Scientific writing tips

Below are some tips I've gathered when it comes to scientific writing.

Helpful links


To be able to write well, you should also read. I can recommend the following books:

"Professors as writers" by Robert Boice (ISBN-13: 979-0913507130) is a short, easy-to-ready book. Its goal is to get you start writing, and gives advises on how to fall into a good writing habit. It provides small exercises to get you started. The first exercises focuses especially on how to get (blocked) writers to start write anything. Later exercises have more focused writing goals. The author also stresses the importance of write something every day. These "brief daily session" should at least be half an hour.

The next half of the book has advises to ensure good writing habits. Both extrinsic and intrinsic advises are given. Extrinsic is everything "out there" that you have control over that can help you focus - everything from cleaning your desk, have a nice chair, close the door etc. Intrinsic advises is to cancel out negative thoughts - this can require some work at first - especially if the writer is a negative person. The last part of the book gives advises to prevent writing block relapses and to give award so that writing can be more joyous.

The book does not cover grammar or style. It is written in a clear and simple style.

Professors as writers
"Advice for new faculty members" by Robert Boice (ISBN-13 978-0205281596). The book is actually three books in one. You'll find much of the same information in three of Boice earlier books, including "Professors as writers" mention above. The three topics covered are first about teaching ("If you don't listen to yourself, others won't either."), then writing, and then socializing. The core message, reflected in the subtitle of the book, is a latin phrase nihil nimus which loosely translates into "everything in moderation".

Boice stresses that these advice given should be prioritized even if you have busy schdule, because we tend to do stuff ineffective. The book more about the process of working as an academic than about the products. If the process ("how we work") is right, Boice claims, the product follows. The work is based on decades of emperical study.

Advice for new faculty members
"The elements of style" by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White (ISBN-13 978-0205309023). This is a classic writing style guide book. Its short and concise. This book is all about english grammar and style. This book covers the basics, so it may not be that helpful if you're looking for advises on how to write good scientific papers. The elements of style
"Style: Toward clarity and grace" by Joseph M. Williams (ISBN-13 978-0226899152). Style: Towards clarity and grace

Research cartoon

Some mandatory research cartoon:

Lars Strand < lars strand (at) nr no >

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Last modified on $Date: 2009-06-24 15:21:59 +0200 (Wed, 24 Jun 2009) $.