Guest post by Freelance Writer Susanne Cardwell
Do you want to increase your chances of having your paper cited or improve the odds of getting funded in your next proposal? Dr. Joshua Schimel, a soil microbiology and ecosystem ecology professor, pulled together a detailed, compelling book on how to craft science proposals and papers. The book’s straightforward title, Writing Science
, is a simple introduction to the clarity and weightiness of writing tactics outlined in his book. The book hones in on parallels between compelling story structures and science writing, including borrowing tactics from many authors on writing, to create his own writing strategies for scientific papers and proposals.
Not only does Schimel delve into topics such as the OCAR (Opening-Challenge-Action-Resolution) structure, but a number of other story structures as they apply to papers or proposals. He further discusses these elements by paralleling the challenge to the questions also asked in the research dynamic. Each element of the OCAR model receives a full chapter, fleshing out its particulars in an illuminating fashion.
The book examines the underpinnings of succinct internal structures for papers and proposals, leaping into a study of how to construct paragraphs and sentences and words, how to create flow, how to energize writing, how to condense and edit, and how step aside from the ivory tower and write for the general public.
He provides keen advice, such as placing the writer’s best words at the end of a phrase or clause, ending a key sentence with a stress word, and beginning the next sentence with a repetition of that final stress word. When he uses examples to put the advice in context, he establishes the significance firmly in the reader’s mind.
The examples are drawn from scientific literature, including Schimel’s own scientific writing and proposals. With every piece of advice, he transforms the theoretical knowledge into highly practical, appealing revisions to scientific documents. He convinces you that with a tweak or two, it is important to revise your scientific writing to appeal not only to the masses, but also to the reviewers and funders.
Schimel also approaches writing as a kind of hour glass, where the wider you spread your net on the big issues at the beginning, and the wider you spread your conclusion, narrowing in the middle, the better your chances for publication and, perhaps most importantly, for the number of citations on your paper.
Schimel’s book evoked a five star review on Amazon. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview him for my podcast located on iTunes under the name “Study Tips with Susanne.” In the two 15-minute episodes, Dr. Schimel reveals the contents of his books in enough depth to tantalize listeners to add the book to their library.