As a bit of professional development, I’m taking a Stanford Uni MOOC, ‘Writing in the Sciences’.
Week 1 done: It’s reassuring to see that most of the editing tips are pretty familiar (clear out ‘dead words and phrases’, cut repetition, avoid lots of verbs turned into nouns etc.). It’s still great to have them spelled out by someone else, and brought to the forefront of my mind for a bit.
One thing that I liked, and haven’t consciously targeted before in my writing/editing, is the idea of eliminating negatives.
It is often simpler and quicker to say the positive version rather than the negative: ‘They did not believe the drug was harmful’ vs ‘They believed the drug was safe’.
I had a nice parcel in the mail today — Michael Brooks’ new book At the edge of uncertainty: 11 discoveries taking science by surprise.
I’ve offered to review it for Science Book a Day, a project run by George Aranda (aka PopSciGuy), so I’ll read it with my notebook by my side.
The book’s premise is to look at today’s revolutionary ideas in science that, like the big bang theory or theory of natural selection, may actually turn out to be real. So Brooks investigates at consciousness and the power of the mind, chimeras, real differences between the sexes that we ignore at our peril and the idea that we live in a reality machine.