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SciTech Daily Review

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WRITING FOR SCIENCE by Heather Silyn-Roberts; Longman Paul, 1996; 182 pps; $29.95

Reviewed by Cressida Harding

As the title suggests this book describes the techniques and structures used in scientific writing. It explores the ever problematic issue of writing scientific essays and reports as well as looking at broader topics, such as how to organise and record major projects, how to write CVs and covering letters for job applications, and even how to study for exams.

The book, as you would expect from the subject matter, is well organised and structured and easy to follow. It gives good explanations for writing essays and reports and provides very useful guidelines, although for such a difficult task the student can best learn by feedback from teachers.

This is the sort of book you'd like to have by you while you work so that you can consult it. It acts as a useful reference on matters of form, such as how to layout references, illustrations etc. A lot of the guidelines for how to manage projects and to study for exams are common sense, but having it presented in the book emphasises the importance of these techniques. The study suggestions for students are particularly useful for establishing effective study habits, at high school or university level, and the section on applying for jobs is very much to the point, providing lots of great examples for covering letters and the like. The chapter on style, (which actually tells you when to use a semi-colon!), contains grammatical information which makes the difference between an indifferent report and an elegant one.

The book would be of use to high school and university students who are studying sciences, as well as working people who need to write technical or scientific reports.

Cressida Harding is a PhD student in the Electrical and Electronic Engineering Department at Canterbury University.