The book draws on history and philosophy of science, there being for example a discussion of formal logic as it relates to writing. The writings of personages including Michael Faraday and Isaac Newton are drawn on as examples, as are those of several Nobel Laureates including Richard Feynman. Quotations from these are analysed and commented upon. The text contains illustrations, including one of the title page of Newton’s Principia. There are also portraits of some of the scientists whose work is drawn on. The popularising of science has major coverage in the text, with examples dating from the early 19th century. There is also a section on etymology of scientific terms and on use of figures of speech. There is a chapter on newspaper reporting of science, with analysis of carefully selected examples.
It will be useful to science students writing a thesis for the first time. There is a considerable biographical dimension to the book, which will therefore be of interest to historians of science.
A conventional guide to scientific writing will be concerned inter alia with such things as terminology, units and figures and diagrams. These are all necessary to good scientific writing. This book however is not so focused. It draws on history of science and on philosophy to give the reader sufficient background on these to provide him or her with ideas and insights which will be an aid to good writing. At the beginning of the book selected writings by Nobel Laureates are held up as examples, and this is followed by a discussion of logic, in the formal sense of that word in philosophy, as it relates to scientific writing. The matter of popularisation of science follows, and some eminent writers of ‘popular science’ are quoted from. Scientific etymology and the use of figures of speech follow. There is also a chapter on newspaper reporting of science.
A reader will sense a strong biographical component to the book. An expert scanning the research literature in his or her own field looks for familiar names amongst the authors, and a new scholar has to establish a reputation by publishing well received work. That is equivalent to saying that writing and writer cannot be considered totally separately from each other. In a book like this one concerned with scientific writing as a discipline in itself, biographical details of writers whose work is being quoted from are wholly necessary. I originally thought of calling the book a ‘guide’ to scientific writing, but the title I have in fact used probably suits the book better.
All diligent attempts were made to contact copyright owners of illustrations and obtain permission to use them. If any permission or acknowledgement has been inadvertently omitted, the author and publisher should be informed. This being an electronic book, it will be possible to rectify such an omission.
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