2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
The British Journal "Technical COMMUNICATION" recommends that you buy this book, 29 Aug 2008
The following review is from "Technical COMMUNICATION," volume 56, number 4, pp. 410-411, November 2009 (Original Amazon review modified on January 6 2010)
I count 35 books ranging in length from 60 pages to 522 pages and dated from 1968 to 2006 when I look at my bookshelf containing books on how to write scientific papers. So, the question becomes why one more? What does this guide add that the others do not?
For one thing, Körner is an author's editor specializing in molecular biophysics and biochemistry and draws many of her examples from those disciplines. Yet she does write broadly enough that physical scientists in other disciplines can improve their own scientific writing. Her focus throughout is on preparing the manuscript the author will submit.
In addition, the book is much shorter than most others. You can comfortably read and quickly absorb her advice. The book contains 19 chapters plus an appendix on writing grants as well as what she calls a "valedictory": always follow the Instructions to Authors and write clearly and consistently.
The chapters begin by discussing why you might publish and then follow the organization of the completed paper rather than the way most authors work. The next chapter covers what you should do before you start writing, followed by chapters on the title page, abstract or summary, introduction, and so on through to the references and illustrations.
The remaining chapters address administrative issues such as the cover letter, how you should submit your paper, responding to the editor's reply, and responding to re- viewers. The last chapter reviews prepublication publicity--a topic not covered in other books.
Körner's style reflects the advice that she offers. It is crisp and easy to follow. One bit of good news is that she advocates active voice verbs.
Throughout all the chapters, she constantly reminds you that the journal's Instructions to Authors controls style and format, whether that journal be paper or electronic. The importance of the Instructions is further seen in her listing of 10 common errors. Failure to follow these instructions ranks number one. Other errors she has seen authors make include too many fonts on the title page, inconsistent body formatting, punctuation errors in the references, and stylistic problems such as using nouns as adjectives and confusing units of measurement.
She provides numerous URLs of reference pages for things such as abbreviations, using human subjects, medical ethics, and so forth. These references should prove useful for authors and editors, but if she had provided a listing of all the URLs in one place, in addition to discussing them in the text, the book could bet- ter serve as a reference.
Another omission is an index. That means that you will need to mark in some way relevant passages for later review.
Although the book is intended for academic authors in the sciences, technical communicators who edit scientific papers will find it useful not only when they edit, but also when their authors ask for a handy reference guide. Körner seems to anticipate that you will read through the book before, during, or after completing a manuscript.
In the genre of such books, Körner's is much like the Day and Gastel's How to write and publish a scientific paper (Greenwood Press, 2006; reviewed in the May 2007 issue of Technical communication). Hers, however, is much briefer, but still offers solid advice in a clear and direct style that authors would do well to emulate. She also, like Day and Gastel, presents her advice from the experience of having been an editor and having dealt successfully with each of the issues she discusses. The difference is that she speaks from her experiences as an author's editor while Day and Gastel speak from the journal editor's perspective.
In sum, this is a brief book with some solid advice for scientists and their editors on how to prepare a successful journal manuscript. I would recommend it for your bookshelf.
By Tom Warren
An earlier reviewer, in the British Journal of Educational Technology, July 2008, vol. 39, no. 4, pp. 763-763(1), stated:
"...this book specifically applies to the design and development of scientific papers ... and it is rare that Körner's advice does not apply to any potential paper."