The act of writing is itself an exercise of thought

Jacques Barzun
Jacques Barzun Photo: GETTY & The Telegraph

The act of writing is itself an exercise of thought
 
Many writers have said that they do not fully grasp their own meaning until they have carved it like a statue, using words as material.  The reason is plain. One starts writing, not with a well-shaped thought, trimmed and polished, but with an intent—perhaps with several, overlapping and conflicting. You see a scene in your mind’s eye or know the tendency of a complex argument, but do not know which part of the scene or argument is to come first—what, anyhow, is a part of something you sense as an undivided whole? Thinking, and nothing but thinking, will answer these questionsnor will the answer be satisfactory until words are down on paper that represent the first finished piece of description or argument. (p.118-9). 
 
Jacques Barzun. Simple & Direct

Writing in the Sciences free @stanford MOOC starts Sept 1

Link here.

This course teaches scientists to become more effective writers, using practical examples and exercises. Topics include: principles of good writing, tricks for writing faster and with less anxiety, the format of a scientific manuscript, and issues in publication and peer review. Students from non-science disciplines can benefit from the training provided in the first four weeks (on general principles of effective writing).

In the first four weeks, we will review principles of effective writing, examples of good and bad writing, and tips for making the writing process easier. In the second four weeks, we will examine issues specific to scientific writing, including: authorship, peer review, the format of an original manuscript, and communicating science for lay audiences. Students will watch video lectures, complete quizzes and editing exercises, write two short papers, and edit each others’ work.

COURSE SYLLABUS

Week 1 – Introduction; principles of effective writing (cutting unnecessary clutter)
Week 2 – Principles of effective writing (verbs)
Week 3 – Crafting better sentences and paragraphs
Week 4 – Organization; and streamlining the writing process
Week 5 – The format of an original manuscript
Week 6 – Reviews, commentaries, and opinion pieces; and the publication process
Week 7 – Issues in scientific writing (plagiarism, authorship, ghostwriting, reproducible research)
Week 8 – How to do a peer review; and how to communicate with the lay public

New session starts September 1

Writing tools for researchers

This is a selection of resources for those wishing to improve their scientific and academic writing in English. It showcases some online resources including courses, academic word lists, online data bases, concordancers, corpora as well as some diy tools.

Online courses

British Council Writing for a purpose

Face to face & online courses

VI Escribir ciencia en inglés / Writing science in English (Universidad de Murcia)

Word lists

AWL and definitions. Academic Word List Coxhead (2000). Around  570 headwords

AWL 10 sublists and sublist families

Exploring contexts of AWL (dictionary-based)  and academic areas  (needs a code)

Test your vocabulary range using Lex Tutor

The Manchester Phrase Bank

Exploring collocations

Oxford online collocations dictionary

Collocation forbetterenglish (Sketch Engine SKELL): examples, word sketches and similar words

Word neighbors (different corpora available)

String net (explore patterns)

Collocaid: collocation errors and editor

Using Google N-GRAM to discover word combinations (intake of *)

Online corpora

Academic words in American English (Mark Davies COCA)

CRA (Corpus of Research Articles) Great to test your hypothesis (perform an analysis?)

MICUSP

MICASE

British Academic Written English Corpus (BAWE) Sketch engine gateway

BAWE corpus (Coventry site)

ScienQuest

CQPweb portal

Deconstructing discourse

Clean your text 

Generate word lists (Input url)

Ngram Analyzer

Ngram Extractor

Web as a corpus (n-gram browser)

Online text comparator

Google books Ngram Viewer Use it to test phraseological uses  All the options here

Online DBs

Exploration tools:

Ngramfinder

Babla (just for fun)

Netspeak

Video talks

Webcorp (The web is your corpus)

Springer exemplar

Taporware tools (Alberta)

Concordancers

Antconc (Win, MacOS, lINUX)

Textstat (Windows & MacOS)

Do-it-yourself tools & Advanced users

Just-text

Beautifulsoup parser (Python)

Avoid deduplication: Onion

—————————–

Using COCA (Corpus of Contemporary American English)

For more information on research group and interests, visit our website: Languages for specific purposes, language corpora, and English linguistics applied to knowledge engineering.