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Scientific Writing

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Scientific Writing
A Reader and Writer's Guide. By Jean-Luc Lebrun. (World Scientific Publishing Co.: 2007. Pg. 224.) ISBN 10: 981-270-144-3. ISBN 13: 978-981-270-144-2.

Reviewed by Herbert White - August 10, 2007

Science writing, whether in the academic or scientific realm, or in the media must by its very nature be accurate, intelligible, and readable. In Scientific Writing: A Reader and Writer's Guide Jean-Luc Lebrun presents a concise and lucid account of what, exactly, science writing is, and how to 'write' science in a way that not only holds the reader's interest but which accurately transmits the intended information. Lebrun is a skilled writer who brings his years of writing experience to bear in this text. As he states in the book's preface, "...the six qualities that are the hallmark of great scientific writing: fluid, organized, clear, concise, convincing, and interesting (FOCI)." Within the pages of this unique text, Lebrun illustrates how to incorporate these six essential qualities into any scientific paper.

In this book Lebrun takes a unique tack, focusing his attention primarily on the reader and how readers obtain information from written works. From this base, he examines how writers need to target and present their work in order to meet the demands and needs of the reader. To this end, he explains how to write attention grabbing sentences, memorable and relevant titles, how to organize your paper, and how to avoid over loading your reader with redundant or non-essential material. He also explains the techniques you can use to ensure that your paper holds your reader's attention, and that you explain your science in a logical and comprehendible manner.

The text is organized into two parts. In part I The Reading Toolkit Lebrun examines how readers read, and how to keep their attention by employing such tactics as reducing reading time, using acronyms prudently, discovering and meeting readers' expectations, and creating a reading momentum that never lags. In part II Paper Structure and Purpose, Lebrun tackles the mechanics of writing a scientific paper, from titling your paper and writing an abstract to avoiding common pitfalls and how to craft an unforgettable conclusion. Throughout this text, Lebrun has included numerous examples that show scientific writing in action. He also has peppered this text with numerous tips and sage advice that will benefit both novice writers and seasoned pros alike.

Although geared primarily to academic science writers, this book is a 'must-read' for technical writers as well. Lebrun's advice on how to present the science while writing for the reader is essential knowledge for anyone trying to transmit complex or technical scientific information to others. As well, this work will prove invaluable to science writers writing for general readers or for readers in other fields.

Readable, and easy to understand, Scientific Writing is well suited for use in University level writing classes, as well as a supplemental text in every science class where students are required to write science papers or reports. This book is also a must-have reference for graduate students, junior scientist, researchers, scientific advisors, and anyone else who needs to be able to produce scientific papers or whose job includes revision or editing the work of science writers.

Related Reviews:

Destination Dissertation, by Sonja K. Foss and William Waters.
A step-by-step guide to writing your dissertation that takes you through the entire process in a mere 29 steps.

The Rowman & Littlefield Guide to Writing with Sources, by James P. Davis.
A handy reference guide that examines how, and why, you need to cite your sources, in both written and oral presentations across all academic disciplines.

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