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FEATUREARTICLE

TheScienceofScientificWriting
Ifthereaderistograspwhatthewritermeans,thewritermustunderstandwhatthereaderneeds
GeorgeGopen,JudithSwan

ThisarticlewasoriginallypublishedintheNovemberDecember1990issueofAmericanScientist.
Scienceisoftenhardtoread.Mostpeopleassumethatitsdifficultiesarebornoutofnecessity,outoftheextremecomplexityofscientificconcepts,data
andanalysis.Weargueherethatcomplexityofthoughtneednotleadtoimpenetrabilityofexpressionwedemonstrateanumberofrhetoricalprinciples
thatcanproduceclarityincommunicationwithoutoversimplifyingscientificissues.Theresultsaresubstantive,notmerelycosmetic:Improvingthe
qualityofwritingactuallyimprovesthequalityofthought.
Thefundamentalpurposeofscientificdiscourseisnotthemerepresentationofinformationandthought,butratheritsactualcommunication.Itdoesnot
matterhowpleasedanauthormightbetohaveconvertedalltherightdataintosentencesandparagraphsitmattersonlywhetheralargemajorityof
thereadingaudienceaccuratelyperceiveswhattheauthorhadinmind.Therefore,inordertounderstandhowbesttoimprovewriting,wewoulddowell
tounderstandbetterhowreadersgoaboutreading.Suchanunderstandinghasrecentlybecomeavailablethroughworkdoneinthefieldsofrhetoric,
linguisticsandcognitivepsychology.Ithashelpedtoproduceamethodologybasedontheconceptofreaderexpectations.

WritingwiththeReaderinMind:ExpectationandContext
Readersdonotsimplyreadtheyinterpret.Anypieceofprose,nomatterhowshort,may"mean"in10(ormore)differentwaysto10differentreaders.
Thismethodologyofreaderexpectationsisfoundedontherecognitionthatreadersmakemanyoftheirmostimportantinterpretivedecisionsaboutthe
substanceofprosebasedoncluestheyreceivefromitsstructure.
Thisinterplaybetweensubstanceandstructurecanbedemonstratedbysomethingasbasicasasimpletable.Letussaythatintrackingthetemperature
ofaliquidoveraperiodoftime,aninvestigatortakesmeasurementseverythreeminutesandrecordsalistoftemperatures.Thosedatacouldbe
presentedbyanumberofwrittenstructures.Herearetwopossibilities:
t(time)=15',T(temperature)=32,t=0',T=25t=6',T=29t=3',T=27t=12',T=32t=9'T=31

time(min) temperature(C)
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Preciselythesameinformationappearsinbothformats,yetmostreadersfindthesecondeasiertointerpret.Itmaybethattheveryfamiliarityofthe
tabularstructuremakesiteasiertouse.But,moresignificantly,thestructureofthesecondtableprovidesthereaderwithaneasilyperceivedcontext
(time)inwhichthesignificantpieceofinformation(temperature)canbeinterpreted.Thecontextualmaterialappearsontheleftinapatternthat
producesanexpectationofregularitytheinterestingresultsappearontherightinalessobviouspattern,thediscoveryofwhichisthepointofthe
table.
Ifthetwosidesofthissimpletablearereversed,itbecomesmuchhardertoread.

temperature(C) time(min)
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Sincewereadfromlefttoright,wepreferthecontextontheleft,whereitcanmoreeffectivelyfamiliarizethereader.Wepreferthenew,important
informationontheright,sinceitsjobistointriguethereader.
Informationisinterpretedmoreeasilyandmoreuniformlyifitisplacedwheremostreadersexpecttofindit.Theseneedsandexpectationsofreaders
affecttheinterpretationnotonlyoftablesandillustrationsbutalsoofproseitself.Readershaverelativelyfixedexpectationsaboutwhereinthestructure
ofprosetheywillencounterparticularitemsofitssubstance.Ifwriterscanbecomeconsciouslyawareoftheselocations,theycanbettercontrolthe
degreesofrecognitionandemphasisareaderwillgivetothevariouspiecesofinformationbeingpresented.Goodwritersareintuitivelyawareofthese
expectationsthatiswhytheirprosehaswhatwecall"shape."
Thisunderlyingconceptofreaderexpectationisperhapsmostimmediatelyevidentatthelevelofthelargestunitsofdiscourse.(Aunitofdiscourseis
definedasanythingwithabeginningandanend:aclause,asentence,asection,anarticle,etc.)Aresearcharticle,forexample,isgenerallydivided
intorecognizablesections,sometimeslabeledIntroduction,ExperimentalMethods,ResultsandDiscussion.Whenthesectionsareconfusedwhentoo

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muchexperimentaldetailisfoundintheResultssection,orwhendiscussionandresultsinterminglereadersareoftenequallyconfused.Insmallerunits
ofdiscoursethefunctionaldivisionsarenotsoexplicitlylabeled,butreadershavedefiniteexpectationsallthesame,andtheysearchforcertain
informationinparticularplaces.Ifthesestructuralexpectationsarecontinuallyviolated,readersareforcedtodivertenergyfromunderstandingthe
contentofapassagetounravelingitsstructure.Asthecomplexityofthecontextincreasesmoderately,thepossibilityofmisinterpretationor
noninterpretationincreasesdramatically.
Wepresentheresomeresultsofapplyingthismethodologytoresearchreportsinthescientificliterature.Wehavetakenseveralpassagesfrom
researcharticles(eitherpublishedoracceptedforpublication)andhavesuggestedwaysofrewritingthembyapplyingprinciplesderivedfromthestudy
ofreaderexpectations.Wehavenotsoughttotransformthepassagesinto"plainEnglish"fortheuseofthegeneralpublicwehaveneitherdecreased
thejargonnordilutedthescience.Wehavestrivennotforsimplificationbutforclarification.

ReaderExpectationsfortheStructureofProse
Hereisourfirstexampleofscientificprose,initsoriginalform:
ThesmallestoftheURF's(URFA6L),a207nucleotide(nt)readingframeoverlappingoutofphasetheNH2terminalportionofthe
adenosinetriphosphatase(ATPase)subunit6genehasbeenidentifiedastheanimalequivalentoftherecentlydiscoveredyeastH+ATPasesubunit8
gene.ThefunctionalsignificanceoftheotherURF'shasbeen,onthecontrary,elusive.Recently,however,immunoprecipitationexperimentswith
antibodiestopurified,rotenonesensitiveNADHubiquinoneoxidoreductase[hereafterreferredtoasrespiratorychainNADHdehydrogenaseor
complexI]frombovineheart,aswellasenzymefractionationstudies,haveindicatedthatsixhumanURF's(thatis,URF1,URF2,URF3,URF4,URF4L,
andURF5,hereafterreferredtoasND1,ND2,ND3,ND4,ND4L,andND5)encodesubunitsofcomplexI.Thisisalargecomplexthatalsocontains
manysubunitssynthesizedinthecytoplasm.*
[*Thefullparagraphincludesonemoresentence:"SupportforsuchfunctionalidentificationoftheURFproductshascomefromthefindingthatthe
purifiedrotenonesensitiveNADHdehydrogenasefromNeurosporacrassacontainsseveralsubunitssynthesizedwithinthemitochondria,andfromthe
observationthatthestoppermutantofNeurosporacrassa,whosemtDNAlackstwogeneshomologoustoURF2andURF3,hasnofunctionalcomplexI."
Wehaveomittedthissentencebothbecausethepassageislongenoughasisandbecauseitraisesnoadditionalstructuralissues.]
Askanytenpeoplewhythisparagraphishardtoread,andninearesuretomentionthetechnicalvocabularyseveralwillalsosuggestthatitrequires
specializedbackgroundknowledge.Thoseproblemsturnouttobeonlyasmallpartofthedifficulty.Hereisthepassageagain,withthedifficultwords
temporarilylifted:
ThesmallestoftheURF's,and[A],hasbeenidentifiedasa[B]subunit8gene.ThefunctionalsignificanceoftheotherURF'shasbeen,onthe
contrary,elusive.Recently,however,[C]experiments,aswellas[D]studies,haveindicatedthatsixhumanURF's[16]encodesubunitsofComplex
I.Thisisalargecomplexthatalsocontainsmanysubunitssynthesizedinthecytoplasm.
Itmaynowbeeasiertosurvivethejourneythroughtheprose,butthepassageisstilldifficult.Anynumberofquestionspresentthemselves:Whathas
thefirstsentenceofthepassagetodowiththelastsentence?Doesthethirdsentencecontradictwhatwehavebeentoldinthesecondsentence?Isthe
functionalsignificanceofURF'sstill"elusive"?WillthispassageleadustofurtherdiscussionaboutURF's,oraboutComplexI,orboth?
Informationisinterpretedmoreeasilyandmoreuniformlyifitisplacedwheremostreadersexpecttofindit.
Knowingalittleaboutthesubjectmatterdoesnotclearupalltheconfusion.Theintendedaudienceofthispassagewouldprobablypossessatleasttwo
itemsofessentialtechnicalinformation:first,"URF"standsfor"UninterruptedReadingFrame,"whichdescribesasegmentofDNAorganizedinsucha
waythatitcouldencodeaprotein,althoughnosuchproteinproducthasyetbeenidentifiedsecond,bothAPTaseandNADHoxidoreductaseareenzyme
complexescentraltoenergymetabolism.Althoughthisinformationmayprovidesomesenseofcomfort,itdoeslittletoanswertheinterpretivequestions
thatneedanswering.Itseemsthereaderishinderedbymorethanjustthescientificjargon.
Togetattheproblem,weneedtoarticulatesomethingabouthowreadersgoaboutreading.Weproceedtothefirstofseveralreaderexpectations.

SubjectVerbSeparation
Lookagainatthefirstsentenceofthepassagecitedabove.Itisrelativelylong,42wordsbutthatturnsoutnottobethemaincauseofitsburdensome
complexity.Longsentencesneednotbedifficulttoreadtheyareonlydifficulttowrite.Wehaveseensentencesofover100wordsthatfloweasilyand
persuasivelytowardtheirclearlydemarcateddestination.Thosewellwroughtserpentsallhadsomethingincommon:Theirstructurepresented
informationtoreadersintheorderthereadersneededandexpectedit.
Beginningwiththeexcitingmaterialandendingwithalackoflusteroftenleavesusdisappointedanddestroysoursenseofmomentum.
Thefirstsentenceofourexamplepassagedoesjusttheopposite:itburdensandobstructsthereader,becauseofanalltoocommonstructuraldefect.
Notethatthegrammaticalsubject("thesmallest")isseparatedfromitsverb("hasbeenidentified")by23words,morethanhalfthesentence.Readers
expectagrammaticalsubjecttobefollowedimmediatelybytheverb.Anythingoflengththatintervenesbetweensubjectandverbisreadasan
interruption,andthereforeassomethingoflesserimportance.
Thereader'sexpectationstemsfromapressingneedforsyntacticresolution,fulfilledonlybythearrivaloftheverb.Withouttheverb,wedonotknow
whatthesubjectisdoing,orwhatthesentenceisallabout.Asaresult,thereaderfocusesattentiononthearrivaloftheverbandresistsrecognizing
anythingintheinterruptingmaterialasbeingofprimaryimportance.Thelongertheinterruptionlasts,themorelikelyitbecomesthatthe"interruptive"
materialactuallycontainsimportantinformationbutitsstructurallocationwillcontinuetobranditasmerelyinterruptive.Unfortunately,thereaderwill
notdiscoveritstruevalueuntiltoolateuntilthesentencehasendedwithouthavingproducedanythingofmuchvalueoutsideofthatsubjectverb
interruption.
Inthisfirstsentenceoftheparagraph,therelativeimportanceoftheinterveningmaterialisdifficulttoevaluate.Thematerialmightconceivablybequite
significant,inwhichcasethewritershouldhavepositionedittorevealthatimportance.Hereisonewaytoincorporateitintothesentencestructure:
ThesmallestoftheURF'sisURFA6L,a207nucleotide(nt)readingframeoverlappingoutofphasetheNH2terminalportionofthe
adenosinetriphosphatase(ATPase)subunit6geneithasbeenidentifiedastheanimalequivalentoftherecentlydiscoveredyeastH+ATPasesubunit
8gene.
Ontheotherhand,theinterveningmaterialmightbeamereasidethatdivertsattentionfrommoreimportantideasinthatcasethewritershouldhave
deletedit,allowingtheprosetodrivemoredirectlytowarditssignificantpoint:
ThesmallestoftheURF's(URFA6L)hasbeenidentifiedastheanimalequivalentoftherecentlydiscoveredyeastH+ATPasesubunit8gene.
Onlytheauthorcouldtelluswhichoftheserevisionsmoreaccuratelyreflectshisintentions.
Theserevisionsleadustoasecondsetofreaderexpectations.Eachunitofdiscourse,nomatterwhatthesize,isexpectedtoserveasinglefunction,to
makeasinglepoint.Inthecaseofasentence,thepointisexpectedtoappearinaspecificplacereservedforemphasis.

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TheStressPosition
Itisalinguisticcommonplacethatreadersnaturallyemphasizethematerialthatarrivesattheendofasentence.Werefertothatlocationasa"stress
position."Ifawriterisconsciouslyawareofthistendency,shecanarrangefortheemphaticinformationtoappearatthemomentthereaderisnaturally
exertingthegreatestreadingemphasis.Asaresult,thechancesgreatlyincreasethatreaderandwriterwillperceivethesamematerialasbeingworthy
ofprimaryemphasis.Theverystructureofthesentencethushelpspersuadethereaderoftherelativevaluesofthesentence'scontents.
Theinclinationtodirectmoreenergytothatwhicharriveslastinasentenceseemstocorrespondtothewayweworkattasksthroughtime.Wetendto
takesomethinglikea"mentalbreath"aswebegintoreadeachnewsentence,therebysummoningthetensionwithwhichwepayattentiontothe
unfoldingofthesyntax.Aswerecognizethatthesentenceisdrawingtowarditsconclusion,webegintoexhalethatmentalbreath.Theexhalation
producesasenseofemphasis.Moreover,wedelightinbeingrewardedattheendofalaborwithsomethingthatmakestheongoingeffortworthwhile.
Beginningwiththeexcitingmaterialandendingwithalackoflusteroftenleavesusdisappointedanddestroysoursenseofmomentum.Wedonotstart
withthestrawberryshortcakeandworkourwayuptothebroccoli.
Whenthewriterputstheemphaticmaterialofasentenceinanyplaceotherthanthestressposition,oneoftwothingscanhappenbotharebad.First,
thereadermightfindthestresspositionoccupiedbymaterialthatclearlyisnotworthyofemphasis.Inthiscase,thereadermustdiscern,withoutany
additionalstructuralclue,whatelseinthesentencemaybethemostlikelycandidateforemphasis.Therearenosecondarystructuralindicationstofall
backupon.Insentencesthatarelong,denseorsophisticated,chancessoarthatthereaderwillnotinterprettheprosepreciselyasthewriterintended.
Thesecondpossibilityisevenworse:Thereadermayfindthestresspositionoccupiedbysomethingthatdoesappearcapableofreceivingemphasis,
eventhoughthewriterdidnotintendtogiveitanystress.Inthatcase,thereaderishighlylikelytoemphasizethisimpostermaterial,andthewriterwill
havelostanimportantopportunitytoinfluencethereader'sinterpretiveprocess.
Thestresspositioncanchangeinsizefromsentencetosentence.Sometimesitconsistsofasinglewordsometimesitextendstoseverallines.The
definitivefactoristhis:Thestresspositioncoincideswiththemomentofsyntacticclosure.Areaderhasreachedthebeginningofthestressposition
whensheknowsthereisnothingleftintheclauseorsentencebutthematerialpresentlybeingread.Thusawholelist,numberedandindented,can
occupythestresspositionofasentenceifithasbeenclearlyannouncedasbeingallthatremainsofthatsentence.Eachmemberofthatlist,inturn,
mayhaveitsowninternalstressposition,sinceeachmembermayproduceitsownsyntacticclosure.
Withinasentence,secondarystresspositionscanbeformedbytheappearanceofaproperlyusedcolonorsemicolonbygrammaticalconvention,the
materialprecedingthesepunctuationmarksmustbeabletostandbyitselfasacompletesentence.Thus,sentencescanbeextendedeffortlesslyto
dozensofwords,aslongasthereisamedialsyntacticclosureforeverypieceofnew,stressworthyinformationalongtheway.Oneofourrevisionsof
theinitialsentencecanserveasanexample:
ThesmallestoftheURF'sisURFA6L,a207nucleotide(nt)readingframeoverlappingoutofphasetheNH2terminalportionofthe
adenosinetriphosphatase(ATPase)subunit6geneithasbeenidentifiedastheanimalequivalentoftherecentlydiscoveredyeastH+ATPasesubunit
8gene.
Byusingasemicolon,wecreatedasecondstresspositiontoaccommodateasecondpieceofinformationthatseemedtorequireemphasis.
Wenowhavethreerhetoricalprinciplesbasedonreaderexpectations:First,grammaticalsubjectsshouldbefollowedassoonaspossiblebytheirverbs
second,everyunitofdiscourse,nomatterthesize,shouldserveasinglefunctionormakeasinglepointand,third,informationintendedtobe
emphasizedshouldappearatpointsofsyntacticclosure.Usingtheseprinciples,wecanbegintounraveltheproblemsofourexampleprose.
Notethesubjectverbseparationinthe62wordthirdsentenceoftheoriginalpassage:
Recently,however,immunoprecipitationexperimentswithantibodiestopurified,rotenonesensitiveNADHubiquinoneoxidoreductase[hereafter
referredtoasrespiratorychainNADHdehydrogenaseorcomplexI]frombovineheart,aswellasenzymefractionationstudies,haveindicatedthat
sixhumanURF's(thatis,URF1,URF2,URF3,URF4,URF4L,andURF5,hereafterreferredtoasND1,ND2,ND3,ND4,ND4LandND5)encodesubunitsof
complexI.
Afterencounteringthesubject("experiments"),thereadermustwadethrough27words(includingthreehyphenatedcompoundwords,aparenthetical
interruptionandan"aswellas"phrase)beforealightingonthehighlyuninformativeanddisappointinglyanticlimacticverb("haveindicated").Withouta
momenttorecover,thereaderishandeda"that"clauseinwhichthenewsubject("sixhumanURF's")isseparatedfromitsverb("encode")byyet
another20words.
Ifweappliedthethreeprincipleswehavedevelopedtotherestofthesentencesoftheexample,wecouldgenerateagreatmanyrevisedversionsof
each.Theserevisionsmightdiffersignificantlyfromoneanotherinthewaytheirstructuresindicatetothereaderthevariousweightsandbalancestobe
giventotheinformation.Hadtheauthorplacedallstressworthymaterialinstresspositions,weasareadingcommunitywouldhavebeenfarmore
likelytointerpretthesesentencesuniformly.
Wecouchthisdiscussionintermsof"likelihood"becausewebelievethatmeaningisnotinherentindiscoursebyitself"meaning"requiresthecombined
participationoftextandreader.Allsentencesareinfinitelyinterpretable,givenaninfinitenumberofinterpreters.Ascommunitiesofreaders,however,
wetendtoworkouttacitagreementsastowhatkindsofmeaningaremostlikelytobeextractedfromcertainarticulations.Wecannotsucceedin
makingevenasinglesentencemeanoneandonlyonethingwecanonlyincreasetheoddsthatalargemajorityofreaderswilltendtointerpretour
discourseaccordingtoourintentions.Suchsuccesswillfollowfromauthorsbecomingmoreconsciouslyawareofthevariousreaderexpectations
presentedhere.
Wecannotsucceedinmakingevenasinglesentencemeanoneandonlyonethingwecanonlyincreasetheoddsthatalargemajorityof
readerswilltendtointerpretourdiscourseaccordingtoourintentions.
Hereisonesetofrevisionarydecisionswemadefortheexample:
ThesmallestoftheURF's,URFA6L,hasbeenidentifiedastheanimalequivalentoftherecentlydiscoveredyeastH+ATPasesubunit8genebutthe
functionalsignificanceofotherURF'shasbeenmoreelusive.Recently,however,severalhumanURF'shavebeenshowntoencodesubunitsof
rotenonesensitiveNADHubiquinoneoxidoreductase.Thisisalargecomplexthatalsocontainsmanysubunitssynthesizedinthecytoplasmitwill
bereferredtohereafterasrespiratorychainNADHdehydrogenaseorcomplexI.SixsubunitsofComplexIwereshownbyenzymefractionation
studiesandimmunoprecipitationexperimentstobeencodedbysixhumanURF's(URF1,URF2,URF3,URF4,URF4L,andURF5)theseURF'swillbe
referredtosubsequentlyasND1,ND2,ND3,ND4,ND4LandND5.
Sheerlengthwasneithertheproblemnorthesolution.Therevisedversionisnotnoticeablyshorterthantheoriginalnevertheless,itissignificantly
easiertointerpret.Wehaveindeeddeletedcertainwords,butnotonthebasisofwordinessorexcesslength.(Seeespeciallythelastsentenceofour
revision.)
Whenisasentencetoolong?Thecreatorsofreadabilityformulaswouldhaveusbelievethereexistssomefixednumberofwords(thefavoriteis29)
pastwhichasentenceistoohardtoread.Wedisagree.Wehaveseen10wordsentencesthatarevirtuallyimpenetrableand,aswementionedabove,
100wordsentencesthatfloweffortlesslytotheirpointsofresolution.Inplaceofthewordlimitconcept,weofferthefollowingdefinition:Asentenceis
toolongwhenithasmoreviablecandidatesforstresspositionsthantherearestresspositionsavailable.Withoutthestressposition'slocationalcluethat

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itsmaterialisintendedtobeemphasized,readersarelefttoomuchtotheirowndevicesindecidingjustwhatelseinasentencemightbeconsidered
important.
Inrevisingtheexamplepassage,wemadecertaindecisionsaboutwhattoomitandwhattoemphasize.Weputsubjectsandverbstogethertolessen
thereader'ssyntacticburdensweputthematerialwebelievedworthyofemphasisinstresspositionsandwediscardedmaterialforwhichwecouldnot
discernsignificantconnections.Indoingso,wehaveproducedaclearerpassagebutnotonethatnecessarilyreflectstheauthor'sintentionsitreflects
onlyourinterpretationoftheauthor'sintentions.Themoreproblematicthestructure,thelesslikelyitbecomesthatagrandmajorityofreaderswill
perceivethediscourseinexactlythewaytheauthorintended.
Theinformationthatbeginsasentenceestablishesforthereaderaperspectiveforviewingthesentenceasaunit.
Itisprobablethatmanyofourreadersandperhapseventheauthorswilldisagreewithsomeofourchoices.Ifso,thatdisagreementunderscoresour
point:Theoriginalfailedtocommunicateitsideasandtheirconnectionsclearly.Ifwehappenedtohaveinterpretedthepassageasyoudid,thenwecan
makeadifferentpoint:Nooneshouldhavetoworkashardaswedidtounearththecontentofasinglepassageofthislength.

TheTopicPosition
Tosummarizetheprinciplesconnectedwiththestressposition,wehavetheproverbialwisdom,"Savethebestforlast."Tosummarizetheprinciples
connectedwiththeotherendofthesentence,whichwewillcallthetopicposition,wehaveitsproverbialcontradiction,"Firstthingsfirst."Inthestress
positionthereaderneedsandexpectsclosureandfulfillmentinthetopicpositionthereaderneedsandexpectsperspectiveandcontext.Withsomuch
ofreadingcomprehensionaffectedbywhatshowsupinthetopicposition,itbehoovesawritertocontrolwhatappearsatthebeginningofsentenceswith
greatcare.
Theinformationthatbeginsasentenceestablishesforthereaderaperspectiveforviewingthesentenceasaunit:Readersexpectaunitofdiscourseto
beastoryaboutwhoevershowsupfirst."Beesdispersepollen"and"Pollenisdispersedbybees"aretwodifferentbutequallyrespectablesentences
aboutthesamefacts.Thefirsttellsussomethingaboutbeesthesecondtellsussomethingaboutpollen.Thepassivityofthesecondsentencedoesnot
byitselfimpairitsqualityinfact,"Pollenisdispersedbybees"isthesuperiorsentenceifitappearsinaparagraphthatintendstotellusacontinuing
storyaboutpollen.Pollen'sstoryatthatmomentisapassiveone.
Readersalsoexpectthematerialoccupyingthetopicpositiontoprovidethemwithlinkage(lookingbackward)andcontext(lookingforward).The
informationinthetopicpositionpreparesthereaderforupcomingmaterialbyconnectingitbackwardtothepreviousdiscussion.Althoughlinkageand
contextcanderivefromseveralsources,theystemprimarilyfrommaterialthatthereaderhasalreadyencounteredwithinthisparticularpieceof
discourse.Werefertothisfamiliar,previouslyintroducedmaterialas"oldinformation."Conversely,materialmakingitsfirstappearanceinadiscourseis
"newinformation."Whennewinformationisimportantenoughtoreceiveemphasis,itfunctionsbestinthestressposition.
Whenoldinformationconsistentlyarrivesinthetopicposition,ithelpsreaderstoconstructthelogicalflowoftheargument:Itfocusesattentiononone
particularstrandofthediscussion,bothharkeningbackwardandleaningforward.Incontrast,ifthetopicpositionisconstantlyoccupiedbymaterialthat
failstoestablishlinkageandcontext,readerswillhavedifficultyperceivingboththeconnectiontotheprevioussentenceandtheprojectedroleofthe
newsentenceinthedevelopmentoftheparagraphasawhole.
Hereisasecondexampleofscientificprosethatweshallattempttoimproveinsubsequentdiscussion:
Largeearthquakesalongagivenfaultsegmentdonotoccuratrandomintervalsbecauseittakestimetoaccumulatethestrainenergyforthe
rupture.Theratesatwhichtectonicplatesmoveandaccumulatestrainattheirboundariesareapproximatelyuniform.Therefore,infirst
approximation,onemayexpectthatlargerupturesofthesamefaultsegmentwilloccuratapproximatelyconstanttimeintervals.Ifsubsequentmain
shockshavedifferentamountsofslipacrossthefault,thentherecurrencetimemayvary,andthebasicideaofperiodicmainshocksmustbe
modified.Forgreatplateboundaryrupturesthelengthandslipoftenvarybyafactorof2.AlongthesouthernsegmentoftheSanAndreasfaultthe
recurrenceintervalis145yearswithvariationsofseveraldecades.Thesmallerthestandarddeviationoftheaveragerecurrenceinterval,themore
specificcouldbethelongtermpredictionofafuturemainshock.
Thisisthekindofpassagethatinsubtlewayscanmakereadersfeelbadlyaboutthemselves.Theindividualsentencesgivetheimpressionofbeing
intelligentlyfashioned:Theyarenotespeciallylongorconvolutedtheirvocabularyisappropriatelyprofessionalbutnotbeyondthekenofeducated
generalreadersandtheyarefreeofgrammaticalanddictionalerrors.Onfirstreading,however,manyofusarriveattheparagraph'sendwithouta
clearsenseofwherewehavebeenorwherewearegoing.Whenthathappens,wetendtoberateourselvesfornothavingpaidcloseenoughattention.
Inreality,thefaultliesnotwithus,butwiththeauthor.
Wecandistilltheproblembylookingcloselyattheinformationineachsentence'stopicposition:
Largeearthquakes
Therates
Therefore...one
subsequentmainshocks
greatplateboundaryruptures
thesouthernsegmentoftheSanAndreasfault
thesmallerthestandarddeviation...
Muchofthisinformationismakingitsfirstappearanceinthisparagraphinpreciselythespotwherethereaderlooksforold,familiarinformation.Asa
result,thefocusofthestoryconstantlyshifts.Givenjustthematerialinthetopicpositions,notworeaderswouldbelikelytoconstructexactlythesame
storyfortheparagraphasawhole.
Ifwetrytopiecetogethertherelationshipofeachsentencetoitsneighbors,wenoticethatcertainbitsofoldinformationkeepreappearing.Weheara
gooddealabouttherecurrencetimebetweenearthquakes:Thefirstsentenceintroducestheconceptofnonrandomintervalsbetweenearthquakesthe
secondsentencetellsusthatrecurrenceratesduetothemovementoftectonicplatesaremoreorlessuniformthethirdsentenceaddsthatthe
recurrenceratesofmajorearthquakesshouldalsobesomewhatpredictablethefourthsentenceaddsthatrecurrenceratesvarywithsomeconditions
thefifthsentenceaddsinformationaboutoneparticularvariationthesixthsentenceaddsarecurrencerateexamplefromCaliforniaandthelast
sentencetellsussomethingabouthowrecurrenceratescanbedescribedstatistically.Thisrefrainof"recurrenceintervals"constitutesthemajorstringof
oldinformationintheparagraph.Unfortunately,itrarelyappearsatthebeginningofsentences,whereitwouldhelpusmaintainourfocusonits
continuingstory.
Inreading,asinmostexperiences,weappreciatetheopportunitytobecomefamiliarwithanewenvironmentbeforehavingtofunctioninit.Writingthat
continuallybeginssentenceswithnewinformationandendswitholdinformationforbidsboththesenseofcomfortandorientationatthestartandthe
senseoffulfillingarrivalattheend.Itmisleadsthereaderastowhosestoryisbeingtolditburdensthereaderwithnewinformationthatmustbe
carriedfurtherintothesentencebeforeitcanbeconnectedtothediscussionanditcreatesambiguityastowhichmaterialthewriterintendedthe
readertoemphasize.Allofthesedistractionsrequirethatreadersexpendadisproportionateamountofenergytounravelthestructureoftheprose,
leavinglessenergyavailableforperceivingcontent.
Wecanbegintorevisetheexamplebyensuringthefollowingforeachsentence:

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1.Thebackwardlinkingoldinformationappearsinthetopicposition.
2.Theperson,thingorconceptwhosestoryitisappearsinthetopicposition.
3.Thenew,emphasisworthyinformationappearsinthestressposition.

Onceagain,ifourdecisionsconcerningtherelativevaluesofspecificinformationdifferfromyours,wecanallblametheauthor,whofailedtomakehis
intentionsapparent.Herefirstisalistofwhatweperceivedtobethenew,emphaticmaterialineachsentence:
timetoaccumulatestrainenergyalongafault
approximatelyuniform
largerupturesofthesamefault
differentamountsofslip
varybyafactorof2
variationsofseveraldecades
predictionsoffuturemainshock
Now,basedontheseassumptionsaboutwhatdeservesstress,hereisourproposedrevision:
Largeearthquakesalongagivenfaultsegmentdonotoccuratrandomintervalsbecauseittakestimetoaccumulatethestrainenergyforthe
rupture.Theratesatwhichtectonicplatesmoveandaccumulatestrainattheirboundariesareroughlyuniform.Therefore,nearlyconstanttime
intervals(atfirstapproximation)wouldbeexpectedbetweenlargerupturesofthesamefaultsegment.[However?],therecurrencetimemayvary
thebasicideaofperiodicmainshocksmayneedtobemodifiedifsubsequentmainshockshavedifferentamountsofslipacrossthefault.[Indeed?],
thelengthandslipofgreatplateboundaryrupturesoftenvarybyafactorof2.[Forexample?],therecurrenceintervalsalongthesouthernsegment
oftheSanAndreasfaultis145yearswithvariationsofseveraldecades.Thesmallerthestandarddeviationoftheaveragerecurrenceinterval,the
morespecificcouldbethelongtermpredictionofafuturemainshock.
Manyproblemsthathadexistedintheoriginalhavenowsurfacedforthefirsttime.Isthereasonearthquakesdonotoccuratrandomintervalsstatedin
thefirstsentenceorinthesecond?Arethesuggestedchoicesof"however,""indeed,"and"forexample"therightonestoexpresstheconnectionsat
thosepoints?(Alltheseconnectionswereleftunarticulatedintheoriginalparagraph.)If"forexample"isaninaccuratetransitionalphrase,thenexactly
howdoestheSanAndreasfaultexampleconnecttorupturesthat"varybyafactorof2"?Istheauthorarguingthatrecurrenceratesmustvarybecause
faultmovementsoftenvary?Oristheauthorpreparingusforadiscussionofhowinspiteofsuchvariancewemightstillbeabletopredictearthquakes?
Thislastquestionremainsunansweredbecausethefinalsentenceleavesbehindearthquakesthatrecuratvariableintervalsandswitchesinsteadto
earthquakesthatrecurregularly.Giventhatthisisthefirstparagraphofthearticle,whichtypeofearthquakewillthearticlemostlikelyproceedto
discuss?Insum,wearenowawareofhowmuchtheparagraphhadnotcommunicatedtousonfirstreading.Wecanseethatmostofourdifficultywas
owingnottoanydeficiencyinourreadingskillsbutrathertotheauthor'slackofcomprehensionofourstructuralneedsasreaders.
Inourexperience,themisplacementofoldandnewinformationturnsouttobetheNo.1probleminAmericanprofessionalwritingtoday.
Inourexperience,themisplacementofoldandnewinformationturnsouttobetheNo.1probleminAmericanprofessionalwritingtoday.Thesourceof
theproblemisnothardtodiscover:Mostwritersproduceproselinearly(fromlefttoright)andthroughtime.Astheybegintoformulateasentence,
oftentheirprimaryanxietyistocapturetheimportantnewthoughtbeforeitescapes.Quitenaturallytheyrushtorecordthatnewinformationonpaper,
afterwhichtheycanproduceattheirleisurecontextualizingmaterialthatlinksbacktothepreviousdiscourse.Writerswhodothisconsistentlyare
attendingmoretotheirownneedforunburdeningthemselvesoftheirinformationthantothereader'sneedforreceivingthematerial.Themethodology
ofreaderexpectationsarticulatesthereader'sneedsexplicitly,therebymakingwritersconsciouslyawareofstructuralproblemsandwaystosolvethem.
Putinthetopicpositiontheoldinformationthatlinksbackwardputinthestresspositionthenewinformationyouwantthereaderto
emphasize.
Anoteofclarification:Manypeoplehearingthisstructuraladvicetendtooversimplifyittothefollowingrule:"Puttheoldinformationinthetopicposition
andthenewinformationinthestressposition."Nosuchruleispossible.Sincebydefinitionallinformationiseitheroldornew,thespacebetweenthe
topicpositionandthestresspositionmustalsobefilledwitholdandnewinformation.Thereforetheprinciple(notrule)shouldbestatedasfollows:"Put
inthetopicpositiontheoldinformationthatlinksbackwardputinthestresspositionthenewinformationyouwantthereadertoemphasize."

PerceivingLogicalGaps
Whenoldinformationdoesnotappearatallinasentence,whetherinthetopicpositionorelsewhere,readersarelefttoconstructthelogicallinkageby
themselves.Oftenthishappenswhentheconnectionsaresoclearinthewriter'smindthattheyseemunnecessarytostateatthosemoments,writers
underestimatethedifficultiesandambiguitiesinherentinthereadingprocess.Ourthirdexampleattemptstodemonstratehowpayingattentiontothe
placementofoldandnewinformationcanrevealwhereawriterhasneglectedtoarticulateessentialconnections.
Theenthalpyofhydrogenbondformationbetweenthenucleosidebases2'deoxyguanosine(dG)and2'deoxycytidine(dC)hasbeendeterminedby
directmeasurement.dGanddCwerederivatizedatthe5'and3'hydroxylswithtriisopropylsilylgroupstoobtainsolubilityofthenucleosidesinnon
aqueoussolventsandtopreventtheribosehydroxylsfromforminghydrogenbonds.Fromisoperibolictitrationmeasurements,theenthalpyofdC:dG
basepairformationis6.650.32kcal/mol.
Althoughpartofthedifficultyofreadingthispassagemaystemfromitsabundanceofspecializedtechnicalterms,agreatdealmoreofthedifficultycan
beattributedtoitsstructuralproblems.Theseproblemsarenowfamiliar:Wearenotsureatalltimeswhosestoryisbeingtoldinthefirstsentencethe
subjectandverbarewidelyseparatedthesecondsentencehasonlyonestresspositionbuttwoorthreepiecesofinformationthatareprobablyworthy
ofemphasis"solubility...solvents,""prevent...fromforminghydrogenbonds"andperhaps"triisopropylsilylgroups."Theseperceptionssuggestthe
followingrevisiontactics:
1.Invertthefirstsentence,sothat(a)thesubjectverbcomplementconnectionisunbroken,and(b)"dG"and"dC"areintroducedinthestress
positionasnewandinterestinginformation.(Notethatinvertingthesentencerequiresstatingwhomadethemeasurementsincetheauthors
performedthefirstdirectmeasurement,recognizingtheiragencyinthetopicpositionmaywellbeappropriate.)
2.Since"dGand"dC"becometheoldinformationinthesecondsentence,keepthemupfrontinthetopicposition.
3.Since"triisopropylsilylgroups"isnewandimportantinformationhere,createforitastressposition.
4."Triisopropylsilylgroups"thenbecomestheoldinformationoftheclauseinwhichitseffectsaredescribedplaceitinthetopicpositionofthis
clause.
5.Alertthereadertoexpectthearrivaloftwodistincteffectsbyusingtheflagword"both.""Both"notifiesthereaderthattwopiecesofnew
informationwillarriveinasinglestressposition.
Hereisapartialrevisionbasedonthesedecisions:
Wehavedirectlymeasuredtheenthalpyofhydrogenbondformationbetweenthenucleosidebases2'deoxyguanosine(dG)and2'deoxycytidine(dC).
dGanddCwerederivatizedatthe5'and3'hydroxylswithtriisopropylsilylgroupsthesegroupsservebothtosolubilizethenucleosidesinnon
aqueoussolventsandtopreventtheribosehydroxylsfromforminghydrogenbonds.Fromisoperibolictitrationmeasurements,theenthalpyofdC:dG

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basepairformationis6.650.32kcal/mol.

Theoutlinesoftheexperimentarenowbecomingvisible,butthereisstillamajorlogicalgap.Afterreadingthesecondsentence,weexpecttohear
moreaboutthetwoeffectsthatwereimportantenoughtomeritplacementinitsstressposition.Ourexpectationsarefrustrated,however,whenthose
effectsarenotmentionedinthenextsentence:"Fromisoperibolictitrationmeasurements,theenthalpyofdC:dGbasepairformationis6.650.32
kcal/mol."Theauthorshaveneglectedtoexplaintherelationshipbetweenthederivatizationtheyperformed(inthesecondsentence)andthe
measurementstheymade(inthethirdsentence).Ironically,thatisthepointtheymostwishedtomakehere.
Atthisjuncture,particularlyastutereaderswhoarechemistsmightdrawupontheirspecializedknowledge,silentlysupplyingthemissingconnection.
Otherreadersareleftinthedark.Hereisoneversionofwhatwethinktheauthorsmeanttosay,withtwoadditionalsentencessuppliedfroma
knowledgeofnucleicacidchemistry:
Wehavedirectlymeasuredtheenthalpyofhydrogenbondformationbetweenthenucleosidebases2'deoxyguanosine(dG)and2'deoxycytidine(dC).
dGanddCwerederivatizedatthe5'and3'hydroxylswithtriisopropylsiylgroupsthesegroupsservebothtosolubilizethenucleosidesinnon
aqueoussolventsandtopreventtheribosehydroxylsfromforminghydrogenbonds.Consequently,whenthederivatizednucleosidesaredissolvedin
nonaqueoussolvents,hydrogenbondsformalmostexclusivelybetweenthebases.Sincetheinterbasehydrogenbondsaretheonlybondstoform
uponmixing,theirenthalpyofformationcanbedetermineddirectlybymeasuringtheenthalpyofmixing.Fromourisoperibolictitration
measurements,theenthalpyofdG:dCbasepairformationis6.650.32kcal/mol.
Eachsentencenowproceedslogicallyfromitspredecessor.Weneverhavetowandertoofarintoasentencewithoutbeingtoldwhereweareandwhat
formerstrandsofdiscoursearebeingcontinued.Andthe"measurements"ofthelastsentencehasnowbecomeoldinformation,reachingbacktothe
"measureddirectly"oftheprecedingsentence.(Italsofulfillsthepromiseofthe"wehavedirectlymeasured"withwhichtheparagraphbegan.)By
followingourknowledgeofreaderexpectations,wehavebeenabletospotdiscontinuities,tosuggeststrategiesforbridginggaps,andtorearrangethe
structureoftheprose,therebyincreasingtheaccessibilityofthescientificcontent.

LocatingtheAction
Ourfinalexampleaddsanothermajorreaderexpectationtothelist.
Transcriptionofthe5SRNAgenesintheeggextractisTFIIIAdependent.Thisissurprising,becausetheconcentrationofTFIIIAisthesameasinthe
oocytenuclearextract.TheothertranscriptionfactorsandRNApolymeraseIIIarepresumedtobeinexcessoveravailableTFIIIA,becausetRNA
genesaretranscribedintheeggextract.Theadditionofeggextracttotheoocytenuclearextracthastwoeffectsontranscriptionefficiency.First,
thereisageneralinhibitionoftranscriptionthatcanbealleviatedinpartbysupplementationwithhighconcentrationsofRNApolymeraseIII.Second,
eggextractdestabilizestranscriptioncomplexesformedwithoocytebutnotsomatic5SRNAgenes.
Thebarrierstocomprehensioninthispassagearesomanythatitmayappeardifficulttoknowwheretostartrevising.Fortunately,itdoesnotmatter
wherewestart,sinceattendingtoanyonestructuralproblemeventuallyleadsustoalltheothers.
Wecanspotonesourceofdifficultybylookingatthetopicpositionsofthesentences:Wecannottellwhosestorythepassageis.Thestory'sfocus(that
is,theoccupantofthetopicposition)changesineverysentence.Ifwesearchforrepeatedoldinformationinhopeofsettlingonagoodcandidatefor
severalofthetopicpositions,wefindalltoomuchofit:eggextract,TFIIIA,oocyteextract,RNApolymeraseIII,5SRNA,andtranscription.Allofthese
reappearatvariouspoints,butnoneannouncesitselfclearlyasourprimaryfocus.Itappearsthatthepassageistryingtotellseveralstories
simultaneously,allowingnonetodominate.
Weareunabletodecideamongthesestoriesbecausetheauthorhasnottolduswhattodowithallthisinformation.Weknowwhotheplayersare,but
weareignorantoftheactionstheyarepresumedtoperform.Thisviolatesyetanotherimportantreaderexpectation:Readersexpecttheactionofa
sentencetobearticulatedbytheverb.
Hereisalistoftheverbsintheexampleparagraph:
is
is...is
arepresumedtobe
aretranscribed
has
is...canbealleviated
destabilizes
Thelistgivesustoofewcluesastowhatactionsactuallytakeplaceinthepassage.Iftheactionsarenottobefoundintheverbs,thenweasreaders
havenosecondarystructuralcluesforwheretolocatethem.Eachofushastomakeapersonalinterpretiveguessthewriternolongercontrolsthe
reader'sinterpretiveact.
Ascriticalscientificreaders,wewouldliketoconcentrateourenergyonwhethertheexperimentsprovethehypotheses.
Worsestill,inthispassagetheimportantactionsneverappear.Basedonourbestunderstandingofthismaterial,theverbsthatconnecttheseplayers
are"limit"and"inhibit."Ifweexpressthoseactionsasverbsandplacethemostfrequentlyoccurringinformation"eggextract"and"TFIIIA"inthe
topicpositionwheneverpossible,*wecangeneratethefollowingrevision:
Intheeggextract,theavailabilityofTFIIIAlimitstranscriptionofthe5SRNAgenes.ThisissurprisingbecausethesameconcentrationofTFIIIAdoes
notlimittranscriptionintheoocytenuclearextract.Intheeggextract,transcriptionisnotlimitedbyRNApolymeraseorotherfactorsbecause
transcriptionoftRNAgenesindicatesthatthesefactorsareinexcessoveravailableTFIIIA.Whenaddedtothenuclearextract,theeggextract
affectedtheefficiencyoftranscriptionintwoways.First,itinhibitedtranscriptiongenerallythisinhibitioncouldbealleviatedinpartbysupplementing
themixturewithhighconcentrationsofRNApolymeraseIII.Second,theeggextractdestabilizedtranscriptioncomplexesformedbyoocytebutnot
bysomatic5Sgenes.
[*Wehavechosenthesetwopiecesofoldinformationasthecontrollingcontextsforthepassage.Thatchoicewasneitherarbitrarynorbornoflogical
necessityitwassimplyanactofinterpretation.Allreadersmakeexactlythatkindofchoiceinthereadingofeverysentence.Thefewerthestructural
cluestointerpretationgivenbytheauthor,themorevariabletheresultinginterpretationswilltendtobe.]
Asastoryabout"eggextract,"thispassagestillleavessomethingtobedesired.Butatleastnowwecanrecognizethattheauthorhasnotexplainedthe
connectionbetween"limit"and"inhibit."Thisunarticulatedconnectionseemstoustocontainbothofherhypotheses:First,thatthelimitationon
transcriptioniscausedbyaninhibitorofTFIIIApresentintheeggextractand,second,thattheactionofthatinhibitorcanbedetectedbyaddingthe
eggextracttotheoocyteextractandexaminingtheeffectsontranscription.Ascriticalscientificreaders,wewouldliketoconcentrateourenergyon
whethertheexperimentsprovethehypotheses.Wecannotbegintodosoifweareleftindoubtastowhatthosehypothesesmightbeandifweare
usingmostofourenergytodiscernthestructureoftheproseratherthanitssubstance.

WritingandtheScientificProcess
Webeganthisarticlebyarguingthatcomplexthoughtsexpressedinimpenetrableprosecanberenderedaccessibleandclearwithoutminimizinganyof
theircomplexity.Ourexamplesofscientificwritinghaverangedfromthemerelycloudytothevirtuallyopaqueyetallofthemcouldbemade

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significantlymorecomprehensiblebyobservingthefollowingstructuralprinciples:
1.Followagrammaticalsubjectassoonaspossiblewithitsverb.
2.Placeinthestresspositionthe"newinformation"youwantthereadertoemphasize.
3.Placethepersonorthingwhose"story"asentenceistellingatthebeginningofthesentence,inthetopicposition.
4.Placeappropriate"oldinformation"(materialalreadystatedinthediscourse)inthetopicpositionforlinkagebackwardandcontextualization
forward.
5.Articulatetheactionofeveryclauseorsentenceinitsverb.
6.Ingeneral,providecontextforyourreaderbeforeaskingthatreadertoconsideranythingnew.
7.Ingeneral,trytoensurethattherelativeemphasesofthesubstancecoincidewiththerelativeexpectationsforemphasisraisedbythestructure.
Itmayseemobviousthatascientificdocumentisincompletewithouttheinterpretationofthewriteritmaynotbesoobviousthatthe
documentcannot"exist"withouttheinterpretationofeachreader.
Noneofthesereaderexpectationprinciplesshouldbeconsidered"rules."Slavishadherencetothemwillsucceednobetterthanhasslavishadherence
toavoidingsplitinfinitivesortousingtheactivevoiceinsteadofthepassive.Therecanbenofixedalgorithmforgoodwriting,fortworeasons.First,too
manyreaderexpectationsarefunctioningatanygivenmomentforstructuraldecisionstoremainclearandeasilyactivated.Second,anyreader
expectationcanbeviolatedtogoodeffect.Ourbeststyliststurnouttobeourmostskillfulviolatorsbutinordertocarrythisoff,theymustfulfill
expectationsmostofthetime,causingtheviolationstobeperceivedasexceptionalmoments,worthyofnote.
Awriter'spersonalstyleisthesumofallthestructuralchoicesthatpersontendstomakewhenfacingthechallengesofcreatingdiscourse.Writerswho
failtoputnewinformationinthestresspositionofmanysentencesinonedocumentarelikelytorepeatthatunhelpfulstructuralpatterninallother
documents.Butfortheveryreasonthatwriterstendtobeconsistentinmakingsuchchoices,theycanlearntoimprovetheirwritingstyletheycan
permanentlyreversethosehabitualstructuraldecisionsthatmisleadorburdenreaders.
Wehavearguedthatthesubstanceofthoughtandtheexpressionofthoughtaresoinextricablyintertwinedthatchangesineitherwillaffectthequality
oftheother.Notethatonlythefirstofourexamples(theparagraphaboutURF's)couldberevisedonthebasisofthemethodologytorevealanearly
finishedpassage.Inalltheotherexamples,revisionrevealedexistingconceptualgapsandotherproblemsthathadbeensubmergedintheoriginalsby
dysfunctionalstructures.Fillingthegapsrequiredtheadditionofextramaterial.Inrevisingeachoftheseexamples,wearrivedatapointwherewe
couldproceednofurtherwithouteithersupplyingconnectionsbetweenideasoreliminatingsomeexistingmaterialaltogether.(Writerswhousereader
expectationprinciplesontheirownprosewillnothavetoconjectureorinfertheyknowwhattheproseisintendedtoconvey.)Havingbegunby
analyzingthestructureoftheprose,wewereledeventuallytoreinvestigatethesubstanceofthescience.
Thesubstanceofsciencecomprisesmorethanthediscoveryandrecordingofdataitextendscruciallytoincludetheactofinterpretation.Itmayseem
obviousthatascientificdocumentisincompletewithouttheinterpretationofthewriteritmaynotbesoobviousthatthedocumentcannot"exist"
withouttheinterpretationofeachreader.Inotherwords,writerscannot"merely"recorddata,eveniftheytry.Inanyrecordingorarticulation,no
matterhowhaphazardorconfused,eachwordresidesinoneormoredistinctstructurallocations.Theresultingstructure,evenmorethanthemeanings
ofindividualwords,significantlyinfluencesthereaderduringtheactofinterpretation.Thequestionthenbecomeswhetherthestructurecreatedbythe
writer(intentionallyornot)helpsorhindersthereaderintheprocessofinterpretingthescientificwriting.
Thewritingprincipleswehavesuggestedheremakeconsciousforthewritersomeoftheinterpretivecluesreadersderivefromstructures.Armedwith
thisawareness,thewritercanachievefargreatercontrol(althoughnevercompletecontrol)ofthereader'sinterpretiveprocess.Asaconcomitant
function,theprinciplessimultaneouslyofferthewriterafreshreentrytothethoughtprocessthatproducedthescience.Inrealandimportantways,the
structureoftheprosebecomesthestructureofthescientificargument.Improvingeitheronewillimprovetheother.
ThemethodologydescribedinthisarticleoriginatedinthelinguisticworkofJosephM.WilliamsoftheUniversityofChicago,GregoryG.Colombofthe
GeorgiaInstituteofTechnologyandGeorgeD.Gopen.Someofthematerialspresentedherewerediscussedanddevelopedinfacultywritingworkshops
heldattheDukeUniversityMedicalSchool.

Bibliography
Colomb,GregoryG.,andJosephM.Williams.1985.Perceivingstructureinprofessionalprose:amultiplydeterminedexperience.InWritinginNon
AcademicSettings,eds.LeeOdellandDixieGoswami.GuilfordPress,pp.87128.
Gopen,GeorgeD.1987.Letthebuyerinordinarycourseofbusinessbeware:suggestionsforrevisingthelanguageoftheUniformCommercial
Code.UniversityofChicagoLawReview54:11781214.
Gopen,GeorgeD.1990.TheCommonSenseofWriting:TeachingWritingfromtheReader'sPerspective.
Williams,JosephM.1988.Style:TenLessonsinClarityandGrace.Scott,Foresman,&Co.

Youcanfindthisonlineathttp://www.americanscientist.org/issues/num2/thescienceofscientificwriting/5
2016SigmaXi,TheScientificResearchSociety

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