Bad writing is bad for science. Incomprehensible journal articles, wordy proposals, and jargon-filled theses make reading a chore for students, informed lay people, and even other scientists. As a result, years of research and hard work can be passed over or misunderstood. The problem is so significant that clear writing has become a legal requirement for federal agencies, thanks to the Plain Writing Act of 2010, which requires that writing be "accessible, consistent, written in plain language, and easy to understand." "Writing Science in Plain English" by Anne E. Greene, an experienced teacher of scientific writing, shows how to produce such clear, concise scientific prose.
This is the first book to adapt the Strunk and White model for scientists and students. Designed as a short, easy-to-follow guide, it dispenses with "what "scientists write and focuses on "how" to write it well. Eleven chapters present straightforward principles based on what readers need in order to understand complex writing, including concrete subjects, active verbs, consistent terms, and well-organized paragraphs. Chapter-ending exercises and samples of real writing, both good and bad, allow readers to improve their writing immensely with little effort.
This concise book is short enough that readers can gain important information in one sitting, but full of useful resources that will have them thumbing through it again and again. It can be used as the foundation for a semester-long course or a two-hour workshop. Designed to be useful to a wide range of readers, from college students to faculty, and beginning researchers to established scientists, it is the perfect resource for anyone who struggles with scientific writing.
Anne E. Greene is a biologist by training and teaches scientific writing in the Wildlife Biology Program at the University of Montana.