This page contains curated links to various web resources about science publishing and writing style. It will be updated over time.
Literature on science publishing and communication
- The readability of scientific texts is decreasing over time. This 2017 study analyzed 700,000 abstracts from the past 140 years and concluded that readability, as measured by standard formulas using things like number of words per sentence and use of jargon, has steadily decreased.
- You have to read this. A 2021 comment in Nature Human Behaviour arguing that narrative writing should be used in science papers.
- Does it take too long to publish research? From the news section of Nature in 2016.
- Writing Accessible Theory in Ecology and Evolution: Insights from Cognitive Load Theory. Recent paper from 2022 on ways to ease communication from biological theoreticians (who use a lot of math) to empiricists (who aren’t always super familiar with math). Generalizes well, and provides useful discussion on cognitive load theory. Read my review.
- Nonfiction Writing Advice by Scott Alexander. Not intended for science necessarily, but very useful in any case.
- Formatting guide for the journal Nature, useful as an example of what is seen as the best guidelines for a top journal.
- Write Like You Talk, an essay by Paul Graham. It makes a simple point: your written sentences should sound the same as if you were saying them to a friend. Scientific writing would be in much better shape if scientists did that.
- Mathematical Writing by Donald E. Knuth and others. A PDF whose first few pages contain excellent advice on how to write math in a clear way.
Examples of well-written papers
- World Models, an example of a paper hosted as its own website with Github Pages. See also its GitHub repository.
Crypto and web3
- Magna Carta Scientiae, a detailed description of the current problems in science and how Ethereum smart contracts could help.
- Is the staggeringly profitable business of scientific publishing bad for science? A 2017 journalism piece on the history of science publishing, focussing on tycoon Robert Maxwell.
- Ideas on how to improve scientific research, by the founder of Coinbase, Brian Armstrong. Inspired the founding of ResearchHub.
- My 10-year battle with 10-page PDFs. A personal anecdote from Nikola Stikov on the opportunity cost of writing papers as opposed to shorter contributions.
- The big idea: should we get rid of the scientific paper?](https://www.theguardian.com/books/2022/apr/11/the-big-idea-should-we-get-rid-of-the-scientific-paper)
- The Sense of Style, by Steven Pinker. An excellent style guide for (among other things) academic writing in English. Read my review.
- Making Nature, by Melinda Baldwin, on the history of the top journal Nature. (My review coming soon!)
- Cory Doctorow on the scam of scientific publishing in general.
- Comparison of two Nature paper introductions, one narrative and exciting, and one passive and boring.
- Example of the style of scientific communication in 1775
- Nature does open access funny video
- Distill is a journal for machine learning that shares a lot of JAWWS’s values. Since July 2021, they are on hiatus. The post explaining their reasons for suspending their work contains several insights on the present and future of science publishing.
- Seeds of Science is a new peer-reviewed journal that publishes short articles that have the potential to advance science, with more freedom than traditional scientific papers.
- microPublication “publishes brief, novel findings, negative and/or reproduced results, and results which may lack a broader scientific narrative” and is peer-reviewed.
- JoVE, the Journal of Visualized Experiments, a rare example of a video-based scientific journal.
- Rethinking ML papers, a 2021 workshop on improving the readability and accessibility of machine learning papers
Organizations that try to improve science publishing
- ResearchHub, the Reddit of science, is a place where scientists can share, rank, and discuss papers.
- OADAO or OpenAccessDAO is a new decentralized autonomous organization trying to figure out a way to reform science publishing from a web3 and community angle.
Other science improvement
- New Science, founded by Alexey Guzey, seeks to establish new models of funding and organizing the institutions of science. They have generously funded me to work on JAWWS for a few months.
Last updated: 14 March 2022