Scientific Writing = Thinking in Words

Paperback - February 2011 - AU $29.95

eBook - February 2011 - eRetailers Google Books Kobo

Encourages scientists to write confidently and explains the principles that make communicating research easier.

Telling people about research is just as important as doing it. But many researchers, who, in all other respects, are competent scientists, are afraid of writing. They are wary of the unwritten rules, the unspoken dogma and the inexplicably complex style, all of which seem to pervade conventional thinking about scientific writing. + Full description

This book has been written to expose these phantoms as largely smoke and mirrors, and replace them with principles that make communicating research easier and encourage researchers to write confidently. It presents a way of thinking about writing that emulates the way good scientists think about research.

It concentrates on the structure of articles, rather than simply on grammar and syntax. So, it is an ideal reference for researchers preparing articles for scientific journals, posters, conference presentations, reviews and popular articles; for students preparing theses; and for researchers whose first language is not English.

Scientific Writing = Thinking in Words expounds principles that produce scientific articles in a wide range of disciplines that are focussed, concise and, best of all, easy to write and read. As one senior scientist observed, ‘This book not only made me a better writer; it made me a better scientist’.

- Short description


"All in all, this book is pleasant and instructive reading for both experienced and early-career researchers in any scientific field."
Simone Fattorini, Biological Conservation, Vol 157 (1), 2013

"This book is a terrific and concise volume… Overall, I would thoroughly recommend this book, especially for students and postdocs who are just beginning to tackle the sometimes overwhelming prospect of writing up their research. The book provides true value for money and is well worth the $30 investment. The best aspect of the book is that it practices what it preaches – the writing is clear, concise, and easy to read. Furthermore, the book provides very practical tips on how to overcome some of the hurdles many people find difficult."
Rebecca Lew, Australian Biochemist, Vol 42 No 3 December 2011, pp. 45

"Lindsay’s aim is to demystify the art of good scientific writing and he has achieved it brilliantly in this little book… I enjoyed reading this book very much and found that it was just what I was looking for to improve my own science writing skills and I can recommend it highly."
Chris Cargill, Australasian Systematic Botany Society Newsletter 147–8 (June–September 2011), pp. 23-24

"This is a great book. At nearly 130 pages, it is chock-a-block full of plain-speaking ideas for how to construct and then write your scientific paper, give your talk, set out your poster, write your thesis or review, and even write for non-scientists… As a science communicator, I found the section on writing science for non-scientists fascinating… Scientific Writing = Thinking in Words should be read by every scientist."
Louise Goggin, AMSA Bulletin 185 Issue 2, 2011

"Lindsay’s nitty-gritty guide to style and clarity covers all aspects of scientific writing for both text and oral presentation. This concise guide demonstrates through good and bad examples how a well-reasoned and well-expressed argument helps focus thinking to make a memorable impact."
S.E. Wiegand, Choice, Vol 49 No 1, September 2011


Paperback | February 2011 | $ 29.95
ISBN: 9780643100466 | 128 pages | 245 x 170 mm
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing

ePDF | February 2011
ISBN: 9780643101579
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Available from eRetailers


  • Relates scientific writing with scientific thinking in a way that no other book on scientific writing has attempted to do
  • Concentrates on the structure of articles and presentations and the principles behind designing a logical structure, rather than on English grammar and syntax
  • Deals regularly with the specific problems of authors whose native language is not English



Getting into the mood for writing
What is a ‘good’ style for scientific writing?
The fundamentals of building the scientific article
Getting started

The Title
The Introduction
The Materials and Methods
The Results
The Discussion
The Summary or Abstract
The other bits
Editing for readability and style

The text for oral presentation at a scientific seminar
Design and preparation of posters for conferences
The review
Writing science for non-scientists
The thesis


View the table of contents.


David Lindsay was a researcher and teacher in animal biology and behaviour at the University of Western Australia for 33 years. He initiated courses in writing scientific papers and wrote A Guide to Scientific Writing in 1984. Now retired from active research, he teaches scientific writing to scientists all over the world.