Eloquent Science. A Practical Guide to Becoming a Better Writer, Speaker & Atmospheric Scientist. By David M. Schultz. American Meteorological Society, 2010 Paperback (Amazon) 412 pages +xxviii ISBN 978-1878-2209-12
Article first published online: 23 FEB 2011
Copyright © 2011 Royal Meteorological Society
Volume 66, Issue 3, page 82, March 2011
How to Cite
Prichard, B. (2011), Eloquent Science. A Practical Guide to Becoming a Better Writer, Speaker & Atmospheric Scientist. By David M. Schultz. American Meteorological Society, 2010 Paperback (Amazon) 412 pages +xxviii ISBN 978-1878-2209-12. Weather, 66: 82. doi: 10.1002/wea.771
- Issue published online: 23 FEB 2011
- Article first published online: 23 FEB 2011
This is a highly commendable book to bring to a market where literary standards so often leave much to be desired. As the author states in the introduction whether I am serving as a voracious reader of the scientific literature, as a reviewer for manuscripts submitted to scientific journals, or as an editor for one of four scientific journals, many papers I read lack sound scientific knowledge, properly constructed arguments, and basic language skills. This is no less true of material submitted to Weather – many articles require significant rewriting before they can be published.
Through this book, the author aims to excite you about your writing and presentations, encouraging you to make them better, interesting, and unique. He does not claim infallibility. Many ways exist to write a journal article or make a presentation. Not every technique will work for every person or in every circumstance. Some people can deliver humour in their presentation flawlessly. Others should not even try. What he does do is give the reader plenty to mull over as he highlights the traps to avoid – be they grammatical, a lack of clarity, or plain and simple dullness – and puts forward a host of ideas to improve both written and verbal presentations in science. An appendix covers commas, hyphens, and dashes – the title of which illustrates that there is no single opinion on the subject of expert writing: you do not need the comma after ‘hyphens’ – just as you do not need it in the last part of the first and second quotes above. In the words of our Senior Production Editor, commas should only be used to ‘disambiguate’ – a new word to the Editor, but it does exist and the sense is clear and beyond argument.
So the discerning reader will not agree with everything in this book, but this should not disguise the absolute requirement for careful preparation of all scientific material, whether written or verbal, so that it is clear, unambiguous and interesting throughout. It is never easy to do this, but why should it be? No one has a right to have their material published and we must all, forever, be seeking to improve. Weather will be a better journal if intending authors study this (and similar) books.