Science / Writing

A few notes on writing and reviewing

There are many different writing style guides, including those listed as part of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences (ESS) course 519: Scientific Writing and Graphics Learning to write in a style suitable for scientific publication is critical. The American Geophysical Union provides a worthwhile grammar and style guide as well as suggestions for authors submitting to their journals:

I was just made aware of this recent book by Steven Pinker: The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century. He has related essays posted on his webpage:

In addition, some practical tips that I have gathered include: 1) Gather all information necessary; 2) Pick the journal you will target for submission; 3) Make a detailed outline; 4) Write section-by section relatively quickly to get all the ideas down and don’t revise at the same time; 5) Put it down for a day or so (at least); 6) Revise for clarity, consistency, and brevity; 7) Send to co-authors or colleagues for input.

Writing style is important for the writer. However, it is also important for the reviewer to consider the necessary elements of style. Quality peer review is integral to the scientific process, but (in my view) we are rarely trained in how to do it. It can take exposure to being ‘reviewed’ and being the ‘reviewer’ to begin to understand how it works — I recently found this piece of advice.