My postgraduate training was rather narrowly focused on synthetic organic chemistry, but in my 20 years as a science editor, I’ve often been called upon to edit material outside this specific area of expertise. As a result, I’ve learned a lot about, for example, environmental chemistry and materials science simply by frequently editing papers in those fields. However, the relatively recent advent of podcasts, MOOCs (massively open online courses), and webcasts has allowed me to more systematically expand my knowledge of, and keep current in, other areas of interest to me—such as nanotechnology, bioinformatics, biochemistry/chemical biology, cell biology, immunology, virology, and statistics. By familiarizing myself with the basic concepts and standard terminology in these fields, I’ve been able to speed up my editing, ask more-informed questions, and provide more value to my clients. Continue reading Podcasts, MOOCs, and other online educational resources for science editors
It’s difficult to find a book on scientific writing that doesn’t inveigh against weak verbs and nominalizations, and in previous posts, I’ve suggested ways to find them in your papers and eliminate them (here, here, and here). In this post, I want to point out another one: “served as,” as in
Metallic nickel served as a catalyst for the growth of carbon nanotubes. Continue reading Served as
In the scientific manuscripts I edit, certain deviations from the generally accepted typographical conventions for mathematical text crop up frequently enough that I thought I would discuss a few of them in this post. First, let’s look at some of the basic conventions: Continue reading Typographical conventions for mathematics
Part of my job as an ESL editor is to help authors choose the best word to precisely convey his or her intended meaning—le mot juste. For example, the results of an experiment can indicate, suggest, imply, or mean something. A laboratory scientist can employ a technique, method, procedure, or system. Which word conveys exactly the right nuance? Continue reading Le mot juste
Alexander, L. G. Longman English Grammar. London: Longman, 1988.
Crews, Frederick. The Random House Handbook. 4th ed. New York: Random House, 1984.
Fernald, James G. English Grammar Simplified. New York: HarperPerennial, 1968.
Fowler, H. Ramsey. The Little, Brown Handbook. 3rd ed. Boston: Little, Brown, 1986.
Hodges, John C., and Mary E. Whitten. Harbrace College Handbook. 9th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982. Continue reading Books on grammar, usage, and writing