A note from Dr. Haas: In preparation for Day 1 of our writing workshop, I asked you to read "The Science of Scientific Writing" by George Gopen and Judith Swan.1 A reposting of this article is freely available on The American Scientist blog, or you can access a version of this article here (click) if you are a Saint Mary's student.
Writing wells gives you power
You may have asked yourself: Why are we doing all this writing, and a writing workshop, in a chemistry course?!
Writing is one of the most powerful skills you can learn. Writing well will always take work, and it is a skill that you can learn. As with any skill, it will become easier and you will become better with practice. Start working on it now if you haven’t already, and plan to keep learning how to do this well for the rest of your career. A continual investment in the practice of writing well will serve you for the rest of your life, no matter what career you choose. We are doing this because it is one of the ways that I believe I can help you succeed in whatever future you choose for yourself. My goal is for you to appreciate the importance of writing well, and I want to provide some resources and strategies that you can use improve your writing.
Your audience must enjoy reading your work and they must be able to gain knowledge or ideas from it.
...Otherwise, your audience will not read it, and thus it is a waste of your time to write it.
This goes for all audiences! Including ...
- Professors who grade your writing
- Committees that review your application for a job/internship/REU/grant/fellowship
- The busy person whom you email to ask a favor
- George D. Gopen and Judith A. Swan, The Science of Scientific Writing. American Scientist (Nov-Dec 1990), Volume 78, 550-558.