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Advice To Scientist-Writers: Beware Old 'Fallacies'

[Ed. note: H.J. Tichy, professor emerita in English at the City University of New York and a special- ist in technical and scientific writing, pities the poor scientist who, from time to time, must turn reluctantly away from his or her experiments in order to write—and who finds the task of writing well to be painful and unrewarding. Why don’t scientists take more pleasure from writing up their lab reports, their grant proposals, their journal articles? And why aren’t they bett

Hj Tichy

[Ed. note: H.J. Tichy, professor emerita in English at the City University of New York and a special- ist in technical and scientific writing, pities the poor scientist who, from time to time, must turn reluctantly away from his or her experiments in order to write—and who finds the task of writing well to be painful and unrewarding. Why don’t scientists take more pleasure from writing up their lab reports, their grant proposals, their journal articles? And why aren’t they better at it? Tichy, who has worked as a writing consultant for such clients as the American Chemical Society, SmithKline Beckman, and Monsanto, lays much of the blame at the feet of old-fashioned pedagogues who have cluttered the minds and inhibited the creative expression of scientist writers with a horde of debilitating, constraining, and plain dumb "rules for good writing.” She calls these rules “fallacies,” and in this article, (John...

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