The Scientist’s Guide to Writing

While running experiments and collecting data are important things, they don’t contribute to science unless we write up the results and share them with our colleagues and the world.  This means that writing is arguably the most important thing we do as scientists—and it’s something for which most of us have little, if any, formal training.

While writing effectively and productively is a big challenge for most scientists (including me!), it’s something we can learn to do faster and better.  I’ve written The Scientist’s Guide to Writing (Princeton University press, April 2016) to pass on some of what I’ve learned over the years, and I think the book can help almost any scientist become a better writer.

In The Scientist’s Guide I emphasize two things: (1) the importance of crystalline clarity to communication with your reader (and to being read in the first place!), and (2) the value of understanding your own behaviour when you write. I draw on the culture and history of scientific writing, the psychology of writing behaviour, and a lot of other things to help writers understand why we write the way we do and how we can write better, faster, and more easily.

You can read more about the book, and see some sample content, using any of the Amazon links below (click “Look Inside”).  David Richardson live-tweeted his reading of The Scientist’s Guide, and Storified it here. If you’d like to know what others have thought, here are:

Some reviews

Using the book in teaching

If you’re interested in using the book to teach a course, it can be a standalone text for a full scientific writing course or a companion book for a writing-intensive course.  (It’s pretty inexpensive).  There are Exercises at the end of most chapters that can be used as in-class activities or assignments.

I’ve used the book to teach a course for Honours undergrad and grad students.  You can find my syllabus, and notes on the course, in this post.  I also have Powerpoint slides available by email request.

Ordering links

Interested?  You can order the book through any of these links, or of course through your favourite local bookseller.

Canada Canada: The Scientist’s Guide via, or via

United_States USA: The Scientist’s Guide via, or via Indiebound

australian-flag-small Australia: The Scientist’s Guide via or via

brazilian-flag-small Brazil: The Scientist’s Guide via

China China: The Scientist’s Guide via

dane-flag-small Denmark: The Scientist’s Guide via

french-flag-small France: The Scientist’s Guide via

german-flag-small Germany: The Scientist’s Guide via

indian-flag-small India: The Scientist’s Guide via

swedish-flag-small Sweden: The Scientist’s Guide via

swiss-flag-small Switzerland: The Scientist’s Guide via

british-flag-small United Kingdom: The Scientist’s Guide via

(Or you can order directly from Princeton University Press.)

Know of a retailer you’d like to see here?  Send me a link!