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Write Like a Chemist

A Guide and Resource

Marin Robinson, Fredricka Stoller, Molly Costanza-Robinson, and James K. Jones

Publication Date - August 2008

ISBN: 9780195305074

720 pages
7 x 10 inches

In Stock

An essential guide to perfect your abilities to write journal articles, conference abstracts, scientific posters, and research proposals, so that you can reach your professional audience more effectively.


Write Like a Chemist is a unique guide to chemistry-specific writing. Written with National Science Foundation support and extensively piloted in chemistry courses nationwide, it offers a structured approach to writing that targets four important chemistry genres: the journal article, conference abstract, scientific poster, and research proposal. Chemistry students, post-docs, faculty, and other professionals interested in perfecting their disciplinary writing will find it an indispensable reference.
Users of the book will learn to write through a host of exercises, ranging in difficulty from correcting single words and sentences to writing professional-quality papers, abstracts, posters, and proposals. The book's read-analyze-write approach teaches students to analyze what they read and then write, paying attention to audience, organization, writing conventions, grammar, and science content, thereby turning the complex process of writing into graduated, achievable tasks. Concise writing and organizational skills are stressed throughout, and "move structures" teach students conventional ways to present their stories of scientific discovery. This resource includes over 350 excerpts from ACS journal articles, ACS conference abstracts, and successful NSF CAREER proposals, excerpts that will serve as useful models of chemistry writing for years to come.
Other special features:
Usable in chemistry lab, lecture, and writing-dedicated courses
Useful as a writing resource for practicing chemists
Augmented by Language Tips that address troublesome areas of language and grammer in a self-study format
Accompanied by a Web site: http://www.oup.com/us/writelikeachemist
Supplemented with an answer key for faculty adopting the book


  • The only true textbook on writing for a professional/academic chemistry audience
  • Sponsored by the National Science Foundation
  • Piloted by Chemistry faculty at 15 institutions in different types of chemistry-department classes
  • Instruction specifically designed for the journal article, the scientific poster, and the research proposal

About the Author(s)

Marin S. Robinson: Associate Professor of Chemistry & Environmental Science, Northern Arizona University Fredricka L. Stoller: Professor of English, Northern Arizona University Molly Costanza-Robinson: Assistant Professor of Environmental Chemistry, Middlebury College James K. Jones: Graduate teaching assistant for "Write Like a Chemist" project, 2001-2004


"Anyone teaching a college course in professional writing for chemistry students would do welll to consider using this thorough, detailed, and systematic book as the textbook. It offers excellent support for students and a solid framework for teachers. Enterprising students who don't have access to a course could profitably use this book on their own, too. Robinson and colleagues have succeeded in producing the "guide and resource" promised in their subtitle for chemists who write - a strong contender for the definitive book in the field."--Technical Communication

"Write Like a Chemist is the most thorough treatment of writing in a specific discipline that I have ever seen. Anyone who is serious about learning to write in chemistry should own this book; anyone who is interested in researching or teaching writing for any discipline will benefit from looking at the approach taken here." -- English for Specific Purposes

"The authors have prepared an excellent resource and supplement to The ACS Style Guide. Write Like a Chemist is highly recommended to scientific and chemical educators and professionals as well as students. The reviewer regrets not having this recourse available during his education and professional career."--Robert E. Buntrock, Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling

"An outstanding addition to the literature on teaching writing in science."--Journal of Chemical Education

"This work distills into one reference a skill set that is oo often assumed by the field to be 'something you just learn' or is somehow gained through exposure and osmosis. The authors have tackled an enormous task in this text by presenting the content as both a 'teachable' text and a desk reference to be re-visited as needed."--Timothy Vail, Northern Arizona University

"This is an outstanding text for the novice science writer as well as the experienced professional. Write Like a Chemist beautifully satisfies the need for a practical writing text aimed specifically at the chemical sciences that has long gone unfulfilled."--Ellen Fisher, Colorado State University

"In my opinion, Write Like a Chemist is a text that fills a critical void in the education of writers of science. This particular book is unlike anything else that is currently on the market. I wholeheartedly believe that it will change the way we teach undergraduates how to 'write like a chemist.'"--Timm Knoerzer, Nazareth College

"With this text almost any chemistry faculty member can teach writing in the chemistry genre. That is what makes it so useful."--Donald Paulson, California State University

"As someone who has thought a lot about teaching writing to chemists, I am very impressed with this book. It approaches the writing tasks systematically, providing guidance in organization through an analysis of the most common move structures employed in scientific writing."--Jeffrey Kovac, University of Tennessee

"With extensive exercises, this work helps teach the professionally essential function of writing to students of chemistry regardless of their career path; the book is also an essential "remedial" reference for both professional chemists and scientists in other disciplines. Highly recommended."--Choice Magazine

"... when writing about chemistry, we must conform to a set style. The US authors..explain this clearly and correctly...I would recommend anyone with a large research group to purchase a copy as a useful resource for the laboratory, especially if there are some researchers for whom English is not their first language."--Chemistry World

Table of Contents

    Section One: Writing Like a Chemist
    1. Learning to Write Like a Chemist
    Module 1--The Journal Article
    2. Overview of the Journal Article
    3. Writing the Methods Section
    4. Writing the Results Section
    5. Writing the Discussion
    6. Writing the Introduction
    7. Writing the Abstract and Title
    Module 2--The Scientific Poster
    8. Writing the Conference Abstract
    9. Writing the Poster Text and Title
    10. Designing the Poster
    Module 3--The Research Proposal
    11. Overview of the Research Proposal
    12. Writing the Goals and Importance Section
    13. Writing the Proposed Methodology Section
    14. Writing the Outcomes and Impacts Section
    15. Writing the Project Summary and Title
    Section Two: Graphics and Citations
    16. Formatting Figures, Tables, and Schemes
    17. Formatting Citations and References
    18. Finalizing Your Written Work
    Appendix A Language Tips
    Appendix B Move Structures

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