On Scientific Writing

Yihui Xie 2008-05-02

I have forgotten where I found the article The Science of Scientific Writing, but I do believe there are some useful guidelines in it:

If the reader is to grasp what the writer means, the writer must understand what the reader needs.

Information is interpreted more easily and more uniformly if it is placed where most readers expect to find it.

Beginning with the exciting material and ending with a lack of luster often leaves us disappointed and destroys our sense of momentum.

We cannot succeed in making even a single sentence mean one and only one thing; we can only increase the odds that a large majority of readers will tend to interpret our discourse according to our intentions.

The information that begins a sentence establishes for the reader a perspective for viewing the sentence as a unit.

In our experience, the misplacement of old and new information turns out to be he No. 1 problem in American professional writing today.

Put in the topic position the old information that links backward; put in the stress position the new information you want the reader to emphasize.

As critical scientific readers, we would like to concentrate our energy on whether the experiments prove the hypotheses.

It may seem obvious that a scientific document is incomplete without the interpretation of the writer; it may not be so obvious that the document cannot “exist” without the interpretation of each reader.

And here is another paper How to write consistently boring scientific literature which is much more interesting (actually ironic!) and worth reading.