Undergraduate

Internet Sources for Scientific Writing

[The following is a summary of selected parts of the article, "Internet Resources for Scientific Writing ", by Svetla Baykoucheva, the manager of the ACS Library and Information Center in Washington, DC (s_bayhouchev@acs.org). The article was published in Chemical Innovation, February 2001, pages 60-62. This summary consists primarily of direct quotes of material presented in the article, but in a rearranged format. The rearrangement would technically require numerous citations, but each citation would refer only to a different location on the same three pages of one article. Citing the same three pages numerous times did not seem productive and so citations have been omitted in this summary. The reader should be aware, however, that all the material in this summary is taken essentially verbatim from different parts of pages 60-62 of the February, 2001, publication of Chemical Innovation.] Dead links, as of 10/11/12, have been removed.

Internet Resources for Scientific Writing

by Svetla Baykoucheva. There are so many resources now, both in print and on the Internet, for how to write scientific papers that it is difficult to decide which is best. For this review, I have divided the Internet resources related to scientific writing into three main categories: Portals, direct links, and specific tools.

Portals

Portals provide hot links to numerous resources in print and online. Many web pages posted by educational institutions, professional organizations, publishers, and consulting firms belong in this category. http://www.ifla.org/I/training/citation/citing.htm Gives guides on citing electronic documents.

Direct Links

Direct links provide access to articles and manuals on writing in general and scientific writing in particular. One-click access to articles, manuals, and handbooks is sometimes much easier than going through portals, which list numerous URLs. Clicking links one by one can be tedious.

http://physics.gac.edu/~huber/misc/wricheck.htm If you prefer the checklist approach to writing scientific papers, Tom Huber of the physics department at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN, can help. His list includes: what to do before starting to write, while writing and making global revisions to the paper, and while proofreading the paper.

Specific Tools

Searchable databases, word lists, and other tools provide a means of finding particular pieces of information. Searchable databases allow chemists to look up abbreviations and symbols, CAS standard abbreviations, and abbreviations of chemical compounds. Some Web sites offer chemistry spell checkers, useful publishing tools, recommendations for correct scientific English, and submission guidelines for chemistry publications.

http://www.unc.edu/~rowlett/units A dictionary of units of measurement.

http://www.library.ubc.ca/scieng/coden.html Journal title abbreviations.

In addition to these Web sites, there are several books listed below (26-28) that make excellent, and often humorous, resources for facilitating the task of scientific writing.

  • ACS Style Guide: Effective Communication of Scientific Information, 3rd Ed; Coghill, A M, and Garson, L R, Editors, Oxford, NY, 2006.
  • ACS Style Guide: A Manual for Authors and Editors, 2nd ed.; Dodd, J. S., Ed.; American Chemical Society: Washington, DC, 1997.
  • Huth, E. J. Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 6th ed.; Cambridge University Press: New York, 1994.
  • Chicago Manual of Style: For Authors, Editors, and Publishers, 14th ed.; Grossman, J., Ed.; University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1993.

Reading books and articles on scientific writing is necessary and very useful, but the best way to learn how to write is by trying to do it.