Category Archives: Writing

Mill Hill Essays 2013

One of my more pleasurable annual tasks is producing the volume of Mill Hill Essays. I commmission between 5 and 10 essays, mostly from authors at the Institute, then edit them and oversee the production. Print copies of the essays … Continue reading

Posted in Communicating science, Writing | 1 Comment

The joys of a Wikipedia edit-a-thon

Last week the Royal Society held a Wikipedia edit-a-thon to try and help redress the gender imbalance in Wikipedia’s coverage of biographies of scientists. Twenty volunteers gathered in the library of the Royal Society for a few hours to learn … Continue reading

Posted in History, Writing | Tagged | 4 Comments

Wordy, wooden, weak-verbed

A piece in today’s Times Higher, on the flaws of academic writing styles, struck a chord with me.  It says: If you have ever needlessly added the term “Foucauldian” to a journal article or bludgeoned readers by starting an epic sentence … Continue reading

Posted in Writing | 5 Comments

Collecting, connecting, communicating

Librarians collect stuff. To collect is one of the most important verbs in the librarian’s instruction manual. Probably the next most important is to categorise. There is a connection between these two. We do not collect randomly but with a … Continue reading

Posted in Blogology, Libraries and librarians, Uncategorized, Writing | 4 Comments

A rearward look at rewards: celebrations and celebrities

Last autumn I had the pleasure of attending the awards ceremonies for two science writing prizes. They are similar competitions but have individual characteristics and constraints: the Max Perutz prize is sponsored by the MRC, which is a taxpayer-funded organisation … Continue reading

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And the winner is …

The Max Perutz essay prize is in its 14th year and is a major landmark on the science writing landscape. To enter the competition MRC-funded PhD students are invited to write an essay: in no more than 800 words, to … Continue reading

Posted in Writing | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Seven sins of science writing

I was never trained as an editor, but a few years ago I found myself as joint editor of our Institute’s annual volume of essays on science, aimed at a lay(-ish) audience. For the first few years I worked on … Continue reading

Posted in Writing | 5 Comments

Books, Poetry and Prizes

Scientific poetry competitions are catching on.  First there was a genomics poetry competition, organised by the Genomics Forum and the Scottish Poetry Library.  You’ve missed the deadline for entries; winners are due to be announced in November. More recently the … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Writing | 10 Comments

Genomics poetry competition

I was delighted to see a new poetry competition announced. I must confess that I am not a big poetry afficionado, but I think on balance it is a good thing and deserves to be encouraged. The Scottish Poetry Library … Continue reading

Posted in Writing | Comments Off on Genomics poetry competition


Last month I attended an interesting and lively discussion at the City University about science journalism. On my way home I opened the book I was reading at the time and saw the the following: In the world of financial … Continue reading

Posted in Blogology, Writing | 1 Comment