of sea-level rise? Do they know what DNA is? Learning to distill my message has helped me write better journal articles…and blog posts! Only later did I realize that this was not enough.

Gopen and Swan | The Scientist Videographer

What was my main finding and its significance? This third principle was a true eye-opener to me. Being told that you suck is great; you get to learn so much from it!

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. One remedy is to ask yourself simple questions about a prospective audience.