Scientific Writing and Communication Papers, Proposals, and Presentations

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2013-12-27
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Scientific Writing and Communication: Papers, Proposals, and Presentations, Second Edition, covers all the areas of scientific communication that a scientist needs to know and to master in order to successfully promote his or her research and career. This unique "all-in-one" handbook begins with a discussion of the basics of scientific writing style and composition and then applies these principles to writing research papers, review articles, grant proposals, research statements, and résumés and to preparing academic presentations and posters. It is ideal for a wide range of readers--from upper-level undergraduates and graduate students to postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and professional researchers in the life sciences, medicine, psychology, chemistry, physics, and engineering.


A practical presentation carefully introduces basic writing mechanics before moving into manuscript planning and organizational strategies. Extensive hands-on guidance for composing scientific documents and presentations then follows.

Relevant and multidisciplinary examples selected from real research papers and grant proposals by writers ranging from students to Nobel Laureates illustrate clear technical writing and common mistakes that one should avoid.

Annotated text passages bring the writing principles and guidelines to life by applying them to real-world, relevant, and multidisciplinary examples.

Extensive end-of-chapter exercise sets provide the opportunity to review style and composition principles and encourage readers to apply them to their own writing.

Writing guidelines and revision checklists warn scientists against common pitfalls and equip them with the most successful techniques to revise a scientific paper, review article, or grant proposal.

The book's clear, easy-to-follow writing style appeals to both native and non-native English speakers; special ESL features also point out difficulties experienced primarily by non-native speakers.

Tables and lists of sample sentences and phrases aid in composing different sections of a scientific paper, review article, or grant proposal.

Thorough attention to research articles advises readers on composing successful manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals from initial drafting to the response to reviewers.

Comprehensive coverage of grant writing guides scientists through the entire process of applying for a grant, from the initial letter of inquiry to proposal revision and submission.

Author Biography

Angelika H. Hofmann is Instructor for Scientific Writing and Communication at Yale University. Renowned in the world of scientific writing, she is the founder of "Bioscience-Writing," a venture that provides editing services and workshops at universities around the world.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Prelude
1.1 Importance of Writing in Science
1.2 About Readers
1.3 About Writers
1.4 About This Book
1.5 Design of This Book
Chapter 2. Individual Words
2.1 The Central Principle
2.2 Word Choice
2.3 Word Choice--Special Cases
2.4 Redundancies and Jargon
2.5 Abbreviations
2.6 Nomenclature and Terminology
2.7 Dictionaries
Chapter 3. Word Location
3.1 Readers' Expectations
3.2 Competition for Emphasis
3.3 Placement of Words
Chapter 4. Technical Sentences
4.1 Grammar and Technical Style
4.2 Person
4.3 Voice
4.4 Tense
4.5 Sentence Length
4.6 Verbs and Action
4.7 Noun Clusters
4.8 Pronouns
4.9 Lists and Comparisons
4.10 Faulty Comparisons
4.11 Common Errors
Chapter 5. Special ESL Grammar Problems
5.1 Prepositions
5.2 Articles
5.3 Verbs
5.4 Adjectives and Adverbs
5.5 Nouns and Pronouns
5.6 Grammar References
Chapter 6. From Sentences to Paragraphs
6.1 Paragraph Structure
6.2 Paragraph Organization
6.3 Paragraph Coherence
6.4 Condensing
Chapter 7. The First Draft
7.1 The Writing Process
7.2 Prewriting
7.3 Authorship
7.4 Drafting a Manuscript
7.5 Outlining and Composing a Manuscript
7.6 Writer's Block?
7.7 For ESL Authors
7.8 Outside Help
Chapter 8. References and Plagiarism
8.1 About References
8.2 Selecting References
8.3 Managing References
8.4 Text Citations
8.5 Plagiarism
8.6 Paraphrasing
8.7 References Within a Scientific Paper
8.8 The Reference List
8.9 Common Reference Styles
8.10 Citing the Internet
8.11 Footnotes and Endnotes
8.12 Acknowledgments
Chapter 9. Figures and Tables
9.1 General Guidelines
9.2 Importance of Formatting and Placement of Information
9.3 Figure or Table?
9.4 General Information on Figures
9.5 Types of Figures
9.6 Formatting Graphs
9.7 Examples of Graphs
9.8 Figure Legends
9.9 General Information on Tables
9.10 Formatting Tables
* 9.11 Basics of Statistical Analysis
* 9.12 Useful Resources for Statistical Analysis
9.13 Other Kinds of Supplementary Information: Formulas, Equations, Proofs, and Algorithms
PART III. MANUSCRIPTS: Research Papers and Review Articles
A. Research Papers
Chapter 10. The Introduction
10.1 Overall
10.2 Content and Organization
10.3 Elements of the Introduction
10.4 Special Case: Introductions for Descriptive Papers
10.5 Important Writing Principles for the Introduction
10.6 Signals for the Reader
10.7 Common Problems of Introductions
10.8 Sample Introductions
10.9 Revising the Introduction
Chapter 11. Materials and Methods Section
11.1 Overall
11.2 Content
11.3 Organization
11.4 Important Writing Principles for Materials and Methods
11.5 Ethical Conduct
11.6 Common Problems of Materials and Methods Section
11.7 Sample Materials and Methods Sections
11.8 Revising the Materials and Methods Section
Chapter 12. Results
12.1 Overall
12.2 Content
12.3 Organization
12.4 Important Writing Principles for the Results
12.5 Signals for the Reader
12.6 Common Problems of the Results Section
12.7 Sample Results Sections
12.8 Revising the Results Section
Chapter 13. Discussion
13.1 Overall
13.2 Content
13.3 Organization
13.4 First Paragraph
13.5 Middle Paragraphs
13.6 Last Paragraph
13.7 Important Writing Principles for the Discussion
13.8 Signals for the Reader
13.9 An Alternative: Results and Discussion
13.10 Common Problems of the Discussion
13.11 Sample Discussions
13.12 Revising the Discussion
Chapter 14. Abstract
14.1 Overall
14.2 Content
14.3 Organization
14.4 Applying Basic Writing Principles
14.5 Signals for the Reader
14.6 Common Problems of the Abstract
14.7 Reasons for Rejection
14.8 Revising the Abstract
Chapter 15. Titles, Title Pages, and Key Words
15.1 Overall
15.2 Strong Titles
15.3 The Title Page
15.4 Running Title
15.5 Key Words
15.6 Revising the Title
Chapter 16. Revising and Reviewing a Manuscript
16.1 Revising the First Draft
16.2 Subsequent Drafts
16.3 Reviewing a Manuscript
Chapter 17. Final Version, Submission, and Peer Review
17.1 General Advice on the Final Version
17.2 Submitting the Manuscript
17.3 Writing a Cover Letter
17.4 The Review Process
17.5 Letter from the Editor
17.6 Resubmission
17.7 Paper Accepted
B. Review Articles
Chapter 18. Review Articles
18.1 Overall
18.2 Content
18.3 Organization
18.4 Abstract of a Review Article
18.5 Introduction of a Review Article
18.6 Main Analysis Section of a Review Article
18.7 Conclusion of a Review Article
18.8 References
18.9 Signals for the Reader
18.10 Coherence
18.11 Common Problems of Review Articles
18.12 Revising the Review Article
Chapter 19. Proposal Writing
19.1 General
19.2 Types of Proposals
19.3 Choosing a Sponsoring Agency
19.4 Federal Agencies
19.5 Private Foundations
19.6 Corporations and Other Funders
19.7 Preliminary Steps to Writing a Proposal
19.8 Online Resources
19.9 Starting to Write a Grant
19.10 Interacting With the Funder
Chapter 20. Letters of Inquiry and Preproposals
20.1 General
20.2 Content and Organization
20.3 Abstract/Overview
20.4 Introduction/Background
20.5 Statement of Need
20.6 Objective and Specific Aims
20.7 Strategy and Goals
20.8 Leadership and Organization
20.9 Budget
20.10 Impact and Significance
20.11 Cover Letter
20.12 Verbal Proposals
20.13 LOI Outlines
20.14 Revising an LOI/Preproposal
Chapter 21. Abstract and Specific Aims
21.1 Overall
21.2 Abstract
21.3 Specific Aims
21.4 Significance and Impact
21.5 Applying Basic Writing Principles
21.6 Signals for the Reader
21.7 Common Problems
21.8 Reasons for Rejection
21.9 Revising the Abstract and Specific Aims
Chapter 22. Background and Significance
22.1 Overall
22.2 Emphasis, Organization, and Length
22.3 References
22.4 Elements of the Section
* 22.5 Sample Significance Section for Federal Grants
22.6 Signals for the Reader
22.7 Coherence
22.8 Common Problems
22.9 Revising the Background and Significance Section
* Chapter 23. Innovation
23.1 Content
23.2 Organization
23.3 Signals for the Reader
23.4 Common Problems
23.5 Revising the Innovation Section
Chapter 24. Preliminary Results
24.1 General Content
24.2 Organization
24.3 Important Writing Principles
24.4 Signals for Preliminary Results
24.5 Common Problems of Preliminary Results
24.6 Revising the Preliminary Results
Chapter 25. Approach/Research Design
25.1 Overall
25.2 Content
25.3 Organization
25.4 Closing Paragraph
25.5 Signals for the Reader
25.6 Common Problems
25.7 Revising the Research Design and Methods Section
Chapter 26. Budget and Other Special Proposal Sections
26.1 Budget
26.2 Other Special Proposal Sections
Chapter 27. Revising and Submitting a Proposal
27.1 General
27.2 Before Sending Out the Proposal
27.3 Revising the Proposal
27.4 Submitting the Proposal
27.5 Being Reviewed
27.6 Site Visits
*27.7 Reasons for Rejection
27.8 If Your Proposal Is Rejected
27.9 Resubmission of a Proposal
27.10 If Your Proposal Is Funded
Chapter 28. Posters and Conference Abstracts
28.1 Function and General Overview
28.2 Content
28.3 Organization
28.4 Sections of a Poster
28.5 Photos, Figures, and Tables
28.6 Resources for Preparing and Presenting a Poster
*28.7 Revising a Poster
28.8 Presenting the Poster
28.9 Sample Posters
28.10 Checklist for a Poster
28.11 Conference Abstracts
Chapter 29. Oral Presentations
29.1 Before the Talk
29.2 Content and Organization of a Scientific Talk
29.3 Visual Aids
29.4 Preparing for a Talk
29.5 Giving the Talk
29.6 Voice and Delivery
29.7 Vocabulary and Style
29.8 Body Actions and Motions
29.9 At the End of the Presentation
29.10 Questions and Answers
29.11 Other Speech Forms
*29.12 Resources
29.13 Checklist for an Oral Presentation
Chapter 30. Writing for Job Applications
30.1 Overall
30.2 Curricula Vitae (CVs) and Résumés
30.3 Cover Letters
30.4 Accompanying Documents
30.5 Research Statements
30.6 Teaching Statements
30.7 Resources
30.8 Letters of Recommendation
30.9 Checklist for the Job Application
Appendix A: Commonly Confused and Misused Words
* Appendix B: Tips on MS Word
* Appendix C: Tips on MS Excel
* Appendix D: Tips on MS PowerPoint
* Appendix E: MS Office Cheat Sheet
Answer Key

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