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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Spring 2003

Book Reviews

The MIT Guide to Science and Engineering Communication

Robin N. Sinn
Ogg Science Library
Bowling Green State University

The MIT Guide to Science and Engineering Communication 2nd ed. By James G. Paradis and Muriel L. Zimmerman. Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 2002. $29.95 (ISBN 0-262-66127-6).

The first edition of this title was published in 1997. Since that time, the scientific writing process has been enhanced by changes in technology -- from a greater use of e-mail to the routine use of PowerPoint presentations at conferences. The second edition includes new information to reflect the greater use of the electronic environment at all stages of the writing process.

Paradis, Professor and Head of the Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies at MIT, and Zimmerman, Senior Lecturer and Coordinator of the Programs in Technical Communication in the Writing Program at the University of California, Santa Barbara, have updated and improved their original work. The writing is clear and conversational; the examples have been taken from actual situations. The content of the many illustrations hasn't changed, but their display has been improved -- most of them are larger and printed in a more attractive manner. Each chapter starts with a list of the major sections and the book is now spiral bound so it can lay flat on a worktable. The authors have also added a short review of style and usage before the list of references and the index.

It is difficult to point to specific instances of added or revised material since the revisions are so pervasive. A two-paragraph example in the first chapter is altered only by adding a phrase about most of the documents being exchanged via e-mail. In another instance a chapter previously titled Conducting Meetings has changed its emphasis and is now Collaborative Writing.

The second edition of the MIT Guide to Science and Engineering Communication is an excellent introduction/overview of the scientific writing process. Both new and veteran writers will find this book useful. I'm going to keep my review copy.

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