Writing in Science and Medicine: The Investigator's Guide to Writing for Clarity and Style
“There is no form of prose more difficult to understand and more tedious to read than the average scientific paper,” Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, wrote this in 1994 in his book The Astonishing Hypothesis. Crick and many of his colleagues were acknowledging then what every scientist knows today: many scientific communications are largely unreadable.
Dr. Crick and others of his generation witnessed the transformation of scientific prose from reasonably understandable to largely unreadable—papers and grants filled with a jungle of jargon that even the most astute reader cannot untangle, errors in logic, repetition, and misuse of the English language that masks the meaning.This has caused known problems for scientists world-wide, for their careers and for the delay in disseminating their unique findings to the world. The rapid increase in science specialization, complexity, and new language have been largely to blame. But I believe that scientists largely lack the training needed to simplify their language. As science becomes increasingly more specialized and complex, for many scientists, it becomes even more difficult to communicate with their readers in clear and simple terms.
“Learning how to write clearly, directly, more simply, is undoubtedly one of the most important and valuable skills any scientist can learn. In college, we had a notion that scientists had to learn the technical
skills of their field but not how to write. And that is the biggest falsehood you could possibly perpetrate on young people. I believe that writing and rhetoric are the most valuable skills across any discipline in any field, especially science and medicine.”
- Christopher Dant, PhD - Author
This 90-page guide has been designed to help investigators, in any field, understand the root of poor writing, identify red flags within their own writing style, and craft clear, concise, powerful pieces that meet the requirements of the most demanding audiences within their professional careers. This guide includes:
Meet the Author
Dr. Christopher Dant is a PhD-trained medical researcher and educator with over 40 years’ experience in government, academic, and biopharmaceutical settings. His PhD training was in immunology and cellular biology and he previously conducted research for several medical institutions in the United States. Dr. Dant was trained in grant writing at the NIH and was a former journal editor at JAMA. He worked as a senior writer and managed publications at Stanford’s Medical School and established and built the Clinical Publications Division at Genentech in California. Until recently, Dr. Dant served on the faculty at Dartmouth Medical School and Norris Cotton Cancer Center to deliver lectures on NIH grant writing and manuscript writing. He lectures widely in academic and biopharmaceutical settings on manuscript writing, NIH career and research grants, and basic scientific writing skills for scientists and his business, MEDCOM Consulting, serves academic clients to review and write Research and Training Grants for the NIH.
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