ERIC Number: ED236617
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981
Reference Count: 0
The Writing of Non-Fiction: Contexts, Choices, and Constraints in a Scientific Paper.
To identify the means by which scientific discourse achieves any degree of success in representing nature, an examination was made of Arthur H. Compton's and Alfred W. Simon's paper, "Measurements of Beta-Rays Associated with Scattered X-Rays," which originally appeared in 1925. Analysis reveals that the rhetorical choices of Compton, the major author, were constrained by contextual forces, directed by procedures of scientific argumentation, and motivated by personal commitment to record claims and data as accurately as possible. Contextual constraints reflected the structure of the scientific community, the thought style and expressive habits of the period, the social position and interests of the investigator, the research program of the scientist, and the nature of the challenges to prior formulations of theory. Given the canons of scientific argumentation that Compton observed, the center of his persuasive strategy was the active search for passive constraints. He bolstered his original discovery claim by developing a new source of data; he answered challenges by finding specific refuting data; and he advanced his own career by revealing more about the phenomenon and by developing techniques for looking more intimately into nature. Then, having chosen to publish, Compton was committed to presenting his theory and results as clearly, accurately, and precisely as the material and language would allow. (HOD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Audience Awareness
Note: The appendix containing Compton and Simon's article, "Measurements of Beta-Rays Associated with Scattered X-Rays," has been removed due to copyright restrictions.