I am no longer teaching at the University of Bonn. The following information remains purely for the curious.
Welcome to the homepage of Scientific Writing - 6951
The Scientific Writing course consists of weekly two-hour classes which will be held from 10(.15)am-12pm every Wednesday at the Argelander Institute for Astronomy, room 0.008 in the Winter Term only (2014/15). The classes consist of approximately 45 minutes of tutorial followed by fun and interactive sessions. You are expected to take your own notes although class slides are provided in digital form (see the timetable below). The course does not carry credit points but any assignments may naturally be tied in to other (credit-worthy) coursework and hence prove invaluable in the writing of your upcoming thesis. The course is taught primarily by Robert Izzard. Please use the feedback page : the login code will be given out in the class.
Scientific Writing will start again on 8th October 2014.
Information on my availability for editing your work.
Good communication is the key to making yourself known in the scientific world. If you cannot write, and cannot write well, your papers will struggle to to make an impact - assuming they are published at all. Why do so many good scientists struggle to put their thoughts on to paper? This course aims to overcome that hurdle, to show that because you are a scientist you can think and write in a logical, clear and precise way. Most of the course is about how to structure your articles, but a sizeable fraction is also about style and the English language. Classes are mostly interactive with the emphasis on learning by doing.
Currently writing my first paper, all lectures were useful to me.
I was mandated to write a paper with my collaborators at NRAO after a 3-month visit late last year and after the first four lessons I had to write the paper again. Thanks!
The class was very good and always fun.
(After the classes) I started picking on all of my friends showing me their presentations. ... It's easy to listen to your non-monotonic voice, sooner or later another joke and meanwhile some real content.
Unless otherwise stated, all classes will be in room 0.008 of the AIfA, starting at 10.15am
Please only print the slides if you have to! Save paper, save trees, save the AIfA printing bill. Please note that these downloads are only available from within the University of Bonn and the MPIfR. If you need access from elsewhere, please let me know your IP address (range).
1 Welcome, introduction and overview. Also: questionnaire.
The Elements of Style (Strunk and White, 2008 edition, ISBN 978-0205632640). The classic book on writing style.
You can find this in PDF form online! e.g. here
Eloquent Science: A Practical Guide to Becoming a Better Writer, Speaker, and Scientist (Schultz 2010; ISBN 978-1878220912). This book is written for meteorologists, but most of the principles are equally applicable to astronomers. I cannot recommend this book highly enough! Buy it now! Amazon link - see also the Eloquent Science Blog.
Scientific Writing for Young Astronomers (EDP Sciences, ed. C. Sterken; Book 2 especially, ISBN 978-2-7598-0506-8, see www.swya.org). In two volumes, this offering from Astronomy and Astrophysics is based on their lecture course so this is more a proceedings than a guide. The sections on the publishing process and language editing are worth a look.
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED). You should not use a dictionary in class, you will have no time, but no doubt you will need one at some point. The Oxford dictionary is one of the best and, of course, you will want to use the original British English dialect! Note that from the AIfA you can access the OED website at www.oed.com for free! (ISBN 978-0199206872)
Fowler's Modern English Usage is a classic guide to English language style, usage, literary technique and grammar. It is more useful as a reference work but, if you have time and fancy a laugh, sit down and enjoy the witty discourse on the English language. (ISBN 978-0198610212) Amazon link