A Concise Guide to Communication in Science and Engineering

This book is a joy to read and a treasure trove to keep and share with junior and senior colleagues and students. In a highly polarized society with decreasing trust in science, it is ever more important for scientists and engineers to be outstanding communicators. There is no better way to learn to communicate than using a large collection of good and bad examples, with actual communication mistakes and with creative ways to fix them.

In addition to more than 350 such examples, an extensive list of references provides additional depth and historical perspective. The advice in this book spans the entire journey, from how to plan the writing to how to do the research and how to do the actual writing. There are almost ten pages just on how to craft a good title for a paper. The information is practical and actionable, from how to write a good abstract or a good opening sentence for the paper introduction to choosing a journal and promoting the work.

The advice goes well beyond the use of English (dispensed generously) to include recommendations on using math, data and graphs. Each chapter ends with a true gem, a succinct checklist of the main pitfalls presented. It can be a red flag when an author warns the reader to do what the author says, not what the author does (maybe that is the mark of a true academic.) In that spirit, the book can get overly technical at times (we all remember the subjunctive and the participles, right?) and may seem even pedantic occasionally, disparaging the use of certain technical verbal shortcuts.

Despite a few minor issues, this book is an outstanding resource. Spanning a wide range of communications topics, across a wide range of specialized types of writing, in language that is accessible, sometimes funny, and always useful, this book has the ingredients to make any reader into a much better communicator.

Review by Bogdan Hoanca, University of Alaska Anchorage, USA.

The opinions expressed in the book review section are those of the reviewer and do not necessarily reflect those of OPN or its publisher, Optica (formerly OSA).

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