Archive by category | Writing

Language barriers for scientists

Performing research in one language and having to write manuscripts in another—nearly always English—is not an easy task, according to Sonia M.R. Vasconcelos et al. in the latest issue of EMBO Reports (9, 700-702; 2008).Yet, they write, “Publishing in high-quality international journals is part of today’s scientific zeitgeist and a challenge for researchers from developed and developing countries alike. However, competition to attract an editor’s attention and to convince reviewers might be tougher for scientists from non-English speaking (NES) countries. As various authors have pointed out, the proficiency of the English language among a country’s scientists could influence its scientific output (Man et al, 2004; Victora & Moreira, 2006; Meneghini & Packer, 2007; Vasconcelos et al, 2007). A recent econometric study, for example, stated that English proficiency is a significant factor for the performance of European science (Bauwens et al, 2007).  Read more

A new Resource for Nature Structural and Molecular Biology

Nature Structural & Molecular Biology (15, 767; 2008) announces a new section of the journal for articles that serve primarily as resources and also lead to novel molecular insights. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology focuses on the underpinnings of biological processes at the molecular level. However, in this era of large-scale, high-throughput experimentation, an increasing number of submissions to the journal describe mammoth data sets and the tools that facilitate their analysis. The new Resource section is for analyses of new data sets that lead to novel and arresting conclusions, as described in the journal’s Guide to Authors. Resources are broad in scope and, in an era of burgeoning and ever-expanding technological advances, the approaches and findings that characterize this section will undoubtedly change over time. There are two examples of Resource articles in the journal’s August issue:  … Read more

SciDevNet’s practical guides for science communication

SciDevNet’s Practical Guides offer very useful advice for scientists who wish to communicate their results, not only in journals but in other ways and using other media. Articles include ‘How do I become a science journalist?’; ‘Planning and writing a science story’; ‘How do I apply for a research grant?’; ‘Spotting fraudulent claims in science’; ‘How do I become media-savvy?’; ‘How do I make a science news story for the radio?’; and others. A full contents listing is here.  Read more

Writing a clear and engaging paper

The paragraph reproduced below is the Abstract of the article ‘Writing a clear and engaging paper for all astronomers’ in Astronomy Communication, 290 221 (2003), by Leslie Sage, a senior editor at Nature who handles manuscript submissions in astronomy, planetary science and physics.  Read more

European science bloggers’ conference, and microblogging

If you are a scientist-blogger and are interested in a real meeting as opposed to a virtual carnival, please visit the Nature Network bloggers’ forum , where Matt Brown reports the good news that The Royal Institution in London has offered to host a European science blogging conference later this year, to be organised by the bloggers. The rationale for the European bloggers’ conference is given here.  Read more

Nanotechnology, science fiction, and society

In his Thesis article The literature of promises (Nat. Nanotech. 3, 180 – 181; 2008), Chris Toumey asks how science fiction has been influenced by nanotechnology, and why so many reports about the possibilities of nanotechnology read like science fiction. The article covers ideas discussed at and arising after a conference on nanotechnology, literature and society in December 2007. Professor Toumey writes: “Steve Lynn, my colleague in the English department at South Carolina, has been saying for years that the purpose of science fiction is not to predict the future, but rather to put science and technology in a new and different light so that we can explore their place in our lives.  Read more

Seven papers now in good paper journal club

The Nature Network journal club for well written papers, called the good paper journal club, has received seven nominations of papers in its first three weeks. The papers are each listed at the Nature Network group’s forum, so you can comment on each one and how well or badly you feel it succeeds in conveying its message. In addition, the papers are collected as Connotea online bookmarks, using the tag “good paper journal club”. We welcome your own nominations, both at Connotea and at the Nature Network journal club. Here’s an example:  … Read more

Creating a research highlight

Striking a balance between the need to allocate credit fairly and the need to be readable can be a challenge for editors and journalists when writing about research papers, according to this month’s (April) Editorial in Nature Nanotechnology (3, 179; 2008). Every week, editors at the Nature journals write 200-word articles about a research paper that explains the main results of the paper — why the work is interesting or important, how the results were obtained, what they mean for that area of research and beyond, and who did the work. Such articles appear every week as ‘research highlights’ at the website of each Nature journal.  Read more