scientific writing was:Re: The Mind of a Scientist = The Mind of an Artist/Musician

Susan Jane Hogarth sjhogart at unity.ncsu.edu
Thu Jan 23 22:25:53 EST 1997


Airlie Sattler wrote:

> The only conflict I've run into so far is that I get frustrated with the
> very poor quality of scientific writing. Sometimes I think in an attempt
> to sound "scientific", scientists make their language far more awkward
> than it needs to be. "The drier the more scientific" seems to be the
> unstated understanding.

I'm with you here! There sure is a lot of piss-poor writing in the
journals. I think *some* of that can be due to people writing in
languages other than their first.

> Emotion is absolutely not allowed. God forbid you be excited about your
> work. A paper must appear to  be completely impersonal. I'm sure there is
> a reason for this, but I wonder about it sometimes. I have heard an
> argument that emotion is not considered scientific because it is
> considered a female trait. What do you readers think?

I'm not so sure that I'm with you after all. I believe that subtle and
understated writing can still be very exciting, if the results are
exciting. I think it's the sceintist's job to present the results in a
way that *allows* the exciting part to be understood, not that JUMPS UP
AND BITES YOU. This would turn scientific writing into a creative
writing/advertising exercise. Of course, I think scientists need to
learn to write *better* (more clearly, more readably), but I don't want
to see scientists trying to win their points with smooth talk and
far-out rhetoric, like lawyers...
-- 
Susan 

http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/users/s/sjhogart/public/home.html
Suzuki GS page: http://homepage.cistron.nl/~peterh/gsresources/



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