Scientific Writing, Scenarios, Papers and Servers

This week had its focus on Scientific Writing. On Thursday, there was a course on scientific writing in English for the OTEC PhDs. Of course, there were some pre-course assignments which had to submitted. So one of the apecage's main questions this week was "did you submit anything for the course?" I did on Monday and found a piece of my work being the first bad example. At least I managed to have only one error per sentence.

The course was very enlightening from a technical point of view. I liked the "reporting verb" exercises most. You can use these verbs to be scientific and keep slapping somebody politely - marvelous!

Readability of written text

Our lecturer told us about the readability report in MS Word. I knew about this reporting tool, but I never understood the meaning of all the numbers in it. It turns out that this tool is quite handy for producing better papers. I checked the statistics of some iterations of my literature review and the improvements became visible in the statistics. The tool's main drawback is that it needs to run the spell checker first. MICROSOFT, people use automatic spell checking! This report should be available in some sub-menu and users should be able to run it, autonomously. In my opinion the readability report should be part of the document properties.

After the English course I wondered if OpenOffice has such a feature as well. It turned out that this is not the case by default. However, there is a tiny macro released under GPL that does the trick. Unfortunately, the tool seems not to be under development any longer, because the last release is from 2004. Some improvements would be nice, because the report is pretty vague and provides little support in improving writing style.