Category Archives: Reviews & Recommendations

Having New Eyes

I don’t have much time today, so just a quick recommendation: you should read the blog Having New Eyes by one of my friends from Denison. It’s about teaching, learning, math, and more. No matter the topic, it’s always an engaging read. Check it out today!

(And remember, you can still participate in the Constitution Day contest for a chance to win $17.87 off your next edit.)

Where did I get my snazzy new logo?

(Don’t forget that there’s a Constitution Day contest going on! Pop over to yesterday’s post to learn how you could win $17.87 off your next edit.)

If you normally read these posts via email, you should click through to the site today to see the redesign. Yesterday I updated ScienceRefinery.com and the Facebook and Twitter pages with my new logo and colors.

The logo was designed by freelance graphic designer Gavin Folgert. I found him through LinkedIn (what a wonderful networking tool!). Gavin transformed my (lack of) ideas into a creative logo. He worked with my requirements and requests to make a beautiful final product that came in on budget. I would hire Gavin for logo design again and recommend his work to my friends. You can see more of his work on his website, follow him on Twitter, or email him at gavin@folgert.com.

Writing science in plain English video

*Don’t forget about the ongoing contest for 10% off your next edit! Figure out how to parse the buffalo sentence from Monday’s post before my reveal tomorrow morning and you could win!*

If you’re looking for some good productive procrastination today, take 30 minutes to watch this video about how to write science in plain English. Dr. Lynn Dicks at the University of Cambridge gives a talk full of helpful tips supported by examples that leave you wondering why we’re not taught to write that way already. You should watch it yourself to have the reasoning and examples fleshed out, but here’s the distilled version:

  • Write like you would talk to someone
  • Put important messages at the start
  • Write short sentences
  • One sentence one idea
  • Vary the rhythm
  • Break the text into small chunks
  • Avoid making nouns from verbs
  • Avoid jargon
  • Avoid long words
  • Do not be afraid of repetition
  • Avoid acronyms
  • Cut out redundant words
  • Use the active voice

The People’s Science: A forum connecting scientists and the public

I encourage you to check out The People’s Science. As they say,

…most of what the public knows about ongoing science comes to us indirectly, from press offices or journalists.  Although these descriptions can be very good, scientists rarely have opportunities to meet non-scientists directly and engage in open conversation about their work.

Therefore,

The People’s Science is a centralized, interactive space where scientists and the public can meet and converse.

Scientists are invited to post “pop” versions of their work, and each post serves as its own discussion forum, where readers can ask questions, give thoughts, and discuss the meaning of the work. Feel free to enjoy, explore, and discuss. Because after all, science is for all people.

So far the content is mostly comprised of Psychology and Neuroscience research (probably because the founder, Jamil Zaki, is a Social Neuroscientist), but I’m sure it will diversify as it gets more popular.

So whether you’re a scientist or “the public,” follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook, and contribute to the website.

This ain’t your parents’ spelling bee show.

I admit it: the Scripps National Spelling Bee is my favorite thing on ESPN. But this post isn’t about that.

This morning when I logged into Hulu, it suggested I watch the new show Spell-Mageddon. Since I had plenty of emails to read and respond to that didn’t require complete concentration, I decided I could spare the diversion this time.

Spell-Mageddon is a mix between a spelling bee and an old-school Nickelodeon game show (think Guts, Legends of the Hidden Temple, and Slime Time). Contestants must spell words while being distracted by the likes of spraying foam, flashing lights, and being dunked into ice water. I know under those conditions I would be way too flustered to think clearly. Even though I went to the all-school spelling bee in fourth and fifth grades (I’ll never forget how to spell pigeon after getting out on that one!), I don’t know that I could even spell my name under time pressure with blue liquids flying in my face and an audience cheering in the background.

Don’t be fooled: this show won’t do much for your vocabulary or spelling skills if you’re already a moderately competent adult. The hardest word was schizophrenic–compare that to the 2011 Scripps winner,  cymotrichous (which isn’t even in Google Chrome’s spell check).

That’s not what it’s for, though. Spell-Mageddon is for the entertainment of watching charming characters react to the challenges and look silly while having fun. Sure, it’s low brow humor, but I still appreciate the further mainstreaming of spelling bees. Celebrating intellectualism as cool is cool with me.

And the best part? Carlton Banks–er, I mean, Alfonso Ribeiro is the host.

Writing for an Audience class

Update: the application deadline has been extended to Sunday, August 4.

Would you like to “improve [your] ability to present general (not technical) ideas persuasively to an uninformed or unsympathetic audience”? If so, sign up for Dr. Leonard Peikoff’s class Writing for an Audience. The deadline is this Friday, July 26, Sunday, August 4, so act soon!

For just $300, you’ll be able to virtually meet with Dr. Peikoff–a very effective communicator–for 15 90-minute lectures. Most of these will be spent in hands-on analysis of students’ writing.

The stated prerequisites are “familiarity with Ayn Rand’s two major novels [Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead], along with some understanding of her ideas.” Your application should include a short essay on “Why I like The Fountainhead.”

Click here for more information. Remember, you only have a few days to apply, so start writing!

PS: Unfortunately I’m unable to attend, but I’d love to hear about the course. If anyone attends, please let me know!

New freelance editor? Start here.

If you’re thinking about becoming a freelance editor or proofreader, you need to read Business Planning for Editorial Freelancers: A Guide for New Starters by Louise Harnby. With chapters on everything from the importance of crafting a business plan to promotion and networking, its business-first approach will get you started on the right foot. Too many forget that we’re business people who happen to edit, rather than the other way around. This lack of foresight can severely handicap growth and success.

The book is packed with great tips that wouldn’t have occurred to me on my own. For instance, try contacting publishers before the holidays when their regulars might not be taking on new work. Profiles of other freelancers who entered the field within the past two years were an inspiring end to the main book.

The collection of resources at the back was also very useful. In fact, my post was delayed this morning because I was busy going back through my original highlighting to sign up for more newsletters, join more organizations, download more software, and take advantage of other notes that weren’t as relevant to me a few short months ago.

In all, the first sentence of the introduction is completely true: “If you are considering setting up your own editorial freelance business, this guide is for you.”