ERIC Number: ED440887
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 2000-Apr
The Desired Image of a Science Writer.
Yore, Larry D.; Hand, Brian M.; Prain, Vaughan
This study attempted to establish a desired image of an expert science writer based on a synthesis of writing theory, models, and research literature on academic writing in science and other disciplines and to contrast this desired image with an actual prototypical image of scientists as writers of science. The synthesis was used to develop a questionnaire to assess scientists' writing habits, beliefs, strategies, and perceptions about print-based language. The questionnaire was administered to 17 scientists from science and applied science departments of a large Midwestern land grant university. Each respondent was interviewed following the completion of the questionnaire with a custom-designed semi-structured protocol to elaborate, probe, and extend their written responses. These data were analyzed in a step-wise fashion using the questionnaire responses to establish tentative assertions about the three major foci (type of writing done, criteria of good science writing, writing strategies used) and the interview responses to verify these assertions. Two illustrative cases (a very experienced, male physical scientist and a less experienced, female applied biological scientist) were used to highlight diversity in the sample. Generally, these 17 scientists are driven by the academy's priority of publishing their research results in refereed, peer-reviewed journals. They write their research reports in isolation or as a member of a large research team, target their writing to a few journals that they also read regularly, use writing in the teaching and scholarship to inform and persuade science students and other scientists, but do little border crossing into other communities. The actual prototypical science writer found in this study did not match the desired image based on a synthesis of the writing literature in that these scientists perceived writing as knowledge telling not knowledge building and they used a narrow array of genre, strategies, target audiences, and expectations for their writing. (Contains 51 references.) (Author/ASK)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (New Orleans, LA, April 28-May 1, 2000). Presented in a different form at the Annual Meeting of the European Science Education Research Association (Kiel, Germany, August 31-September 5, 1999).