Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper, sixth edition, Robert A. Day and Barbara Gastel ISBN 0-313-33040-9 Greenwood Press, 2006, 320 pages. Paperback $29.95.
Recognizing that publication is the final product of scientific research, Day (Scientific English: A Guide for Scientist and Other Professionals, 1995) and Gastel (Health Writer's Handbook, 2005) provide guidance for this potentially daunting process in this latest edition of a classic guide. Aimed at higher education students and early-career scientists and scholars this manual provides background information and direction throughout the entire writing and publication process. Day and Gastel begin by emphasizing the importance of planning aspects such as selecting a journal to submit proposals. Then How to... walks readers through the text preparation, preparing tables and graphics, methodology description, discussion sections, and formatting citations.
After addressing the final publication aspect of handling proofs, scientific writing tasks requiring special attention such as writing book reviews and letters to editors are addressed. Lastly special issues in writing are discussed such as writing for general audiences and the use of euphemisms. While the majority of How to... focuses on publication in the United States, one section addresses issues when publishing internationally.
How to... is organized into eight sections: preliminaries, preparing the text, preparing tables and figures, publishing the paper, writing for other publications, conference communications, scientific style, and other topics in scientific communication. It also includes references, three appendixes, a technical term glossary, a guide to Systéme International (SI) prefixes and abbreviations, a list of words and phrases to avoid, a list of journal title abbreviations, and an index. Useful examples are provided to demonstrate concepts throughout the text.
While substantial attention is devoted to instruction in writing scientific papers, as the title indicates, brief sections dedicated to other types of writing fail to properly address their topics. For example Day and Gastel devote four pages to preparing a thesis, but this does not adequately cover such an extensive topic. While the scope of this work covers more than preparing scientific papers for publication, information on other related topics beyond scientific papers is meager.
Overall, Day and Gastel concisely provide valuable, accurate, and up-to-date information. They focus on providing practical advice to readers, while still recognizing the difficulty and ambiguity of some aspects of the scientific writing and publishing process. No other available publication provides both the quality and quantity of information as this work which builds on the previous five editions. Despite the one flaw noted above, the comprehensiveness of coverage regarding writing and publishing scientific papers by Day and Gastel ensure its appeal to academic and science audiences.