Being a good scientist has always meant staying abreast of new technological advancements, keeping up with the literature in one's field, and knowing when to call on the expertise of others. These days, more than ever before, it also means doing a lot of writing: in peer-reviewed journals, a prerequisite for advancement in one's career; and in grant proposals, a necessity of research life for many scientists.

In addition to writing scientific papers and applications for funding, today's researchers are also frequently called on to provide written communications to nonscientists: accountants, public relations officers, personnel directors, and the like. For many researchers, reports to nonspecialists are more difficult to write than the most daunting grant application, because in communicating to people outside the field a scientist has to adapt his or her writing style to readers' needs and level of expertise.

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