All scientists are writers. Science only exists in the written form. What is not written is not published, is not accepted, is not knowledge, and does not exist. It is written science that is scrutinised, peer-reviewed, and cited – nothing else matters but to ‘publish or perish’. Scientific articles, in all their clever, compacted, content-laden complexity, may well be impenetrable to all but the most specialist reader, but this does not mean they are poorly written. Articles are extraordinarily difficult to craft; writing them is the hardest and most intellectually challenging aspect of scientific practice. Evidence – the experimental result or the novel observation – may well lie at the heart of science, but until this evidence is written up and published it remains an unpolished gem which cannot be appreciated or understood. Through the medium of the written word, science has taken us to new worlds. Charles Bazerman argues that ‘scientific writing is one of the more remarkable of human literary accomplishments … [and has] literally helped us move mountains and to know when mountains might move on their own’.
Worlds from words
The Best Australian Science Writing 2013
edited by Jane McCredie and Natasha Mitchell
NewSouth Books, $29.99 pb, 309 pp, 9781742233857
Danielle Clode is a South Australian environmental writer who was the ABR Dahl Trust Fellow in 2014. She is currently...
By this contributor
- Danielle Clode reviews 'Adventures of a Young Naturalist: The Zoo Quest expeditions' by David Attenborough
- Danielle Clode reviews 'Charles Darwin: Victorian Mythmaker' by A.N. Wilson
- Danielle Clode reviews 'Wild Man From Borneo: A cultural history of the Orangutan' by Robert Cribb, Helen Gilbert, and Helen Tiffen
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