The Two R's

Jim Jarvis1 feels that undergraduates in science should take "a rigorous course in composition." Readers of The Scientist might be interested in what the research says about writing: For those writing in both their first and second languages, the best predictor of writing quality is the amount of reading done. There is no evidence linking writing ability to the formal study of grammar or to the study of the structure of expository prose, topics generally emphasized in composition classes. The act of writing itself helps the writer come up with new ideas and insights, but writing style and mastery of most of the conventions of writing comes from reading. Undergraduate science students interested in developing a clear writing style need to read lots of good scientific writing, including high-quality professional journals and publications such as The Scientist.

Stephen Krashen, PhD
Professor Emeritus
Rossier School of...

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