mandag, mai 05, 2014

Tired of writing? Get a science writer.

What is a science writer? A person who writes about science, a scientific journalist, or any scientist that writes?

Writing is a part of science, whether it is grant applications, manuscripts, books or texts to the general public. Different people approach writing in different ways, but no doubt, writing is a tool for the thought. Through writing we sort our thoughts, sharpen hypotheses, formulate and communicate conclusions. The articles we publish form the foundation for further research through the scientific web of intertextuality. Bottom line: science is more than doing experiments. Writing is an important part of the academic and intellectual activity that is science.

It is therefore with somewhat surprise I hear about the trend that more and more departments hire scientific writers. As far as I understand, the scientific writer helps finishing manuscripts, grant applications etc. when the researchers themselves do not have time or ability to do it themselves.

I lack the knowledge of how this works in concrete situations, but I understand that this is more than the spelling-assistance and language check that many journals already ask for. If writing the paper is outsourced to external writers, what does this say about the scientific work? Is the paper then reduced to merely a technical report of what has happened in the lab? Is the conclusions of the work so obvious that no thought is needed to go through them?

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