Gopen science scientific writing and communication

If the reader is to grasp what the writer means, the writer must understand what the reader needs. Successful jugglers need not only keep the balls from hitting the ground but simultaneously amalgamate new and old tricks, mixing the standard material with the fancy pick-ups. When it comes to academic writing, this juggling is difficult. Depending on your writing experience or lack thereofit might feel like tossing two balls back and forth is a laborious challenge, and a complicated routine with more sophisticated tricks may seem entirely out of the question.

Gopen science scientific writing and communication

We prefer the new, important information on the right, since its job is to intrigue the reader. Information is interpreted more easily and more uniformly if it is placed where most readers expect to find it.

These needs and expectations of readers affect the interpretation not only of tables and illustrations but also of prose itself. Readers have relatively fixed expectations about where in the structure of prose they will encounter particular items of its substance.

If writers can become consciously aware of these locations, they can better control the degrees of recognition and emphasis a reader will give to the various pieces of information being presented.

gopen science scientific writing and communication

Good writers are intuitively aware of these expectations; that is why their prose has what we call "shape. A unit of discourse is defined as anything with a beginning and an end: A research article, for example, is generally divided into recognizable sections, sometimes labeled Introduction, Experimental Methods, Results and Discussion.

When the sections are confused—when too much experimental detail is found in the Results section, or when discussion and results intermingle—readers are often equally confused. In smaller units of discourse the functional divisions are not so explicitly labeled, but readers have definite expectations all the same, and they search for certain information in particular places.

If these structural expectations are continually violated, readers are forced to divert energy from understanding the content of a passage to unraveling its structure.

As the complexity of the context increases moderately, the possibility of misinterpretation or noninterpretation increases dramatically.

We present here some results of applying this methodology to research reports in the scientific literature. We have taken several passages from research articles either published or accepted for publication and have suggested ways of rewriting them by applying principles derived from the study of reader expectations.

We have not sought to transform the passages into "plain English" for the use of the general public; we have neither decreased the jargon nor diluted the science. We have striven not for simplification but for clarification. Reader Expectations for the Structure of Prose Here is our first example of scientific prose, in its original form: The functional significance of the other URF's has been, on the contrary, elusive.

This is a large complex that also contains many subunits synthesized in the cytoplasm. Those problems turn out to be only a small part of the difficulty. Here is the passage again, with the difficult words temporarily lifted: It may now be easier to survive the journey through the prose, but the passage is still difficult.

Any number of questions present themselves: What has the first sentence of the passage to do with the last sentence? Does the third sentence contradict what we have been told in the second sentence? Is the functional significance of URF's still "elusive"?

Knowing a little about the subject matter does not clear up all the confusion. The intended audience of this passage would probably possess at least two items of essential technical information: Although this information may provide some sense of comfort, it does little to answer the interpretive questions that need answering.

It seems the reader is hindered by more than just the scientific jargon. To get at the problem, we need to articulate something about how readers go about reading. We proceed to the first of several reader expectations. Subject-Verb Separation Look again at the first sentence of the passage cited above.

It is relatively long, 42 words; but that turns out not to be the main cause of its burdensome complexity. Long sentences need not be difficult to read; they are only difficult to write.

We have seen sentences of over words that flow easily and persuasively toward their clearly demarcated destination. Those well-wrought serpents all had something in common: Their structure presented information to readers in the order the readers needed and expected it.

Beginning with the exciting material and ending with a lack of luster often leaves us disappointed and destroys our sense of momentum.

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The first sentence of our example passage does just the opposite: Note that the grammatical subject "the smallest" is separated from its verb "has been identified" by 23 words, more than half the sentence.View Test Prep - science-of-writing from SCI at University College Roosevelt.

The Science of Scientific Writing by George D. Gopen and Judith A.

-Gopen and Swan (), The Science of Scientific Writing Graduate school is like a juggling performance. Successful jugglers need not only keep the balls from hitting the ground but simultaneously amalgamate new and old tricks, mixing the standard material with the fancy pick-ups. View Test Prep - science-of-writing from SCI at University College Roosevelt. The Science of Scientific Writing by George D. Gopen and Judith A. Swan This article, downloaded from. Unformatted text preview: i l i The Science of Scientific Writing If the reader is to grasp what the writer means, the writer must understand what the reader needs George D. Gopen and Judith A. Swan cience is often hard to yunusemremert.com people assume that its difficulties are born out of necessity, out of the extreme complexity of scientific .

Swan This article, downloaded from. -Gopen and Swan (), The Science of Scientific Writing Graduate school is like a juggling performance. Successful jugglers need not only keep the balls from hitting the ground but simultaneously amalgamate new and old tricks, mixing the standard material with the fancy pick-ups.

-Gopen and Swan (), The Science of Scientific Writing Graduate school is like a juggling performance. Successful jugglers need not only keep the balls from hitting the ground but simultaneously amalgamate new and old tricks, mixing the standard material with the fancy pick-ups.

George D. Gopen and Judith A. Swan S rather its actual communication. It does not matter how 12 32 Writing with the Reader in Mind: Expectation and Context right ~ a less obvious pattern, the discovery of which is Readers do not simply read; they interpret.

Any piece of the pomt of ~e table. George D. Gopen and Judith A. Swan S rather its actual communication. It does not matter how 12 32 Writing with the Reader in Mind: Expectation and Context right ~ a less obvious pattern, the discovery of which is Readers do not simply read; they interpret.

Any piece of the pomt of ~e table. Unformatted text preview: i l i The Science of Scientific Writing If the reader is to grasp what the writer means, the writer must understand what the reader needs George D.

Gopen and Judith A. Swan cience is often hard to yunusemremert.com people assume that its difficulties are born out of necessity, out of the extreme complexity of scientific .

The Science of Scientific Writing – Association for Psychological Science