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Some advice on writing

There seems little prospect of me getting caught up on blogging any time in the immediate future. The odds are roughly equivalent to those of me getting caught up on yard work, I think. Just to make it clear that I haven’t actually vanished, I wanted to share with you a couple of photos and some advice.

First, the advice. If you are on a career path that requires writing, and particularly one that requires your writing to be carefully reviewed, do not under any circumstances submit a piece of work that inspires the reviewer to write marginalia such as “ick!” and “huh?”. Poor writing should be fixed before submission. The occasional error is forgivable, but I’m only on the first page. I’m generally a thorough, generous and helpful reviewer, but the authors have to put in some effort. (And no, the authors will not see the copy I’m writing on, and all “ick” and “huh” comments will be expanded before being returned to the editor.)

Here’s something much more pleasant: my new hanging baskets!

Hanging basket of petunias

Hanging basket of petunias

3 Comments on “Some advice on writing”

  1. #1 Cindy in Happy Valley
    on Jul 10th, 2008 at 10:38 am

    I once reviewed a proposal on which the previous reviewer (we reviewed in pairs) wrote “What is this guy smoking?” on the top. It became a legend in our review process.

  2. #2 Phiala
    on Jul 10th, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    That would be the paper I reviewed a few years ago that had been submitted in a cartoon font. The author was honestly confused why I’d even mention that in my review.

  3. #3 Rosina
    on Jul 15th, 2008 at 2:49 am

    I recently rejected a paper for a journal partly for this reason. The entire reason was the lack of explanation of some of the math (it might not have been needed in the paper, but *I* needed it and they did not communicate it either in the paper or in their response to my questions), faulty references and a large number of small and confusing grammar, spelling and punctuation errors. I did not see their original response to my questions on bits of math and incomplete references because there were such confusing grammar errors that the editor sent it back for them to correct. The authors are not native English speakers, but neither is the editor!