If you care about academic writing at all, I urge you to read Steven Pinker’s latest article at The Chronicle Review. It’s long, but very worth it. His central question is,
Why should a profession that trades in words and dedicates itself to the transmission of knowledge so often turn out prose that is turgid, soggy, wooden, bloated, clumsy, obscure, unpleasant to read, and impossible to understand?
He goes on to demolish some of the most common explanations for poor academic writing. It’s not just deliberate obscurity, or that it’s unavoidable, or that it’s imposed by journals. It’s about communication style.
Rather than writing in a clear, classical style, most academics blend the practical and self-conscious styles. Why is this so? “The curse of knowledge, in combination with chunking and functional fixity.” You’ll have to read the full article to see what he means by all of that.
The stakes couldn’t be higher. As Pinker put it,
Enough already. Our indifference to how we share the fruits of our intellectual labors is a betrayal of our calling to enhance the spread of knowledge. In writing badly, we are wasting each other’s time, sowing confusion and error, and turning our profession into a laughingstock.
As seen on the recently updated Range of Projects I Work On page, I just edited a patient information sheet for a pain management clinic. I love getting to explore new fields and types of writing! Keep sending me those varied projects 🙂
Edit on 9/6: The Range of Projects I Work On page was just updated again to reflect that I’m now working on a manuscript in another new subject area: educational philosophy and theory. I also have a new country of origin and first language of my authors listed on the Why Choose Science Refinery page: Turkey and Turkish!
A free online course called Writing in the Sciences starts on Tuesday, 9/2. I have no experience with this instructor or MOOCs at Stanford, so I can’t provide a personal recommendation, but it looks like it’d be a great experience. The topics include everything from crafting better sentences and paragraphs to how to do a peer review. If you take the course, please let me know what you think of it!
Thanks to my wonderful hubby, my main computer is finally back up and running after a week of only being able to use some old, slow devices. Now I can get back to working at full speed!
Science Refinery is now set up to accept payments from Google Wallet (in addition to PayPal and U.S. check). You can learn more about Google Wallet from their extensive FAQ list here. I’m glad to be able to offer clients more flexibility in payment options!
The internet is all abuzz about Weird Al Yankovic releasing 8 music videos of songs from his new album in 8 days. Today (day 2) gave us the treat of “Word Crimes,” a parody of “Blurred Lines.” Enjoy.
After adding Malaysia and Malay to the lists today, I’ve now edited material by authors from 20 countries with 17 first languages. It’s such a pleasure working with bright people from around the world!
To celebrate this milestone, I’m offering a 15% discount to any authors whose first language is not English who book work with Science Refinery now through next Friday, 7/18. Contact me today to take advantage of these savings.
Getting the chance to read cutting-edge research before even peer reviewers do is such a treat. Of course I would never breach confidentiality (see my standard terms), but sometimes I really want to tell the world about an exciting paper I’m reading. Today is one such day. I guess you’ll just have to wait until it’s published! 🙂
I love working with repeat customers. It’s so gratifying to know that my work was valuable enough to someone that they want to work with me again! It’s a great confidence booster that I really am doing a good job and serving my clients well.
I also relish the opportunity to develop deeper relationships with my clients over time. Today someone I’ve worked with multiple times (I won’t say who, but you can find him somewhere on the testimonials page!) called to get an estimate request on another project. I’d previously done basic editing of one of his journal manuscripts and substantive editing of his CV, and now I’ll be helping with developmental editing of a few job application cover letters. Because we were already familiar with each other’s writing and editing styles, I could confidently quote him an appropriate fee and he could confidently assess that it was a fair value for the help he’d receive.
As I outline on the “Why Choose Science Refinery?” page, I go beyond traditional copyediting of journal articles, so this type of ongoing client relationship is common for me. As another example, I could help you craft an abstract to submit to a conference, design the poster once you’re accepted, write the journal article after you get great feedback on your poster, and put related work together in your dissertation.
If you haven’t yet hired Science Refinery for any editing projects, never fear! As much as I love my repeat customers, I still have plenty of time and attention that I can devote to new clients, too. So contact me today and let’s get started. I know you’ll love working with Science Refinery so much that you’ll become a repeat customer soon too.
On one of the copyediting email lists I follow, someone recently linked to the following article: “Paradigm Consistency and the Depiction of Stiltedness: The Case of than I versus than me.” I heartily recommend reading it to anyone interested in how the official rules of formal, standard English often differ from the everyday usage of most folks. Though it leaves something to be desired from my perspective as a psychology researcher, the article does an admirable job of opening the line of inquiry for future better-designed studies. Enjoy!