STEM Writing

Guides to Writing in Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

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Writing Matters

Stanford University’s Program of Writing and Rhetoric created a video series on why writing matters. Here are a few of their interviews with scholars in STEM fields.

Chemistry

Professor of Chemistry Richard Zare approaches writing a paper “somewhat visually”:

I start by thinking about what figures–what graphical illustrations–do I want to include in this paper? Then, I make a stab at writing the abstract. . . That tends to focus me on what message I want to include in this paper

(Source: Program of Writing and Rhetoric, Stanford University)

 

Computer Sciences

Professor of Computer Sciences, Mehran Samani:

I’ve actually seen some methods of extremely powerful computational techniques which, even after they were invented, took years to catch on. Part of the reason why they took that long to catch on was because the people inventing those methods did not do a very good job explaining their methods.

(Source: Program of Writing and Rhetoric, Stanford University)

Mathematics

Professor of Mathematics, Ravi Vakil:

In Mathematics, writing is probably even more central than in other fields. And that’s because of the nature of the discipline, which is centered on proof, argumentation, and perspective.

(Source: Program of Writing and Rhetoric, Stanford University)

Professor of Statistics, Susan Holmes:

Even if you’re very, very good with numbers, you also have to understand how to tell your audience what results you obtained. . . It’s really important for students to realize that if they want the gift of making the discovery, they have to be the ones who can tell the story.

(Source: Program of Writing and Rhetoric, Stanford University)