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The Chicago Guide to Communicating Science (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing and Publishing) [Paperback]

Scott L Montgomery

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Book Description

14 Jan 2003 Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing and Publishing
Whether you are a graduate student or a senior scientist, your reputation rests on the ability to communicate your ideas and data. In this straightforward and accessible guide, Scott L. Montgomery offers detailed, practical advice on crafting every sort of scientific communication, from research papers and conference talks to grant proposals, professional reports, review articles, speeches for the general public, interviews with the media, e-mail messages, and more. Montgomery avoids the common pitfalls of other guides by focusing not on rules and warnings but instead on how skilled writers and speakers actually learn their trade - by imitating and adapting good models of expression. Moving step-by-step through sample writings from a wide variety of scientific disciplines, he shows clearly and precisely where different texts can be improved, how to critique and design visuals, what the role of "experiment" is with regard to writing, and more. He also traces the evolution of scientific expression over time, providing a context crucial for understanding the nature of technical communication today. Later chapters take up the topics of Internet science; writing creatively in science, how to design and use graphics; and how to deal with the mass media. Written with humour and eloquence, this book provides a unique and realistic guide for anyone in the sciences wishing to improve his or her communication skills.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; First Printing edition (14 Jan 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226534855
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226534855
  • Product Dimensions: 22.7 x 15.4 x 1.8 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 649,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"Montgomery's "Chicago Guide to Communicating Science" has all the authority one would expect from the publishers of "The Chicago Manual of Style". . . . [He] covers with scholarly grace topics ranging from writing scientific papers and grant proposals to preparing articles for the general public."--Chris Quigg "Physics Today " --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Scott L. Montgomery is a consulting geologist, writer, and independent scholar. He has authored hundreds of papers, articles, monographs, and reports in the geological sciences, as well as several textbooks and translations. He is also the author of several books on the history of science and scientific language, including Science in Translation: Movements of Knowledge through Cultures and Time.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat helpful but incomplete 28 Feb 2003
By JPHT - Published on
After reading a review in New Scientist magazine I got excited about this book as I am currently writing Ph.D. thesis. I did not get exactly what I expected.
The book gives a good overview of the different types of writing a scientist is expected to do and gives high level advice on each area. But that's pretty much all the books seems to do. It's as if you were to sit down with someone with a lot of writing experience and they gave you some high level advice.
What the book lacks is specific advice and tips on what works. At many points it feels too vague. While it has examples where the author improves a piece of writing, the examples often fail to give you ideas on how to improve your own writing.
That said, I did get a couple of ideas from the book for my writing, but I felt it took some work to extract them from the book which at times just felt like a rambling commentary.
My recommendation is that it's not a book worth having in a personal bookcase, but it may be worth borrowing it from a library.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful reference book 28 Jun 2003
By RagingCoconut - Published on
In the realm of scientific research, technical writing skills are necessary for effective communication of ideas and results. This book is not the typical "how-to" guide to technical writing and grammar for the novice. Instead, it is a practical book packed with useful insights from an experienced scientific writer. The numerous examples of writing styles and graphics are clear and well-illustrated. Each chapter addresses important concepts in fundamental areas, such as proposal preparation, manuscript revision, and oral presentation. This is the sort of book to buy and keep as a reference as the need arises.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Call for Elegance 3 Aug 2004
By Bukkene Bruse - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Montgomery's guide deals primarily with higher level issues in science writing, at least in the first sections. However, he does follow his own advice in going from the general to the specific when he discusses particular forms of science writing, the use of graphics, and oral presentations. Montgomery has useful things to say at every turn, but I found the core strength of the book to be how he solidly and clearly gets across the idea that "true elegance in science resides in simplicity and restraint." Much of the higher level discussion deals with writing well (proficient functional communication) versus writing very well (creatively, within the constraint of restraint). Montgomery stresses the importance of reading well to writing well, and gives suggestions on how to become a better critical reader. Be forewarned: this guide does not deal with grammar, syntax or style.

I read this book because I am an applied mathematician who needs to communicate results to biologists. While writing mathematics is not explicitly covered in this book, and there are major difference between scientific writing and mathematics writing, I do believe the major tenets of this guide will be useful to applied mathematicians of most any stripe.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For the advanced writer looking to take it to the next level 18 Feb 2008
By Dr. Yasmin Lucero - Published on
This is a book for experienced scientist/writers interested in becoming excellent scientist/writers. For this, the author prescribes a rigorous course of critical reading, selection of writing models, and imitation. It offers little in the way of practical suggestions for the beginner, almost nothing on basic style and syntax, and nothing on how to stay motivated through the long slog of the Ph.D. thesis. (For these purposes, let me suggest "10 Lessons in Style, Clarity and Grace" by Williams, "The Elements of Style" by Strunk and White, or "How to Write A Lot" by Silva)

However, Montgomery discusses intelligently the distinct "scientific voice." He has insightful things to say about each of the various forms of scientific writing. I particularly appreciated his discussion of review articles; he pointed out that reviews can be organized around experimental results, theoretical concepts, the history of a field or method, among other things. This discussion helped me refine my thinking enough to write a solid outline for a current review project of mine.

Although his official prescription for becoming an excellent writer may require more commitment than many are willing to make, there is still much insight here for scientists seeking to improve upon their functional, but basic, writing skills.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too broad 16 Jun 2006
By Miro - Published on
The book is good to get an overall idea of the scientific writing. However, it lacks more specific and usable strategies, advices and tips for the scientific writing process.

For general writing strategies I would reccomend "Writing FAST" by Jeff Bollow. It helped me a lot in writing my PhD thesis in EE.
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