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Scientific Writing and Communication

Papers, Proposals, and Presentations

Third Edition

Angelika Hofmann

Publication Date - November 2016

ISBN: 9780190278540

768 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $54.95

A comprehensive one-stop reference guide to scientific writing and communication


Scientific Writing and Communication: Papers, Proposals, and Presentations, Third Edition, covers all the areas of scientific communication that a scientist needs to know and master in order to successfully promote his or her research and career. This unique "all-in-one" handbook begins with a discussion of the basic principles of scientific writing style and composition and then applies these principles to writing research papers, review articles, grant proposals, research statements, and résumés, as well as to preparing academic presentations and posters.


A practical presentation carefully introduces basic writing mechanics before moving into manuscript planning and organizational strategies. Extensive hands-on guidance for composing scientific documents and presentations then follows.

Relevant and multidisciplinary examples selected from real research papers and grant proposals by writers ranging from students to Nobel Laureates illustrate clear technical writing and common mistakes that one should avoid.

Annotated text passages bring the writing principles and guidelines to life by applying them to real-world, relevant, and multidisciplinary examples.

Extensive end-of-chapter exercise sets provide the opportunity to review style and composition principles and encourage readers to apply them to their own writing.

Writing guidelines and revision checklists warn scientists against common pitfalls and equip them with the most successful techniques to revise a scientific paper, review article, or grant proposal.

The book's clear, easy-to-follow writing style appeals to both native and non-native English speakers; special ESL features also point out difficulties experienced primarily by non-native speakers.

Tables and lists of sample sentences and phrases aid in composing different sections of a scientific paper, review article, or grant proposal.

Thorough attention to research articles advises readers on composing successful manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals from initial drafting to the response to reviewers.

Comprehensive coverage of grant writing guides scientists through the entire process of applying for a grant, from the initial letter of inquiry to proposal revision and submission.

New to this Edition

  • A new chapter on basic statistical analysis that explains the fundamentals of reporting statistical data and analyses in scientific texts and in figures and tables
  • Revisions and updates throughout, including new sections on the scientific method and scientific writing, review articles, scientific ethics, plagiarism, the most common interview questions, and peer review for proposals
  • A glossary of scientific and technical terms
  • Additional advice on lay versus technical abstracts of grant proposals
  • More examples and exercises throughout, drawn from diverse scientific disciplines
  • A revised layout and chapter overviews that allow for easier navigation through the text
  • An updated Companion Website featuring new PowerPoint slides

About the Author(s)

Angelika H. Hofmann is Instructor for Scientific Writing and Communication at Yale University, where she also heads a successful team of grant writers. Renowned in the world of scientific communication, she is the founder of "SciWri Services," a venture that provides consulting and editing services as well as workshops at universities around the world.

Previous Publication Date(s)

July 2015
December 2009


"This is the first and last scientific writing book students will need in order to be successful! It is amazingly comprehensive, and students will be able to use it as they move through their college classes and into their careers."--Melanie Lee-Brown, Guilford College

"Hofmann's text is a concise, spritely written approach to scientific writing that focuses like a laser on the most critical and difficult skills to master, including style, tone, cohesion, and details of structure."--Shana Walton, Nicholls State University

"This book is simply the most comprehensive, helpful book available for scientific writing."--Brian Schilling, University of Memphis

"This is a clearly written and comprehensive guide to scientific writing that shows authors how to use structure and style to convey their research clearly to readers. Because the book also contains chapters on grant proposals, posters and talks, and job applications, it is a useful career development tool for students and postdocs alike." --Brian Waters, University of Nebraska

Table of Contents

    PART I. SCIENTIFIC WRITING BASICS: Style and Composition
    Chapter 1. Science and Communication
    1.1 The Scientific Method
    1.2 Communication and Ethics
    1.3 About Readers
    1.4 About Writers
    1.5 Different Writing Genres
    1.6 Mastering Scientific Writing
    Chapter 2. Individual Words
    2.1 The Central Principle
    2.2 Word Choices
    2.3 Word Choice--Special Cases
    2.4 Redundancies and Jargon
    2.5 Abbreviations
    2.6 Nomenclature and Terminology
    2.7 Dictionaries
    Chapter 3. Word Location
    3.1 Readers' Expectations
    3.2 Competition for Emphasis
    3.3 Placement of Words
    Chapter 4. Technical Sentences
    4.1 Grammar and Technical Style
    4.2 Person
    4.3 Voice
    4.4 Tense
    4.5 Sentence Length
    4.6 Verbs and Action
    4.7 Clusters of Nouns
    4.8 Pronouns
    4.9 Lists and Comparisons
    4.10 Faulty Comparisons
    4.11 Common Errors
    Chapter 5. Special ESL Grammar Problems
    5.1 Prepositions
    5.2 Articles
    5.3 Verbs
    5.4 Adjectives and Adverbs
    5.5 Nouns and Pronouns
    5.6 Grammar References
    Chapter 6. From Sentences to Paragraphs
    6.1 Paragraph Structure
    6.2 Paragraph Organization
    6.3 Paragraph Coherence
    6.4 Condensing
    Chapter 7. The First Draft
    7.1 The Writing Process
    7.2 Prewriting
    7.3 Authorship
    7.4 Drafting a Manuscript
    7.5 Outlining and Composing a Manuscript
    7.6 Writer's Block?
    7.7 For ESL Authors
    7.8 Outside Help
    Chapter 8. References and Plagiarism
    8.1 About References
    8.2 Source Material
    8.3 Managing References
    8.4 Text Citations
    8.5 Plagiarism
    8.6 Paraphrasing
    8.7 References within a Scientific Paper
    8.8 The Reference List
    8.9 Common Reference Styles
    8.10 Citing the Internet
    8.11 Footnotes and Endnotes
    8.12 Acknowledgments
    Chapter 9. Figures and Tables
    9.1 General Guidelines
    9.2 Importance of Formatting and Placement of Information
    9.3 Figure or Table?
    9.4 General Information on Figures
    9.5 Types of Figures
    9.6 Formatting Graphs
    9.7 Examples of Graphs
    9.8 Figure Legends
    9.9 General Information on Tables
    9.10 Formatting Tables
    9.11 Formulas, Equations, Proofs, and Algorithms
    Chapter 10. Basics of Statistical Analysis
    10.1 General Guidelines
    10.2 Basic Statistical Terminology
    10.3 Distribution Curves
    10.4 Statistical Analysis of Data
    10.5 Reporting Statistics
    10.6 Graphical Representation
    10.7 Useful Resources for Statistical Analysis
    10.8 Checklist
    PART III. MANUSCRIPTS: Research Papers and Review Articles
    A. Research Papers
    Chapter 11. The Introduction
    11.1 Overall
    11.2 Components and Format
    11.3 Elements of the Introduction
    11.4 Special Case: Introductions for Descriptive Papers
    11.5 Important Writing Guidelines for the Introduction
    11.6 Signals for the Reader
    11.7 Common Problems of Introductions
    11.8 Sample Introductions
    11.9 Revising the Introduction
    Chapter 12. Materials and Methods Section
    12.1 Overall
    12.2 Components
    12.3 Format
    12.4 Important Writing Guidelines for Materials and Methods
    12.5 Ethical Conduct
    12.6 Common Problems of Materials and Methods Section
    12.7 Sample Materials and Methods Sections
    12.8 Revising the Materials and Methods Section
    Chapter 13. Results
    13.1 Overall
    13.2 Components
    13.3 Format
    13.4 Important Writing Guidelines for the Results
    13.5 Signals for the Reader
    13.6 Common Problems of the Results Section
    13.7 Sample Results Sections
    13.8 Revising the Results Section
    Chapter 14. Discussion
    14.1 Overall
    14.2 Components
    14.3 Format
    14.4 First Paragraph
    14.5 Middle Paragraphs
    14.6 Last Paragraph
    14.7 Important Writing Guidelines for the Discussion
    14.8 Signals for the Reader
    14.9 An Alternative: Results and Discussion
    14.10 Common Problems of the Discussion
    14.11 Sample Discussions
    14.12 Revising the Discussion
    Chapter 15. Abstract
    15.1 Overall
    15.2 Components
    15.3 Format
    15.4 Applying Basic Writing Rules
    15.5 Signals for the Reader
    15.6 Common Problems of the Abstract
    15.7 Reasons for Rejection
    15.8 Revising the Abstract
    Chapter 16. Titles, Title Pages, and Key Words
    16.1 Overall
    16.2 Strong Titles
    16.3 The Title Page
    16.4 Running Title
    16.5 Key Words
    16.6 Revising the Title
    Chapter 17. Revising and Reviewing a Manuscript
    17.1 Revising the First Draft
    17.2 Subsequent Drafts
    17.3 Reviewing a Manuscript
    Chapter 18. Final Version, Submission, and Peer Review
    18.1 General Advice on the Final Version
    18.2 Submitting the Manuscript
    18.3 Writing a Cover Letter
    18.4 The Review Process
    B. Review Articles
    Chapter 19. Review Articles
    19.1 Overall
    19.2 Types of Reviews and General Content
    19.3 Format
    19.4 Title
    19.5 Abstract of a Review Article
    19.6 Introduction of a Review Article
    19.7 Main Analysis Section of a Review Article
    19.8 Conclusion of a Review Article
    19.9 References
    19.10 Signals for the Reader
    19.11 Coherence
    19.12 Common Problems of Review Articles
    19.13 Revising the Review Article
    Chapter 20. Proposal Writing
    20.1 General
    20.2 Types of Proposals
    20.3 Choosing a Sponsoring Agency
    20.4 Federal Agencies
    20.5 Private Foundations
    20.6 Corporations and Other Funders
    20.7 Preliminary Steps to Writing a Proposal
    20.8 Online Resources
    20.9 Starting to Write a Grant
    20.10 Interacting with the Funder
    Chapter 21. Letters of Inquiry and Preproposals
    21.1 General
    21.2 Components and Format
    21.3 Abstract/Overview
    21.4 Introduction/Background
    21.5 Statement of Need
    21.6 Objective and Specific Aims
    21.7 Strategy and Goals
    21.8 Leadership and Organization
    21.9 Budget
    21.10 Impact and Significance
    21.11 Cover Letter
    21.12 Verbal Proposals
    21.13 LOI Outlines
    21.14 Revising an LOI/Preproposal
    Chapter 22. Proposal Abstracts and Specific Aims
    22.1 Overall
    22.2 Proposal Abstracts
    22.3 Specific Aims
    22.4 Significance and Impact
    22.5 Applying Basic Writing Rules
    22.6 Signals for the Reader
    22.7 Common Problems
    22.8 Reasons for Rejection
    22.9 Revising the Abstract and Specific Aims
    Chapter 23. Background and Significance
    23.1 Overall
    23.2 Emphasis, Format, and Length
    23.3 References
    23.4 Elements of the Section
    23.5 Sample Significance Section for Federal Grants
    23.6 Signals for the Reader
    23.7 Coherence
    23.8 Common Problems
    23.9 Revising the Background and Significance Section
    Chapter 24. Innovation
    24.1 General remarks on proposal sections
    24.2 Components
    24.3 Format
    24.4 Signals for the Reader
    24.5 Common Problems
    24.6 Revising the Innovation Section
    Chapter 25. Preliminary Results
    25.1 Function
    25.2 Content
    25.3 Format
    25.4 Important Writing Principles
    25.5 Signals for Preliminary Results
    25.6 Common Problems of Preliminary Results
    25.7 Revising the Preliminary Results
    Chapter 26. Approach/Research Design
    26.1 Overall
    26.2 Components
    26.3 Format
    26.4 Closing Paragraph
    26.5 Signals for the Reader
    26.6 Common Problems
    26.7 Revising the Research Design and Methods Section
    Chapter 27. Budget and Other Special Proposal Sections
    27.1 Budget
    27.2 Other Special Proposal Sections
    Chapter 28. Revising and Submitting a Proposal
    28.1 General
    28.2 Before Sending Out the Proposal
    28.3 Revising the Proposal
    28.4 Submitting the Proposal
    28.5 Being Reviewed
    28.6 Site Visits
    28.7 Reasons for Rejection
    28.8 If Your Proposal Is Rejected
    28.9 Resubmission of a Proposal
    28.10 If Your Proposal Is Funded
    Chapter 29. Posters and Conference Abstracts
    29.1 Function and General Overview
    29.2 Conference Abstracts
    29.3 Poster Components
    29.4 Poster Format
    29.5 Sections of a Poster
    29.6 Photos, Figures, and Tables for Posters
    29.7 Resources for Preparing and Presenting a Poster
    29.8 Revising a Poster
    29.9 Presenting the Poster
    29.10 Sample Posters
    29.11 Checklist for a Poster
    Chapter 30. Oral Presentations
    30.1 Before the Talk
    30.2 Components and Format of a Scientific Talk
    30.3 Visual Aids
    30.4 Planning and Preparing for a Talk
    30.5 Giving the Talk
    30.6 Voice and Delivery
    30.7 Vocabulary and Style
    30.8 Body Actions and Motions
    30.9 At the End of the Presentation
    30.10 Questions and Answers
    30.11 Other Speech Forms
    30.12 Resources
    30.13 Checklist for an Oral Presentation
    Chapter 31. Job Applications and Interviews
    31.1 Overall
    31.2 Curricula Vitae (CVs) and Résumés
    31.3 Cover Letters
    31.4 Accompanying Documents
    31.5 Research Statements
    31.6 Teaching Statements
    31.7 Most Common Interview Questions
    31.8 Resources
    31.9 Letters of Recommendation
    31.10 Checklist for the Job Application
    Appendix A: Commonly Confused and Misused Words
    Appendix B: MS Word Basics and Top 20 MS Word Tips
    Appendix C: Excel Basics and Top 20 Excel Tips
    Appendix D: PowerPoint Basics and Top 20 PowerPoint Tips
    Appendix E: MS Office Cheat Sheet
    Answer Key
    Glossary of English Grammar Terms
    Glossary of Scientific and Technical Terms

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