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Book Review The Art of Scientific Writing. From Student Reports to Professional Publications in Chemistry and Related Fields. By H. F. Ebel C. Bliefert and W. E

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The Art of Scientific Writing. From Student Reports to Professional Publications in Chemistry and Related Fields.
By H . F. Ebel, C . Bliefert, and W. E. Russey. VCH Verlagsgesellschaft, Weinheim/VCH Publishers, New York
1987. xix, 493 pp., hard cover, DM 98.00.-ISBN 3-52726469-8; 0-89573-495-8; paperback, DM 48.00.--ISBN
3-527-26677-I ; 0-89573-645-4
American English has become the international language of science in the last 40 years. Scientists who desire
international recognition must publish in English. The
book under consideration, a substantially expanded translation of an German forerunner, makes due recognition of
this development.
“The Art of Scientific Writing” is best characterized as a
handbook or guide, designed to help the scientist with all
aspects of writing and publishing. Although the book
mainly addresses chemists, other scientists would also find
it quite useful, unless they expect to find information specific to their own field.
An important aspect of the book is that it is itself designed to serve as an example of the techniques and guidelines presented. As a result, for example, it is extensively
cross referenced and indexed. However, the too frequent
use of substantive footnotes often hinders the easy flow of
the text. One of the book’s strongest points is its superb
The work is divided into two parts, followed by 11 appendixes, a section for references and further reading, and
an index. Part 1 describes all forms of scientific writing.
The first two chapters (56 pages), on laboratory notebooks,
laboratory reports, research reports, and theses, are written
for students, except for the short discussion of grant reports and proposals. The rest of the book chiefly addresses
the needs of professional chemists. This presents a problem. As the authors themselves point out (p. 122), fundamentally different approaches are required for a student
textbook or for a book whose “reader is expected to be a
busy specialist”. Indeed, the first two chapters have the
character of a college textbook (unfortunately, not a very
good one), whereas the rest of the book has the quality of a
well-written monograph. Chapters 3 and 4 (91 pages) contain a highly informative description of the different types
of journals and books, and of the process involved in their
publication. These chapters and much of the rest of the
book are written by authors with extensive knowledge and
experience in publishing.
Part 2 covers the technical aspects of preparing scientific
publications. Chapter 5 (17 pages) deals with the production of the manuscript and its transformation into the finished product. The use and advantages of word processors
are discussed, as well as such technical questions as paper,
format, and proofreading. Chapter 6 (3 1 pages), a description of chemical nomenclature, is something of an enigma.
Although I found the treatment interesting, and obviously
written by an expert, it is much too brief to teach the
reader this incredibly difficult subject. In a shortened form
this chapter could serve as an appendix, but I would much
prefer that it be expanded and made into a book of its
own. Chapter 7 (29 pages) is also a digression, this time
into the subject of quantities, units, and numbers. It would
certainly make a good addition to a modern general chemistry textbook. The reader seeking comprehensive informaAngew. Chem. I n t . Ed. Engl. 27 (1988)
No. I 1
tion on this subject should consult the IUPAC “Green
Book” (Quantities, Units and Symbols in Physical Chemistry, Blackwell, Oxford 1988) or “The ACS Style Guide”
(edited by Janet S. Dodd, American Chemical Society,
Washington 1986). Chapters 8 to 10 (62 pages) return to
the technical aspects of the publishing process, providing a
detailed treatment of equations, formulas, figures, and tables. My only criticism here is that in the coverage of stencils only those products of VCH Publishers are described.
Chapter 11 (44 pages), after briefly discussing personal literature card files (or databases), gives a thorough treatment of literature citation.
The appendixes (104 pages) range from short chapters
(oral presentations, English grammar and style, copyrights
and publishing agreements, an overview of the chemical
literature, preparation of an index, ISSN and ISBN) to
supplementary tables (journal abbreviations, other common abbreviations, proofreader’s marks, recommended citation forms, and quantities, units, and constants).
A discussion of “The Art of Scientific Writing” would
not be complete without a comparison with the most authoritative book for chemists on this subject, namely “The
ACS Style Guide” mentioned earlier. In short, the two
books are more complementary than competitive. Almost
half of the “Style Guide” is devoted to grammar, style, and
usage. “The Art of Scientific Writing”, on the other hand,
contains a detailed description of the publishing process,
both for books and journals. The “Style Guide” presents
guidelines specific to ACS publications, whereas the present book attempts to address the needs of authors internationally, and largely succeeds.
This book will be of service to chemists and especially to
chemistry editors and should also be in every technical library.
Joe P. Richmond [NB 925 IE]
Editorial Office of “Synthesis”
Georg Thieme Verlag, Stuttgart (FRG)
Experimental Design: A Chemometric Approach. By S. N .
Deming and S. L. Morgan. Elsevier, Amsterdam 1987.
xiii, 275 pp., bound, HFI 225.00.--ISBN 0-444-42734-1
Good planning is half the battle! It is beyond question
that scientific curiosity and researchers’ intuition have led
to many important discoveries. However, it is also indisputable that rationally planned experiments are essential
in a scientific investigation with specific objectives.
What does the term “experimental design” mean? The
best interpretation is that it is the art of planning an investigation. Stanley N . Deming and Stephen L. Morgan teach
this skill in what is, it must be said at the outset, on the
whole a very good book-good because it is so different
from other books on this theme. It succeeds in the aim of
providing a simple introduction to planning scientific experiments and dealing with the problems which arise.
Mathematical statistics does not occupy a central position
in the book, but is instead developed naturally alongside
the main theme, where it is essential to understanding the
treatment and carrying it forward.
The two introductory chapters pose the questions: what
is a system? how is the system under investigation influenced by the input variables and conditions? what are
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