Skip to main content

Full text of "Scientific Writing"

See other formats

CO >; 00 

68045 ^ 







This"book ihould be returned on or before tlic date last marked below, 


Meta Riley Emberger and 
Marian Ross Hall 

University of Louisville 

General Editor: 
W. Earl Britton 

University of Michigan 

Harcourt, Brace and Company 
New YorK 

The quotation on page 355 is from Institution Publication No. 
411, Leonardo da Vinci the Anatomist (1452-1519), J. Play- 
fair McMurrich, 1930, Carnegie Institution of Washington. 


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, by mime- 
ograph or any other means without permission in writing from the publisher, 




Foreword ix 
Preface xi 

CHAPTER 1 Scientific Method 1 

I Meaning of scientific method 

II The characteristic features of scientific method 

in Problems of method in the social sciences 

IV The problem in modern scientific investigation 

The Problem Concept 19 

I Significance of the problem 

ii Definition of the problem concept 

in Types of problems 

iv Setting up a problem 

Definition and Terminology 37 

I Scientific terminology and definition 

ii The contribution of semantics 

in The process of definition 

IV Derivation as an aid in mastering terminology 

v The misuse of technical terminology 

Collecting Data 65 

I Locating source material 

ii Evaluating sources of data 

in Recording data 

iv A list of reference works 

Analysis: Methods and Applications 87 

I Analysis defined 

ii Methods of analysis 

in Presentation of analysis 

iv Function of analysis in planning the paper 

V Applications of analysis 


6 Interpretation: Applying the Principles of 
Logic 108 

I Logic and the scientific writer 

II Interpretation 

in Inductive reasoning 

iv Deductive reasoning 

v Interpretation of statistics 

VI A reasoned attitude 

7 Directing the Paper to the Reader 128 

I Communication as a concern of the scientist 
II Reaching a variety of readers 
in The process of popularization 

8 Scientific Style 154 

I Qualities of scientific style 

ii Elements of style 

in Problems in scientific style 

iv Analysis of the style of a scientific paper 

9 Techniques of Exposition 188 

I The place of exposition in writing 

ii The expository paragraph 

in The plan of the short expository paper 

iv Analyses of examples 

10 The Research Paper 213 

i Types of long scientific papers 

II Preparation of a research paper 

in Process of evaluating a research paper 

iv Analysis of a paper from a scientific journal 

11 The Report 250 

I The report as a means of modern 


ii Reports according to function 
in Short reports 

12 The Report, Continued 278 

iv The long-form report 
v Major considerations in report writing 


13 Special Types of Papers 300 

I The abstract 
ii Description of device and explanation of 


in The case history 
IV The book review 

14 The Format of the Scientific Paper 337 

I Preparing the manuscript for publication 

ii Conventional standards of format 

in The use of documentation 

iv Practices and variations in documentation 

15 Graphic and Pictorial Illustration 355 

I Nonverbal illustration 
ii Types of illustrations 
in Handling of illustrations 

APPENDIX A Readings and Word Lists 375 
APPENDIX B Business Letters 441 
Index 462 


The vast development of modern science has imposed heavy demands 
and grave responsibilities upon scientists and technologists alike. Ex- 
plorations now under way in the natural, social, and applied sciences 
must be recorded and transmitted. But the scientist is no longer at liberty 
to direct his attention exclusively to his fellow-specialists; he must also 
reach administrators, statesmen, policy-makers, boards, and other scien- 
tists in other fields. Increasingly he must interpret for the general public 
the discoveries that emerge from the laboratory to transform our daily 

Even in practical affairs the written word grows in volume and sig- 
nificance. Efficient operation of commerce, agriculture, industry, and 
government requires skillful scientific and technical reporting. No longer 
can the report be taught as mere adherence to a rigidly prescribed pat- 
tern; it must be viewed as the product of profound investigation and 
analysis, of discernment and discrimination. 

Scientific Writing is concerned with the problems faced by the scien- 
tists, technologists, and industrialists in communicating their findings. 
It is applicable to the general field of articles and reviews as well as the 
specialized area of technical reporting. The text proper divides logically 
into three parts. 

Chapters 1 through 6 are unique in their emphasis upon the intellec- 
tual activity that must precede composition. Scientific writing being as 
much a way of thought as a mode of expression, the opening chapter 
defines and elaborates the method underlying all scientific investigations 
and conclusions. Chapters 2 through 6 examine elements of scientific 
procedure such as recognition or formulation of a problem, accurate defi- 
nition, precise terminology, and the fundamentals of collecting, analyzing, 
evaluating, and logically interpreting data. 

Chapters 7 through 9 concern the problems of communication. Writing 
for the expert requires care and precision, but writing for the nonspecial- 
ist presents vocabulary obstacles that can be surmounted only by con- 
siderable effort and ingenuity. Chapter 7 is devoted to this matter. It is 
followed by a description of scientific style as it has developed over the 
years, and by suggestions for departures from tradition that are per- 
mitted and sometimes required when the work is addressed to the non- 


technical or semitechnical reader. Chapter 9 analyzes the fundamental 
techniques of exposition. 

Chapters 10 through 15 treat the elements and structure of various 
types of papers, including the report, the review, the thesis, the research 
paper, the abstract, the case history, and the book review. The long- 
form report is dealt with at length, as well as the short report so exten- 
sively employed today in business and industry. Aware that in practice 
the report assumes diverse forms, the authors have wisely focused their 
attention upon the function of the report, and emphasized the basic ele- 
ments of reporting such as the writer's alertness to the nature and needs 
of the reader, his understanding of the use that will be made of the re- 
port, and the means of achieving pattern, clarity, and effectiveness. Al- 
though the reader is introduced to the practices that are common in the 
formulation of reports, he is constantly reminded of the need to remain 
flexible in order to adapt his reporting to the demands of special condi- 
tions that will arise in his professional career. The validity and effective- 
ness of a report depend not upon a rigid form but upon the proper focus- 
ing of the problem, the sharpness of the terminology, the efficiency of 
the arrangement, and the soundness of the evidence and logic. 

This broad and philosophical approach is supplemented by instruction 
including the organization, outlining, documentation, and the preparation 
and use of graphic and pictorial illustration in each type of paper. 

Other features that contribute to the usefulness of this book are the 
Study Suggestions provided for each chapter, and the wealth of illustra- 
tive material throughout the text and in Appendix A. Appendix B is 
devoted to letters of application and to business and technical corre- 



Scientific Writing has been prepared for use as both a text and a 
reference book. The increasing significance of scientific writing in tech- 
nology, science, business, and the professions has created a growing 
need for skilled writers. Scientific Writing, then, is designed to help pre- 
pare the reader for a career in industry, science, or the professions. 
And it is intended to serve the individuals already at work in these fields 
who must cope with the urgent demands of writing. 

Although the term scientific writing is defined in the text, it is perhaps 
appropriate to explain briefly here the sense in which we have used it. 
Traditionally and historically, scientific writing is the literature of science 
as distinct from belles-lettres. Since the scientist frequently directs his 
writing to scientists outside his specialty, as well as to the general public, 
scientific writing is a broader term than technical writing, which includes 
only the writing the scientist does in addressing fellow specialists or in 
connection with technological applications of scientific principles. Fac- 
tual writing in the areas outside the natural sciences may in a broad 
sense be termed scientific when it submits to the disciplines of method, 
objectivity, accuracy, clarity, and precision. Scientific writing in the high- 
est sense taxes the resources of language, since, to translate freely an 
aphorism from the French, "Truth lies in distinguishing between the 
sliades of gray." 

In preparing this book we have given constant thought to achieving a 
logical, serviceable chapter sequence. The introductory chapters, 1 and 
2, present concepts fundamental in scientific method and research and 
hence in scientific writing. The problem concept is discussed separately 
in Chapter 2 because of its importance in all kinds of investigative work. 

The next four chapters 3, 4, 5, and 6 follow the sequence of an 
investigative project: the definition of terminology and the collection, 
analysis, and interpretation of data. Chapters 7, 8, and 9 deal with prob- 
lems of composition. Chapters 10, 11, 12, and 13 treat various types of 
papers: the research paper, which is considered as an introduction to 
the different types of long scientific papers; short and long reports, ab- 
stracts, papers of device and process, case histories, and book reviews. 

The last two chapters take up matters of format and of graphic and 
pictorial illustration. Thus the preparation of the long scientific paper 



is carried from the inception of the problem to the completion of the 
manuscript for submission to the person who made the assignment or to 
the press. 

The numerous examples in the text and in the Appendixes have been 
selected not only for their own merit but for the principles and practices 
they illustrate and for the variety of fields they represent. While they are 
for the most part current writing, older selections are included to show 
the timelessness of good scientific exposition. Study suggestions are 
offered to help the reader apply what he is learning to his own writing. 

In concluding this project we take pleasure in expressing our appre- 
ciation to those who have assisted us with it. Professor W. Earl Britton 
of the University of Michigan, our General Editor, has evinced a con- 
stant sympathy with our aims and has offered numerous suggestions 
which we have found most helpful. Our thanks are due to Professor 
Ernest C. Hassold, the head of our department, for his encouragement 
and interest, to Warren Bezanson, formerly of the University of Mary- 
land, and Arthur Thompson of the Bell Telephone Laboratories for their 
sound editorial advice. 

We should like also to thank the staff members of the University of 
Louisville Library, including the Natural Science Library, and of the 
libraries of the University of Louisville School of Medicine, School of 
Law, School of Dentistry, and Speed Scientific School for their help in 
locating and verifying references. Miss Katharine Lewis, reference li- 
brarian, Miss Virginia Winstandley, assistant librarian, and Miss Laura 
Kersey, librarian of the Speed Scientific School, have in addition given 
generously of their personal assistance with special problems. 

We are indeed grateful to the individuals and organizations who have 
permitted us to quote from their writings, correspondence, or publica- 
tions. Most of these sources are acknowledged in the text and in the Ap- 
pendixes. We are also indebted to Professor Frank E. Ryerson of the 
Department of English of the Speed Scientific School for permission to 
include in Appendix B three letters from his files. Finally we wish to 
acknowledge the kind and always efficient help of Mr. Ralph C. Wooton 
in the tasks incident to the preparation of the manuscript. 


Department of English 
University of Louisville, 1955 



I. Meaning of scientific method 

A. The cumulative nature of scientific method 

B. The complexity of scientific investigation 

II. The characteristic features of scientific method 

A. Reliance on observation 

B. The inductive approach 

C. The experimental process 

D. The principle of the control 

E. Objectivity 

III. Problems of method in the social sciences 

A. The social scientist and his material 

B. Scientific method and social science 

IV. The problem in modern scientific investigation 

The unity of all science consists alone in its method, 
not in its material. KARL PEARSON, The Grammar of 


It has been said that there is no science, only sciences. The 
word science is, however, used and understood by both scientists 
and the public to denote more than the sum total of the sciences. 
Science may be defined as the inquiry into the nature of the material 
universe through observation and experiment, an inquiry which has 
resulted in a systematized and continually growing body of knowl- 
edge. In any consideration of scientific m&hod the four elements of 
this definition of science are significant: Tne^spirit of free inquiry, 
the reliance on observation and experiment^rieysystematization of 
knowledge through generalization or laws, anome continuity of 

Many writers have sought to describe and define scientific method, 
and ideas concerning its meaning are still undergoing modification. 



In the 1890's Karl Pearson could write, "The scientific method is 
one and the same in all branches, and that method is the method 
of all logically trained minds." * Some sixty years later a present-day 
writer in discussing changing ideas of scientific method could ob- 
serve, "The statement that there is no single scientific method has 
become a truism only rather recently." 2 These contrasting statements 
emphasize the fact that in our time the methods of scientific investi- 
gation have themselves become the object of active inquiry, and 
that relatively simple concepts have given way to more complex ones. 
Scientific method is not now to be regarded as a formula or infallible 
rule of procedure but rather as an approach, an attitude, a combina- 
tion of procedures, a set of values, which have in the past proved 
favorable to scientific investigation and are recognized as charac- 
teristic of it. 

Implicit in the definition of science is the need for reports of 
inquiry. Indeed, "Reporting is an integral and inescapable factor in 
any research, and no research is complete without the record." 3 
Scientific writing, then, is what the scientist writes in his capacity 
as scientist, the necessary minimum of which consumes a consider- 
able amount of his time and effort. Such writing, then, is most 
successful when the writer is conscious of the functional harmony 
between scientific method and the form of scientific papers. 

A. The Cumulative Nature of Scientific Method 

Many analogies have been used to express the cumulative nature 
of science. One such analogy, which though often ascribed to Sir 
Isaac Newton dates from medieval times, compares the individual 
to a dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant representing the 
knowledge of the past. Another analogy, suggested by the historian 
of science, George Sarton, compares its progress to a long climb 
up a lofty mountain with each worker taking up the trail where the 
one before him left it. 

It has often been noted that the desire to know is as much a part 

1 Karl Pearson, The Grammar of Science, London, J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 
1937, p. 15. 

2 Gerald Holton, "On the Duality and Growth of Physical Science," American 
Scientist, 41 :89, January 1953. 

3 Robert S. Gill, "The Scientific Author as I Have Known Him," Science, 
119 :3A, April 23, 1954. 


of man as the desire to create. Thomas Henry Huxley has dramatized 
the beginnings of man's search for knowledge by describing a savage 
in prehistoric times already applying the principles of observation 
and inference. 

I cannot but think that the foundations of all natural knowledge 
were laid when the reason of man first came face to face with the 
facts of Nature; when the savage first learned that the fingers of one 
hand are fewer than those of both; that it is shorter to cross a stream 
than to head it; that a stone stops where it is unless it be moved, and 
that it drops from the hand which lets it go; that light and heat come 
and go with the sun; that sticks burn away in a fire; that plants and 
animals grow and die; that if he struck his fellow savage a blow 
he would make him angry, and perhaps get a blow in return, while 
if he offered him a fruit he would please him, and perhaps receive 
a fish in exchange. When men had acquired this much knowledge, 
the outlines, rude though they were, of mathematics, of physics, of 
chemistry, of biology, of moral, economical, and political science, were 
sketched. 4 

Yet admiration for the achievements of Huxley's savage cannot 
obscure the fact that his conclusions are far removed from the rigidly 
controlled observations of the modern laboratory. This change repre- 
sents not only the acquisition of knowledge but improvement in the 
methods of investigation through which knowledge is acquired. In 
part these methods are technical and mechanical: every branch of 
science has its tables and reagents, its petri dishes and cultures, its 
stethoscopes and cardiographs, its microscopes and slides, or its cyclo* 
trons, betatrons, and synchrotrons. 

When we speak of scientific method, however, we do not refer 
primarily to this accumulation of technique, important as it is, but 
to the attitudes and procedures which further scientific inquiry. This 
concept of scientific method is consonant with Paul Valery's charac- 
terization of method as able "better than the mind left to its own 
devices" to "do the work of the mind." 5 

4 Thomas H. Huxley, "On Improving Natural Knowledge," Method and 
Results, New York, D. Appleton and Company, 1893, p. 32. 

5 Paul Valery, Introduction to The Living Thoughts of Descartes, Philadel- 
phia, David McKay Company, 1947, p. 14. 


B. The Complexity of Scientific Investigation 

Some devotees of science have done scientific method a disservice 
by claiming too much for it. Aldous Huxley has satirized this undue 
reliance on the methodology of research in the character of the elder 
Quarles of Point Counter Point. Mr. Quarles had collected files, card 
indexes, a calculating machine, and a typewriter which would write 
in Greek, Arabic, or Russian. He also had an elaborately conceived 
plan for a learned book which he never quite got around to writing. 
This pseudo scientist's inability to distinguish between the mechanics 
and the spirit of research reminds us that scientific method is a means, 
not an end. It is not a routine procedure but one which must be 
guided by human intelligence and even by what some scientists have 
not hesitated to call human intuition. 

The part chance plays in scientific discovery has been recognized 
by many commentators on the history of science. W. I. B. Beveridge 6 
mentions, among other examples, accidental occurrences which led 
to the discovery of the Gram stain for distinguishing different bac- 
teria, to Richet's discovery of anaphylaxis, and to the development 
of the Ringer solution. Here, chance is not to be confused with luck, 
for only the trained and perceptive person is in a position to see 
the possible significances of the singular occurrences and tojjunch 
an inquiry into their meaning. A biographer of Pasteur has pointed 
out that what often seemed to be luck in the career of Pasteur was 
actually the ability to select promising lines of research. 

... so often was Pasteur helped by apparent "luck" in the subsequent 
course of his scientific career that the reason for his success must be 
found elsewhere. Throughout his life, he displayed an uncanny gift in 
selecting the type of experimental material best adapted to the solution 
of the problem under investigation. This gift, which is common to all 
great experimenters, certainly consists in part of an intuitive wisdom 
based upon a large background of knowledge. Good fortune is offered 
to many, but few are they who can recognize it when it is offered in 
a not too obvious manner^ 

Pasteur could have been thinking of many vital experiences of his 
own when he reiterated, time and time again, "In the field of experi- 
"^mentation/ chance favors only the prepared mind." 7 

6 W. I. B. Beveridge, The Art of Scientific Investigation, London, William 
Reinemann, Ltd., 1951, pp. 27-29. 

7 Rene J. Dubos, Louis Pasteur, Boston, Little, Brown and Company, 1950, 
pp. 100-01. 


Research into the history of science has shown further that pro- 
cedures vary with the temperament of the individual scientist and 
that imagination may figure more prominently than logic in the 
formulation of new scientific theories. Such contradictions to the 
popular conception of the cold logic of science have been summed 
up by Holton. 

. . . the essential incongruities in science, which include the element 
of irrationality and contradiction in scientific discovery, the discrepancy 
between the precision of physical concepts and the flexibility of lan- 
guage, the conflict between the motivating drive and the rules of objec- 
tivity in short, the whole complexity in the relations between the 
individual creative scientist on one hand and science as an institution 
on the other. 8 

Having elaborated this paradox, Holton offers a resolution of it. 

This dilemma is resolved and here is the second central point 
by distinguishing two very different activities, both denoted by the same 
word, "science": the first level of meaning refers to private science 
(let us term it Si), the science-in-the-making, with its own vocabulary 
and modes of progress as suggested by the conditions of discovery. 
And the second level of meaning refers to public science (5 2 ), science- 
as-an-institution, textbook science, our inherited world of clear concepts 
and disciplined formulations. Si refers to the speculative, creative ele- 
ment, the continual flow of contributions by separate individuals, each 
working on his own task by his own, usually unexamined methods, 
motivated in his own way, and uninterested in attending to the long- 
range philosophical problems of science. S 2 , in contrast, is science as 
the evolving compromise, as the growing network synthesized from 
these individual contributions by the general acceptance of those ideas 
which do indeed prove meaningful and useful to generations of scien- 
tists. The cold tables of physical and chemical constants, the bare 
equations in textbooks, form the hard core, the residue distilled from 
individual triumphs of insight, checked and cross-checked by the mul- 
tiple testimony of general experience. 9 

Science^ as an institution, it would seem, through the discipline 
of scientific method, has provided an environment in which the indi- 
vidually gifted scientist can effectively apply his creative imagination 
to scientific problems. Such a situation is perhaps not as paradoxical 
as it would appear since it has an analogue in the literary artist who 

8 Holton, loc. cit. 

9 Ibid., p. 93. 


achieves his finest expression through such a severely disciplined 
form as the sonnet. 


The historical development of scientific method has taken place 
in three interrelated stages : ( 1 ) observation, more or less systematic, 
under the guidance of theory and authority, a process practiced and 
sanctioned by Aristotle; (2) the rejection of authority and the turn- 
ing toward inductive reasoning which marked the beginning of the 
modern era; (3) the development of the experimental process. The 
experimental process which dominates present-day science has in 
turn three parts : the problem, which focuses observation on a specific 
question or difficulty, the projection of a hypothetical solution, and 
the testing of the solution by experiment. 

Although in general the rejection of authority and the rise of 
inductive reasoning became articulate with the Renaissance, and 
experimental method has come to be the focal point of scientific 
thinking only during the past three hundred years, the various 
branches of knowledge have arrived at different times at the suc- 
cessive plateaus of method. Copernicus, for example, in the sixteenth 
century rejected authority and maintained that the earth revolves 
around the sun. Vesalius and other pioneer anatomists turned at 
about the same time from the authority of Galen and rejected ana- 
tomical doctrine which, was not verifiable from the dissection of the 
human body. Yet it was not until the nineteenth century that Grimm 
and other early philologists began a systematic and objective study 
of the phenomena of language and undertook a formulation of the 
laws that describe its changes. 

William M. Smallwood 10 has shown how slowly scientific attitudes 
were adopted in this country. The natural historian as Smallwood 
has described him frequented rural areas and the unpretentious halls 
of our early colleges. He collected and classified, not too particular 
whether it was rocks, flowers, or shellfish. And always his philosophy 
was governed by the belief that everything in nature had its pre- 
ordained purpose. These students of natural history, unmindful of 
controlled observation or experimental method, were nevertheless the 

10 William Martin Smallwood, Natural History and the American Mind, New 
York, Columbia University Press, 1941, p. 239 ff. 


forerunners of the American geologists, botanists, and zoologists of 

A. Reliance on Observation 

What then are the principal characteristics of the scientific method 
as we know it today? Although authorities differ in their emphasis, 
they are in substantial agreement on the essential features. A common 
^characteristic of all sciences is that they draw their basic principles 
from man's observations of himself and his environment. The modern 
erain science began when the medieval practice of referring ques- 
tions to authority and speculation gave way to the modern practice 
of referring them to investigation and observation. The story of 
Galileo's famous experiment, the time and place of which have been 
questioned by modern scholars, 11 is a classic instance of this distinc- 
tion. While the scholastic philosophers showed by theory that a 
heavy body must fall proportionately more rapidly than a lighter 
body, Galileo is reported to have dropped simultaneously two unequal 
weights from the tower of Pisa, thus demonstrating the contrary. 

To leave the question of authority at this point, however, would 
be to ignore recent revolutions of thought which have obliged sci- 
entists to alter their ideas of proof and even of truth. The physics 
of Newton is true within the limits it covers; it does not hold true 
within the larger limits of Einstein's theory of relativity. Hence the 
word proof is used today with greater caution than ever before. 
Perhaps an acceptable statement of the matter is to say that the 
scientist is always prepared to revise his beliefs in the light of new 
evidence. "The oldest of the great scientific societies, the Royal 
Society of London," as C. Leonard Huskins reminds us, "placed 
rejection of authority at the masthead with its motto NuUius in verba, 
usually translated freely as 'not bound by the words of any man.' " 12 

B. The Inductive Approach 

An understanding of the relationship between inductive and de- 
ductive reasoning is essential to an understanding of scientific method. 

By definition, inductive reasoning proceeds from the particular to 

**- " ~ 

11 1. Bernard Cohen, "Galileo," Scientific American, 181(2) :40-47, August 

12 C. Leonard Huskins, "Science, Cytology, and Society," American Scientist, 
39:691, October 1951. 


thejjeneral, deductive reasoning from the general to the particular. 
The point at issue is not, as it is sometimes stated, which of the two 
is used in science. Both are essential in science, but for different 
purposes. If the general laws and concepts of science are not accepted 
a priori frojn_authoritv, they must be established inHn^tTvfjj^frnm 
a largenumber of specific examples. Onc_e a general principle_Jias 
been established it may be used as a major premise from which 
lesser principles^ and applications may be deduced. 

One of the best-known statements of the inductive approach occurs 
in Francis Bacon's Novum Organum, first published in 1620. 

There are and can exist but two ways of investigating and discover - 
ing truth. The one hurries on rapidly from the senses and particulars 
to the most general axioms, and from them, as principles and their 
supposed indisputable truth, derives and discovers the intermediate 
axioms. This is the way now in use. The other constructs its axioms 
from the senses and particulars, by ascending continually and gradu- 
ally, till it finally arrives at the most general axioms, which is the true 
but unattempted way. 13 

How far Bacon can be credited with furthering the inductive 
approach has been questioned. Certainly he did not originate it, and 
the picture his work suggests of the scientist accumulating great 
masses of fact in broad, general groups is hardly a realistic one. 
However, the current emphasis on experiment has probably led to 
some underestimation of the importance of induction itself. Even 
during the past century two revolutions in thought have grown out 
of conclusions inductively arrived at. Darwin based his theories of 
evolution on the masses of biological materials he had accumulated, 
and Freud's theories of psychoanalysis grew out of the study of 
numerous case histories. 

The basic weakness of Bacon's view was that he did not perceive 
the necessity for a guiding problem. "To follow Bacon's prescrip- 
tion," notes F. S. C. Northrop, "is to gather facts before one knows 
what facts, among the infinite number in the universe, to gather." 14 
Pursuing a similar line of reasoning, Morris R. Cohen and Ernest 
Nagel have observed: 

13 Francis Bacon, Advancement of Learning and Novum Organum, New York, 
P. F. Collier & Son, 1900, pp. 316-17. 

14 F. S. C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities, New 
York, The Macmillan Company, 1947, p. 17. 


It is an utterly superficial view, therefore, that the truth is to be, 
found by "studying the facts." It is superficial because no inquiry 
can even get under way until and unless some difficulty is felt in a 
practical or theoretical situation. It is the difficulty, or problem, which 
guides our search for some order among the facts, in terms of which 
the difficulty is to be removed. 15 

Finally, induction is incomplete until the accumulated data have 
been analyzed and classified. The spectacle of a research worker who 
has accumulated a mass of data and then has little idea what to do 
with it is not unfamiliar. 

C. The Experimental Process 

Experiment, which has been defined as observation under con- 
trolled conditions, is in modern practice likewise channeled by the 
problem under investigation. The sequence of operations which con- 
stitutes ideally the experimental process begins with an observation 
which reveals a difficulty or problem. The experimenter formulates 
a hypothesis to explain the difficulty; then he tests the hypothesis 
by experiment and draws his conclusions as to its validity. 

An example of the experimental process which will repay careful 
study by anyone interested in scientific writing is William Harvey's 
rgngwned work on the heart and the circulation of the blood T D& Motu 
Qgrdis. This work, first published inJL62ff f has so kindled the admira- 
tfon of successive generations of physicians that it has been trans- 
lated from the original Latin into the English idiom of three different 
centuries once in Harvey's own time, twice in the nineteenth cen- 
tury, and in the twentieth by Chauncey D. Leake. 16 

One of the observations which led to Harvey's great discovery 
concerned the amount of blood pumped by the heart and the fre- 
quency of the pulse. Harvey observed that the blood in the arteries 
flowed away from the heart only, and at a rapid rate. This observa- 
tion was incompatible with the traditional anatomy of the time, 
according to which the blood passed outward from the heart in both 
the arteries and veins with a flowing and ebbing motion. If the blood 
flowed rapidly outward through the arteries, as he had observed 

15 Morris R. Cohen and Ernest Nagel, An Introduction to Logic and Scientific 
Method, New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1934, p. 199. 

16 William Harvey, De Motu Cordis, translated by Chauncey D. Leake, 3rd 
ed., Springfield, 111., and Baltimore, Md., Charles C. Thomas, 1941, p. xii. 


it to, Harvey reasoned, far more blood would be required than 
could possibly be formed from all the nourishment the body received 
unless the blood returned through another channel to the heart. Thus 
Harvey's observations raised a problem or theoretical difficulty. To 
obviate the difficulty he formulated the hypothesis that the blood 
did not flow in one direction only but "in a circle." Further experi- 
ment convinced him of the truth of this hypothesis, which was fully 
demonstrated about thirty years later when Malpighi discovered the 
capillaries through which the blood passes from the arteries to the 
veins and so back to the heart. 

Harvey himself, although he appreciated the importance of his 
results, did not comprehend fully the significance of his method. 
Philosophically, like earlier followers of Aristotle, Harvey accepted 
Aristotle's emphasis on nature and design, and throughout his work 
Harvey quoted deferentially the very medical authorities his dis- 
covery was confuting. 

The process of formulating principles which describe such phe- 
nomena of the universe as can be reduced to order advances through 
successive stages of acceptance from speculation through hypothesis 
and theory to law. A hypothesis must be extensively tested and much 
evidence for it adduced before it becomes a law. One of the con- 
spicuous differences between the scientifically trained and the un- 
trained is the readiness of the untrained person to accept a plausible 
speculation as an established principle. 

D. The Principle of the Control 

If observations are to be instructive, the factor immediately under 
consideration must be separated from others which may confuse 
the issue. In the word malaria, which means literally "bad air," our 
language has recorded an error which arose from uncontrolled 
observation. Those who first observed that malaria was associated 
with unwholesome air failed to distinguish between the air and the 
mosquitoes which infested it and consequently did not recognize the 
true cause of the disease. The modern practice is to avoid such errors 
by setting up wherever possible control groups which correspond 
to the experimental groups at every point except the point at issue. 
The procedure is familiar in experiments with nutritional values in 
which two like groups are fed the same diets except that the item 


whose effect is to be tested (ascorbic acid, for example) is added 
to the diet of the experimental group but not to the diet of the 
control group. 

Successful use of the control principle depends on a complete 
analysis of the factors concerned in a problem and the devising of 
experiments which will test only one factor at a time. The difficulties 
of achieving this result may be illustrated by an experiment of 
W. C. Allee and his co-workers, 17 who have done so much to extend 
our knowledge of social relations among animals. The purpose of 
the investigation was to test the comparative development of sunfish 
isolated and in groups. In one experiment two groups of sunfish were 
placed in aquaria. Both groups had the same total amount of water, 
but the individual fish of one group were separated from one another 
by partitions while those of the other group were not. The fish which 
remained together developed more rapidly than the others, but it 
was not possible to say that this result was due entirely to their group 
association because, although the volume of water for each fish was 
the same for both groups, the isolated fish were not able to swim as 
far in one direction. Thus the results might have been due either 
to association with the group or to what the investigators called 

Claude Bernard expressed the view that the principle of control 
or exact comparison is fundamental in the experimental approach. 

In all experimental knowledge, indeed, there are three phases: an 
observation made, a comparison established and a judgment ren- 
dered. . . . 

Now experimental reasoning is absolutely the same, whether in 
sciences of observation or in experimental sciences. We find the same 
judgment by comparison based on two facts, one used as starting 
point, the other as conclusion, of our reasoning. Only in the sciences 
of observation, the two facts are always observations; while in the 
experimental sciences, the two facts may be taken exclusively from 
experimentation, or at the same time from experimentation and from 
observation, according to the special case and according to how deeply 
we go into experimental analysis. 18 

" W. C. Allee, Bernard Greenberg, G. M. Rosenthal, and Peter Frank, "Some 
Effects of Social Organization on Growth in the Green Sunfish, Lepomis 
cyanellus," Journal of Experimental Zoology, 108:1-19, June 1948. 

18 Claude Bernard, An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine, 
translated by Henry Copley Greene, New York, Henry Schuman, Inc., 1949, 
pp. 12, 16. 


E. Objectivity 

The distinction between the objective and the subjective is ex- 
pressed in the basic words "object" and "subject." The objective has 
its source in phenomena external to the individual; the subjective 
lies within the mind of the individual and is colored by his tempera- 
ment. Such a distinction is relative rather than absolute, for we can 
know the external world only as the senses perceive it and the mind 
interprets it. However, though relative, the distinction is fundamental 
to the distinction between art and science. In art the individual is 
the supreme authority. In science the individual bases his conclusions 
on observations of natural phenomena and must be prepared to sub- 
mit them to others for corroboration. 

This obligation of the scientist to submit his results to the critical 
examination of others lays upon him two corollary obligations: first, 
he must observe accurately and measure exactly; second, he must 
record his results in language so precise that any qualified person 
can follow his reasoning and if necessary repeat his experiments. 
Contrasting objective and subjective statements, Clean th Brooks and 
Robert Penn Warren observe: 

We may write, "The water was 31 per cent saturated with filterable 
solids," or we may write, "The water was stained a muddy brown." 
We may write, "The man was 5 ft. 3% in. tall," or we may write, 
"He was a runty little fellow." We may write, "The animal caught 
was a mature male of the species Rattus norvegicus weighing 1 Ib. 
3% oz.," or we may write, "We caught a fat brown rat." 19 

To this description of the characteristic features of scientific 
method two cautionary observations must be added. All the features 
of scientific method, though they may be considered separately, are 
closely interrelated. Moreover, the history of scientific method has 
been one of organic development which is presumably still continuing. 
Consequently, any statement of it can be only as of now. 


Social scientists disagree both as to the propriety of considering 
the social sciences true sciences and as to the usefulness of scientific 

19 Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren, Modern Rhetoric, New York, 
Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1949, p. 34. 


method in their pursuit. A view which has long been influential de- 
rives largely from the position of the nineteenth century philosopher 
Auguste Comte, who held that the sciences have become positive ac- 
cording to the degree of their remoteness from man. The social sci- 
ences would thus be considered comparable to the natural sciences 
but in an earlier stage of development. Social scientists have, how- 
ever, pointed out numerous differences between natural science and 
social science: that a systematic science deals chiefly with universals, 
human history with particulars; that prediction on the basis of the 
past is far more hazardous when concerned with human than with 
natural phenomena; that where man himself is involved as a social 
being he can hardly avoid concerning himself with "ends" as well as 
with the truth. The question, as Carl L. Becker has pointed out, is 
essentially one of definition. 

The one thing that all scientists have in common is not a special tech- 
nique, but a special attitude of mind towards their several enterprises. 
This attitude is simply the desire to know, in respect to the particular 
matter in hand, what is true about it, irrespective of any practical or 
esthetic or moral implications that may be involved in the truth that 
turns up. This does not mean that the scientist in any branch of 
learning is indifferent to these implications, but only that for the 
purpose of his inquiry he must disregard them. If one asks how he 
can afford to disregard them, the answer is that his enterprise pro- 
ceeds upon the fundamental assumption that knowing what is true 
is itself a primary value upon which all other values must in the long 
run depend. In this sense history and the social studies are branches 
of science that is to say, the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. 20 

Yet, as Becker further notes: 

This is the fundamental difference between the natural sciences and 
the social studies; whereas the behavior of material things remains 
the same whatever men learn about it, the behavior of men is always 
conditioned by what they know about themselves and the world in 
which they live. 21 

A. The Social Scientist and His Material 

From the quoted material above one point emerges clearly: how- 
ever much social science may be influenced by the methods of the 

20 Carl L. Becker, "The Function of the Social Sciences," Science and Man, 
New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1942, p. 243. 

21 Ibid., p. 244. 


natural sciences, the worker in the social sciences has a special rela- 
tionship intellectual and emotional to his own studies. As the em- 
bryologist George W. Corner once facetiously put it, if man "is an 
ape he is the only ape that is debating what kind of ape he is." 22 
This special relationship of the social scientist to his material oper- 
ates in two ways. One effect brings the observer closer to his ma- 

In human behavior we have a kind of direct knowledge of motives, 
whereas we only infer the existence of physical forces from observa- 
tion of the changes specific to each. Hence, the irresistible urge to 
treat motives as real. 23 

The other effect is that the objective and impersonal attitude of 
the scientist is more difficult to maintain where human factors are 
directly involved. 

Since controls in human relations are difficult to set up, it is more 
difficult to test hypotheses in the social than in the natural sciences. 
Consequently a tendency may develop to evolve theory without sub- 
jecting it to rigorous testing. Notwithstanding the difficulties encoun- 
tered, however, present-day social science is characterized by the 
strength of the movement toward setting up more effective controls 
and devising more accurate means of measurement. In the opinion 
of one social scientist, "the movement to make the social studies scien- 
tific began to take form in the middle of the eighteenth century, 
gained decided vigor with Comte, and continues as the most signifi- 
cant influence in social science today." 24 

B. Scientific Method and Social Science 

The difficulties of formulating method in social sciences are ad- 
mirably summarized by Stuart A. Rice in his introduction to Methods 
in Social Science, a collection of case studies in method compiled 
under the direction of the Committee on Scientific Method in the 
Social Sciences of the Social Science Research Council. After consid- 

22 George W. Corner, Ourselves Unborn, New Haven, Yale University Press, 
1944, p. 131. 

23 Frank Knight in Methods in Social Science, edited by Stuart A. Rice, 
Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1931, p. 67. 

24 Wilson Gee, Social Science Research Methods, New York, Appleton- 
Century-Crofts, Inc., 1950, p. 162. 


ering various interpretations of method, Rice arrives at a working 

. . . method must be jregarded as a term of variable meanings. In 
the present work it seemed desirable to employ whatever versions of 
the term would have utility for the interpretation and the further 
development of social science. 

One version which will be stressed from this point onward has not 
been scrutinized in the foregoing discussion: namely, that view of 
method which identifies it with the concepts and assumptions under- 
lying scientific inquiry, and in terms of which the major aspects of 
a problem are formulated. Method in this sense precedes, either ex- 
plicitly or implicitly, the employment of methods in any more limited 
sense. The concepts and assumptions underlying scientific investigation 
are frequently undiscerned, in spite of their all-pervading and far- 
reaching consequences upon it. Differences in the formulations of in- 
vestigators are more likely to proceed from differences in their ways 
of conceiving problems and data than from any other methodological 
cause. Hence it would seem that what may be called the "conceptual" 
version of method refers precisely to those aspects of social inquiry 
whose clarification would be most beneficial. Moreover, since this in- 
terpretation of the term can be made to include the more limited 
interpretations, it seems to be the most general and the most funda- 
mental that can be employed. 

The hard-headed, factual-minded type of investigator, most akin 
among his fellows to the "practical man" among laymen, will remain 
skeptical of the value of this interpretation. He will ask his science 
for "facts," and be willing to "let the concepts go." He would like 
to build a social science out of such tangible units as bushels of wheat, 
votes of electors, birth-rates, and reaction times. By binding such units 
together in mathematical formulas, he thinks, social science may ap- 
proach the solidity of the so-called "natural" sciences. But before 
quantitative methods can be employed it is necessary to identify and 
define the objects to be counted. Even prior to this it is necessary to 
formulate the problem with respect to which and delimit the field 
within which enumeration is to occur. In social science these steps 
offer peculiar difficulties. They are inseparable from the investigator's 
concepts and assumptions. 25 

The studies in Methods in Social Science are grouped in relation 
to "three broad objectives in social science": definition, ascertain- 
ment of sequence and change, and discovery of relations. The last 

26 Stuart A. Rice, Methods in Social Science, Chicago, The University of 
Chicago Press, 1931, pp. 7-8. 


is subdivided into interpretations of relationship among unmeasured 
factors, attempts to determine relations among measured but experi- 
mentally uncontrolled factors, and attempts to determine quantitative 
relations among measured and experimentally controlled factors. In 
a more recent study of methodology in social science the author 26 
offers the following analysis: the case method, the statistical method, 
the historical method, the survey method, and the experimental 

It is evident that many of the concepts with which the social scien- 
tist deals must be expressed in verbal terms. Qualitative differences, 
unlike quantitative differences, must be expressed in words. The in- 
ference is justified that the exactness of the social sciences will be 
closely limited by the degree to which language can be made exact 
and precise. 


The function of the problem in scientific research is perhaps less 
well understood than are some of the concepts of scientific method 
which received emphasis at an earlier time. Nevertheless, an under- 
standing of the problem concept is essential to an understanding of 
modern scientific research. This concept has two elements. One, con- 
centrating on a small division of the subject, was postulated by Des- 
cartes in one of the famous rules in his Discourse on Method: "to 
divide each of the difficulties under examination into as many parts 
jisjossible, and_as jmght_be necessary for its adequate solution." 2T 

The other element of the problem concept is the formulation of 
the problem as a question. The popularity of "fact-finding" agencies 
attests to the wide use of the question-asking approach as a means 
of focusing the problem. The problem concept has had such a wide 
influence that it would be scarcely possible to find a field of research 
which has not been affected by it. For this reason an understanding 
and application of the concept are frequently of the highest usefulness 
in clarifying the ideas of the scientific writer, and this aspect of the 
subject is further developed in Chapter 2. 

Many philosophers and scientists have described various features 

26 Gee, op. cit. 

27 The Living Thoughts of Descartes, presented by Paul Valery, Philadelphia, 
David McKay Company, 1947, p. 57. 


of scientific method. Naturally the points of emphasis in these ac- 
counts have differed. To some the dominant feature of scientific 
method is accurate quantitative measurement; to others, hypothesis 
and experiment form the crucial point. Within recent years many 
observers of our social order have contended that our whole society 
would gain if the use of scientific method, particularly the application 
of the problem concept, were extended. In these broader relationships, 
scientific method is not so much a method as a way of thought or, 
as John Dewey termed it, "the scientific habit of mind." 


1. Compare the definitions or descriptions of science which follow. What 
does each contribute? To what do you attribute the differences among 

a. "Almost by definition, I would say, science moves ahead." James B. 
Conant, On Understanding Science. 

b. "The educated layman of the eighteenth century . . . knew that 
the pursuit of science would yield many useful or practical inno- 
vations. But he also knew and perhaps even better than we do 
that primarily science is a way of looking at the external world and 
uncovering its fundamental truths." I. Bernard Cohen, Science, 
Servant of Man. 

c. " 'Science' is a label for our attempts to find out how the universe 
works by means of careful observation rather than armchair specu- 
lation." Stuart Chase, Power of Words. 

d. "Science is not the mere collection of facts, which are infinitely 
numerous and mostly uninteresting, but the attempt by the human 
mind to order these facts into satisfying patterns." C. N. Hinshel- 
wood, The Structure of Physical Chemistry. 

e. "True science is distinctively the study of useless things. For the 
useful things will get studied without the aid of scientific men. To 
employ these rare minds on such work is like running a steam en- 
gine by burning diamonds." Charles S. Peirce, "The Scientific 

2. In his Preface to the first number of The American Journal of Human 
Genetics, September 1949, H. J. Muller urges scientists engaged in the 
study of genetics to dissociate themselves from passion and prejudice 
and "to hold fast to the hard-won results of painstaking experiments, 
observations and calculations, to maintain objectivity of method, inde- 
pendence of thought, searchingness of analysis and freedom of criti- 
cism, no matter what 'authority' may thereby be challenged." Com- 


pare the points mentioned by Muller with those discussed in the fore- 
going chapter. 

3. What aspect of scientific method is stressed by Bernard in the follow- 
ing sentence from An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medi- 
cine? "One must be brought up in laboratories and live in them, to 
appreciate the full importance of all the details of procedure in 
investigation, which are so often neglected or despised by the false 
men of science calling themselves generalizes." 

4. Discuss the implications in the change in attitude toward scientific 
method which has become evident since the beginning of the present 

5. Find out all that you can about the methods of work of one of the 
following scientists: Sir Isaac Newton, F. A. Kekule, Robert Boyle, 
W. Beaumont, Ramon y Cajal. Comment on your findings in connec- 
tion with the discussion in the foregoing chapter. 

6. With what hypotheses are the following individuals identified? Coper- 
nicus, Priestley, Lamarck, Pavlov. Which of these hypotheses have been 
substantiated by later investigations? 

7. Draw up a list of subordinate topics which would be involved in this 
question: How far will it be possible for man to go in developing a 
science of human behavior? Would this, with provision for library 
reading, be a suitable subject for a panel discussion? 

8. In what ways are scientific method and scientific writing related? 



I. Significance of the problem 
II. Definition of the problem concept 

A. The problem as the starting point of inquiry 

B. The problem, the hypothesis, and the thesis 

III. Types of problems 

A. Problems of fact 

B. Problems of value 

C. Technical problems (problems of means) 

IV. Setting up a problem 

A. Perception and formulation of the problem 

1. Observation 

2. Intersecting interests 

3. Problem patterns 

4. Time and place 

B. Limitation of the problem 

C. Evaluation of the problem 

A problem is really a springboard for a leap into the 
unknown. R. E. GIBSON, The Arts and the Sciences, 
American Scientist, July 1953. 


Modern inquiry into scientific method has revealed increasingly 
that the ability to perceive a problem in what others would accept 
as commonplace or trivial is a distinguishing mark of the true scien- 
tist. History tells of Galileo watching the lamps of the cathedral of 
Pisa as they swayed back and forth on their long chains. Lamps had 
swayed back and forth before the eyes of countless watchers, but of 
them all, Galileo is remembered because only he observed that the 
long and the short strokes occupied the same time; and his observa- 
tion led to the discovery of the principle of the isochronism of the 
pendulum. In recent times Sir Alexander Fleming has been acclaimed 



for his discovery of penicillin. Actually the mold which led to the 
discovery of penicillin had been known to other scientists before 
Fleming. Fleming alone saw a problem : might not this mold capable 
of destroying bacteria be useful to man? 

Henri Becquerel likewise had a gift for seeing the significance in 
chance observations. The work of his father had led Becquerel to 
experiment with the salts of uranium. One day while Becquerel was 
exposing to sunlight a photographic plate covered by a black paper 
on which he placed a salt of uranium, the sunlight disappeared just 
after the exposure had been started. When the plate was developed, 
the impression was as strong as if the plate had had a full exposure 
to sunlight. This led Becquerel to repeat the experiment without sun- 
light; the results were the same. Thus a chance shadow was one of 
the circumstances which led to the discovery of radioactivity. 

However, such selections from the headlines of history present to 
a degree a false, or at least a partial, picture. Science advances not 
only through chance observations but through the painstaking work 
of countless investigators, each working on his own problem, and 
all pooling their knowledge. Such, for example, is the current attack 
on the problem of cancer. Cancer is a complex of many problems 
some chemical, some morphological, some pathological, some clinical, 
and some physiological. The individual investigators, each taking 
his own small part of the problem, are co-operating in the attack on 
the greater problem, confident that in the end it will be solved. 

The problem concept is of major importance to the scientific 
writer since a clear perception of the problem is a first step toward 
a lucid and effective paper. For the student it is the presence of a 
problem which distinguishes a research paper from mere reference 
work. This distinction applies even in fields outside science. The stu- 
dent who goes to the library to "look up" William Dean Howells is 
merely doing reference work. The student who analyzes the American 
business man of different eras as portrayed in Howells' The Rise of 
Silas Lapham, Theodore Dreiser's The Titan, and Sinclair Lewis' 
Babbitt is undertaking a problem in socioliterary critJcigixu 


The problem concept as used in science may be defined briefly as 
the focusing of inquiry on a single question of more or less limited 


scope. (See Chapter 1.) But this definition in itself is insufficient; it 
needs elaboration. Exactly what constitutes a problem? Just what 
is the nature of scientific inquiry? The American philosopher John 
Dewey has made a valuable contribution to the clarification of the 
problem concept. He defines inquiry as "the directed or controlled 
transformation of an indeterminate situation into a determinately 
unified one." 1 The "indeterminate situation" with which inquiry 
begins is characterized as "not only 'open' to inquiry" but "open in 
the sense that its constituents do not hang together." Indeterminate 
situations are further described as "disturbed, ambiguous, confused, 
full of conflicting tendencies, obscure." Inquiry does not actually 
get under way, however, until the situation is recognized as indeter- 
minate, or problematic. The task of the scientist is to recognize the 
situation as problematic and to define the problem. 

A. The Problem as the Starting Point of Inquiry 

It is a familiar and significant saying that a problem well put is half- 
solved. To find out what the problem and problems are which a 
problematic situation presents to be inquired into, is to be well along 
in inquiry. To mistake the problem involved is to cause subsequent 
inquiry to be irrelevant or to go astray. Without a problem, there 
is blind groping in the dark. The way in which the problem is con- 
ceived decides what specific suggestions are entertained and which 
are dismissed; what data are selected and which rejected; it is the 
criterion for relevancy and irrelevancy of hypotheses and conceptual 
structures. 2 

By contrast with the indeterminate situation with which inquiry 
begins, the determinate situation with which it ends the "outcome 
of inquiry" is described as "a closed and, as it were, finished situa- 
tion or 'universe of experience.' " The chemist who seeks to synthe- 
size an organic compound, the public health worker who inquires 
why tooth decay is more prevalent in one section of the country than 
in another, the paleontologist who studies fossils in an effort to de- 
termine more accurately the age of man all are engaged in trans- 
forming an indeterminate into a more nearly determinate situation. 

ijohn Dewey, Logic: The Theory of Inquiry, New York, Henry Holt and 
Company, 1938, p. 117. 
2 Ibid., p. 108. 


A particularly valuable feature of Dewey's definition is that it 
does not promise too much. The investigator may on occasion be 
satisfied if his inquiry has served to advance even slightly our state 
of knowledge, to leave an indeterminate situation somewhat less in- 
determinate. The sole purpose of some preliminary inquiries may be 
to define the area to be investigated and to chart the difficulties in- 
volved. Nor is the usefulness of Dewey's definition confined to natural 
science. Indeed it may be extended to illuminate all areas of research 
and to provide a technique for a rational attack on social and eco- 
nomic problems. 

B. The Problem, the Hypothesis, and the Thesis 

An understanding of the term problem involves a recognition of 
its relationship to two other terms hypothesis and thesis. Hypothesis 
is best understood by going back to its derivation. It is from a Greek 
verb meaning "to place under." A hypothesis, then, is a theory or 
explanation "placed under" the known facts of the problem to ac- 
count for and explain them. The hypothesis may then be tested by 
experiment. If it does not meet the test, it is re-examined. If estab- 
lished by sufficient testing, it becomes one of the accepted generaliza- 
tions of science. The scientist's use of the hypothesis in solving a 
problem is admirably illustrated by Claude Bernard's work on carbon 
monoxide poisoning. (See Appendix A, p. 376.) 

The term thesis has come down to us from the medieval university 
in which the candidate for the degree of doctor of philosophy was 
expected to defend his thesis or conclusion against all comers. The 
defense was purely verbal and consisted of references to established 
authority; it had little in common with the reference to fact and 
experiment of modern science. Yet we still use the term thesis to 
represent the solution to a problem, or partial solution, which is 
reached at the close of an investigation. In modern times, however, 
the emphasis has shifted from the defense of the thesis to the satis- 
factory working out of the problem. The inexperienced student often 
adds to his difficulties in writing a research paper by promising "to 
prove" something. Rather he should begin by perceiving a problem 
and undertaking to investigate it. 



The only limit to the application of the problem concept as Dewey 
has defined it is the number of indeterminate situations which can 
be made more determinate by inquiry. It must be understood, how- 
ever, that the problems in different disciplines are inherently differ- 
ent, as are the methods of analyzing and investigating them. Problems 
in chemistry, biology, physics, psychology, sociology all have their 
special characteristics, and it would be folly to treat them as if they 
were alike. Regardless of the subject matter, however, a distinction 
should be drawn between problems of fact, problems of value, and 
problems of means. 

A. Problems of Fact 

The term problem of fact is used here to cover both individual 
facts verifiable observations and the relationships between facts 
without which the individual facts would have little significance. The 
concern of pure science, which seeks new knowledge for its own 
sake regardless of its potential usefulness, 3 is with problems of fact. 
Whether the earth is flat or round, whether a heavier body falls more 
rapidly than a lighter one, whether the center of the emotions is in 
the heart or elsewhere in the body, whether bacteria generate spon- 
taneously or by reproducing themselves all these are problems of 
fact which have been solved. 

The almost fanatical persistence with which individuals will pursue 
the solution of a baffling problem of fact is apparent in the history 
of the attempts to express mathematically the value of TT, the ratio of 
a circle's circumference to its diameter. The problem in one form has 
been traced to a papyrus of about 1700 B.C. By the second century 
A.D., Ptolemy, an Alexandrian mathematician, had achieved a value 
equivalent to 3.1417, which represents an error of about twenty-five 
parts per million. Little work was done on the problem in the western 
world during the Middle Ages, but at the time of the Renaissance 
the search began again. By 1948 collaborating British and American 
mathematicians achieved a value which cross-checked to 808 decimal 
points. In 1949 the computing machine ENIAC was set to work on 

3 It has, of course, been shown many times that knowledge sought originally 
for its own sake frequently proves useful later. See Appendix A, p. 379. 


the value of TT. According to N. T. Gridgeman's account, "Four oper- 
ators worked eight-hour shifts, night and day, putting in a total of 
seventy man-hours, and emerged, pale-eyed but happy, with TT to an 
elaborately checked 2035D [decimals]." 4 

B. Problems of Value 

Where the problem of fact involves a question of what occurs, how 
it occurs, perhaps why it occurs, the problem of value involves the 
question of what is to be preferred or how highly something should 
be rated. "The characteristic of a problem of value," in the words 
of F. S. C. Northrop, "is that, in part at least, it raises a question 
concerning what ought to be, rather than what is, the case." 5 

Many problems of value are closely related to problems of fact. 
In these problems of value, judgment is rendered by reference to 
an established objective standard of values, such as a rating scale 
or a monetary standard. Typical of such problems are the chemist's 
testing of a sample of water and the metallurgist's assaying of an 
ore. Some problems of value may be studied and a basis for action 
established by setting up standards or criteria appropriate to the par- 
ticular problem. If a choice must be made, for example, between two 
types of automobile engines the V-8 and the Straight-8 specific 
questions must be answered before a decision can be reached. The 
investigator may ask .which type of engine has greater power, which 
operates more economically, which is easier to maintain, which is 
more compact. These questions must be answered by reference to 
arbitrary production and performance standards. 

In contrast to problems of value which are referable to objective 
standards, there are those which are referable only to personal or 
subjective standards. These problems are specifically the concern of 
philosophy, ethics, and religion, subjects that are rarely viewed with 
detachment. The scientist can contribute to their discussion, but not 
in the impersonal, objective spirit with which he attacks a problem 
of fact. This distinction is illustrated by the following passage in 
which an embryologist writes of the personal value which he as an 
individual attaches to the study of embryology. 

4 N. T. Gridgeman, "Circumetrics," The Scientific Monthly, 77:33, July 1953. 
B F. S. C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities, New York, 
The Macmillan Company, 1947, p. 20. 


I hope that the human being whose biography during the first weeks 
of life is being sketched herewith, is already something more to the 
reader than a diagram in a book. This is your history I am telling and 
mine, and that of my own child and of yours. Here in the laboratory 
we can of course study and depict for you only those whose lives have 
been interrupted, and yet our experience trains us to think even of 
them as witnesses of life and growth. They never seem to us static or 
defunct. I have heard an embryologist who thought himself unsenti- 
mental and impersonal talk affectionately of a handsome three-weeks 
embryo as "he"; and speaking for myself, I seldom sit at the micro- 
scope to study one of these individuals we call "specimens" without 
the thought that here is one who but for the turn of circumstance 
would have taken his place in the army of the living. A microscope 
slide, says Professor W. B. Cannon, is a frozen moment in the flux 
of life. 6 

A problem of value that lacks a tangible referent does not lend 
itself to scientific inquiry, nor can it be definitely resolved, nor does 
it become the subject of scientific papers. Students who recognize 
problems of value as such will not unwisely attempt to write conclu- 
sive papers concerning controversial matters of political attitude, 
aesthetic appreciation, religious belief, or the like. 

C. Technical Problems (Problems of Means) 

The technical problem is concerned with the means by which a 
desired end is to be attained. Such problems are the province of ap- 
plied science, the branch of science which applies the discoveries of 
pure science to the needs of man. Thus a technical problem combines 
elements of fact and value since through such problems the facts of 
science are focused on man's needs or wishes. 

Technical problems arise, for example, when a newly discovered 
drug such as penicillin is to be manufactured on a commercial scale. 
The value of the drug has been tested. The basic chemical and physi- 
cal facts are known. But means must be found for manufacturing 
this drug in quantity so that it will be available for general use. The 
technical problems connected with the early manufacture of penicillin 
were in fact so numerous that production appeared likely to be seri- 
ously hampered. According to its discoverer, Sir Alexander Fleming, 

6 George W. Corner, Ourselves Unborn, New Haven, Yale University Press, 
1944, pp. 36-37. 


it was the urgent demands of World War II that prompted scientists 
and drug manufacturers, with an unprecedented display of co-opera- 
tion on an international scale, to attack this problem of means so 
vigorously and solve it so soon. 

At times, conditions may enable the observer to anticipate future 
problems of means. Fremont Rider has stated one such problem which 
is being created by the rapidly increasing demands on the capacity 
of American libraries. 

But, if the Yale Library does continue to grow, and to grow at a 
rate no whit greater than it has been steadily growing through its 
more than two centuries of past existence, if it continues to grow at 
a rate no greater than the most conservative rate at which all our 
other American colleges and universities have grown ever since they 
started, and are now growing, then, by a series of further succes- 
sive doublings, the Yale Library will, in 2040, have approximately 
200,000,000 volumes, which will occupy over 6,000 miles of shelves. 
Its card catalog files if it then has a card catalog will consist of 
nearly three-quarters of a million catalog drawers, which will of them- 
selves occupy not less than eight acres of floor space. New material 
will be coming in to it at the rate of 12,000,000 volumes a year; and 
the cataloging of this new material will require a cataloging staff of 
over six thousand persons. 7 

All laboratory workers know that every scientific investigation 
involves subsidiary technical problems, such as the finding of suit- 
able experimental animals or the construction of apparatus. More- 
over, every time a discovery is made, every time a major problem 
is solved, new problems are disclosed. Smallwood has noted how the 
new world uncovered by the microscope led to a need for new means 
of description and measurement. 

The microscope was well understood by the beginning of the nine- 
teenth century, but naturalists had to create new standards of descrip- 
tion when they began to use it. Old words were employed, but they 
must convey new meanings. A device had to be found for measuring 
the myriads of living creatures in every drop of water. Explanations 
were demanded for the phenomena revealed. Even the old hypothesis 
of spontaneous generation had to be revived, because without it all 
attempts to unravel the life cycle of microscopic creatures seemed vain. 
With so much adjustment to be made, it is not surprising that the 

7 Fremont Rider, The Scholar and the Future of the Research Library, New 
York, Hadham Press, 1944, pp. 11-12. 


microscope did not come into general use in the laboratories of the 
universities before 1880. 8 

On the other hand, as the Spanish neurologist Ramon y Cajal 
pointed out in his autobiography, a technical discovery may open 
the way for the working out of problems hitherto considered obscure 
or insoluble. (See Appendix A, p. 387.) One remarkably fruitful dis- 
covery is that of the principle of ion exchange. Though this principle 
has been known for about a century, it has been extensively applied 
only since 1910. At the present time, ion exchange is being employed 
in a great variety of processes, including the recovery of metals from 
solutions, the refining of hydrocarbons, and the desalting of sea 
water for drinking use by fliers forced down at sea. 

From the foregoing discussion of problems of fact, problems of 
value, and problems of means, it is evident that the interrelationship 
of these problems is complex. This interrelationship is illustrated by 
a catastrophe that occurred in the building of the ?.-' ' '! l-- 1 ^ 
Quebec Bridge. This bridge over the St. Lawrence River was being 
built according to the cantilever plan, in which projecting arms meet 
or are joined in mid-air between piers. As one arm was nearing mid- 
channel, the entire structure collapsed, carrying eighty-two bridge 
men down with the wreckage. 

The investigations following the disaster revealed that the collapse 
was caused by the buckling of a compression member, due to inade- 
quate lacing. Previously accepted empirical rules for the design of 
sections and details of compression members, tried and tested for 
smaller members, had betrayed the designer when they were applied 
to compression members of larger and unprecedented dimensions. As 
a result of the large-scale experiments and studies that followed, the 
design and detailing of large compression members were brought to 
a scientific basis. In addition, attention was now directed to the proper 
design and construction of the joints between compression members, 
and to the analysis and elimination of "secondary" stresses produced 
in truss members by their deformations. The Quebec disaster of 1907, 
more than any other occurrence in the evolution of bridgebuilding, 
revolutionized the art by bringing it to a new high level of scientific 
analysis and design. 9 

8 William Martin Smallwood, Natural History and the American Mind, New 
York, Columbia University Press, 1941, p. 195. 

9 David B. Steinman and Sara Ruth Watson, Bridges and Their Builders, 
New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1941, pp. 305-06. 


In this instance the central problem of means was not solved until 
a dramatic infringement on the value attached to human life forced 
a review and further investigation of basic problems of fact. 


Finding a problem 10 suitable for laboratory research demands 
knowledge of a different order from that required for perceiving a 
problem suitable for a research paper. Nevertheless, if the writer is 
to be successful in rinding problems, he must have the same spirit 
of inquiry that motivates the laboratory research worker. 

A. Perception and Formulation of the Problem 

In the following subsections of this chapter, means for finding 
problems for research papers are suggested. These suggestions are 
not intended as logical formulas but as exploratory devices which 
have proved useful to students. 

7. Observation 

The traditional source of a problem is an observation of a phe- 
nomenon which is not satisfactorily accounted for by existing knowl- 
edge. Such classic examples of problem-finding as Newton and the 
apple, Watts and the teakettle, and Columbus and the ships which 
disappeared beneath the horizon have become legendary. James B. 
Conant has cited "a nineteenth-century episode which illustrates how 
well-planned experiments may be used to follow up an observation." 

The story is familiar to all scientists, though perhaps it is not gen- 
erally known that before Roentgen announced his discovery several 
other investigators noticed the fogging of photographic plates near an 
electric discharge tube. Roentgen followed up his observation; the 
others did not. But the clue from which Roentgen worked can hardly 
be considered a mere happy accident. For Roentgen was studying the 
stream of electrons (they were then called simply cathode rays) which 
can pass through a thin window in an electric discharge tube. He 
was aware that these rays would cause fluorescence of certain sub- 
stances. He consequently had at hand a screen coated with such a 
substance and observed that it shone even when it lay at some distance 
from the tube. Following up this observation Roentgen quickly demon- 

10 The expression finding a problem is used here to mean not only perceiving 
or identifying a problem but seeking actively for one, as most research workers 
are at times obliged to do. 


strated that some sort of radiation which passed through not only 
glass but opaque substances was responsible for the effect. From then 
on he was able to devise better methods of producing these rays and 
thus introduced a revolutionary technique. 11 

Unfortunately many students lack the questioning attitude which 
serves the scientist so well and tend to accept without question much 
that they read, hear, or see. Some students, however, through their 
own practical experience, become aware of problems which, though 
not true research problems, may serve as points of departure for un- 
dergraduate research papers. Yet problems within the range of the 
undergraduate are seldom research problems in a strict sense be- 
cause, although the problem may be new to the student and he may 
have a genuinely fresh approach to it, the study is not designed to 
add consequentially to the total of human knowledge. One student, 
for example, who was employed by a firm specializing in gas heating 
installations found a suitable topic for a paper through his interest 
in the relationship between city building codes and the use of safety 
devices on gas heating equipment. Another student during his service 
in the Navy had become aware of the practical problems presented 
by the corrosion of metals and wrote his research paper about recent 
research studies dealing with the factors affecting corrosion and 
with newly developed methods of corrosion control. 

The student who, while he reads, is sensitive to allusions and to 
the implications of statements will often see opportunities for research 
of which the less perceptive student will be unaware. For instance, 
references to the strategic theories of the late Admiral A. T. Mahan 
directed a naval science student to a research topic the relevance 
of Mahan's theories to certain situations in recent warfare. Again, 
a statement that curare, used by South American Indians as an arrow 
poison, had been utilized in physiology and medicine aroused the 
curiosity of another student and resulted in his writing on the use 
of curare as an adjunct in anaesthesia. Another student's interest was 
turned to ornithology, in which many phenomena, as he discovered 
in his reading, have never been satisfactorily explained. In introduc- 
ing the paper which grew out of this interest, the writer stated the 
problem as follows: 

11 James B. Conant, Science and Common Sense, New Haven, Yale University 
Press, 1951, p. 115. 


For many years ornithologists recorded occasional 
observations of a peculiar phase of bird behavior 
without recognizing the fact that it was a definite 
habit of birds. It was not until 1935 that this type 
of behavior was determined to be a specific habit of 
birds and the German equivalent of the English term 
"anting" was proposed by Stresemann as a term to de- 
scribe it. The term refers to the application by birds 
of any object, other than the oil of the uropygial 
gland, to the feathers with the bill through a type of 
preening action, or through "bathing" or dusting in 
various substances. The objects used in anting may be 
one of a number of various items, but are usually ants 
of non-stinging species, hence the name. Since the 
recognition of anting as a definite phase of bird be- 
havior, considerable study has been undertaken in order 
to ascertain the cause of this habit. Although several 
theories have been advanced, none has proved completely 
satisfactory, the actual cause still remaining in 
doubt. The problem of determination of the motivation 
resulting in anting in birds is the basis for this 

2. Intersecting Interests 

A method helpful to many students is that of taking two lines of 
interest and searching for a problem where these lines intersect. Such 
an intersection of interests is a frequent source of published research. 
For instance, Robert S. Harper's Lincoln and the Press, Don C. Seitz's 
Lincoln the Politician, and W. B. Hesseltine's Lincoln and the War 
Governors have all been built on a connection between Lincoln and 
a special interest of the authors. A stimulating historical dissertation, 
Richard Hofstadter's Social Darwinism in American Thought, de- 
veloped out of an inquiry by Hofstadter into the use of phrases of 
Darwin and later evolutionists in the attempt to justify the exploitive 
character of American business during the latter part of the nine- 
teenth century. Ciba Symposia once published as parallel articles 
"Monsters in Nature" and "Monsters in Art." 12 Here, two entirely 
different lines of interest that of an embryologist and that of a 
professor of art intersect "monsters." 

Similarly, students may have interests which, if extended to the 

12 Viktor Hamburger, "Monsters in Nature"; Wolfgang Born, "Monsters in 
Art," Ciba Symposia, Ciba Pharmaceutical Products, Inc., Summit, N. J., 
9:666-%, August-September, 1947. 


point where they intersect with the subject matter of a course, will 
yield topics for research papers. A premedical student once wrote a 
successful paper based on an interest he had developed while working 
as a swimming instructor in the city pools. The student decided to 
look into the question of whether the swimming pool is a serious 
factor in the transmission of disease. This was his preliminary state- 
ment of his problem: 

People swim for two reasons, either for sport or for 
their health. However, every swimmer should answer 
the following question for his own sense of well 
being: "Will the physical and mental benefits I can 
obtain from swimming justify exposing myself to some 
contagious disease which I might contract at the 
pool?" Moreover, parents whose children clamor to go 
swimming wish to know the risk of contagion involved. 
What has been done to inform such people as to an 
individual's chance of contracting some infection at 
the swimming pool? 

Because this student defined his problem carefully, he was able to 
arrange his material effectively and in the end to arrive at definite 

3. Problem Patterns 

Certain problem patterns 13 are recurrent. Thoughtful comparisons, 
to name one recurring pattern, will bring out new ideas and new 
relationships. A student interested in political science found a subject 
for comparison in three novels dealing with the career of a dema- 
gogue: Number One by John Dos Passos, A Lion Is in the Streets 
by Adria Locke Langley, and All the King's Men by Robert Penn 
Warren. He compared the novels with reference to five points: the 
careers of the central figures, resemblances to the career of the late 
Huey Long, the demagogue's personality and its appeal to the voters, 
the demagogue's retinue or entourage, and the viewpoint of the 
authors. The subjects compared in this case the various interpreta- 
tions of the demagogic character have enough in common to justify 
the comparison and have variation enough to make it illuminating. 

Another problem pattern is that of taking a single factor and trac- 

13 The term pattern is used here not in the sense of a model but in the sense 
of an orderly or logical arrangement of structure or activity. 


ing it through different situations. An investigation of the expression 
of a certain prejudice in different environments would be a study 
of this type. A variation of this problem pattern is the "case study 
method" as used in the social sciences. A thorough study and analy- 
sis of a single representative instance of any phenomenon may help 
to clarify the entire subject. Some case studies have become famous, 
as did Morton Prince's study of the multiple personality which he 
called "Sally" and "Miss Beauchamp." Prince's study of the case 
led him to the conclusion that the repression of early conflicts had, 
in combination with other factors, resulted in a dissociated per- 
sonality. 14 

4. Time and Place 

Among the limits which may establish the boundaries of problems, 
time and place are prominent. Events or circumstances may create 
new problems or disclose problems hitherto unperceived. The Korean 
conflict, for example, brought many changes in international outlook 
and policy, any one of which might repay investigation. The dis- 
covery of the Boswell papers in Malahide Castle outdated much that 
had been written about James Boswell, opening the way for revision- 
ary studies. When a 120-pound coelacanth believed to be of a 
species that formed a linkage between fish and land animals was 
caught west of Madagascar in the winter of 1952, zoologists had the 
opportunity to study a species thought, until 1938, to have been ex- 
tinct for 50,000,000 years. Some changes brought about by time 
can, of course, be anticipated. Astronomers plan years in advance 
to utilize the predictable opportunities for observation afforded by 
eclipses and other recurrent astronomical phenomena. 

In applied science, conditions changing with time are constantly 
pushing new problems into the foreground. The gain in longevity 
has advanced a new branch of medical science geriatrics, or the 
care of the aged. The heavy defense production of jet planes has led 
to organized research on the problem of industrial deafness. This 
problem had been known to exist almost since the beginning of the 
industrial revolution, but little was done about it. Indeed, "weaver's 
ear" was regarded as "a badge of honor, indicating long service at 

14 Morton Prince, Clinical and Experimental Studies in Personality, Cam- 
bridge, Mass., Sci-Art Publishers, 1939, pp. 227-28. 


the trade." 15 Now the problem is the subject of study under auspices 
of the Office of Naval Research. 

The student who keeps up with current scientific news cannot fail 
to find research paper topics which are fresh because they are timely. 
Among the many topics which have been in the news in recent years 
are motion sickness, the fluoridation of drinking water, and the use 
of chlorophyll as a deodorant. The writer who chooses current topics 
of this sort has a relatively rich field since there has been little 
time or opportunity for a consideration of all the possible problems 

An appreciation of his environment likewise opens up many re- 
search problems for the student. The student of architectural history 
may profitably examine architectural monuments of his own locality ; 
the student of political science may study local government agencies; 
the student of language may analyze characteristic local speech forms. 
Probably few have exploited the possibilities of a single locality 
as a source of problems as thoroughly as did the Lynds in Middle- 
town. This study, described as "a pioneer attempt to deal with a 
sample American community after the manner of social anthropol- 
ogy," presented a full account of a community of 30,000 people dur- 
ing the period from 1890 to 1925 its history, its conditions of 
employment, its homes, its schools, and its leisure, religious, and 
community activities. Indeed, Middletown has become the archetype 
of similar subsequent studies in the social sciences. 

B. Limitation of the Problem 

The term problem, as has been implied, denotes not only an inquiry 
but the specific portion of an inquiry which can be undertaken with 
hope of success by a single investigator or group of investigators 
in a single investigation. Knowledge may be compared to an ever- 
widening circle. As the circle widens, each segment of it becomes 
familiar to a smaller and smaller group of specialists. The more spe- 
cialized knowledge a research worker has, the more exactly he should 
be able to conceive and formulate a problem. Certainly no one can 
formulate a problem intelligently in a field with which he is un- 

15 Science News Letter, 59:37, January 20, 1951. 

16 Robert S. Lynd and Helen Merrell Lynd, Middletown: A Study in Con- 
temporary American Culture, New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1929, 


familiar. The exactness with which problems can be formulated, how- 
ever, varies with the extent to which an area has been explored. In 
new fields of investigation, initial problems are sometimes tentative 
and exploratory. Even in a familiar field a preliminary period of 
reading or experiment followed by reflection is needed before a prob- 
lem can be cast in final form. 

If a problem has been well conceived at the outset of an investiga- 
tion, little further limitation may be needed. The writer may find 
certain means of limitation more or less artificial or arbitrary 
a help in reducing his problem to manageable proportions. Not many 
students are as misguided as the one who suggested writing a research 
paper on "Life and Science"; most students, however, will find it 
necessary to undertake the disciplinary process of placing well-defined 
limits on the original concept of a problem. Among these limits are 
restrictions of time and place, restriction to fewer persons or groups, 
selection of a smaller category, and division of the original question. 
S. C. Ball's report Fall Bird Migration on the Gaspe Peninsula repre- 
sents a limitation in time to the fall, in place to the Gaspe Peninsula, 
categorically to birds, and analytically to migration. Similar bounda- 
ries may be used to limit a variety of problems in applied science. 
For example, the general problem of tobacco mosaic a virus disease 
attacking tobacco might, for purposes of investigation, be limited 
in place to one locality, in time to the current growing season, and 
categorically to the effects of a specific method of control. 

C. Evaluation of the Problem 

To rule out problems which will not justify the expenditure of 
time and energy, the student should, during the process of formu- 
lating and defining his problem, use four questions as criteria to 
evaluate it. 

1. Can the problem be put in question form? Every idle question 
does not constitute a problem, but every true problem can be stated 
in question form. Often this interrogative form will help to reveal 
weaknesses or inconsistencies. 

2. Is the problem sufficiently limited? A serious study represents 
a deep probing of a limited area, not a superficial ploughing of a 
large surface. 

3. Are the necessary primary sources or technical means of ob- 


taining information available? This is a practical question and an 
important one. Indeed, in some instances research opportunities actu- 
ally arise because of the availability of sources. 

4. Will the findings have significance if the problem is satisfac- 
torily resolved? To be significant a problem need not be of great 
magnitude. No problem exists in isolation, and the significance of 
a problem often derives from its relationship to the whole area of 
inquiry of which it is a part. The solution of a seemingly insignificant 
problem may supply a needed link in a chain of evidence, or the solu- 
tion of a problem may be important largely because it opens up new 
avenues of investigation. Failure of the public to understand these 
complex relationships leads to much of the criticism concerning the 
apparently trivial nature of topics chosen for research. 

When the student has found a problem which satisfies these cri- 
teria, he is ready for the next stage of his work, that is, for collecting 
data pertinent to his problem. (See Chapter 4.) 

Some of the problems which will engage the attention of the student 
will doubtless seem too earth-bound to be described as "a springboard 
for a leap into the unknown." Nevertheless, an attack on even these 
lesser problems will afford an insight into that scientific tradition 
which leads the scientist to regard a problem as a challenge. 


1. What are some of the major scientific problems which have been under 
investigation during the past half century? In each instance name the 
scientist or scientists who have been chiefly identified with the prob- 
lem. Locate in the library some of the original reports concerned with 
one of the problems. Explain the difference between the general prob- 
lem under investigation and the specific problem on which an indi- 
vidual experiment was based. 

2. Douglas Bush tells in Science and English Poetry of a graduate stu- 
dent who proposed doing a thesis on the influence of the eighteenth 
century on the nineteenth. What characteristic of a research problem 
had this student overlooked? 

3. Which of the following topics would, in your opinion, lend themselves 
to the setting up of library research problems? List the criteria by 
which you made your selection: (a) a comparison between the work 
of Newton and that of Einstein, (b) the cure of cancer, (c) recent 
work on antimitotic agents, (d) famous bridges of the world, (e) the 


taxonomy of the fossil Receptaculites oweni, popularly known as the 
"sunflower coral," (f) the origin and influence of the phlogiston 
theory, (g) the erosion of arable land, (h) luminescence in fishes. 

4. Could any of the rejected topics in the preceding exercise be limited 
effectively by applying the suggestions in Section IV of the foregoing 

5. Prepare a list of problems which are of particular concern to your 
locality, institution, or industry. 

6. Can you classify the problems which you listed in answer to Exercise 
5 as problems of fact, means, or value? To what extent are these prob- 
lems combinations of more specific problems of all three types? 

7. Comment on the different ways in which the word problem is used in 
the excerpts given below from the Scientific American, 181(4), Oc- 
tober 1949. 

"... a problem that we had first tackled 12 years ago but had been 
solved only in the last few months"; "problems which will challenge 
science for a long time to come"; "the world's increasingly acute food 
problem"; "technological problems and unpredictable economic fac- 
tors"; "one of the most difficult and fascinating problems in biological 
oceanography"; "the problem, then, is to find some method of separat- 
ing the rates of growth and death and measuring them independ- 
ently"; "a central problem of biology: the problem of the cause of 
old age"; "the analysis of leaf shape may become a problem of great 
importance in biology"; "the problems of clinical tuberculosis"; "the 
biological aspects of the problem"; "when we decided to attack this 
problem, a technical difficulty at once presented itself"; "the answer 
to our problem came from chemical technology"; "a more rapid in- 
vestigation of our central problem: the mechanism of virulence." 

8. List the accepted denotations of the word problem and distinguish 
among them. Which of these denotations represents most closely the 
scientific concept of the problem? 

9. Discuss the extent to which the scientist may properly concern him- 
self with the uses or applications which are made of his contributions 
to knowledge. 



I. Scientific terminology and definition 

A. A science and its terminology 

B. Scientific terminology and everyday English 
II. The contribution of semantics 

A. The significance of context 

B. Words as symbols 

III. The process of definition 

A. Words, terms, and concepts 

B. Adaptation of a definition to its purpose 

1. The formal definition 

2. The operational definition 

3. The informal definition 

4. The extended definition 

a. Arrangement of an extended definition 

b. Methods of developing a definition 

IV. Derivation as an aid in mastering terminology 

A. Extensive use of Greek and Latin 

B. The problem of eponyms 

V. The misuse of technical terminology 

A word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged, 
it is the skin of a living thought and may vary greatly 
in color and content according to the circumstances 
and the time in which it is used. OLIVER WENDELL 
HOLMES, JR., Towne v. Eisner, 245 U.S. 425. 

Exactness cannot be established in the arguments un- 
less it is first introduced into the definitions. HENRI 
POINCARE, Science and Method. 


To the scientist the terminology of his subject is inseparable from 
the subject itself. It is an indispensable means of expressing and 
transmitting the observations, methods, laws, and theories which con- 
stitute a science as a branch of knowledge. The terminology of a 



science consists of the words or expressions that is, the terms used 
in a special significance in that science, so defined in its literature, 
and so understood by its adherents. Thus the terms inertia for the 
physicist, catalyst for the chemist, homology for the biologist, fault 
for the geologist, unit rule for the political scientist, as well as thou- 
sands of other terms in the technical dictionaries, have significance 
which is comprehended only partially by the general public. 

Science, looked at in this way, has been described as a process 
of applying names to things. The accumulation of an adequate ter- 
minology is an important part of the growth of science. Every science 
has in a sense its own language, and learning that language is a part 
of the student's apprenticeship to the science. If the language of sci- 
ence is to be adequate for transmitting our scientific heritage, the 
relationship between scientific terms and the meanings they represent 
must be maintained by a continuous process of definition. 

A. A Science and Its Terminology 

For purposes of record and terminology, scientists must have ways 
of designating vast numbers of phenomena and of expressing vast 
numbers of fine distinctions. The chemist must be able to differentiate 
among thousands of complex chemical compounds, the botanist 
among plants, the zoologist among forms of animal life. In many 
sciences an important branch of terminology is nomenclature (by 
derivation, calling by name) or the system of names used in classi- 
fying the objects of study. In addition to the verbal terminology and 
accepted abbreviations, the nonverbal symbols, such as the symbols 
of chemical formulas, of genetic tables, and of mathematical equa- 
tions, make up the language of a science. 

One advantage of the specialized language of science is the con- 
densation of systematized knowledge it achieves. When the Swiss 
naturalist Abraham Trembley in 1744 published his treatise on fresh- 
water polyps, he was obliged to designate them as polyps with arms 
in the form of horns. Such cumbersome descriptive designations were 
no longer necessary after 1758 when the Swedish botanist Carolus 
Linnaeus introduced his binomial system of nomenclature into the 
tenth edition of Systema Naturae. According to Linnaeus' system, 
any plant or animal may be designated by a double Latin name, the 
first part denoting the genus and the second part the species. For 


example, Linnaeus' generic name for the cat family was Felis; the 
lion became Felis leo; the tiger, Felis tigrish Some technical terms 
may seem long and cumbersome; yet the scientist can achieve great 
economy of expression through their use. For example, the term 
radioactivity is defined by Webster's as "the property or process 
whereby certain elements or isotopes (notably, radium, uranium, 
thorium, and their products), whether free or combined, spontane- 
ously emit particles and/or rays by the disintegration of the nuclei 
of their atoms." Nonverbal symbols NaCl for sodium chloride, oo 
for infinity, p for micron afford still more compressed means of 

A further distinguishing characteristic of scientific language is its 
precision. Of all the languages of science, the language of mathe- 
matics is generally conceded to be the most exact. It is doubtless 
impossible for all sciences to attain the exactness of pure mathe- 
matics, but scientists in all fields are constantly striving to improve 
their terminology. Expansion of the existing terminology to cover 
new knowledge becomes a problem in a rapidly growing science. Fur- 
thermore, scientists within a field may differ as to the meaning and 
application of terms. Such questions are sometimes referred to spe- 
cial committees of scientific organizations and to sessions of scientific 

B. Scientific Terminology and Everyday English 

Some problems of scientific terminology are complicated by the 
fact that the language of science and everyday English overlap, and 
as a result an interchange of expressions between the two is con- 
stantly taking place. Numerous scientific terms are common words 
which have been given a special scientific significance. The word 
work, for example, means to most people some sort of labor, either 
mental or physical. As used in physics, the term work becomes a 
measurable quantity when defined as follows: The work done on a 
body by a force is the product of the force and the distance the body 
moves in the direction of the force. By contrast, a term which is pri- 
marily scientific may be metaphorically used in a more general sense, 

1 For a discussion of the use of the Linnaean system and the designation of 
subspecies see John N. Hough, Scientific Terminology,, New York, Rinehart 
and Company, 1953, pp. 195-210. 


as when one speaks of a person going off on a tangent or of two 
parallel lines of thought. 

When the scientific and popular uses of a word are sufficiently dis- 
tinct, little confusion arises. But when the public persistently uses 
a scientific term erroneously in what it thinks is the scientific sense, 
the value of the term is impaired. In one instance a specialist has 
suggested trading terms with the public. The Science News Letter 
for May 19, 1951, reports a proposal for substituting mental disorder 
(mild, moderate, or severe) for neurosis, psychoneurosis, or psy- 
chosis, on the grounds that the latter terms have become so much a 
part of household language that they have lost their precise mean- 
ings. This wearing away of the precise meanings of terms a sort 
of linguistic erosion may be hastened by the presence of emotional 
attitudes. The word neurotic has become in popular use little more 
than an uncomplimentary epithet. One person may accuse another 
of having complexes without any knowledge of what a complex is. 
Moron, which began as a designation of a degree of feeble-minded- 
ness, has become popularly a vague term of derision. 

It is probably fortunate, however, that scientific terminology is a 
part of the general language rather than independent of it. If no 
general linguistic ground existed, specialists could communicate only 
with each other not with other scientists or with the public. Never- 
theless, even a brief consideration of the relationships between scien- 
tific terminology and everyday English makes it evident that an 
attempt to set up an exact terminology within a language is some- 
what opposed to the natural tendencies of words to shift their mean- 
ings in use. These tendencies have been made the subject of study 
in the branch of linguistic science known as semantics the system- 
atic study of meanings. Some of the semantic considerations which 
have a bearing on scientific terminology and its definition will be 
discussed in Section II of this chapter as a background to the presen- 
tation of the process of definition in Section III. 


It is a principle of semantics that a word has no intrinsic meaning 
apart from its use. In the languages of the world many different 
words represent the idea of a house; the meaning of each word lies 


not in the word itself, but in the association between the word as a 
symbol and what it stands for. 

A. The Significance of Context 

A corollary of this principle is that a word has only an artificial, 
dictionary existence apart from the context in which it is used. In 
fact, the verbal context determines the sense in which we understand 
a word. The word style, for example, occurs in these four phrases 
a writer's style (manner of writing), the latest style (fashion), an 
architectural style (mode of execution), and typographical style 
(form and arrangement) but in each of the phrases the word has 
a different meaning. A second corollary is that the meaning of a 
word, the sense in which it is understood, is subject to change as 
the conditions of its use change. The word very, for instance, was 
historically an adjective meaning true, and was a word of some force. 
Through long use it has become so weakened that it is now a mild 
intensive with so little force that its free use is frowned on by ex- 
perts in style. The dictionary does not determine what a word means; 
it only collates and records from a variety of contexts the different 
meanings in which a word has been used. 

This variable relationship between a word and its meaning creates 
relatively little confusion as long as individuals trying to communi- 
cate with one another have similar associations with words, as do 
the members of the same social group. But when the interchange of 
words is between people of different backgrounds or different pur- 
poses when the social context changes misunderstandings arise. 
Different people may refer to the same object by different words. 
Conversely, the same word may mean different things to different 
groups. The name worm snakes, for example, has been applied to 
two entirely different groups of snakes. "This," it has been noted, 
"illustrates one of the grave defects of popular names totally dif- 
ferent animals in different parts of the country are often known by 
the same name, so that no one can be positive as to which animal 
is referred to." 2 

Virginia C. Gildersleeve has reported some of the language diffi- 

2 Karl P. Schmidt and D. Dwight Davis, Field Book of Snakes of the United 
States and Canada, New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1941, p. 91. 


culties encountered at the United Nations Conference on International 
Organization at San Francisco in June 1945. 

I am not dealing here with the difficulty caused by difference of 
language. Of course, the use of five different languages at the San 
Francisco Conference caused exasperating delays and considerable 
difficulty of understanding. What I am alluding to here is something 
much more profound. The same words mean different things to dif- 
ferent peoples because they arouse in their minds different ideas, differ- 
ent backgrounds of circumstance and tradition, and different emotions. 
And often we do not realize this; we think we are agreeing. But we 
are not and, later, trouble ensues. Words have been not a medium 
of understanding, but a barrier to understanding. 3 

Students of semantics have held that no word can ever mean ex- 
actly the same thing to any two people. In the strictest sense this is 
true. Yet to accept the complete individualization of meaning would 
be a counsel of defeatism. The alternative is to work toward a com- 
mon basis of understanding, difficult to achieve though it may be. 

B. Words as Symbols 

It is perhaps indicative of the complementary nature of science 
and poetry that, while the theory of both is concerned with the use 
of words as symbols, the word symbols of poetry are connotative and 
depend for their effect upon the associations of words, and the word 
symbols of science are denotative and depend for their effect upon 
the accuracy with which they represent a specific meaning. Seman- 
ticists have divided words as symbols into three groups according 
to the types of meanings they represent. The simplest group includes 
words which represent a specific referent or object referred to, some- 
thing which can be perceived by the senses, such as a table, chair, 
and desk. The second group consists of words of action or feeling 
which can be dramatized (purchase) or indicated by pantomime 
(laughter). The third group includes words representing abstractions 
such as justice, freedom, and truth. 

All scientific terms represent in some degree a generalized idea or 
concept. The term tendon, for example, does not represent any single 
tendon but a generalized idea of what a tendon is, derived from the 

a Virginia C. Gildersleeve, "Intellectual Allergies," The Saturday Review, 33:5, 
December 16, 1950. 


observation of many such structures. Some terms represent much 
more highly generalized or abstract concepts than others. The botani- 
cal term leaf, for example, though leaves are sometimes confused 
with petals or leaflets, is relatively concrete since large numbers of 
leaves can be assembled for observation and comparison. A term 
representing a process, such as radiation, can readily be made clearer 
by demonstration. At a higher level of abstraction are such terms as 
heredity, environment, development, and relativity which represent 
concepts which can be neither seen nor demonstrated. However, even 
these highly abstract concepts must be supported by verifiable 
observational or experimental data if they are to have scientific 
standing. <^s 

A further analysis of words as symbols shows that many words 
have only relative meaning. There is a vast difference between a 
small molecule, a small town, a small person, and a small planet. 
Louis N. Ridenour, writing of the hydrogen bomb, refers to "the 
old-fashioned atomic bomb." The application of relative terms should 
not be confused with that of terms indicating precise measurements. 
Toxicity, for instance, is a relative term, but can be made more 
precise by the determination of the lethal dose of a drug, or the 
amount which will cause death under certain specified conditions. 

Words may be used to convey facts or to arouse emotions; how- 
ever, they sometimes arouse emotions when we intend for them to 
convey facts. Semantic studies have shown that many words in popu- 
lar use have descended to the present with a high emotional content 
and embody popular "myth" rather than scientific truth. Writing on 
"The Myth of Blood" M. F. Ashley Montagu goes so far as to say 
that "the meaning of most, if not of all words, is to some extent emo- 
tionally determined." Among words "distinguished by a high emo- 
tional and a low rational, or reasonable, quality" he has singled out 
blood for special study. Pointing out that hereditary characters are 
transmitted by the genes and not by the blood, he concludes, "What 
modern science has revealed about blood renders all such words as 
blood royal, half-blood, full-blood, blood relationship, and the others 
to which reference has been made utterly meaningless in point of 
fact, and dangerously meaningful in the superstitious social sense." 4 

*M. F. Ashley Montagu, "The Myth of Blood," Psychiatry, 6:15-19, February 


In summary, semantic studies 5 of word meanings have shown that 
words as symbols are dependent on context and are frequently 
sources of misunderstanding and are subject to emotional associa- 
tions. Hence, scientists and others who wish to use words for exact 
communication must not only define them but must also have in 
common with their readers a background of reading and experience. 


The purpose of the scientific writer is not to fix permanently the 
meaning of terms. Such a freezing of terms would be impossible and 
to attempt it would have an inhibiting effect on scientific thought. 
Moreover, there is no justification for the inexcusable prolixity of 
the occasional writer or speaker who insists on elaborately defining 
3ommonplace and well-understood terms. But the scientific writer 
should make clear to the reader the sense in which he is using a term 
Jhemeaning of which is likely to be misconstrued. 

A. Words, Terms, and Concepts 

Definition involves a distinction between words, terms, and con- 
cepts. Term, as used with reference to definition, is defined in Web- 
ster's New Collegiate Dictionary as "A word or expression having a 
precisely limited meaning . . . peculiar to a science, art, or the 
like; ..." A single word, therefore, may embody many terms. The 
noun block, for example, represents about fourteen distinct meanings, 
ranging from the child's building block to the nerve block of medi- 
cine and the mental block of psychology. The word featherbedding 
as applied to labor practices is a metaphorical extension of its origi- 
nal meaning; beginning as railroad slang, it has become established 
as a distinct term in the discussion of labor relations. Many terms 
are combinations of words which, taken together, have a special 
meaning. The expression take-home pay originated when pay deduc- 
tions became common. Familiar examples of combinations of words 

5 For books presenting different points of view concerning semantics see C. K. 
Ogden and I. A. Richards, The Meaning of Meaning, 8th ed., New York, Har- 
court, Brace and Company, 1947; Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity: an In- 
troduction to N on- Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics, Lancaster, Pa., 
Science Press Printing Company, 1933; Stuart Chase, Power of Words, New 
York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1954; S. I. Hayakawa, Language in 
Thought and Action, New York, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1949. 


used as terms in the sciences are centrifugal force, natural selection, 
defense mechanism, surface tension, and capillary attraction. 

Terms represent concepts, or generalized ideas or principles, many 
of which have developed over a long period of time and have been 
extended with the growth of scientific knowledge. The astronomer, 
for example, has been obliged continually to expand his concept of 
the universe until now it must include the stars a billion light-years 
away which are visible through the most modern telescope. Even more 
startling is the growth in the biologist's concept of the cell. To the 
fully informed biologist the word no longer represents the simple 
walled unit of earlier biological thought, or even the more elaborate 
structure visible under the high-power microscope. It represents in- 
stead an intricate concept. 

Even from the incomplete account which has been given of the 
physico-chemical organisation of the cell it is clear that each particu- 
lar region of the cell consists of a complex interlocking of very many 
simultaneously active physico-chemical systems. Each particular re- 
gion of the cell has its properties defined by a vast group of variables, 
some of which are linked and some of which are independent. Our 
understanding of these is very far from complete. In some instances 
the necessary physics and chemistry is almost completely unknown. 
In very few instances are we able at present to deal quantitatively 
with these variables. When sufficient information is available to permit 
completely quantitative treatment, it is likely that the system will be 
so complex that it will be impossible to utilise this knowledge without 
the aid of electronic calculating machines. 6 

The knowledge that lies behind a term may thus be much too ex- 
tensive to be encompassed in a definition that can include only the 
distinguishing features of the concept. 

B. Adaptation of a Definition to Its Purpose 

Approaches to the problem of definition have ranged historically 
from the classic formal definition to the operational definition favored 
by many modern scientists. A definition may range in length from 
the explanatory phrase which sometimes constitutes the informal 
definition to an extended definition of many pages. Occasionally the 
purpose of a paper is the development of a definition, and the entire 

6 J. F. Danielli, Cell Physiology and Pharmacology, Amsterdam, Elsevier 
Press, Inc., 1950, p. 23. 


paper becomes an extended definition. A writer's purpose will deter- 
mine which type of definition he will use. 

7. The Formal Definition 

The intent of definition is expressed in the derivation of the word, 
from de meaning about and finis meaning limit or end. The object 
of a definition is to locate the boundaries which limit the application 
of a term. The one-sentence formal definition is the classic basis of 
definition. This definition is formal because it follows a prescribed 
form: the term is first placed in the class to which it belongs; then 
it is distinguished from other members of that class by stating 
its distinctive characteristics, called the differentiae (singular, dif- 
ferentia) . For example, one of the sciences has been defined by this 
statement: botany is the science which deals with plant life. Here 
botany is the term, science is the class, and the clause which deals 
with plant life constitutes the differentia. 

The formal definition is not an arbitrary construction. It is a verbal 
counterpart of the classifying process which is basic in science. Thus 
in zoology the genus Diadophis includes groups of snakes (the class) 
characterized by a brightly colored ring on the neck (the differentia) . 
Here the definition is simply a verbal expression of the criterion by 
which this group of snakes is distinguished. A thoroughly satisfactory 
definition should (1) include everything that the term covers, (2) 
exclude everything that the term does not cover. 

In order to gain skill in formulating definitions it is good practice 
to try to define some familiar term. An immature attempt at defining 
calipers might be: calipers are something (class) you measure with 
(differentia). Obviously this is far from an adequate definition. The 
class is much too inclusive, and the definition fails to exclude rulers, 
tapes, protractors, and numerous other measuring devices. Other 
unsatisfactory classes may be offered calipers are a tool (inaccu- 
rate), equipment (too broad), engineering instrument (too narrow) 
until finally the class instrument is arrived at, and a second defini- 
tion constructed: calipers are an instrument used for measuring in 
one dimension, such as length, thickness, or distance. This definition 
is better, but the differentiae are still not sufficient to exclude other 
measuring instruments. If the differentiae are extended to include 
the structure of the instrument as well as function, this difficulty is 


overcome, and the following definition results: calipers (term) are 
an instrument (class) which has two legs or arms usually curved 
and fastened together with a rivet or screw or with a spring and 
pivot, and which is used for measuring in one dimension, such as 
length, thickness, or distance (differentiae). 

The proper choice of a class is essential to successful definition. 
If the class is too broad, it imposes too great a burden on the dif- 
ferentiae; if the class is too narrow, it limits the definition beyond 
the intent of the writer. A concrete term is usually easier to classify 
than an abstract one a hammer is a tool, a maple is a tree, a flute 
is a musical instrument. A commonplace thing may, however, be 
difficult to define. It is difficult, for example, to construct a definition 
of a shirt which will include all shirts and yet exclude blouses, coats, 
and sweaters. On a more erudite level, similar problems beset the 
scientist. In the Field Book of Snakes, the authors, curators of the 
Chicago Natural History Museum, observe that it is difficult to define 
the subject of their book. 

The snakes are so closely allied to the lizards and monitors that it 
is somewhat difficult to frame a formal definition that completely and 
readily distinguishes them. This difficulty rests primarily on the fact 
that many different types of lizards are limbless or nearly so. Snakes 
are distinguished from all lizards by the fact that the two halves of 
the lower jaw are separated, connected only by an elastic ligament; 
and the great majority of snakes are at once distinguished by their 
transverse ventral plates. 

Snakes may be defined as elongate, scaly reptiles without limbs or 
with the vestiges of hind limbs only, without movable eyelids, with- 
out ear-opening, with an elongate, deeply forked, and retractile 
tongue, with a transverse vent and paired organs of copulation, and 
with the two halves of the lower jaw independently movable, con- 
nected in front by an elastic ligament. Most snakes have straplike 
transverse scales, the ventral plates, extending from side to side on 
the undersurface of the body. 7 

Certain difficulties tend to recur in the process of framing formal 
definitions. These difficulties may be avoided by observing six basic 

1. A synonym, discussion, explanation, or description should not 
be substituted for the class and differentiae of a correctly framed 

7 Schmidt and Davis, op. cit., pp. 17-18. Courtesy G. P. Putnam's Sons. 


definition, though descriptive detail may form part of the differentiae. 
For example, television should not be defined by saying that it is a 
popular form of entertainment, that interest in it is increasing, that 
parents are showing concern because it is interfering with children's 
studies. These statements may be true, but they do nothing to define 
television; they do not even distinguish it from comic books or the 
movies; nor would the synonym video define television. 

2. The wording of the term should not be repeated in the definition. 
For example, sanitation should not be defined as the employment of 
sanitary measures. Sanitation may be defined as the employment 
of measures (class) tending to preserve healthful conditions and 
to eliminate conditions injurious to health (differentiae). The one 
exception to this rule concerns a compound term only part of which 
requires definition. For example, a dry cell may be defined as a 
voltaic cell (class) whose contents are treated by the use of an 
absorbent so as to prevent their spilling (differentiae). 

3. A definition should be stated in the positive, not the negative. 
To undertake to define the term pistol by saying that a pistol is not 
a rifle and not a shotgun gives no direct indication of what a pistol is. 
A pistol may be defined, however, by placing it in the class of fire- 
arms and then showing how it differs from other firearms. It is 
often necessary in a definition to show how the subject of the 
definition is unlike the, things which most resemble it, but this does 
not justify predicating the entire definition in the negative. 

4. The term should, whenever possible, be defined in words simpler 
than the term itself. If the concept to be defined is a difficult one, 
technical language may be needed to express it, but technicalities 
should not be introduced needlessly. Dr. Samuel Johnson, our first 
great dictionary maker, wrote the proverbial example of a violation 
of this precept when he defined a network as "any thing reticulated 
or decussated, at equal distances, with interstices between the inter- 

5. The definition should not show bias or reflect the personal 
opinions of the writer. Dr. Johnson violated this precept also in his 
definitions of Tory and Whig. Tory he defined as "one who adheres 
to the ancient constitution of the state, and the apostolical hierarchy 
of the church of England, opposed to a whig." Whig he defined as 
"the name of a faction." 


The connotative, impressionistic, or epigrammatic definition is 
sometimes included in discussions of definition. An example is the 
definition attributed to G. K. Chesterton, "A classical novelist is a 
writer to whom one may pay a eulogy without having read any of 
his books." Delightful and penetrating as such epigrams may be, 
they are too subjective to be considered definitions in the scientific 

6. Equivalent or corresponding parts of the definition should be 
expressed in the same or parallel grammatical structure. The com- 
monest violation of this rule is the linking of a noun with an adverbial 
"when" or "where" clause, as in writing "capillary attraction is when 
a liquid rises in a tube," or "intersection is where two lines cross." 

The formal definition is the type usually used in textbooks, ref- 
erence works, papers, and documents where conciseness is mandatory. 
The formal definition or an extension of it is also the type usually 
expected when definitions are called for in written or oral exami- 

2. The Operational Definition 

The formal definition originated many years ago when the em- 
phasis in the sciences was on the classification of natural phenomena. 
Though this process of classification is still going on, the emphasis 
has shifted to processes, experiments, and operations or procedures. 
In keeping with this new emphasis a type of definition has been 
developed known as the operational definition which limits the 
meaning of a term, not by means of classes and differentiae, but 
by an account of the activities or procedures which lead to the 
application of the term. 

For example, density is not defined operationally by classifying 
it as a state or quality. The physicist may, however, define density 
operationally by saying that it is determined by calculating the ratio 
of the mass of a homogeneous portion of matter to its volume. The 
statistician may define density of population by saying that it can 
be estimated by counting the number of persons per square mile of 
area. The following excerpt offers further illustrations. 

An operational definition tells what to do to experience the thing 
defined. Asked to define the coefficient of friction, a physicist says 
something like this: "If a block of some material is dragged horizon- 


tally over a surface, the force necessary to drag it will, within limits, 
be proportional to the weight of the block. Thus the ratio of the drag- 
ging force to the weight is a constant quantity. This quantity is the 
coefficient of friction between the two surfaces." The physicist defines 
the term by telling how to proceed and what to observe. The opera- 
tional definition of a particular dish, for example, is a recipe. 8 

One of the chief advocates of the operational definition, which 
has many supporters among scientists and semanticists, is the Nobel 
prize winner P. W, Bridgman, who asserts, "What a man means by 
a term is to be found by observing what he does with it, not by 
what he says about it." 9 And again, "The meanings of one's terms 
are to be found by an analysis of the operations which one performs 
in applying the term in concrete situations or in verifying the truth 
of statements or in finding the answers to questions." 10 

The operational definition need not, however, be regarded as a 
substitute for the formal definition. After all, definition is itself a 
concept, and the development of the theory of the operational defini- 
tion has enlarged our concept of what a definition is and how one 
can be formulated. There are times when the definite form and 
compact structure of the formal definition make it the better choice. 
Certainly the operational definition should not be made an excuse 
for vague attempts at definition which leave the meaning of a term 
no clearer than before. If an operational definition is to be adequate, 
it must be as carefully constructed as a formal definition. A good 
way to re-examine a concept is to attempt to construct both a formal 
and an operational definition of the term which represents it. 

3. The Informal Definition 

The informal definition and the extended definition are not to be 
regarded as distinct types of basic definitions but as shortened or 
amplified versions of formal or operational definitions. The informal 
definition is a short statement or phrase inconspicuously introduced 
to recall or explain briefly the meaning of a term. Such definitions 
are much used in writing addressed to the general public rather than 

8 Anatol Rapoport, "What Is Semantics?" American Scientist, 40:128-29, Jan- 
uary 1952. 

9 P. W. Bridgman, Reflections of a Physicist, New York, Philosophical Li. 
brary, 1950, p. 5. 

iW., Preface, p. v. 


to the specialist. Experienced writers become adroit in providing 
definitions sufficient for the reader's immediate needs without pausing 
to introduce formal definitions. To illustrate the usefulness of 
informal definition an example has been chosen from each of the 
seven articles in the July 1949 issue of the Scientific American. 

The word communication, in fact, will be used here in a very broad 
sense to include all of the procedures by which one mind can affect 
another. Warren Weaver, "The Mathematics of Communication," 

P. 11. 

The Pasteur treatment for rabies, a series of inoculations of rabbits' 
spinal cord tissue containing weakened rabies virus, was first used on 
a large scale at the end of the last century. Elvin A. Kabat, "Allergic 
Mechanisms in Nervous Disease," p. 16. 

The peculiar feature of the moon's physiognomy was its huge cup- 
like depressions, named "craters" from the Greek word for cup. 
Ralph B. Baldwin, "The Craters of the Moon," p. 21. 

While the name "pile" has commonly been used for all types of 
chain-reacting systems except bombs, "reactor" is now preferred as 
a more inclusive term, covering the newer types. Leon Svirsky, "The 
Atomic Energy Commission," p. 32. 

Nearly half of the hospital beds in the United States are occupied 
by patients suffering from mental illness, and about a third of these 
patients have a psychosis known as schizophrenia or dementia praecox. 
This is an all too common and serious form of insanity, affecting nearly 
one percent of the population. Brilliant people often develop it and 
are lost to society. Hudson Hoagland, "Schizophrenia and Stress," 
p. 44. 

Cuvier had devoted much time to the study of the more advanced 
vertebrate classes, but little had been done on the remains of fishes, 
although they are as numerous and as diversified in nature as all the 
rest of the backboned animals put together. Alfred Sherwood Romer, 
"Louis Agassiz," p. 49. 

Among the miscellany of creatures that inhabit the earth, whales 
possess a peculiar interest. Although they are air-breathing mammals, 
their highly specialized physiology permits them to remain under 
water for prolonged periods of time. Their great size is well known. 
Cecil K. Drinker, "The Physiology of Whales," p. 52. 

4. The Extended Definition 

The statement that "behind words lies meaning and behind mean- 
ing lies life" can readily be applied to problems of definition in 
science. Behind the term lies the concept, the generalized idea which 


the term represents, and behind the concept lie the phenomena of 
nature which generations of scientists have observed and experi- 
mented on in developing that concept. When a concept is complex or 
highly abstract, a short definition is adequate to summarize it or 
to identify it, but not to give the reader any real understanding of it. 
For this latter purpose a longer definition, the "extended definition," 
is needed. An extended definition may be in a measure creative, as 
when a writer coins a term to identify a developing concept, or when 
by the cogency of his summary and the breadth of his knowledge, 
he enriches a concept already known. 11 

a. Arrangement of an Extended Definition 

The extended definition is frequently, though not necessarily, an 
elaboration of a formal definition. Unlike the formal definition, the 
extended definition does not have a rigid pattern. Its form develops 
from the nature of the concept and the nature of the writer's contri- 
bution to it. The arrangement of the extended definition is analogous 
to the arrangement of a paragraph, although the definition may at 
times extend far beyond a paragraph in length. The definition may, 
like a paragraph beginning with a topic sentence, open with a formal 
definition and then explain it, as in the following example. 

The tides are a response of the mobile waters of the ocean to the 
pull of the moon and 'the more distant sun. In theory, there is a gravi- 
tational attraction between every drop of sea water and even the 
outermost star of the universe. In practice, however, the pull of the 
remote stars is so slight as to be obliterated in the vaster movements 
by which the ocean yields to the moon and the sun. Anyone who has 
lived near tidewater knows that the moon, far more than the sun, 
controls the tides. He has noticed that, just as the moon rises later 
each day by fifty minutes, on the average, than the day before, so, in 
most places, the time of high tide is correspondingly later each day. 
And as the moon waxes and wanes in its monthly cycle, so the height 
of the tide varies. Twice each month, when the moon is a mere thread 
of silver in the sky, and again when it is full, we have the highest 
of the high tides, called the springs. At these times sun, moon, and 
earth are directly in line and the pull of the two heavenly bodies is 
added together to bring the water high on the beaches, and send its 
surf leaping upward against the sea cliffs, and draw a brimming tide 

11 William James' definition of "stream of consciousness" which is cited later 
in this section is an example of creative definition. 


into the harbors so that the boats float high beside their wharfs. And 
twice each month, at the quarters of the moon, when sun, moon, and 
earth lie at the apexes of a triangle, and the pull of sun and moon 
are opposed, we have the least tides of the lunar month, called the 
neaps. 12 

Another arrangement possible in extended definition is that of 
William James' classic definition of "stream of consciousness," which 
begins by presenting an analysis of the author's observations and 
introduces the term itself as a climax. This arrangement is compa- 
rable to the inductive paragraph which begins by presenting particu- 
lars and concludes with a generalization. 

Within each personal consciousness, thought is sensibly continuous. 
I can only define "continuous" as that which is without breach, crack, 
or division. The only breaches that can well be conceived to occur 
within the limits of a single mind would either be interruptions, time- 
gaps during which the consciousness went out; or they would be 
breaks in the content of the thought, so abrupt that what followed had 
no connection whatever with what went before. The proposition that 
consciousness feels continuous, means two things: 

a. That even where there is a time-gap the consciousness after it feels 
as if it belonged together with the consciousness before it, as another 
part of the same self; 

b. That the changes from one moment to another in the quality of 
the consciousness are never absolutely abrupt. . . . 

Consciousness, then, does not appear to itself chopped up in bits. 
Such words as "chain" or "train" do not describe it fitly as it presents 
itself in the first instance. It is nothing jointed; it flows. A "river" or 
a "stream" are the metaphors by which it is most naturally described. 
In talking of it hereafter, let us call it the stream of thought, of con- 
sciousness, or of subjective life. 13 

A third arrangement is analogous to the paragraph which opens 
with the topic sentence, develops it, and repeats it in substance at 
the end. This is the pattern of James Harvey Robinson's well-known 
definition of "rationalizing." 14 Early in the definition he makes the 
statement that "most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding 

12 From The Sea Around Us by Rachel L. Carson, p. 152. Copyright 1950, 
1951 by Rachel L. Carson. Reprinted by permission of Oxford University Press. 

13 William James, Psychology, New York, Henry Holt and Company, 1923, 
pp. 157-59. 

14 James Harvey Robinson, The Mind in the Making, New York, Harper & 
Brothers, 1921, pp. 4044. 


arguments for going on believing as we already do." After giving 
numerous illustrations to support this statement, he concludes with 
a formal definition: "Rationalizing is the self-exculpation_which 
occurs when we feel ourselves, or our group, accused of misappre- 
Tiension or error." 

b. Methods of Developing a Definition 

The means of explanation employed in an extended definition must 
depend on the writer's purpose in offering the definition and on the 
nature of the concept. Danielli's analytical definition of narcosis 
emphasizes the complexity of the reactions included under the term. 

Before proceeding in further detail, it will be as well to get some 
idea of what is referred to under the heading of narcosis. It is not 
a word with a single precise meaning. It includes such phenomena as 
the loss of consciousness, inhibition of a reflex, inhibition of the con- 
tractility of, say, heart muscle, inhibition of cell division, inhibition 
of ciliary movement, inhibition of respiration, etc. Usually a given nar- 
cotic substance will produce all these effects, but at different concen- 
trations. . . . From the facts already considered it is improbable that 
all the narcotic actions of a given substance are produced by the same 
mechanism. Hence it does not follow that what is established for a 
narcotic in one connection is necessarily involved in any other action 
involving the same narcotic. 15 

The definition of narcotic drugs in the Uniform Narcotic Drug Act, 
which has been adopted by most of the states to supplement the 
Federal Harrison Anti-Narcotic Law, is entirely different since its 
purpose is to establish a basis for legal action. Provisions 11, 12, 
and 13 of the section enumerating narcotic drugs read: 

"Coca leaves" includes cocaine and any compound, manufacture, 
salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of coca leaves, except deriva- 
tives of coca leaves which do not contain cocaine, ecgonine, or sub- 
stances from which cocaine or ecgonine may be synthesized or made. 

"Opium" includes morphine, codeine, and heroin, and any compound, 
manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of opium, but 
does not include apomorphine or any of its salts. 

"Narcotic drugs" means coca leaves, and opium and every substance 
neither chemically nor physically distinguishable from them. 16 

15 Danielli, op. cit., pp. 97-99. 

16 Emanuel Hayt and Lillian R. Hayt, Legal Guide for American Hospitals, 
New York, Hospital Textbook Company, 1940, pp. 401-03; see also p. 360. 


Since the essence of definition is distinction, an extended definition 
may be devoted to clarifying the distinction between concepts which 
are popularly confused. Lewis Mumford here distinguishes between 
a machine and a tool. 

The essential distinction between a machine and a tool lies in the 
degree of independence in the operation from the skill and motive 
power of the operator: the tool lends itself to manipulation, the ma- 
chine to automatic action. The degree of complexity is unimportant: 
for, using the tool, the human hand and eye perform complicated ac- 
tions which are the equivalent, in function, of a well developed ma- 
chine; while, on the other hand, there are highly effective machines, 
like the drop hammer, which do very simple tasks, with the aid of 
a relatively simple mechanism. The difference between tools and ma- 
chines lies primarily in the degree of automatism they have reached: 
the skilled tool-user becomes more accurate and more automatic, in 
short, more mechanical, as his originally voluntary motions settle down 
into reflexes, and on the other hand, even in the most completely auto- 
matic machine, there must intervene somewhere, at the beginning and 
the end of the process, first in the original design, and finally in the 
ability to overcome defects and to make repairs, the conscious par- 
ticipation of a human agent. 

Moreover, between the tool and the machine there stands another 
class of objects, the machine-tool: here, in the lathe or the drill, one 
has the accuracy of the finest machine coupled with the skilled at- 
tendance of the workman. When one adds to this mechanical complex 
an external source of power, the line of division becomes even more 
difficult to establish. In general, the machine emphasizes specialization 
of function, whereas the tool indicates flexibility: a planing machine 
performs only one operation, whereas a knife can be used to smooth 
wood, to carve it, to split it, or to pry open a lock, or to drive in a 
screw. The automatic machine, then, is a very specialized kind of 
adaptation; it involves the notion of an external source of power, a 
more or less complicated inter-relation of parts, and a limited kind 
of activity. From the beginning the machine was a sort of minor or- 
ganism, designed to perform a single set of functions. 17 

Readers often have a superficial acquaintance with a concept with- 
out having much knowledge of its historical background. In the 
following paragraph Lynn Thorndike offers an historical explanation 
of the term magic. 

17 Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization, New York, Harcourt, Brace 
and Company, 1934, pp. 10-11. 


Some may think it strange that I associate magic so closely with 
the history of thought, but the word comes from the Magi or wise men 
of Persia or Babylon, to whose lore and practices the name was ap- 
plied by the Greeks and Romans, or possibly we may trace its ety- 
mology a little farther back to the Sumerian or Turanian word imga 
or unga, meaning deep or profound. The exact meaning of the word, 
"magic," was a matter of much uncertainty even in classical and 
medieval times, as we shall see. There can be no doubt, however, that 
it was then applied not merely to an operative art, but also to a mass 
of ideas or doctrine, and that it represented a way of looking at the 
world. This side of magic has sometimes been lost sight of in hasty 
or assumed modern definitions which seem to regard magic as merely 
a collection of rites and feats. In the case of primitive men and savages 
it is possible that little thought accompanies their actions. But until 
these acts are based upon or related to some imaginative, purposive, 
and rational thinking, the doings of early man cannot be distinguished 
as either religious or scientific or magical. Beavers build dams, birds 
build nests, ants excavate, but they have no magic just as they have 
no science or religion. Magic implies a mental state and so may be 
viewed from the standpoint of the history of thought. In process of 
time, as the learned and educated lost faith in magic, it was degraded 
to the low practices and beliefs of the ignorant and vulgar. It was 
this use of the term that was taken up by anthropologists and by them 
applied to analogous doings and notions of primitive men and savages. 
But we may go too far in regarding magic as a purely social product 
of tribal society: magicians may be, in Sir James Frazer's words, "the 
only professional class" among the lowest savages, but note that they 
rank as a learned profession from the start. It will be chiefly through 
the writings of learned men that something of their later history and 
of the growth of interest in experimental science will be traced in 
this work. Let me add that in this investigation all arts of divination, 
including astrology, will be reckoned as magic; I have been quite un- 
able to separate the two either in fact or logic. . . , 18 

Quite different from this question of historical relationships is the 
problem of defining something that is always with us. In defining 
the terms weather and climate Glenn T. Trewartha uses a combination 
of analysis and comparison. 

The condition of the atmosphere at any time or place, i.e., the weather, 
is expressed by a combination of several elements, primarily (a) tem- 
perature and (b) precipitation and humidity but to a lesser degree 

18 Lynn Thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science, Vol. I, 
New York, Columbia University Press, 1929, pp. 4-5. 


by (c) winds and (d) air pressure as well. These four are called the 
elements of weather and climate because they are the ingredients out 
of which various weather and climatic types are compounded. The 
weather of any place is the sum total of its atmospheric conditions 
(temperature, pressure, winds, moisture, and precipitation) for a short 
period of time. It is the momentary state of the atmosphere. Thus we 
speak of the weather, not the climate, for today or of last week. Cli- 
mate, on the other hand, is a composite or generalization of the variety 
of day-to-day weather conditions. It is not just "average weather," for 
the variations from the mean, or average, are as important as the 
mean itself. 19 

One of the most valuable methods of extending a definition is 
illustration. This method, used in the following example, is particu- 
larly appropriate in scientific writing because it directs the attention 
of the reader to the basis in fact and observation of the term to be 

Muscle is a tissue that generates motion. There are many sorts of 
motion and correspondingly there are different sorts of muscle. There 
is, for instance, the rapid voluntary movement, such as that of the 
wing muscle of the housefly with its three hundred full cycles per 
second, and there is the muscle of the clam which contracts once and 
may keep the shell closed for the rest of the week. Other muscles work 
by producing rhythmic involuntary movements or light changes in 
their "tone." The muscle of the pregnant uterus may be dormant for 
months, to enter into violent activity at the end of its term, and relapse 
into inactivity immediately after delivery. The slower autonomous 
movements are performed mostly by the so-called smooth muscles, 
which consist of spindle-shaped cells dispersed in our organs and 
blood vessels, while rapid voluntary movements are performed by the 
impressive mass of "cross-striated" muscles. . . . 20 

From the foregoing examples it is evident that many methods 
among them analysis, enumeration, distinction, historical explana- 
tion, comparison, and illustration may be used in developing an 
extended definition. The writer should not, however, select his method 
arbitrarily; his skill lies in foreseeing tbe ways in which a term is 
likely to be hazy or obscure to his readers and in offering the needed 
clarification. In scientific writing definitions are offered early in a 

19 By permission from An Introduction to Weather and Climate, 2nd ed., by 
Glenn T. Trewartha, p. 5. Copyright 1943. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 

20 A. Szent-Gyorgyi, Chemistry of Muscular Contraction, 2nd ed., New York, 
Academic Press, Inc., 1951, p. 8. 


paper to explain the use of key terms and elsewhere as terms are 
introduced which may not be clear to the reader. Strictly technical 
writing requires fewer definitions than scientific writing in general 
since the reader may be assumed to have a comprehensive knowledge 
of the terminology of his specialty. However, even in technical writ- 
ing it is sometimes necessary for the writer to define terms the 
meanings of which overlap or to explain which of variant systems 
of terminology or nomenclature he is following. 


The words used in English as terms in the natural sciences come 
in the main from three sources: (1) they are inherited from much 
earlier times when the sciences were not divided into as many dif- 
ferent disciplines as at present, (2) they are everyday English words 
used in a technical sense, (3) they are words borrowed from other 
languages or devised, usually through a combination of Greek or 
Latin roots, to fill new needs as they arise. Terms are very rarely 
entirely new coinages without recognizable antecedents. Edmund 
Andrews has noted as one of these rare coinages the word gas, which 
the seventeenth century Brussels chemist van Helmont devised on the 
model of the Greek chaos to designate the substance which fills the 
atmosphere, formerly supposed to be a void. After noting this excep- 
tion, Andrews continues: 

Exceptions such as these serve merely to emphasize the fact that lan- 
guage flows as a continuous stream; nearly all words have fathers and 
forefathers going back into the mist of antiquity. "Derivation" is an 
irrigator's term. It originally described the various rivulets and rills 
he spread over his fields from a common source. Our purpose is to 
trace these rivulets as far as possible towards their sources. Here the 
dictionary fails us. Unfortunately, the quotations in the Oxford Dic- 
tionary go back only as far as 1300 A.D. For the scientist that is not 
enough. The English language may begin then, but the scientific lan- 
guage is that of thought. It goes back through French, Latin, Greek, 
and many other tongues to the dawn of learning, and it matters not 
a whit when and where these thoughts overlap linguistic boundaries. 
They are as continual as the flow of a river, perhaps dammed here and 
there at some language barrier, but always eventually overflowing as 
a waterfall. 21 

21 Edmund Andrews, A History of Scientific English, New York, Richard R. 
Smith, 1947, p. 12. 


As the preceding quotation suggests, the language of science has 
always been in a degree international. The symbols and many of 
the terms of science are internationally known and recognized. The 
elements from which many scientific terms are constructed have 
descended to us from ancient and medieval times when Latin was 
the international language of learning. Thus a student can learn a 
specialized terminology much more rapidly and accurately if he 
familiarizes himself with the Greek and Latin elements from which 
that terminology has been in part built up. This method is most 
applicable to the language of all science and, indeed, of all abstract 
thought. Though a study of the derivation of words is often thought 
of as an excursion into romance, it can be a real and practical help 
to the student of science. 

A. Extensive Use of Greek and Latin 

Comparatively few scientific terms have descended directly from 
ancient science; most are combined forms built up out of Greek and 
Latin elements. The word pediatrician, for instance, is made up of 
three such elements, ped, from the Greek word for child, iatric from 
the Greek word for healing, and the suffix ian, meaning one who. 
Combined they mean a physician who treats the diseases of children. 22 
A limited number of prefixes, suffixes, and combining forms have been 
used many times over to form new terms. The hema or hemo (Greek 
haima, blood) appears at the beginning of thirty words in the 
American College Dictionary; in Stedman's Medical Dictionary four- 
teen columns are required to list the terms beginning with this form. 
The student, by learning a relatively small number of combining 
forms, can learn a scientific terminology rapidly; he need not learn 
the Latin and Greek languages themselves. 

Frequent reference to a dictionary in the early stages of learning 
a science will give a student a knowledge of derivations on which 
he can build a strong scientific vocabulary. Moreover, most of the 
combining forms appear in common words from which they can be 
remembered. Guessing at derivations without using a dictionary, 

22 Charles Barrett Brown has observed that the literal translation of a word 
of Greek or Latin origin may take the place of a definition. Gastralgia, from 
the Greek gaster (stomach) plus aLgos (pain), means pain (class) in the stom- 
ach (differentia). Charles Barrett Brown, The Contribution of Greek to English, 
Nashville, Tenn., The Vanderbilt University Press, 1942, p. ix. 


however, is hazardous since two distinct combining forms sometimes 
have the same English spelling. For example, people are often con- 
fused by the form ped (pedo) from the Greek pais, paidos, meaning 
child, as in pediatrician and pedagogue., and the form ped (pedi) 
from the Latin, pes, pedis, meaning foot, as in pedal, pedicle, and 

In order to show the possibilities of rapid vocabulary building 
through a knowledge of classic roots, selected lists of Greek and Latin 
elements which have contributed to specialized terminology are given 
in Appendix A, p. 388. The items have been chosen and arranged to 
show how knowledge of the roots in a familiar word may be the key 
to the meaning of a difficult scientific term. These lists are intended 
only to point the way to further study. An extended list of Greek 
words which have contributed to English vocabulary is given with 
derivatives in Brown's The Contribution of Greek to English. Lists 
showing the derivation of medical terms are included in 0. H. Perry 
Pepper's Medical Etymology, and examples showing the use of Greek 
and Latin forms in scientific terminology generally are given in 
John Newbold Hough's Scientific Terminology. 

Occasionally an objection is raised to the large number of classical 
borrowings in science and an attempt is made to substitute simpler 
expressions, as stain-haters and stain-lovers for chromophobes and 
chromophils or animals without backbones for invertebrates. There 
remain, however, thousands of terms which cannot be translated 
without creating extremely clumsy compounds or circumlocutions. 
It should be remembered, also, that borrowing freely from Latin 
and Greek, and to a lesser extent from other languages, has been a 
habit of the English language for hundreds of years. 

B. The Problem of Eponyms 

An eponym is a term derived from the name of the person credited 
with the description, discovery, or invention which gave rise to 
the use of the term. Such terms record many chapters in* the his- 
tory of science; the genus of microorganisms known as Rickettsia, 
for instance, commemorates the work of the American scientist 
H. T. Ricketts (1871-1910), who established the transmission of 
Rocky Mountain spotted fever by the tick. Other eponyms familiar 


to students in sciences are Fehling's solution in chemistry, Boyle's 
law in physics, Gresham's law in economics, the Binet-Simon test 
in psychology, the Pythagorean theorem in mathematics. Many 
eponyms, such as the Fahrenheit thermometer and the pasteurization 
of milk, have passed into everyday use. 

In certain sciences, particularly medicine and anatomy, eponyms 
have become so numerous as to be confusing. Also, as Morris Fish- 
bein has observed in Medical Writing, when a discovery is credited 
to several persons, national pride may lead to different names for 
the phenomenon in different countries. Because of the difficulties 
arising from the use of eponyms, various writers on scientific termi- 
nology have deplored their persistence. Others are reluctant to aban- 
don eponyms because they perpetuate scientific history. Pepper gives 
an excellent and objective summary of the matter. 

Most eponyms perpetuate the name of the discoverer or the first de- 
scriber of some structure or phenomenon, but few survive long for 
this reason alone. As a rule, an eponym remains in use only if no 
satisfactory term can be found to take its place. For example, no brief 
adequate term has ever been suggested to describe all that is con- 
veyed by the ancient eponym "Hippocratic facies," with the sunken 
cheeks and pinched nose of the terminal moribund state. Nor have 
good substitutes come forward to push many of the anatomical epo- 
nyms into the discard. Fallupio (1523-1562) and Eustachio (1520- 
1574) still plague us with their respective tubes. The term "Broca's 
area" also is no help with our medical speech. 

Eponymic titles are given to diseases only for lack of something bet- 
ter. The name Bright's disease persisted longer than it should have, and 
the name Hodgkin's disease is still used because of our ignorance, in 
spite of the cumbersome substitutes suggested. Such eponyms persist 
and defy the advance of knowledge, but must always lose out in the 
end, when science learns enough to justify the coining of some appro- 
priate term. Often an eponym is a clear indication of our ignorance, 
and constitutes a challenge to the investigator to rid our terminology of 
one more eponym. Any disease designated by an eponym is a good 
subject for research. 23 

The problems of eponymic terminology must be left to the specialist. 
But so long as eponyms exist and some of them seem destined to 

23 0. H. Perry Pepper, Medical Etymology, Philadelphia, W. B. Saunders 
Company, 1949, pp. 11-12. 


live a long time they will lead the general reader into pleasant 
bypaths of scientific history. 


Nothing which has been said in this chapter should be taken to 
justify the use of technical terminology where it is inappropriate. 
Good scientific style (see Chapter 8) does not permit the indiscrimi- 
nate use of elaborate terminology. Nor do simple ideas gain scientific 
standing by being encumbered with erudite diction. Half a century 
ago Greenough and Kittredge in Words and Their Ways in English 
Speech stated a rule for guidance in choosing between "learned 
words and popular words": "The sole criterion of choice consists 
in the appropriateness of one's language to the subject or the occa- 
sion." 24 More recently, W. C. Allee, a successful writer for both 
general and technical readers, has summed up the case for simplicity 
and directness. 

Despite much practice to the contrary, any biological fact which con- 
cerns us can be accurately described and the conclusions from its 
study be clearly expressed in relatively simple and direct language. 
In research reports and scholarly discussions there is need for the 
conciseness and precision made possible by technical language. Science 
has no need, however, and is ill-served by any tendency to develop 
a cult of obscurity. Scientists must be free to attack the unknown as 
effectively as they can and in return for intellectual freedom they 
have an obligation, which rests heavily on those able to do so, to 
interpret research results in terms which can be understood by intelli- 
gent and interested people. 25 

Occasionally a writer or speaker who wishes to appear learned 
will not be content to use the terminology of one science but will 
borrow terms from several specialized fields and use them indiscrimi- 
nately. Such a mixture may be impressive to the uninformed, but 
the informed reader is likely to conclude that the writer's confusion 
of mind is as great as his confusion of language. Such a misuse of 
scientific terminology is the mark of the pseudo-scientist rather than 
the scientist. The person of truly scientific mind respects words for 
what they represent. 

24 James B. Greenough and George L. Kittredge, Words and Their Ways in 
English Speech, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1901, p. 27. 

25 Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Abelard-Schuman, Inc., from 
Cooperation Among Animals by W. C. Allee, copyright 1938, 1951, pp. 17-18. 



1. Discuss the variant meanings of the following words when used in 
different contexts: radical (mathematics and politics, for example), 
collaborator, correlation, co-ordinate, tonic (music, philology, medi- 
cine), equilibrium, insular, design, symbol, host, culture, potential. 

2. Write a formal definition of each of the words in Exercise 1 as it is 
used as a term in a single field or discipline. 

3. Write an operational definition of one of the following terms : specific 
gravity, square root, area, circumference, probable error, calorie. 

4. Would it be possible to define profession operationally? Anti-intellec- 
tualism? If not, what type of definition would you choose to explain 
the sense in which you use and understand these words? As a class 
project, let each member of your class prepare a definition of one of 
these terms and compare the definitions to determine the extent of 

5. Write an extended explanation of one of the following pairs of terms, 
using comparison and contrast as means of development: in vivo and 
in vitro, mistake and fallacy, stress and strain, meiosis and mitosis, 
function and dysfunction, ontogeny and phylogeny, colloquialism and 
provincialism, authoritative and authoritarian, mass and weight, evi- 
dence and proof. 

6. Write extended explanations of the meanings of the following words, 
using derivation and historical background as means of development: 
empirical, paradox, cosmic, communication, panacea, cybernetics. 

7. In Harper's Magazine, 209:34, July 1954, Ian Stevenson makes the 
statement: "I wish the word psychosomatic had never been invented. 
It has aroused new interest in an old subject, but at the same time 
as so many words do it has blocked the growth of wider concepts." 
In what sense may words be said to block the growth of wider con- 
cepts? Can you give other examples? 

8. "It [mathematics] is a language, a tool, and a game a method of 
describing things conveniently and efficiently, a shorthand adapted to 
playing the game of common sense or logic, as it is called in scien- 
tific circles. It is a human phenomenon, not an infallible proof of 
anything." Would you characterize the foregoing statements of Mario 
G. Salvadori in "Math's a Pleasure," Harper's Magazine, 209:90, 
August 1954, as definition or description? Comment on the choice of 
words (language, tool, game}. What is the importance of the con- 
cluding statement? 

9. Show the influence of the prefix or suffix in the following groups of 
words: traction, subtraction, contraction, distraction, retraction; en- 


demic, epidemic, pandemic; synthetic, symphony, syndicate, syntax, 
synonym; scientist, artist, analyst, deist. 

10. E. G. Conklin in Heredity and Environment objects to the dictionary 
definition of heredity as "the transmission of qualities or characteris- 
tics, mental or physical, from parents to offspring" on the ground 
that the qualities or characteristics as such are not transmitted from 
one generation to the next. Can you formulate a more satisfactory 
definition of heredity? 

11. Stuart Chase in Power of Words, p. 276, refers to a saying at Antioch 
College, "Education is the only commodity that the customer tries to 
get as little of as he can for his money." What relationship does this 
statement have to the formal definition? 



I. Locating source material 

A. Bibliographic aids 

B. The questionnaire and the interview 
II. Evaluating sources of data 

A. Primary and secondary sources 

B. The consideration of authority 

C. The relevance of date 

III. Recording data 

A. The card file system 

1. Bibliography cards 

2. Note cards 

B. Good procedure in note-taking 

IV. A list of reference works 

Wherever there is the slightest possibility for the 
human mind to know, there is a legitimate problem 
of science. KARL PEARSON, The Grammar of Science. 


The data in original scientific papers and reports are derived 
from varied sources. Archaeologists dig deep into the earth for 
knowledge of the past, as did those who have been seeking the ancient 
tombs of the Pharaohs. Naturalists observe the minutiae of plant 
and animal life, as Darwin did during the journey recounted in 
The Voyage of the Beagle. Oceanographers enter the seas, as William 
Beebe did in photographing life on the ocean floor. The astronomer 
searcfies the heavens; the chemist or physicist experiments in his 
laboratory; the physician studies his clinical notes. 

Such scientific findings are unavailable for general study until 
they are housed in museums or recorded in print and deposited in 
libraries. There these records in turn become sources of material for 
further research. Indeed, the existence and value of many library 



materials is wholly due to faithful recording of work done in the 
field and in the laboratory. Here, as Francis Bacon put it, "Books 
must follow sciences, and not sciences books." 

The methods used in field and laboratory investigation must be 
learned through the individual sciences; these methods are neces- 
sarily excluded from this chapter, which deals primarily with library 
research. The questionnaire and interview exceptions to this rule 
come within the scope of the chapter insofar as they may be regarded 
as general, nontechnical methods of investigation. 

A. Bibliographic Aids 

In library research difficulties may arise from an overabundance 
of material related to the subject. The question "Can I find enough 
material?" is often beside the point. On the single subject of aureo- 
mycin, for example, the Lederle laboratories have listed a bibliogra- 
phy of 1,915 papers published between November 1948 and Novem- 
ber 1950. The World List of Scientific Periodicals 1 refers in its 
Preface to a coverage of 50,000 publications. In this vast maze of 
published matter, the writer must locate the sources which deal with 
his problem and select those which meet his needs. 

The usefulness of the card catalog, encyclopedias, and other gen- 
eral reference works is recognized by most students who undertake 
research. Such general guides often lead, however, to secondary 
sources of limited value to the specialist. This chapter, therefore, 
will emphasize the use of the more specialized reference materials. 

It is good practice in searching for material on a scientific subject 
to begin with recently published papers. Beginning with current 
publications and working back through earlier issues will often save 
time which might otherwise be wasted on outdated observations and 
involved discussions of theories later revised or discarded. An espe- 
cially helpful type of paper is what is known in science as a "review." 
(See Chapter 10.) Some scientific publications, such as Chemical 
Reviews, are devoted to papers which summarize and interpret the 
reports which have previously appeared on a research problem. It 
is a good plan, also, to begin with recent issues in using indexes and 

1 World List of Scientific Periodicals 1900-1950, 3rd ed., New York, Aca- 
demic Press, Inc., 1952. 


The index may be defined as a detailed alphabetical key to names, 
places, and topics in a book, an encyclopedia, periodicals, or other 
printed matter. The index may appear at the end of a book or, like 
periodical indexes, may be issued in separate volumes appearing at 
intervals. It may be general in nature like The Readers 9 Guide to 
Periodical Literature or highly specialized like the Index Medicus. 
Some publications list separately author, title, and subject indexes; 
in such cases all three indexes must be checked. Wherever the index 
appears, its alphabetical arrangement permits quick reietetxce, xxauaSX^ 
to a wide range of material. 

An abstract is by definition a summary or condensation usually 
short of a statement, document, article, or lecture. As used in 
science, it serves as both a reference to an article and an indication 
of its content. (See Chapter 13.) The use of abstracts involves 
more steps than the use of an ordinary index. You first look up the 
author or topic in an index which will give the reference to an 
abstract of the original article. You then consult the abstract, which 
will contain a reference to the journal in which the original article 
appeared, in the event you should want to read it. Abstracts do not 
serve as satisfactory substitutes for the original articles and should 
never be treated and quoted from as original sources. If the original 
is not available locally, the abstract makes it possible to decide 
whether to look for the article elsewhere. If an original is unobtain- 
able, it may be permissible in a student bibliography to list the 
abstract if its nature is clearly indicated. 

Abstracting services of great importance to students of science 
are Biological Abstracts, published under the sponsorship of the 
Union of American Biological Societies, and Chemical Abstracts, 
published by the American Chemical Society. In addition to the 
annual index, Chemical Abstracts has Decennial Indexes, of which 
the fourth appeared in 1946. One of the most ambitious abstracting 
services ever undertaken is Excerpta Medica 9 begun in 1947 and 
designed to present abstracts "of every article in the fields of clinical 
and experimental medicine from every available medical journal in 
the world." Although these abstracts are published in Amsterdam 
and cover journals in many languages, they appear in English. 

A bibliography is a complete or selective list of works concerning 
an individual author or subject. In addition to the bibliographies 


which accompany scientific and scholarly books and articles, many 
bibliographies are published separately. Annotated bibliographies, 
which include short descriptions of the individual items, are par- 
ticularly useful. Available bibliographies on a subject may often 
be located through "bibliographies of bibliographies," such as the 
Bibliographic Index and Besterman's World Bibliography of Bib- 

Section IV of this chapter lists dictionaries, encyclopedias, indexes, 
abstracts, bibliographies, and other reference works. Nevertheless, 
though bibliographies, indexes, and abstracts are indispensable aids 
in scientific research, they cannot be depended upon to list all 
the references on a subject. Cross references, footnotes, and chance 
allusions will sometimes offer the only clues to some sources of 

The question often arises as to how extensive a coverage of sources 
is necessary. For most student papers a selective coverage is suf- 
ficient. On advanced levels of research the coverage approaches the 
scholarly ideal of completeness. (The question of coverage will be 
treated in more detail in Chapter 10, The Research Paper.) 

B. The Questionnaire 2 and the Interview 

The questionnaire has been defined as "a set of questions to be 
answered by the informant without the personal aid of an investigator 
or enumerator." 3 The successful use of the questionnaire depends 
largely upon the skill with which it is planned, framed, and dis- 
tributed. As a research tool, the questionnaire requires judicious 
control even in the hands of the expert. It is hoped, however, that 
the suggestions offered here will serve to enable the student to 
discriminate among claims and findings based on the use of the 

Once the purpose of the questionnaire is defined and the nature 
of the information desired is clearly in mind, clear and specific 
questions should be framed to elicit the information from the in- 
formants. For example, it is better to say, "From what institution 

2 In addition to its use as a tool in social science research, the questionnaire 
is, of course, commonly employed commercially in market research, opinion, 
and poll surveys. 

3 Wilson Gee, Social Science Research Methods, New York, Appleton-Century- 
Crofts, Inc., 1950, p. 314. 


did you receive your undergraduate degree?" than "Where did you 
attend college?" Results are easier to tabulate if the questions are 
"closed" that is, questions to which the possible answers are limited 
to "Yes" or "No" or to a few choices such as "Poor," "Fair," "Good," 
"Excellent." However, "open" questions permitting greater freedom 
of response must be used if the range of replies cannot be predicted 
or if the purpose is to encourage the free expression of ideas. Leading 
questions questions so framed as to suggest the answer desired 
should be avoided. Replies to a questionnaire will be encouraged if 
it is accompanied by a letter explaining its purpose and by directions 
telling how to fill it out and return it. (An example of a questionnaire 
used for a specific purpose appears in Appendix A, p. 397.) 

In spite of its usefulness, the questionnaire has incurred criticism 
because it has at times been indiscriminately used and the results 
injudiciously interpreted. (See Chapter 6.) Certain criteria are perti- 
nent in evaluating a questionnaire and its findings. 

1. Was the questionnaire directed to a specific purpose? 

2. Was the information requested restricted to facts or to the 
expression of opinions which would not be affected by emotional 

3. Did the number of replies to the questionnaire represent an 
adequate sampling of the group? 

4. Could the responses obtained be considered representative of 
the group as a whole? 

Useful as the questionnaire is, it cannot replace the personal inter- 
view. Sometimes a single individual is in possession of a large part 
of the information desired and will express himself more freely and 
more willingly in an interview than in a questionnaire. Again, the 
interview may uncover unexpected or unanticipated information. 
Adequate preparation for the interview and an accurate record are 
as important as the conduct of the interview itself. A tactful letter 
requesting an appointment should explain the purpose for which 
the information is needed and the use to which it will be put. This 
letter should also indicate the probable length of time required for 
the interview and the scope and nature of the inquiries to be made. 
In the interest of accuracy the record should be made as soon after 
the interview as possible. 


The following suggestions originally offered in a course in Indus- 
trial Publishing of the New York Business Publishers Association 
may serve as a guide for the conduct of the interview. 

1. Make a definite appointment with the man to be interviewed, and 
keep it to the minute. 

2. Learn as much as possible about him before you go to the inter- 
view. . . . 

3. Know the subject of the interview. The best interviewer is one 
with whom the interviewed can talk on something like equal terms 
and not have to explain every little thing in ABC language. 

4. Do not expect the interviewed to volunteer information or to take 
the lead in conducting the interview; that is your job. 

5. Frame in advance some pertinent questions that get at the heart 
of the subject. 

6. Do only as much talking as is necessary to keep the person inter- 
viewed talking. 

7. Observe the courtesies of your position. Don't argue, don't contra- 
dict, don't insist. Discuss the points that require some comeback 
in order to bring out their meaning, or to bring up the other side 
of the question, or to keep the interview moving. 

8. Keep some . . . questions up your sleeve with which to bring the 
interview back to its subject matter, if the interviewed becomes 

9. If the information quoted is of an important character, or involves 
many statistical references, figures, mathematical formulas, or 
other exact statements requiring careful checking, it is generally 
best to submit a written record of the interview for approval before 
printing it. 

10. Do not overstay your time. Leave while the going is good. 4 


Broadly speaking, everything on earth is a source of knowledge 
about some phase of natural processes or human activity. A school- 
boy's letter may be just as valid a source for the purpose of studying 
child psychology as a letter of Woodrow Wilson's is for the purpose 
of studying the history of World War I. Some of our knowledge of 
Greek civilization is derived from the ornamentation of Greek vases; 
we learn of medieval musical instruments from their depiction in 
art works of the time. The evaluation of sources involves distinguish- 

4 Frank Kerekes and Robley Winfrey, Report Preparation, 2nd ed., Ames, 
Iowa State College Press, 1951, p. 58. 


ing between primary and secondary sources, weighing of authority 
as to competence and bias, and considering the significance of the 

A. Primary and Secondary Sources 

It is customary to classify sources as primary and secondary. The 
primary, or first, source of knowledge is, in one sense, the original 
experiment, the insect preserved in amber, the inscription on an 
ancient tomb, that is, the source which precedes the first written 

The distinction between primary and secondary sources is usually, 
however, applied to written or printed sources. While in scientific 
work the final referent is always experiment or observation, no 
scientist can possibly repeat all the experiments of others. In scien- 
tific literature the scientist's original reports of his experiments are 
considered primary sources ; reviews and books of others who analyze 
and interpret these original reports are regarded as secondary sources. 
For example, in a study of the work of Antoine Lavoisier, which 
profoundly altered the science of chemistry, Lavoisier's notebooks, 
reports, and treatises would be primary sources. All the biographi- 
cal, historical, and scientific works which have been written about 
Lavoisier since he was guillotined at the time of the French Revolu- 
tion would be secondary sources. 

The writer of a research paper will use primary and secondary 
sources for different purposes. Though there is no substitute for 
first-hand knowledge, an authoritative secondary source will give 
perspective and permit the intelligent use of primary sources. The 
secondary source which is based on other secondary sources or which 
stresses sensational details should be treated with great caution. 
Wherever possible the reliability of a secondary source should be 
checked against the primary source. Encyclopedias are, of course, 
always secondary sources and are subject to misuse. While an authori- 
tative encyclopedia aifords a balanced account of a broad and com- 
plex subject and may offer useful references, not even the beginning 
student should limit himself to encyclopedias or become dependent 
upon them. A paper can be no better than its sources, and it is 
expected that a research paper (see Chapter 10) will include repre- 


sentative primary sources and exclude those secondary materials 
which are remote from the original source of knowledge. 

B. The Consideration of Authority 

Whether a source is primary or secondary, the degree of authority 
it represents should be considered. Two factors are generally held to 
affect the authority of a source: competence and bias. In a scientific 
or technical field competence is not ordinarily difficult to establish. 
Workers who have been adequately trained in a specialized field are 
supposedly qualified to report their own experimental results. Each 
field has its recognized leaders or experts. When a source appears 
doubtful, the professional affiliations of the author and the reputation 
of the agency which issued the publication are guides to its relia- 

Bias, or a writer's tendency to observe, select, and interpret data 
from a distorted or limited point of view, may be difficult to detect. 
Charles V. Langlois and Charles Seignobos have suggested questions 
which test the good faith and accuracy of writers. 5 Mary E. Richmond 
has summed up these questions as they apply in social work, but they 
are applicable to writing in all sciences. 

Good Faith. Were there any practical advantages to be gained by 
the witness who made the statement in its present form? Had he an 
interest in deceiving? What interest did he think he had? (We must 
look for the answer in his tastes and ideals, not in our own.) If there 
was no individual interest to serve, was there a collective interest, 
such as that of a family, a religious denomination, a political party? 
. . . Was some rule or custom, some sympathy or antipathy, dominat- 
ing him? Was personal or collective vanity involved? Did his ideas 
of etiquette, of what politeness demanded, run counter to making a 
perfectly truthful statement? ... Or again, has he been betrayed into 
telling a good story, because it made an appeal to the artistic sense 
latent somewhere in all of us? 

Accuracy. Was the statement an answer to a question or a series 
of questions? (It is necessary to apply a special criticism to every 
statement obtained by interrogation.) What was the question put, and 
what are the preoccupations to which it may have given rise in the 
mind of the person interrogated? Was the observer well situated for 

5 Charles V. Langlois and Charles Seignobos, Introduction to the Study of 
History, translated by G. Berry, London, Duckworth and Company, 1898, pp. 


observing? Was he possessed of the special experience or general 
intelligence necessary for understanding the facts? How long before 
he recorded what he observed? Or did he record it, like some news- 
paper accounts of meetings, before it happened? Finally, was the fact 
stated of such a nature that it could not have been learned by obser- 
vation alone? 6 

The forms of bias detected by these questions arise chiefly from 
two causes, direct self-interest and indirect self-interest. Direct self- 
interest may be suspected wherever material or financial gain is 
involved. For this reason the amount and character of advertising 
are limited in scientific publications. In general, trade journals or 
publications supported by commercial agencies, though they may 
contain useful material, do not have the same scientific standing as 
publications supported by scientific organizations, educational insti- 
tutions, or endowments. However, some commercially sponsored 
publications have achieved high standing. 

On a much lower level are pseudo research agencies which may 
have high-sounding titles but are actually engaged only in "proving" 
what the promoters wish proved. The antecedents of suspect agencies 
should, as Richard D. Altick has suggested, be subjected to intensive 

... in recent times it has been increasingly the custom for adver- 
tisers to borrow the prestige of science and medicine to enhance the 
reputation of their products. The American people have come to feel 
for the laboratory scientist and the physician an awe once reserved 
for bishops and statesmen. The alleged approval of such men thus 
carries great weight when it is a question of selling something, or 
(which is the same thing) inducing someone to believe something. 
Phrases such as "leading medical authorities say . . ." or "independ- 
ent laboratory tests show . . ." are designed simply to transfer the 
prestige of science, which presumably is incapable of either error or 
corruption, to a toothpaste or a cereal. Seldom if ever are the precise 
"medical authorities" or "independent laboratories" named. But the 
mere phrases have vast weight with the uncritical. Similarly too the 
honorific "Dr." or "professor" implies that the person quoted speaks 
with all the authority of which learned men are capable when as a 
matter of fact "doctorates" can be bought from mail-order colleges. 
Whenever, therefore, an attempt is made to convince by appeal to the 
prestige that surrounds the learned, the reader should demand full 

6 Mary E. Richmond, Social Diagnosis, New York, Russell Sage Foundation, 
1917, p. 64. 


credentials. Just what medical authorities say this? Can they be 
trusted? What independent laboratories made the test and what, 
actually, did the tests reveal? Who is this man tjiat speaks as a 
qualified educator or psychologist or economist? Regardless of the 
fact that he is called "doctor," does he know what he is talking about? 7 

Indirect self-interest may be due to the writer's identification with 
a group, such as a nation or race, a religious denomination, or a 
political party. Even the impulse to tell a good story, which in science 
may manifest itself as the desire to make a sensational discovery, 
stems from what Miss Richmond calls "collective self-esteem." Bias 
due to indirect self-interest occurs in both the natural and the social 
sciences. International in scope as science has always been, national 
predilections have at times hampered scientific progress. The French 
physicians of William Harvey's time were, for example, slow to 
appreciate the Englishman's discovery of the circulation of the blood. 
A recent instance of extreme bias which has attracted wide attention 
is the suppression in the Soviet Union of accepted theories of genetics 
and the promotion in their place of the theory of T. D. Lysenko, 
which, though it "goes along with the philosophy required by Marx 
and Lenin," "brushes aside all of the careful and tested results of 
genetic work of the past forty years." 8 

The influence of bias is marked in the social sciences where issues 
of regional, social, or economic interest are involved. Differences of 
opinion expressed on the United States Supreme Court's decision 
on segregation in the public schools followed largely geographical 
lines. An individual's views on taxation, farm policy, the tariff, 
social security, universal military service, and other public questions 
all tend to be influenced by his political and organizational affilia- 
tions, his age, his geographical environment, and his economic status. 
The reader in the social sciences must frequently raise the question, 
"Is this writer the spokesman for any pressure group?" 

A source is not necessarily to be discarded because it is biased. 
In historical research it may be necessary to weigh the accounts of 
several biased witnesses in an endeavor to get at the truth of the 
matter. (See Appendix A, p. 399.) Or, if the writer is making a study 

7 Richard D. Altick, Preface to Critical Reading, New York, Henry Holt and 
Company, 1951, pp. 145-46. 

8 Harold H. Plough, "Bourgeois Genetics and Party-line Darwinism," The 
American Scholar, 18:291-303, Summer 1949. 


of prejudice or individual differences, the bias of a source may add 
to its value. However, bias should always be taken into account 
and allowance made for it. 

Everyone, it should be noted, has some degree of honest bias in 
the sense of preconceived ideas and natural bent of mind. Some 
political scientists are known to have a conservative, others a liberal 
outlook. The psychologist's point of view differs from the geneticist's, 
the anatomist's from the physiologist's, the engineer's from the 
physicist's, the sociologist's from the archaeologist's. In both the 
natural and social sciences there are schools of thought whose ad- 
herents differ in approach or terminology, sometimes even in basic 
assumptions. This sort of bias should be carefully distinguished from 
the dishonest or unreasoned bias which leads a writer to misrepresent 
or distort facts. 

C. The Relevance of Date 

A final point to be considered in evaluating any source is its date. 
In checking the literature you should make sure that you have 
obtained the most recent material on your subject. In a rapidly 
changing field, out-of-date material may be valueless. In every branch 
of science, however, certain classics, such as Darwin's Origin of 
Species, will always have historic and even intrinsic interest; and a 
secondary source does not supersede the primary source on which 
it is based simply because the secondary source is of later date. 
Like other factors used in evaluating a source, the date should be 
considered in relation to the purpose for which the source is to be 
used. In any event, the date should never be disregarded. 


After a source has been located and its value determined, the task 
remains of taking notes from it for eventual use in writing. The 
longer and more ambitious a research project is, the more important 
an efficient system of taking notes becomes. It is an advantage in 
undergraduate courses to become acquainted with and employ a 
system which will prove adequate for even the most advanced work. 
The card file system, which involves the keeping of notes on cards 
which can be conveniently arranged and filed, is generally used for 


A. The Card File System 

In following the card file system as recommended here, you keep 
for each research project a file of cards, the most popular sizes being 
3x5, and 4x6, and for notes perhaps 5x8. For each book, article, 
or other source used, you prepare a bibliography card, giving all the 
information which will be needed in listing the bibliography at the 
end of the paper and in identifying the source when it is first cited 
in the footnotes. On other cards, known as note cards, you record 
the notes to be used in writing the paper; from these note cards 
you will also get the page references for the footnotes. The use of 
two types of cards saves time since it is not necessary to repeat 
the bibliographical information on the numerous note cards and 
since all the bibliography cards can be kept together for use in 
preparing and, as necessary, revising the bibliography. 

The wide use of the card file system has made its general outlines 
familiar to most students. Its usefulness in library research has been 
proved many times. The cards have several advantages over a note- 
book: they are easier to handle, more convenient to arrange and 
rearrange, and better adapted to the insertion of new material at 
appropriate points. Although this system is not intended to supplant 
data sheets or other forms for keeping laboratory records, variations 
of it are frequently used for keeping records of experimental research. 

7. Bibliography Cards 

It is essential that the bibliography card contain all the information 
needed for the bibliography. Time will be saved in copying the 
information from the cards if the order, punctuation, and other 
formal details of the entry appear exactly as they will in the final 
bibliography. For this reason, those who plan to document their 
papers according to one of the special systems of documentation, such 
as those used in certain biology and chemistry journals (see Chap- 
ter 14), should use the same form for their bibliography cards, as 
illustrated in the examples in this section. 

The essential items on a bibliography card for a book are the 
author, title, place of publication, date of publication, publisher, 
edition if not the first, number of volumes if more than one, and 
number of pages. The bibliography card may also include the 


57^.97 Smallwood, William Martin, in collab- 
oration with Mabel Sarah Coon 
Smallwood , Natural History and the 
American Mind . New York, Columbia 
University Press, 19^1. ^5 PP 

(development of natural history in 
U. S. from colonial times to latter 
part of 19th century, illus.) 

Check List 

1. Author 7. Description (if desired) 

2. Title 8. Call number (if desired) 

3. Place of publication 9. Edition (if needed) 

4. Publisher 10. Number of volumes (if more 

5. Date than one) 

6. Number of pages 


Cournos, John, "God, Existentialism 
and the Novel," The American 
Scholar, 18: 116-2^7 Winter 

Check List 

1. Author 4. Volume (and issue number if 

2. Title of article needed) 

3. Name of periodical 5. Pages 

6. Date 


B Glasser, Otto, "Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen," 
610 Chap. Ik, pp, 293-307, Springfield, 
R Illinois, Charles C. Thomas, 193^- 

(a discussion of observations made in 
1896 on the effects of roentgen rays 
on the human skin and on early exper- 
iments with X-ray therapy.) 

Check List 

1. Author 4. Place of publication 

2. Title 5. Publisher 

3. Chapter and pages 6. Date 


Grosse, A. V., Kirshenbaum, A. D., and 
Hindin, S. G., Science, 105, 101 (19^7) 

Check List 

1. Author 4. Page reference 

2. Name of journal 5. Date 

3. Volume number 


LINEBACK, P. 1933 Anatomy of the Rhesus 

Monkey. Ed. by G. C. Hartraan and 
W. L. Straus, Jr. Williams and 
Wilkins Co., Baltimore. Chap. XII, 

Check List 

1. Author 5. Publisher 

2. Date 6. Place of publication 

3. Title 7. Chapter and pages 

4. Editors 


McFARLANE, W. D., and H. I. MILNE 193 1 *- Iron 
and copper metabolism in the de- 
veloping chick embryo. J. Biol. 
Chem. 107:309-19' 

Check List 

1. Author 4. Name of journal 

2. Date 5. Volume number 

3. Title of article 6. Pages 



number of pages in the introduction and, if desired, the library 
card number and brief descriptive notes about the book. 

The essential items on a bibliography card for a periodical article 
are the author, title of article, name of journal, volume number, 
number of issue if needed, page numbers, and date. Bound journals 
are ordinarily referred to by the volume number; if each issue in 
the volume begins with page one, or if the issue number is needed 
for any other reason, the reference should include the number of 
the issue, placed in parentheses between the volume and the page 
number, thus, 19(3):16-23. 

2. Note Cards 

The essential items for a note card are the topic of the note, a 
designation of the source (abbreviated if desired) , the page reference, 
and the note itself in either summary or quoted form. A topic should 
always be devised to head the note card because a topical heading 
will be an aid in classifying and arranging the notes. A specific 
topic will be much more useful for this purpose than a general one. 
For example, such a heading as "Life of Pasteur" will be of little 
value since many other notes will be concerned with the same topic. 
A more specific heading, such as "Pasteur's methods of work," "Spon- 
taneous generation controversy," or "Pasteur's devotion to the lab- 
oratory," would identify the note with greater accuracy. 

The designation of the source and the page numbers should be 
carefully recorded on the note card because these items will be 
needed for use in preparing the footnotes, and correct identification 
is imperative. Some authorities suggest assigning a number to each 
source and using these key numbers on the note cards, but designat- 
ing the source on the note card by an abbreviated form of the title 
has the advantage of being self-explanatory and of obviating the 
necessity for setting up and using a numerical key. 

The purpose of the study determines both the content and the 
character of the note. Notes which are useful for one purpose may 
have no value whatsoever for another. One note-taker may select 
from a page only an anecdote which illustrates a point he has in 
mind. A cogent summary of a passage may meet the need of another. 
An author's main topic or central theme, historical facts, or statistical 
data may be pertinent to still a different purpose. Specific points 


such as dates and names of persons should be recorded with par- 
ticular care. Such details easily escape the memory, and if they are 
not available when the paper is written, it js likely to take on the 
washed-out, colorless style often characteristic of secondary sources. 
In recording notes you must choose between paraphrase and direct 
quotation from the source. Quotation may be preferable when the 
original wording is striking or epigrammatic, when the statement 
is controversial and may be questioned, or when it is desirable to 
illustrate the style of a writer or period. It is not justifiable to copy 
long passages through inability or disinclination to make discrimi- 
nating choices. In transcribing quoted matter, you should take the 
greatest care to copy accurately the words, capitalization, punctua- 
tion, and even any errors which may appear in the original, and 
to indicate by the use of quotation marks exactly where the quoted 
passage begins and ends. If the quoted passage begins on one page 
of the original and ends on another, it is desirable on the note card 
to indicate the page division by a bar, thus, ". . . the variety 
appears to be / the same as . . ." Then, if only part of the quotation 
is used in the finished paper, the information needed for a correct 
page reference in the footnotes will be available. No omissions may 


Microscope history of 
Smallwood, Nat. Hist, 
and Am. Mind. 

Although the microscope was well under- 
stood by the beginning of the 19th 
p. 195 century, its use required so many 

adjustments in thought and language, 
that it did not come into general use 
in laboratories before i860. 

Check List 

1. Topic 3. Page reference 

2. Source 4. Note 


The empirical nature of Babylonian mathematics 

E. T. Bell, 
Dev. of Math, 

"A third distinction which sharply separates 
the Archimedean mensuration of the circle from 
the Babylonian is exactly the distinction 
between scientific and prescientific thinking. 
A mind which rests content with a collection 
p. 1*5 of facts is no scientific mind. The formulas 
in a mathematical handbook are no more 
mathematics than are the words in a dictionary 
a literary masterpiece. Until some unifying 
principle is conceived by which an amorphous 
mass of details can be given structure, neither 
science nor mathematics has begun." 

Check List 

1. Topic 3. Page reference 

2. Source 4. Note 


Philosophy in current fiction 

"God, Existentialism 
and the Novel." 

Comments that current fiction deals 
p. 116 with "life and death , with God and 
moral values, above all with respon- 

Check List 

1. Topic 3. Page reference 

2. Source 4. Note 


be made which alter the intent of the original statement. Permissible 
omissions may be indicated by the use of three dots at the beginning 
or within a sentence or four dots at the end of a sentence. It is 
equally unpardonable to make use of an author's words without 
employing quotation marks and to ascribe quotations to him in- 
accurately; you should remember that you will be dependent on 
your notes for the information needed for the correct handling of 
quotations in your paper. 

B. Good Procedure in Note-taking 

Sometimes you may find it impossible to take full notes on a 
book at the time of the first reading, or you may prefer not to dull 
the pleasure of reading by full note-taking. Under these circumstances 
you may for the time being choose to jot down only the page 
number and a brief note indicating the relation of the material to 
your purpose. If there are few interruptions for note-taking, you will 
see the material in better perspective and will be better able to judge 
what is relevant to your purpose. 

Before letting the reference leave your hands permanently, you 
should make sure that the bibliography and note cards include every 
item of information which you will need for use in your research 
project. Almost everyone who has done research has had the expe- 
rience of wishing to make use of a reference or passage which had 
come to his attention earlier but which had been lost to him through 
his failure to make proper notes at the time the material was at hand. 
Careful note-taking may at first seem laborious. However, it soon 
gains the ease of habit and any additional effort will be compensated 
for by the comparative facility with which a paper may then be 

Much of this chapter has been devoted to the mechanical side of 
gathering material for research papers. However, the accumulation 
of information which bears on a problem is never a mechanical task. 
The purpose of the research and the questions to which answers are 
sought must guide each stage of the work. 




The Census Volumes, United States Department of Commerce, Bureau 

of the Census 

Chambers's Encyclopaedia, new edition 
Encyclopedia Americana 
Encyclopaedia Britannica 

Foreign Commerce Yearbook, United States Department of Commerce 
The Municipal Year Book 
Official Gazette of the U. S. Patent Office 
The Statesman's Year-book 
The World Almanac and Book of Facts 


Basic List of Current Municipal Documents 

Besterman, Theodore, A World Bibliography of Bibliographies, 2nd 

Bibliography of Scientific and Industrial Reports, United States De- 
partment of Commerce 

Chamberlin, W. J., Entomological Nomenclature and Literature 

Handbook of Medical' Library Practice 

Hawkins, Reginald Robert, Scientific, Medical and Technical Books 
Published in the United States of America, 1930-1944 

Mellon, M. G., Chemical Publications, Their Nature and Use 

Moor, Carol Carter and Waldo Chamberlin, How to Use United 
Nations Documents 

Pearl, Richard M., Guide to Geologic Literature 

Postell, W. D., An Introduction to Medical Bibliography 

Smith, Roger C., Guide to the Literature of the Zoological Sciences, 
revised edition 

Soule, Byron A., Library Guide for the Chemist 

The United States Catalog, 1928; Cumulative Book Index, supple- 
ment to The United States Catalog 

United States Government Monthly Publications Catalog 

The United States Quarterly Book List 


Winchell, Constance M., Guide to Reference Books 
World List of Scientific Periodicals, 3rd edition 

Agricultural Index 

Bibliographic Index, A Cumulative Bibliography of Bibliographies 
Book Review Digest 

Bulletin of the Public Affairs Information Service 
Current List of Medical Literature 
Education Index 
Engineering Index 

Index Medicus; since 1926, Quarterly Cumulative Index Medicus 
Index to Dental Literature 
Industrial Arts Index 
International Index to Periodicals 
New York Times Index 
Psychological Index 

Readers 9 Guide to Periodical Literature 
Technical Book Review Index 
Zoological Record 


Biological Abstracts 
British Abstracts 
Chemical Abstracts 
Excerpta Medica 
Geophysical Abstracts 
Miner alogical Abstracts 
Psychological Abstracts 
Science Abstracts 


Cattell, Jaques, editor, American Men of Science, 8th edition 

Current Biography 

Dictionary of American Biography 

Dictionary of National Biography 

Who's Who 

Who's Who in America 



1. Choose a subject or individual, preferably in your own field or in one 
with which you have some familiarity, about which there has been con- 
siderable controversy, such as TVA, "survival of the fittest," the age of 
the universe, the "recapitulation" theory in human embryology, Mary 
Todd Lincoln, the origin of language. Look up this topic in several 
standard reference works and compare the treatments of the subject, 
noting particularly (a) the space devoted to it, (b) the agreement or 
lack of agreement as to coverage of specific points, (c) any differences 
of opinion. How do you account for any discrepancies you find? 

2. Select a topic which you have some reason to investigate, or one sug- 
gested by the instructor, and locate six references on it, using as many 
different means as possible (i.e., indexes, abstracts, bibliographies, 
cross references). Prepare a bibliography card for each reference. Pre- 
pare a bibliography from the cards, using a format usual in the hu- 
manities. Convert this bibliography to one of the formats representa- 
tive of scientific journals. (See Chapter 14.) 

3. Consider a list or group of references from a textbook you are using. 
How many of the references would you classify as primary, how many 
as secondary sources? 

4. Discuss the effects of translation, abridgment, censorship on the valid- 
ity of a source, citing any examples which may have come within your 

5. Choose at random a topic in your field and look it up in sources of 
about 1910, 1925, and the present. Compare the treatments of the topic. 

6. Discuss the relative values and uses of primary and secondary sources 
and show why neither can be ignored in undertaking the study of a 

7. Frame a short questionnaire with the purpose of inquiring into stu- 
dent attendance at convocations and preferences as to types of pro- 
grams. Compare your questionnaire with those of other members of 
your class. Do the questionnaires have any of the weaknesses men- 
tioned in section I-B of this chapter? 

8. In preparation for a reference or research paper which you expect 
to write later, prepare three note cards: one in summary form, one a 
paraphrase, and one a quotation. 


I. Analysis defined 

II. Methods of analysis 

A. Partition 

B. Classification 

1. Principles of classification 

2. Patterns of classification 

III. Presentation of analysis 

A. Tabular form 

B. Outline form 

IV. Function of analysis in planning the paper 

A. Analytical treatment of subject matter 

B. Formal and informal analysis 

V. Applications of analysis 

A. Analysis and prediction 

B. Analysis and practical problems 

It is in everything else as it is in colors; bad eyes can 
distinguish between black and white; better eyes, and 
eyes much exercised, can distinguish every nicer grada. 
tion. VOLTAIRE, A Philosophical Dictionary. 


The term analysis, deriving from a Greek verb meaning to loosen 
up, denotes a division into component parts or elements. Its graphic 
synonym breakdown is familiar in such expressions as a "breakdown 
of costs" or the "breakdown of a bill." In chemistry the term 
analysis refers to the breaking down of a compound into its elements 
or of a substance into its ingredients as to kind (qualitative analysis) 
or as to amount (quantitative analysis). Used less literally, as in 
speaking of the analysis of a situation, or of a person as having an 
analytical mind, the concept of analysis has the significance of men- 
tally taking apart an abstract whole in order to understand its 



Analysis is often closely associated with interpretation. However, 
analysis refers to the arrangement of matter or data, interpretation 
to the conclusions based on the matter or data presented. This dis- 
tinction is strictly observed in scientific papers where the "Results," 
often analytically presented, and the "Discussion" of results are 
treated in separate sections. 

Analysis, a process of division, is often contrasted with synthesis, 
a process of putting together or combining elements. The comple- 
mentary relationship between analysis and synthesis may be shown 
by again referring to the science of chemistry. Historically an analyti- 
cal science in which compounds are reduced to their elements, chem- 
istry has more recently developed as a science of synthesis in which 
elements are combined into new compounds such as dyes, perfumes, 
plastics, and rubber. 

The French chemist Lavoisier in 1793 defined chemistry as "the 
science of analysis." The German chemist Gerhardt in 1844 said: "I 
have demonstrated that the chemist works in opposition to living nature, 
that he burns, destroys, analyzes, that the vital force alone operates 
by synthesis, that it reconstructs the edifice torn down by the chemical 
forces." . . . 

It was, I think, the French chemist Berthelot who first clearly 
perceived the double aspect of chemistry, for he defined it as "the 
science of analysis and synthesis" of taking apart and of putting 
together. . . . Since Berthelot's time, that is, within the last fifty years, 
chemistry has won its 'chief triumphs in the field of synthesis. 1 

The process of synthesis, like that of analysis, may be used in 
working with ideas as well as with things. The student of social situ- 
ations may first analyze these situations into their elements and then 
mentally rearrange and recombine the elements in his search for new 
understanding. Thus analysis and synthesis are often used together 
in arriving at interpretations. 


All analyses have in common the element of division. In achieving 
this division the analyst may employ whichever of two basic methods 
is best suited to his material. When the process of analysis begins 
with a single entity which is to be divided into its parts, the operation 

1 Edwin E. Slosson, Creative Chemistry, 1930, pp. 6-7. Used by permission of 
Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc. 


is known as partition. When the starting point is a number of cases 
which are to be divided into groups, the process is known as classifi- 
cation. 2 

A. Partition 

I Partition, the division of a whole into its parts, may be a physical 
[process applied to an object or structure or a theoretical process ap- 
plied to a concept. A physical division is effected, for example, when 
a derrick is divided into mast, boom, and tackle; a tooth into pulp, 
dentine, and enamel; a compound microscope into eyepiece, tube, 
adjusting screw, objective lens, table or stage, and illuminating mir- 
ror. Through the use of technical processes, much finer divisions are 
possible, such as the division of plant or animal tissue into cells, 
which in turn have still smaller structural divisions discernible under 
a high-power microscope. 

While partition as applied to concepts is abstract, it performs the 
same function as physical partition, in that it divides the whole into 
its elements so that they can be studied and worked with separately. 
Examples of partition as applied to concepts are to be found in the 
division of color into shade, hue, and intensity; of a musical tone 
into intensity, timbre, and pitch; and of a force into magnitude and 
direction. The consideration of different aspects of a single subject 
may be regarded as a variation of the theoretical or abstract type 
of partition. Thus a novel may be treated analytically first as a liter- 
ary work, second as a revelation of the author, third as a social 

Partition may be illustrated diagrammatically by the division of 
a circle into segments, a block into sections, or a central trunk into 
branches. Some such graphic device may aid the student in applying 
the principle of partition to a plan, a problem, a process, or a literary 
or artistic composition. This analytical habit of mind is widely use- 

2 There is some divergence among different writers in the application of 
the terms analysis, division, partition, and classification. Usage regarding these 
terms differs particularly in logic and in composition and rhetoric. Indeed, a 
distinction is sometimes made between logical analysis and expository (rhe- 
torical) analysis. In this text we have followed the usage favored by numerous 
authorities in composition of treating partition and classification as methods 
of analysis. Classification in this sense, the division of a group into classes, is, 
of course, closely related to the process of taking an individual entity and 
placing it in its class. (See the discussion of definition in Chapter 3.) 


ful. Not only is partition used in all fields of science, but, as one logi- 
cian has noted, "Partition is employed by the builder in laying out 
his work; it is indispensable to the playwright in fashioning his 
plot; it is an aid to the lawyer in drawing up his brief, to the orator 
in marshaling his argument, to the painter in balancing his composi- 
tion, and to the musician in apportioning his theme." 3 

B. Classification 

Classification is the dividing of a group into homogeneous classes. 
Many classifications have become fixed in the theory of science, such 
as the botanical and zoological classifications of plants and animals. 
(See Appendix A, p. 400.) In the applied sciences much research con- 
sists of classifying experimental results and accumulated data. For 
instance, after forty-one years of manufacturing automobiles, General 
Motors in an engineering report classified auto noises into seven 
groups: squeak, scrape, grind, rattle, thump, knock, and hiss. 4 Some 
classifications, like this one, are useful to a specialized group. Others 
have become a part of general knowledge. 

A close relationship exists between dividing a group into classes, 
or classification, and placing a term in its class and then distinguish- 
ing it from other members of the class, or definition. This relation- 
ship is clearly indicated in the following example which proceeds 
through a classification of particles to a definitive distinction between 
colloids and true solutions. 

... it is evident that there are three very broad classifications of 
particles in respect to size: (1) those easily visible to the unaided eye, 
such as raindrops or sand; (2) those which cannot be distinguished 
even in powerful optical microscopes, exemplified by very fine fogs 
and some types of clay; and (3) molecules of a substance like water 
or sugar. We are chiefly concerned with particles belonging to the 
second group. Any substance existing in the form of particles so small 
that they will not settle out of a solution is called a colloid, or is said 
to be in the colloidal state. The molecular particles of group (3), on 
the other hand, form what are designated as "true solutions.*' 5 

8 Thomas Crumley, Logic: Deductive and Inductive, New York, The Mac- 
millan Company, 1947, pp. 85-86. Used by permission of The Macmillan Com- 

4 Newsweek, 34:71, September 12, 1949. 

5 Reprinted from Small Wonder by Gessner G. Hawley, by permission of 
Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 


1. Principles of Classification 

Classification proceeds ideally according to well-recognized prin- 

1. A single basis of division should guide the grouping of indi- 
viduals into classes at any one stage of the process. 

2. The classes should include all individuals subjected to the classi- 

3. The classes should be mutually exclusive, that is, should not 

A simple illustration of the first of these three principles may be 
drawn from everyday practice in classifying houses. It is useful at 
times to classify houses according to material into brick, stone, and 
frame houses; according to architectural style into colonial, French 
provincial, Tudor, English cottage, etc.; according to the accommo- 
dations provided into one-family, duplex, and apartment houses. 
These classifications are correct according to the first principle be- 
cause a single criterion is used each time to establish the points of 
division. It would not be correct, however, to divide a group of 
houses into brick houses, duplexes, and English cottages, because 
such a classification would have more than one basis of division. 

It would be virtually impossible to make a classification of houses 
which would observe the second and third as well as the first of the 
three principles. To include all houses in the classification, in ac- 
cordance with the second principle, would be impossible since some 
houses would be too individualistic to find a place in any class. To 
prevent overlapping, in accordance with the third principle, would 
likewise be impossible since some houses, for example houses of a 
hybrid architectural style, would share characteristics of two or 
more classes. Incomplete and imperfect classifications, such as those 
which can be made of houses, often have great practical usefulness 
(in setting up insurance or zoning requirements, for example), even 
though they cannot attain the ideal. However, even when the ideal 
cannot be attained in a classification, it should be approximated as 
nearly as possible. 

The scientist whose purpose is to reduce natural phenomena to 
an orderly system encounters many difficulties in endeavoring to 
make his classifications as nearly complete and perfect as possible. 


The difficulty in classifying the duckbill platypus, for example, has 
made it a zoological curiosity. It has a beak and webbed feet and 
lays eggs characteristics which would classify it as a bird. It also 
shows reptilian characteristics, such as poison spurs which suggest 
the fangs of a snake. Nevertheless, zoologists, applying the accepted 
criterion, have classified this furry little animal as a mammal because 
it suckles its young. 

Problems comparable to those of the zoologist arise whenever a 
comprehensive classification is attempted. The following account, 
written from the soil scientist's point of view, stresses the importance 
of classification, the difficulties encountered in preparing classifica- 
tions, and the necessity of revising classifications to accommodate 
new discoveries and new materials. 

It is obvious that some sort of soil classification is essential, since 
the world has a great many thousands of kinds of landscapes, kinds 
of soil profiles, and kinds of mineral-organic cycles. Of course, one 
cannot deal with all of these at one time, nor do they present equal 
contrasts. Actually, there are few sharp lines between soil types ; rather 
the soil of the world is a continuum that may be divided into reasonably 
homogeneous units according to the state of our knowledge, and the 
demands for accuracy and scientific prediction. The soil is a natural 
product, and no two soil profiles are identical any more than two oak 
trees or two college professors are. Soil types are man-made creations. 
In one soil type are included all the soils that appear to have the 
same kind of profile, 'even though they are not alike in every single 

This is not the place to go into the age-old problem of classification. 
All the natural sciences have the same problem. A classification is 
good to the extent that it serves the purpose of remembering charac- 
teristics, seeing relationships, and developing principles. A classifica- 
tion is bad to the extent that scientists become slaves to it, and twist 
their data and ideas to fit the classification. It improves as our knowl- 
edge grows. Some wonder when soil classification will "settle down" 
when names and definitions will no longer be changed. This will 
happen when soil science has ceased to discover anything new in 
other words, when it dies. 6 

2. Patterns of Classification 

While all classification results in the division of the entire group 
into classes, there is a distinction between the pattern or arrangement 

6 Charles E. Kellogg, "Modern Soil Science," American Scientist, 36:526, 
October 1948. 


arrived at by a division into two classes and that arrived at by a 
division into more than two classes. Division into two classes on a 
positive-negative basis is known as dichotomy, which means a cut- 
ting in two. For example, according to the presence or absence of 
a single attribute, motions may be classified as voluntary or involun- 
tary, actions as legal or illegal, fruits as edible or inedible. Such a 
dichotomous division may have great practical utility when one at- 
tribute is of paramount importance. It may, for instance, be desirable 
for one purpose to classify metals as ferrous and nonferrous, for 
another purpose as critical or noncritical. 

A simple dichotomous division, however, is less satisfactory for 
many purposes than a division into a larger number of classes. For 
example, division of individuals into age groups according to those 
over forty and those under forty would serve few purposes, though 
a categorical division into infants, children, adolescents, etc., is gen- 
erally useful. In preparing such a categorical classification, the dif- 
ferentiating factors on which the division is based, such as time, 
place, physical differences, must be selected with care. Then the classi- 
fication must be completed according to one differentiating factor 
before another is introduced. Since the scientist often has to classify 
material which is exceedingly complicated, the setting up of signifi- 
cant categories depends upon the ability to recognize significant like- 
nesses and differences. 

In order to learn all he can from his data, the scientist may find 
it desirable to classify them several times, each time setting up the 
categories on the basis of a single differentiating factor. In setting 
up a classification, the classes formed on the basis of one factor may 
become the main division and those formed on the basis of another 
factor the subdivisions. For example, arrests made during a certain 
period might be classified according to the sections of the city in 
which they occurred; then each of the classes might be subdivided 
according to the nature of the offense. 

A study of cancer cases 7 illustrates the advantage of classifying 
data under different sets of categories so that comparisons may be 
made and conclusions drawn. In this study 531 cases were tabulated 

7 Howard C. Taylor, Jr. and Walter F. Becker, "Carcinoma of the Corpus 
Uteri," Surgery, Gynecology, and Obstetrics, 84:129-39, February 1947. 


according to such factors as age of patient, duration of symptoms, 
histologic type, and method of treatment, as well as end results. This 
analysis permitted the study of the relationships between these differ- 
ent factors and the end results. 


In addition to graphic and pictorial means of presenting analysis 
(see Chapter 15) there are two forms of presentation, tabular and 
outline, which employ verbal headings. A study of analytical tables 
and outlines furthers an understanding of analysis because these 
means present analysis in skeleton form. Tables are used principally 
to show classifications of data. Outlines may be used to show either 
classifications or partitions within a paper or the structure of the 
paper as a whole. The paper, of course, may present the analysis in 
amplified form together with a discussion of the material and an 
interpretation of its significance. (See Section IV.) 

A. Tabular Form 

Tabular presentations of material usually follow a columnar ar- 
rangement with one set of variables listed in the column at the left 
and another set expressed in the headings of the remaining columns. 
The first of the following examples is a relatively simple though com- 
prehensive table which shows the applications of the terms large, 
medium, and small at different size levels. The size levels, numbered 
and listed at the left, are arranged in descending order. 

Summary of Size Levels 8 





1. Celestial 




2. Geographic 




3. Ocular 



Sand grain 

4. Microscopic 


Blood corpuscle 

Fat globule 

5. Colloidal 

Rubber particle 

Carbon black 

Protein molecule 

in latex 


6. Molecular 




7. Atomic 




8 Hawley, op. cit., p. 35. 


The next table shows "the relation of smallpox morbidity to vacci- 
nation laws in the United States during the period 1919-1928." Here 
analysis almost anticipates interpretation, since, as the author notes, 
the figures tell the "tale more graphically than any polemic. The inci- 
dence per 100,000 of the population is in direct proportion to the 
kind of law operating." 

Relation of Smallpox Morbidity to Vaccination Laws in the 
United States, 191 9-1 928 9 

Vaccination Number of p lalim 
laws states * 

Number of Incidence per 
cases 100,000 

Compulsory vaccination 





Local option 





No vaccination laws 





Compulsory vaccination 






* Including the District of Columbia. 

B. Outline Form 

The outline is an excellent device for showing either a classification 
or a partition. In an outline intended to show a partition the main 
headings indicate the principal segments of the whole. 

The following partitive outline of John H. Skinkle 10 is preceded 
by a statement indicating the exact structure partitioned. 

The pendulum tester is the type in common use for all textile 
materials. . . . 

The pendulum tester consists of three main parts: 

I. Straining mechanism 

A. Constant speed motor, gear train, nut, and screw; or 

B. Cylinder and piston, with hydraulic pressure 
II. Jaws or clamps holding the specimen 

III. Loading and recording mechanism 

A. Chain 

B. Drum 

C. Pendulum arm and weight 

9 I. Bernard Cohen, Science, Servant of Man, Boston, Little, Brown and Com- 
pany, 1948, pp. 300-01. 

10 John H. Skinkle, Textile Testing, Brooklyn, Chemical Publishing Company, 
Inc., 1949, p. 148. 


D. Pointer and scale 

E. Notched sector and ratchet 

F. Autographic stretch-load recorder 

Another example of a partitive outline, taken from General Biology,** 
also shows a statement of the structure to be partitioned. 

A well-developed muscular system is .present in the earthworm. Its 
main parts are as follows: 

I. Muscles of the body wall 

A. Circular; outer layer, which constrict and lengthen the body 

B. Longitudinal; inner layer, which shorten and thicken the body 
II. Muscles of intestinal wall, thin layers between lining epithelium 

and chloragen cells 

A. Circular, within, which constrict the intestine 

B. Longitudinal, without, which shorten the intestine 
III. Muscles of setae 

A. Protractors, which protrude the setae from their sheaths 

B. Retractors, which draw the setae into their sheaths 

In an outline intended to show a classification, the main headings 
indicate the chief classes or in some instances the principles according 
to which the material is classified. For example, if material is classi- 
fied three times, once according to time, once according to place, 
and once according to use, the three headings would be built around 
the terms time, place, and use. The subheadings show the divisions 
within each class, or, if the main headings express principles, the 
classes derived by applying each principle. 

The first classificatory outline reprinted here presents the classifi- 
cation of "the sources of water available in the hydrologic cycle." * 2 

I. Rain and snow 
II. Surface water 

A. Streams 

B. Natural ponds and lakes 

C. Impounding reservoirs 
III. Ground water 

A. Springs 

B. Shallow wells and infiltration galleries 

C. Deep wells 

11 Leslie A. Kenoyer and Henry N. Goddard, General Biology, New York, 
Harper & Brothers, 1945, p. 212. 

12 Water Quality and Treatment, 2nd ed., New York, American Water Works 
Association, Inc., 1950, p. 1. 


The second classificatory outline is accompanied by the author's 
introduction which explains the coverage and basis of the classifi- 

Why Do People Write Personal Documents? 1S 

The following outline summarizes the forms in which personal docu- 
ments are found. The many varieties of third-person case studies, life 
histories, interview-reporting, psycho-portraits, biographies, institutional 
records, etc., are not included, for it is only with first-person documents 
that we are here concerned. 

I. Autobiographies 

A. Comprehensive 

B. Topical 

C. Edited 

II. Questionnaires 

III. Verbatim Recording 

A. Interviews 

B. Dreams 

C. Confessions 

IV. Diaries 

A. Intimate Journals 

B. Memoirs 

C. Log-Inventories 
V. Letters 

VI. Expressive and Projective 

A. Literature 

B. Compositions 

C. Art Forms 

D. Projective Productions 

E. Automatic Writing 

F. Various 

The faults of outlines prepared by inexperienced writers to show 
classification frequently arise from an illogical or incomplete classifi- 
cation, as in the following example submitted by a student. 


I. Protective positions 

A. Balling 

B. Freezing 

C. To play dead 
II. Uses of tails 

A. Some snakes are 

B. Mimicry 

III. Expanding body and 


IV. Contortion 
V. Noise-making 

A. Hissing 

1. Russell f s 

B. Scale-rubbing 

C. Rattling 

13 Gordon W. Allport, The Use of Personal Documents in Psychological Sci- 
ence, New York, Social Science Research Council, Bulletin 49, 1942, p. 67. 

VI . Speed 
VII. Protective habitats 

A. Burrowing snakes 

B. Arboreal snakes 

C. Aquatic snakes 
VIII. Biting 

A. Nonpoisonous 

B. Poisonous 

C. Fang types 
IX. "Spitting" poison 

X. Coloration 


The inadequate classification in the preceding outline is apparent 
in the large number of main topics and in the raising of such minor 
points as "Spitting" poison to equal rank with more general headings. 
A single subtopic such as the one occurring under A of section V 
is regarded as a flaw in an outline since any section divided must 
be divided into at least two parts. This comment applies particularly 
to partition. Occasionally a single subtopic is unavoidable in classifi- 
cation if certain classes contain only one member. 

As frequently happens, inconsistencies in logic are accompanied 
in the outline by inconsistencies in form. Co-ordinate topics are not 
expressed in parallel grammatical form, particularly gross errors 
being the co-ordination of the infinitive with two gerunds under head- 
ing I, and of the sentence with the noun under heading II. 

The revised form of the outline incorporates corrections of the 
most conspicuous faults in the original. 



I. Protective charac- 

A. Shield tail 

B. Fangs 

C. Coloration 

D. Speed 

II. Protective positions 

A. Balling 

B. Freezing 

C. Playing dead 
III. Protective behavior 

A. Body movement 

1. Expansion 

2. Contortion 


B. Mimicry 

C. Noise-making 

1. Hissing 

2. Scale-rubbing 

3. Rattling 

D. Biting 

1 . Nonpoisonous 

2. Poisonous 

E. "Spitting" poison 
Protective habitats 

A. Burrows 

B. Trees 

C. Bodies of water 


Many writers have a theoretical understanding of analysis without 
appreciating the function of analysis in the planning of a paper. 
Just as the scientist has been able to organize large bodies of knowl- 
edge by means of partition and classification, the writer can employ 
analytical methods in organizing the materials of his paper. The 
plan of every paper which follows a logical rather than a chrono- 
logical pattern depends in part upon analysis. Even a chronicle of 


events is analytical to the extent that the events are grouped into 
steps, periods, or phases. The purpose of many expository papers is 
primarily analytical. Reports of surveys, for instance, consist largely 
of a classification of the findings. Reports of experimental research 
often present the results in classified form. Other papers present the 
subject in its parts or aspects and hence are essentially partitions. 
If an expository paper is not analytical in purpose, the author must 
at least classify or group his ideas, usually through the use of an 

When the problem under investigation is carefully formulated, the 
process of analysis begins before the data are studied, or even before 
they are collected. If, for example, the purpose of an investigator is 
to study the effect of sugar on the teeth of a certain group of chil- 
dren, a categorical division of the children according to the amounts 
of sugar in their diets is implicit in the problem. On the other hand, 
records already available may be made the means of studying a vari- 
ety of problems. Thus if an investigator has available for analysis 
the complete records of a group of university students, he may make 
cross tabulations according to age, sex, grades, etc. Such groupings 
will serve the same purpose as if he had been able originally to 
select comparable groups of students for study. 

A. Analytical Treatment of Subject Matter 

The precise place of analysis in the planning of a paper depends 
upon whether the paper deals primarily with data from the writer's 
own investigations or with the findings and conclusions of other 

If the investigator begins with raw data, such as measurements, 
vital statistics, replies to questionnaires, he must classify them before 
he can draw his conclusions and organize his paper. This process 
of classification consists of setting up meaningful categories and 
distributing the data accurately among the categories so that the 
number in each class may be counted. The writer who is describing 
an object or structure is likely to rely directly on partition; the divi- 
sions of the object or structure into parts will suggest the divisions 
of the paper. 

The writer who is dealing with a variety of materials, part of them 
more or less assimilated by previous writers, often finds it difficult 


to make a start in organizing his paper. Here a consideration of the 
relative advantages of partition and classification will often be help- 
ful. Is the subject matter chiefly material to be classified or an entity 
to be considered in different aspects? 

One student, for example, planning a paper presenting material 
he had accumulated in his casework with children, wished to empha- 
size the case of one particularly self-centered and introspective child. 
His difficulties in organizing the paper were greatly lessened when 
it was suggested that he could either make it primarily a case study 
of the one individual, introducing other material as background, 
or arrange the cases in groups, giving prominence in the discussion 
to those he considered of greatest interest. The first choice would, 
of course, represent a partitive plan, the second a classificatory plan. 

The reporting of some studies will demand a more complex plan 
of attack. The author of one paper dealing with the diabetic school 
child, for instance, chose to center the study on the child, partitioning 
the paper into the principal aspects considered physical character- 
istics, heredity, environment, special difficulties, and care. Some of 
these topics were in turn made the headings of such classifications 
as physical and emotional difficulties. It must be remembered, how- 
ever, that while the experience of other writers may be helpful, the 
planning of each paper involves individual problems in analysis 
which the writer must resolve in organizing his material. 

B. Formal and Informal Analysis 

Formality in analysis implies relative completeness, the use of tech- 
nical language in designating parts and classes, and close adherence 
to logical principles. There is a great range in the degree of formality 
expected of analyses. The range extends from an exhaustive statistical 
analysis of data which can be measured quantitatively to the simple 
enumeration of the most important factors in a situation. Analysis 
directed to the expert is naturally more formal and detailed than 
that prepared for the general reader. Characterizing analysis as in- 
formal does not, on the other hand, imply a hasty, superficial treat- 
ment. To the contrary, it implies only a less detailed and less ex- 
haustive treatment, carefully tailored to suit a less than technical 
audience. And an informal analysis should be no less informative 
and provocative to its audience than a formal analysis is to experts. 


Both the following examples are analytical discussions of the 
properties of titanium. The first example is definitely informal. It 
does not attempt a comprehensive discussion of the properties and 
uses of titanium, but selects those of interest to the general reader. 
Numerical and technical terms are kept to a minimum. 

Titanium metal offers some new and valuable combinations of proper- 
ties. ... It is no all-purpose metal; such metals do not exist. Alumi- 
num, for instance, is light, easily formed and machined, but it has 
relatively low strength and some bad corrosion problems. Stainless 
steel has high strength and corrosion resistance, but its weight is a 
handicap for many uses. For certain purposes, therefore, titanium fits 
right in between the two in engineering use: it is strong, medium 
weight, corrosion resistant. Its melting point is some 300 degrees higher 
than iron. While this doesn't give it as high heat resistance as might 
be expected, titanium retains its strength at moderately elevated tem- 
peratures where aluminum and magnesium alloys lose much of theirs. 

Paradoxically, titanium's great affinity for oxygen benefits the ductile 
metal. Upon its first exposure at room temperature, it acquires an 
impenetrable (but invisible) oxide coating, which protects it from 
the atmosphere, salt water, and most acids (excluding, principally, 
sulfuric and hydrochloric). In a series of tests, titanium endured, with- 
out harmful effect, 600 hours of exposure at 190 Fahrenheit to fruit 
juices, onion in water, vinegar, lard, tea, coffee, and lactic acid. Corro- 
sion resistance is at present titanium metal's most important property. 14 

In contrast to the preceding example, the following example is rela- 
tively formal and presents a detailed and technical discussion of the 
properties of titanium and their relation to its uses. 

Potential Uses for Titanium Metal. Titanium has many actual and 
potential uses, based for the most part upon its properties as a silvery 
white, light, corrosion-resistant, tough, strong metal. Among the metals 
available for construction there is a gap between aluminum and steel. 
Aluminum, with a desirably low density of 2.7, is easily formed and 
machined, but it has relatively low strength and is not resistant to 
corrosion. Iron, at the other extreme, can be alloyed to give high 
strength and resistance to corrosion, but its greater density, 7.87, is a 
decided disadvantage where weight is an important factor. Titanium, 
with a density of 4.5, coupled with its strength, ductility, high melting 
point, and noncorrosive characteristic, is the present outstanding candi- 
date to fill this gap. It combines the properties of stainless steel with 

*4 "Titanium: the New Metal," Fortune, 39(5): 123, May 1949. 


those of the strong aluminum alloys and possesses certain definite 
advantages over both. One outstanding advantage is its high propor- 
tional limit which is comparable to that of heat-treated steels and 
aluminum bronze, while its density is only a little over half that of 
these materials. As a result, wrought titanium is in a class by itself 
so far as the weight of a section having a given proportional limit is 
concerned. Titanium would be a preferred structural material in air- 
craft design where a minimum weight combined with a continued high 
stress is important. Its resistance to corrosion would be an added 
advantage in airships for use over the sea or along the coast. A 
potential use of great importance is for making reciprocating mechani- 
cal parts in jet engines where heat and pressure are great. The metal 
seems almost ideal for ocean-going vessels because of its outstanding 
properties of lightness, strength, and great resistance to corrosion. As 
the cost of production is decreased, titanium will be used extensively 
for structural purposes. Even at the present high price it should find 
use in all sorts of diaphragms that are maintained under tension, 
particularly in microphones where weight is important. Titanium seems 
well suited for textile machinery where a considerable saving of power 
can be effected by using such a light, strong metal for high-speed 
spindles, spools, warp beams, and other moving parts. It does not 
stain the threads as do aluminum and magnesium alloys. Another of 
the important uses of the future is in suspension-bridge cables. These 
properties of titanium may prove important in the eventual utilization 
of atomic energy. 

The surface-hardening property of titanium gives it a definite advan- 
tage over the really light metals in the construction of parts subject 
to frictional wear. It seems suited for automobile pistons, because, in 
addition to the characteristic properties of lightness and strength, it 
has a coefficient of expansion a little less than that of cast iron that 
is ordinarily used for cylinders. The high heat conductivity suggests 
its use for handles for aluminum pans and cooking utensils. It has 
been proposed for many sports uses, such as tennis rackets and fishing 
rods, where its excellent physical and working properties would be 
utilized. Combination of stainlessness, high proportional limit, and 
low modulus makes it an ideal material for springs, and its use should 
make possible the construction of greatly improved spring balances 
and watch springs. Its properties also recommend it for use in tool 
mountings where a certain amount of give is desirable to prevent 
breakage, and in making pen points and styluses. X-ray diffraction 
tubes with titanium targets are in the development stage. Rubbing 
titanium metal against a hard surface often produces a smear which 
is difficult to remove, and this characteristic is employed for a variety 
of purposes, including the production of very stable high electrical 


resistance glass, simply by marking the surface with a titanium point. 
Such smears can be used to coat materials with a metallic film and 
to etch glass without the use of hydrofluoric acid. Herenguel investi- 
gated the use of titanium powder as a paint pigment. 

The really large-scale use of titanium seems to depend only on its 
availability in suitable form at a price in line with the common metals 
such as iron and aluminum. It would be a notable exception to techno- 
logical progress if titanium, with such desirable properties, failed to 
be an important engineering metal of the future. It is hoped that this 
book will encourage research on the production of low-cost titanium 
metal. 15 


The use of analysis antedates modern science. The ancient Greeks 
particularly were of a highly analytical disposition. Aristotle, whose 
called a feat in analysis, drew many distinctions 
in poetry, in philosophy, insclence di s'tinctions which have ever 
since influenced, and perhaps at times inhibited, thought. However, 
analysis is today closely associated with science because it has been 
constantly employed in the organization of scientific knowledge and 
is fundamental in scientific procedure. Science students will readily 
think of examples from their own fields : botanists of monocotyledon- 
ous and dicotyledonous plants; geologists of igneous, sedimentary, 
and metamorphic rocks; bacteriologists of aerobic and anaerobic 

The applications of analysis are today undergoing rapid expansion 
and development. Many of these developments lie in two areas: the 
use of analysis, particularly advanced statistical analysis, as the basis 
of prediction; and the co-operative application of analysis to prac- 
tical problems in business, industry, and military operation. 

A. Analysis and Prediction 

The ability to predict the future has long been recognized as a 
test of scientific validity. On the basis of successful predictions, hy- 
pothesis becomes a theory, and the theory an accepted principle. 
Some time may elapse before all the discrepancies between fact and 
theory are successfully accounted for. This process may be illustrated 

15 Jelks Barksdale, Titanium, New York, The Ronald Press Company, 1949, 
pp. 52-54. 


by the experience of chemists with the Periodic Table. This table, 
which lists the elements according to their atomic weights and ar- 
ranges them in groups having similar properties, is considered a 
major achievement in the classification of natural phenomena. When 
Mendelyeev constructed the table in the 1860's he left blanks at cer- 
tain points, thus predicting the existence of elements then unknown, 
some of which were later discovered. One difficulty which arose, how- 
ever, was that some elements appeared to have more than one atomic 
weight. This discrepancy was not accounted for until the work on 
isotopes in the first quarter of the twentieth century. 

Predictions made on the basis of analysis should not, of course, 
be confused with the process of analysis itself. However, analytical 
methods have proved so successful in determining probabilities that 
their use is constantly being extended. Even in literature analytical 
study has led to successful predictions. 

Some thirty years ago, a student of the Germanic languages, reading 
over an Old English poem of considerable length, called the Genesis, 
was struck by the fact that five or six hundred lines, in the heart of 
the poem, seemed to differ in various respects from the lines which 
preceded and followed. Pursuing his inquiry further, and comparing 
the forms of these lines with those of a kindred language, he came 
to the conclusion that this section, which had always been supposed 
to be the original Old English, had been in fact translated from Old 
Saxon, the continental, Germanic tongue referred to above, and was 
therefore led to believe in the existence of an Old Saxon poem on 
this subject of Genesis, though he was obliged to confess that he had 
found no other trace of its existence. Some twenty years after, another 
scholar, at work in the Vatican Library, which had only recently 
rendered its treasures more accessible, discovered a fragment of the 
missing Old Saxon Genesis, of which probably no one had read a line 
for a thousand years. Yet such had been the faith of competent 
scholars in Sievers' processes that no one was surprised when the 
missing manuscript swam into sight, any more than astronomers were 
amazed when the telescope pointed to the quarter of the heavens 
indicated by Adams and Leverrier, and revealed the planet Neptune, 
which no human eye till then had ever seen. Professor Sievers might 
have read histories of Old English literature, and essays on it, for 
decades; he might have read this poem in a casual way a score of 
times, just as Adams and Leverrier might have rushed about the sky 
with their telescopes for unnumbered nights, without anything to re- 
ward their diligence; but by the intensive methods they actually 


employed, Sievers became famous at twenty-five, and Adams immor- 
talized himself at twenty-seven. 16 

At the opposite extreme from such a relatively simple example are 
the large-scale applications of statistical analysis to a great variety 
of problems. The theoretical basis of some of these statistical tech- 
niques and their application in insurance and in the telephone indus- 
try, as well as in investigating certain scientific problems, are ex- 
plained in Appendix A, p. 403. 

B. Analysis and Practical Problems 

In other rapidly developing applications of analysis, the point of 
emphasis is on the problem to be solved rather than on prediction. 
In this category fall content analysis, which attacks the problem of 
evaluating the accuracy of mass media of communication, and job 
analysis, which attacks the problem of fitting the capabilities of the 
individual to the requirements of the job. 

The specialized field known as operations research developed rap- 
idly during World War II because of the centering of many scientific 
minds on the problems of improving military operations. The term 
operations research has been defined as "a scientific method of pro- 
viding executive departments with a quantitative basis for decisions 
regarding the operations under their control." 17 

Up to the present time many of the applications of operations re- 
search have been military, but the following example illustrates its 
usefulness in business. 

In one analysis of a mail order concern, selling extensively to low- 
income rural families, it was discovered that there was a sharp de- 
pendence of COD refusals on time between the writing of the original 
order by the family and the delivery of the item by the mailman. 
Evidently, in this case, there was a "mean free time" of ready cash 
in such families, whether because of other financial pressures or im- 
patience or simple shortness of memory. If the item ordered did not 
arrive within a certain time, the money was spent somewhere else and 
the COD item had to be refused. From this simple observation came 

* 6 Albert S. Cook, The Higher Study of English, Boston, Houghton Mifflin 
Company, 1906, pp. 75-76. 

17 Philip M. Morse and George E. Kimball, Methods of Operations Research, 
New York, published jointly by the Technology Press of Massachusetts Insti- 
tute of Technology and John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1951, p. 1. 


a reorganization of selling methods of the firm, resulting, incidentally, 
in considerable reduction in such lost sales. 18 

Analysis has its limitations. To analyze a problem is not necessarily 
to solve it, as we are reminded by the title of a government report 
published in 1919, "Analysis of the High Cost of Living Problem." 
Analysis yields its greatest successes when it is used not alone, but 
in conjunction with interpretation and synthesis. Nevertheless, when 
all the past achievements and future promises of analysis are taken 
into account, one finds increasingly significant the statement of Sir 
Arthur Eddington, u Foji_j^cJntife^autlook I think the most funda- 
jnental of all forms of thought is the concept ofjmalysis." CT 


1. Prepare a classificatory outline on one of the following topics: motor 
vehicles, air-conditioning units, types of central heating, textile fibers, 
orchestral instruments, halogens. 

2. Prepare a partition outline on one of the following topics : a condenser, 
a telephone switchboard, a business letter, an individual halogen such 
as iodine, the human ear. 

3. Show how the contrasting methods of classification and partition may 
be used in an analysis of each of the following: human teeth, methods 
of research, university organization, the sales tax, flammability of 

4. Discuss the proposition that the whole is often equal to more than the 
sum of its parts. 

5. Explain the difference between treating a situation or problem "de- 
scriptively" and treating it "analytically." 

6. Can you give instances of predictions which were based on analysis 
and which were later verified? 

7. William P. D. Wightman has said of the work of Josiah Willard Gibbs, 
"Gibbs' first contribution to knowledge was to show that far wider 
consequences could be drawn from curves showing the relation be- 
tween volume and entropy. . . . His great powers of geometrical im- 
agery enabled him to introduce a third variable, energy, whereby 
thermodynamical surfaces instead of curves were generated. By the 
analytical manipulation of these surfaces Gibbs was able to break 
entirely new ground in the application of thermodynamics." (The 
Growth of Scientific Ideas, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1951, 

i*Ibid., p. 6. 

19 Sir Arthur Eddington, The Philosophy of Physical Science, Cambridge, 
Eng., Cambridge University Press, 1939, p. 118. 


p. 294.) Through library reading, inform yourself further concerning 
Gibbs' contributions to physical science and show the importance of 
analysis in Gibbs' work on the criteria of equilibrium and the Phase 
Rule as well as in that on the thermodynamical surfaces. 
8. Prepare a list of practical problems of current concern which might 
be studied by analyzing each problem and then enlisting the aid of 
experts to concentrate on its elements. 



I. Logic and the scientific writer 

A. Logic in planning and reporting research 

B. Errors in reasoning 

II. Interpretation 

A. Distinguishing among data, inference, and opinion 

B. Relationships among data, analysis, and interpretation 

III. Inductive reasoning 

A. Meaning of inductive reasoning 

B. Fallacies in inductive reasoning 

IV. Deductive reasoning 

A. Meaning of deductive reasoning 

B. Fallacies in deductive reasoning 
V. Interpretation of statistics 

A. The statistical unit 

B. Adequacy in the treatment of statistics 

C. The misuse of statistics 
VI. A reasoned attitude 

On all questions where his passions are strongly 
engaged, man prizes certitude and fears knowledge. 
Dispassionate inquiry is welcomed only when the re- 
sult is indifferent. J. W. N. SULLIVAN, Aspects of 

It is a delusion that the use of reason is easy and needs 
no training or special caution. W. I. B. BEVERIDGE, 
The Art of Scientific Investigation. 


Philosophers and scientists have frequently questioned whether sci- 
entific investigation is actually as indebted to logic as it is assumed 
to be. One modern philosopher, F. C. S. Schiller, placed high among 
"the obstacles to scientific progress" the analysis of scientific pro- 
cedure which logic has provided. W. I. B. Beveridge in The Art of 

Scientific Investigation quotes, with approval, Schiller's comments 



and others in similar vein and stresses the importance in research 
of imagination, intuition, observation, and chance, as well as reason. 
This divergence in viewpoint between the scientist and the logician 
exists partly because the scientist centers his work on observations 
of material phenomena, while the work of the logician emphasizes 
the framing and testing of verbal or formal propositions. However, 
each has much to learn from the other, and it is the purpose of this 
chapter to show the usefulness of the principles of logic to the scien- 
tific writer in interpreting his data. 

Within the past hundred years modern logic, like modern science, 
has undergone rapid development. Emphasis on the logical deter- 
mination of probability has replaced the emphasis of earlier times 
on formal proof. Another development has been the rise of symbolic 
logic, which represents an endeavor to get away from verbal pitfalls 
by devising logical formulas which can be manipulated somewhat 
like the formulas of mathematics. Symbolic logic is, however, an ex- 
tremely complex subject, and the writer who is not a specialist in 
logic must still depend on verbal expression of logical principles, 
mindful, of course, of the difficulties which arise from the tendency 
of words to shift their meanings according to context. 

A. .logic in Planning and Reporting Research 

Experimental method involves expressing a theory as a logically 
framed statement and then conducting tests to determine whether the 
proposition is true or false. For instance, chemical tests for proper- 
ties presuppose the framing of such hypothetical propositions as "this 
unknown substance is an acid" or "this unknown substance is a 
base." By the use of other propositions known to be true, such as 
"acids turn litmus paper red," "bases turn litmus paper blue," pro- 
cedures may be employed to test the truth of these hypothetical propo- 
sitions. The same principle of setting up a hypothesis that is, a 
tentatively accepted theory and then subjecting it to test is used 
in designing much more complex experiments. 

When results of research are reported, the plan of the ensuing 
paper takes on a logical sequence which may not have been evident 
at all stages of the investigation. As Hans Reichenbach has observed, 
the "actual process of thinking evades distinct analysis. . . . We con- 
nect logical analysis, not with actual thinking, but with thinking in 


the form of its rational reconstruction." l In like manner, the scien- 
tific report is a rational reconstruction of a scientific investigation. 
The report disregards the false starts, "hunches," and errors that 
may have occurred during the course of the investigation. 

B. Errors in Reasoning 

The theory of logic as it has been developed in the past embodies 
the description and classification of fallacies or errors in reasoning. 
The term fallacy is not applied in strict usage to a mere mistake or 
illusion but only to an error in reasoning. Fallacious reasoning is 
most dangerous when it appears outwardly to be most logical. 


From the time the writer first conceives his problem, there is no 
point at which he can ignore logical considerations. In any investiga- 
tion it is essential to distinguish between the data collected, the back- 
ground of fact and theory on which the writer relies in interpreting 
these data, and the inferences and conclusions drawn from the data. 
And both data and inferences must be distinguished from unsup- 
ported expressions of opinions. 

A. Distinguishing Among Data, Inference, and Opinion 

The term data refers specifically to the investigator's own findings 
in the course of his study. The word data (singular datum) means 
literally the things given. Bertrand Russell has observed: "The ques- 
tion of data has been, mistakenly as I think, mixed up with the ques- 
tion of certainty. The essential characteristic of a datum is that it 
is not inferred." 2 For example, a statement made to an interviewer 
may or may not be true; but true or false, the statement as made and 
accurately recorded forms a part of the interviewer's data, and prop- 
erly interpreted, may legitimately be made the basis of inference. 

The essential characteristic of an inference is that it is derived 
not from observation or memory but from reasoning on the basis 
of accepted data, sometimes less specifically termed "the facts." For 
example, records may show that a supporting metal bar has repeatedly 

1 Hans Reichenbach, Elements of Symbolic Logic, New York, The Macmillan 
Company, 1947, pp. 1-2. 

2 Bertrand Russell, An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth, New York, W. W. 
Norton and Company, Inc., 1940, p. 155. 


given way under stress. It may be justifiably inferred that the bar 
is not strong enough to support the weight to which it is subjected. 
An inference must be based on reliable data and be logically sound 
if it is to be used in arriving at more general conclusions. 

Opinion 'must be sharply distinguished from inference. An opinion 
represents a personal judgment; it is not necessarily based on reason 
and evidence. For example, one could be of the opinion that seeds 
grow better if planted in the dark of the moon; on the basis of evi- 
dence and reason, one must infer that rates of growth are determined 
by other factors. It is futile to argue questions which can be settled 
by reference to factual evidence. In such areas as philosophy, reli- 
gion, and politics, opinions are difficult to validate by evidence based 
on observation and tend to be influenced by emotional or cultural 
bias. In areas where evidence is not conclusive, the value of an opin- 
ion depends on the competence of the person expressing it and the 
process by which he arrived at it. Nevertheless, many readers accept 
quoted opinion as valid without examining its origin or the evidence 
behind it. 

B. Relationships Among Data, Analysis, and Interpretation 

An investigation of a problem, when broken down into its parts, 
proceeds from the collecting of data to the analysis of data and thence 
to interpretation. In actual practice, however, the investigator is con- 
stantly drawing inferences, and even the most elementary obser- 
vations involve some interpretation. For example, a layman on a 
country walk may pick up a rock which he considers unusual; to a 
geologist the same rock may be an addition to his collection of geodes. 
The natural phenomenon is the same in both cases both men have 
classified the rock on the basis of inference but the geologist's train- 
ing enables him to classify and interpret his sensory impressions 
more meaningfully. Continuous interpretation in the light of training 
and experience accompanies all our observations. As Eddington has 
put it, "We shall probe down towards the roots of knowledge; but 
the most primitive data we can reach will not be wholly independent 
of the primitive forms of thought. We just cannot help being brainy, 
and must try to make the best of it." 3 

3 Sir Arthur Eddington, The Philosophy of Physical Science, Cambridge, Eng., 
Cambridge University Press, 1939, p. 195. 


Moreover, an investigator throughout his research project con- 
siders the significance of results he has already obtained and relates 
them to his previous knowledge. 

If we understand by interpretation the establishment of a link 
between the results of a study and other pertinent knowledge that 
is, the search for broader meaning it would be uneconomical, and 
indeed often impossible, to make interpretation the last crowning step 
of an inquiry. The search for such links is a continuous preoccupation 
of the social scientist during the entire course of an inquiry ; in particu- 
lar, interpretation is often inextricably interwoven with the process of 
analysis. 4 

From these considerations it follows that if final conclusions are to 
be valid, the logical sequence from data to inference must be estab- 
lished at every stage of the inquiry. 


Logically there are two methods of drawing inferences from ac- 
cepted facts or data; these methods are known as inductive and de- 
ductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning proceeds from a number of 
observations to a conclusion or general principle, that is, from the 
particular to the general. Deductive reasoning the method of formal 
proof familiar in geometry proceeds from an established principle 
to its application in individual instances, that is, from the general 
to the particular. 

A. Meaning of Inductive Reasoning 

Scientific induction may be regarded as a refinement of folk prac- 
tice in learning from experience. Many popular inductions are ex- 
pressed in rhymes and adages. For example, the saying "Evening red 
and morning gray sends the traveler on his way; evening gray and 
morning red sends the traveler wet to bed" expresses the popular 
induction that clouds in the morning are a less serious portent of 
rain than clouds in the evening. Scientific inductions may likewise 
be derived, with proper precautions, from experience, including the 
observation of controlled experiments. 

4 Marie Jahoda, Morton Deutsch, and Stuart W. Cook, Research Methods 
in Social Relations, Part One, New York, The Dryden Press, Inc., 1951, p. 255. 
Reprinted by permission of The Dryden Press, Inc. 


Among the many inductions which form a part of the whole body 
of scientific knowledge a few simple examples may be cited: metal 
expands when heated, altitude affects the boiling point of water, light 
travels faster than sound, fever or elevation of body temperature is 
frequently a sign of illness or inflammation, sugar is soluble in water. 
The term empirical is often applied to knowledge based on experience 
and experiment, as opposed to theory. 

B. Fallacies in Inductive Reasoning 

Since it is not feasible to examine all the possible instances of a 
general principle arrived at by a process of inductive reasoning, in- 
ductions are regarded as being supported by evidence rather than 
by absolute proof. As the evidence accumulates, the probability of 
the correctness of the induction increases until eventually the induc- 
tion may be accepted for all practical purposes as established. 

Fallacies in inductive reasoning occur when a conclusion is ac- 
cepted as valid on the basis of insufficient evidence, or is drawn from 
nonrepresentative instances. A single experience with an individual 
may lead a thoughtless person to conclude that all members of that 
individual's nationality are dishonest. The instance of dishonesty 
which is conspicuous because of its rarity may attract attention and 
lead to a generalization on the basis of an experience which is the 
reverse of typical. This fallacy of generalizing from insufficient 
knowledge becomes even more dangerous when the conclusions are 
extended beyond the group under immediate consideration. For ex- 
ample, a study of a small group of students in one college may be- 
come "the drinking habits of the college man," or inferences drawn 
from observation of a teen-age club in one city may be applied to 
"modern youth." 

The study of groups by means of the "sampling technique" in 
research has in recent years been greatly extended. Through this tech- 
nique the attempt is made to postulate the .characteristics and po- 
tential behavior of a group or a whole, or of parts of the whole, 
by a study of a relatively small sample. Certain standards must be 
adhered to if this technique still undergoing development is to 
be successful. These standard precautions are stated explicitly in the 
government's requirements for samples of uranium ore. 


Samples submitted to the Geological Survey or the Bureau of Mines 
should weigh at least 1 pound. . . . Each sample should also be a 
representative one; that is, it should represent, as fairly and accurately 
as possible, the rocks of the entire deposit from which it was taken. 
If one part of the deposit appears to be more radioactive than another, 
rocks taken from both parts should be included in the sample. If a 
small amount of high-grade ore is submitted, it should be stated that 
the sample is not representative of the entire deposit, but only of a 
small portion of it. 5 

These standards that the sample should be not less than minimum 
size and should fairly and accurately represent the whole remain 
the same whether the sample is taken of a physical substance, as here, 
or of people and their ideas. Experience in political polls has shown 
that even a large sample may be misleading if it is not representative. 
The Literary Digest election poll of 1936, for example, went widely 
astray in spite of the large number of individuals polled because 
the method of selection from telephone subscribers failed to give a 
representative cross section of the voting population. 

Another fallacy in inductive reasoning is the overextension of 
analogy. An analogy is a comparison between two things not neces- 
sarily alike except in the characteristics or attributes compared. (For 
a discussion of the rhetorical uses of analogy, see Chapter 7.) In 
drawing inferences on the basis of analogy it is reasoned that if two 
things resemble one another in certain respects, they are likely to 
resemble one another in other respects. An inference based on anal- 
ogy may be misleading if the resemblance is assumed to be more 
far-reaching than it actually is. 

Theories and hypotheses based on analogy must therefore be con- 
sidered highly speculative until they have been thoroughly tested. 
Substances harmless to one individual may, for instance, be toxic to 
another, results obtained with experimental animals may not be 
applicable to man, and the species of grapes which succeeds in one 
region may fail elsewhere. 

The uncritical application of analogy leads also to many errors 
in handling social problems. It is falsely assumed, for example, that 
methods of handling employer-employee relationships which work in 
one plant will work in another where conditions are different, that 

6 Prospecting for Uranium, United States Atomic Energy Commission and 
the United States Geological Survey, Washington, D. C., United States Govern- 
ment Printing Office, 1951, p. 40. 


methods of discipline successful at school will necessarily be success- 
ful at home, that methods of instruction which are effective in one 
time and place may be used with equal success in another. The value 
of an analogy as a means of inductive reasoning may be summed 
up by quoting Rudolf Carnap, who expresses "agreement with the 
general conception according to which reasoning by analogy, al- 
though admissible, can usually yield only rather weak results." 6 

Analogical reasoning or the noting of resemblances has, neverthe- 
less, often been productive of scientific advance. Charles Darwin, 
for example, was able to formulate his theory of natural selection 
on the basis of comparisons he had made of myriad forms of plant 
and animal life. At first he "without any theory collected facts on a 
wholesale scale," and his theory developed as a result of comparable 
instances of adaptation which he found. 7 

The goal of much inductive reasoning is to establish general prin- 
ciples based on causal relationships. The relationship between cause 
and effect is, however, one of the most intricate and difficult of logical 
problems. One of the commonest fallacies is to assume that because 
one occurrence follows another closely, the first one is the cause of 
the second. This fallacy, often referred to by its Latin name post 
hoc, ergo propter hoc (after this, therefore because of this) appears 
in various guises. 

Many popular superstitions are examples of this fallacy. Some proj- 
ect begun on Friday turns out disastrously, and it is inferred that 
some causal relation existed between the fate of the enterprise, and 
the day on which it was begun. Or thirteen persons sit down to dinner 
together, and some one dies before the year is out. It is to be noticed 
that such beliefs are supported by the tendency ... to observe only 
the instances in which the supposed effect follows, and to neglect the 
negative cases, or cases of failure. "Fortune favours fools," we exclaim 
when we hear of any piece of good luck happening to any one not 
noted for his wisdom. But we fail to take account of the more usual 
fate of the weak-minded. 8 

6 Rudolf Carnap, Logical Foundations of Probability, Chicago, The Univer- 
sity of Chicago Press, 1950, p. 569. 

7 A passage from Darwin's Autobiography in which he describes his methods 
and a twentieth century biologist's analysis of Darwin's reasoning appear in 
Appendix A, p. 405 and p. 406. 

8 James Edwin Creighton, An Introductory Logic, 4th ed., New York, The 
Macmillan Company, 1922, p. 310. Used with permission of The Macmillan 


The post hoc fallacy has likewise led to many errors in pure and 
applied science. In the past many medical cures were attributed to 
the efficacy of the treatment whether pills and potions or the long- 
honored practice of bleeding when the true curative agent was the 
inherent recuperative power of the body or the self-limiting nature 
of the disease. Not long ago a speaker attributed the lowered hospital 
death rate entirely to improved hospital conditions, ignoring the con- 
current increase in medical knowledge and the influence of the pres- 
ent practice of admitting to hospitals patients with comparatively 
mild illnesses. Many scientists also question the value of retrospective 
investigations that is, studies which go back and review the circum- 
stances which preceded an abnormal case because of the difficulty 
of obtaining histories of comparable normal cases to serve as con- 
trols. Beveridge has stressed the difficulty and the importance of 
separating possible causative factors in an investigation: "If when 
the tide is falling you take out water with a twopenny pail, you and 
the moon can do a great deal." 9 

In all inductive reasoning there is a point sometimes termed "the 
inductive leap" at which one must leap from the concrete to the 
abstract, from the accumulated data to the general statement. The 
scientific writer is mindful that although inductive reasoning leads 
only to probabilities, there is a wide range in the degree of proba- 
bility. He learns to take the "inductive leap" with caution. 


Once a general principle has been accepted, it may be employed 
in the interpretation of new facts through the use of deductive rea- 
soning. Unlike inductive reasoning which begins with the assembling 
of facts and generalizes from these facts, deductive reasoning begins 
with the statement of a principle and proceeds to apply it to a par- 
ticular instance. 

A. Meaning of Deductive Reasoning 

Deductive thought processes can be demonstrated by expressing 
them in the form of a syllogism, or logical scheme of a formal argu- 
ment. The syllogism, the theory of which was first worked out by 

9 W. I. B. Beveridge, The Art of Scientific Investigation, London, William 
Heinemann, Ltd., 1951, p. 20. 


Aristotle, consists of three parts: the major premise, which states 
a general principle, the minor premise, which states a particular in- 
stance, and the conclusion. This may be illustrated by a classic ex- 
ample : 

All men are mortal, (major premise) 
Socrates is a man. (minor premise) 
Therefore Socrates is mortal, (conclusion) 

Usually people reasoning deductively do not stop to reduce their 
thought processes to syllogistic form. However, people are constantly 
drawing deductive inferences. For example, a new family moves into 
the neighborhood. The neighbors observe that the family car has 
a California license and infer that its owners came from California. 
Expressed as a syllogism, this reasoning would go: 

Holders of California car licenses are residents of California. 
This family is the holder of a California car license. 
Therefore the members of this family are (or have recently been) 
residents of California. 

Deductive reasoning is employed in applied science to relate scien- 
tific principles to particular cases. This is a simple example: 

Sugar is soluble in water. 

This spot is sugar. 

Therefore this spot is soluble in water. 

Probabilities may be expressed syllogistically if the qualification of 
the premise is preserved in the conclusion; for example: 

Cases of illness A are usually helped by drug B. 

This is a case of illness A. 

Therefore it will probably be helped by drug B. 

Often in less formal reasoning the major premise, particularly if 
generally accepted, is left unexpressed. For instance, the statement 
"He failed because he did not study" implies the major premise that 
students who do not study will fail. An argument in which one of 
the premises is not expressed is called an enthymeme (in the mind). 


B. Fallacies in Deductive Reasoning 

Stating reasoning in syllogistic form shows the grounds on which 
conclusions rest and helps to bring to light latent fallacies in deduc- 
tive reasoning. Logicians have held, however, that a complete classi- 
fication of fallacies is impossible because of the infinite possibilities 
of error. Nor is it possible to distinguish perfectly between the falla- 
cies of inductive and deductive reasoning, since certain fallacies are 
common to both. The careless use of terms, for example, makes in- 
valid any reasoning which depends upon the accuracy of those terms. 
Nevertheless, many fallacies in deductive reasoning are sufficiently 
common to be classified. 

One group of fallacies involves treating as facts propositions which 
have yet to be established. This fallacy of presumption is evident in 
titles which imply in advance the validity of the author's conclu- 
sions for example: The Dangers of ... ; The Cumulative Nature 
of ... ; The Best Plan for. . . . Again, the presumption may be 
implied in the words in which the argument is expressed. For in- 
stance, the statement "This nonflammable material should be used" 
implies that the material is nonflammable though its nonflammability 
may not have been demonstrated. 

The terms begging the question and arguing in a circle are applied 
to fallacies which assume the conclusion in the major premise and 
then proceed in a superficially rational manner to arrive at the con- 
clusion by means of the premise. An example is the argument that 
it is to the best interest of a country to be governed by a small group 
because then the small group can use its power for the good of all 
the people. A related presumption may take the form of a question 
such as, "When will you make a new will?" implying that a new 
will is to be made; or of a dependent clause, "When you sign this 
paper, be sure to have it notarized," implying that the paper will be 

A fallacy known as the false dilemma involves the mishandling of 
premises by presenting only two choices when more than two are 
possible. An advocate of a certain site for a power plant, for example, 
may mention only two possible sites the one he favors and one 
obviously undesirable, ignoring the advantages of a third possibility. 

Another group of fallacies is particularly concerned not with the 


truth of the premises but with the correctness of their relation to 
the conclusion. The term non sequitur (it does not follow) , sometimes 
used to apply to fallacies in general, denotes specifically fallacies in 
which the premises, though they may be true, are irrelevant to the 
conclusion or inadequate to prove it. For example, evidence that a 
suggested policy will have advantages is not adequate to prove that 
it should be adopted. Nor is evidence that it will have disadvantages 
sufficient to prove that it should not be adopted. The point at issue 
is whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages sufficiently 
to justify adoption of the policy. Likewise it is not adequate to show 
that a situation is bad to prove that a given remedy will better it. 
Nor does showing that a situation could be worse sufficiently demon- 
strate that it could not be improved. 

A gross example of a non sequitur in which the conclusion does 
not follow from the premise is this statement from a student theme: 
"The damage sustained by the two Japanese cities of Hiroshima and 
Nagasaki when the atomic bombs were exploded over them is com- 
mon knowledge. Today there is hardly anyone who doubts the power 
of atomic energy; therefore, the purpose of this paper is to relate 
how research in the field of atomic energy is being used in peacetime 
industry." Macaulay cites a notable example of a non sequitur in 
which the premises are irrelevant to the conclusion. He objected that 
the defenders of Charles I were basing the issue of his competence 
as a ruler, not on his conduct as king, but on his conduct as a private 

The advocates of Charles, like the advocates of other malefactors 
against whom overwhelming evidence is produced, generally decline 
all controversy about the facts, and content themselves with calling 
testimony to character. He had so many private virtues! And had James 
the Second no private virtues? Was Oliver Cromwell, his bitterest 
enemies themselves being judges, destitute of private virtues? And 
what, after all, are the virtues ascribed to Charles? A religious zeal, 
not more sincere than that of his son, and fully as weak and narrow- 
minded, and a few of the ordinary household decencies which half 
the tombstones in England claim for those who lie beneath them. A 
good father! A good husband! Ample apologies indeed for fifteen 
years of persecution, tyranny, and falsehood! 

We charge him with having broken his coronation oath; and we are 
told that he kept his marriage vow! We accuse him of having given 
up his people to the merciless inflictions of the most hot-headed and 


hard-hearted of prelates; and the defence is, that he took his little 
son on his knee and kissed him! We censure him for having violated 
the articles of the Petition of Right, after having, for good and valuable 
consideration, promised to observe them; and we are informed that 
he was accustomed to hear prayers at six o'clock in the morning! 
It is to such considerations as these, together with his Vandyke dress, 
his handsome face, and his peaked beard, that he owes, we verily 
believe, most of his popularity with the present generation. 10 

Weak arguments are frequently introduced by implication since 
their illogicality is evident if they are fully expressed. For example, 
long scientific terms may be used in advertising a product to increase 
its appeal to the public. Yet no one would attach validity to the fol- 
lowing argument: this product contains ingredients with long chemi- 
cal names; therefore it will serve the designated purpose. 

Fallacies comprising one important group result from the mis- 
handling of the middle term that is, the term which appears in both 
premises and upon which their relationship to the conclusion depends. 
In one such fallacy the difficulty is a shift in the meaning of the 
middle term between the major and the minor premise. 

All people should be liberals. 

The Liberals are in favor of this measure. 

Therefore all people should be in favor of this measure. 

In this example the word, liberals the middle term is used in the 
major premise to denote people of open mind, in the minor premise 
to denote members of the Liberal Party. 

Difficulties also arise from failure to comprehend fully the sig- 
nificance of the statements in the major and minor premise with 
reference to the middle term. Such misunderstanding may lead to 
such a faulty reasoning as this: 

Soda is a white powder. 

This unknown substance is a white powder. 

Therefore this unknown substance is soda. 

Here the reasoning has proceeded as if the word is in the premises 
meant equals, whereas it means in each case only that the subject 

10 Thomas Babington Macaulay, Critical and Historical Essays, New York, 
Frederick A. Stokes & Brother, 1888, Vol. I, pp. 36-37. 


belongs to the larger class of white powders. Nothing can be inferred 
about resemblances or relationships between soda and the unknown 
except that both are white powders. 

It is always easier to detect other people's errors than one's own. 
Nevertheless, if an awareness of the most common fallacies in logic 
is to be of utmost benefit to the scientific writer, he must learn to 
apply it to his own reasoning as well. 


Much of the material which the writer of scientific papers and 
reports has occasion to interpret is statistical data; consequently, it 
is desirable for everyone engaged in research to have some training 
in statistical method. As one statistician has pointed out, a more 
extended knowledge of scientific methods of collecting, analyzing, 
and interpreting data would do much to reduce the general confusion 
about the place and the validity of statistics. "The fact that expert 
statisticians well-versed in these methods can and do come out with 
sound conclusions from a given set of data which differ very little 
from one statistician to another is evidence that there are no real 
grounds for the naive claim that statistics can prove anything." ll 

A. The Statistical Unit 

The writer who is collecting or handling statistics should keep 
constantly in mind the importance of the statistical unit. The com- 
pilation of statistics involves counting or enumeration, and the unit 
is the thing counted. If statistics are to be meaningful, the unit to 
be counted must be precisely determined before the statistics are 
collected. In the enumeration of individuals of a certain age, for ex- 
ample, it must be remembered that age to the nearest birthday is 
not the same thing as age in years. In comparing statistics collected 
at different times or in different places, it is essential that the sta- 
tistical units represented be the same in actuality and not merely 
in name. It is well known that a grade of A in an educational in- 
stitution of high standards does not represent the same value as an 
A in an institution of low standards. Comparative studies of the in- 

11 S. S. Wilks, Elementary Statistical Analysis, Princeton, Princeton Univer- 
sity Press, 1949, p. 1. 


cidence of diseases are complicated by the fact that accuracy in 
disease detection and reporting varies. Thus a health agency of high 
reporting standards may list more cases of measles in the month of 
February than an agency of low reporting standards lists, though 
the actual number of cases occurring in the two areas was about the 

Even in relatively simple situations it is not always easy to arrive 
at an accurate definition of the unit to be counted, as the following 
account shows. 

Any count of objects presupposes a definition whereby the objects 
to be counted may be positively distinguished from other objects which 
are not to be included in the count. It would seem at first thought that, 
aside from a possible reminder that infants and children were to be 
counted, as well as adults, little in the way of a formal definition 
of a "person" would be required as a basis for counting the inhabitants 
of a given state or city. 

But the census must count persons who belong in or to a given 
geographic area on a given date. There's the rub. The census of the 
United States cannot be taken instantaneously, nor even within the 
space of a single day. The period of enumeration spreads out over 
two, three, or four weeks, during which time persons come and go, 
are born, and die, in appreciable numbers. 

Further, there must be some criterion by which to settle the question 
as to who belongs in a given area which is being enumerated. In the 
English census a person is counted as a part of the population of the 
place where he is found at midnight of the census date, giving what 
has been termed the de facto population. In the United States a person 
is counted as a part of the population of the area within which he 
has his "usual place of abode," giving the de jure population. In the 
early days, when most persons were to be found for 365 days in the 
year at or near their "usual place of abode," the problem of counting 
the population was far simpler than it is now and the American census 
plan presented few of its present difficulties. With the increase of travel, 
the loose ties which bind people to their living places, and the facility 
with which whole families now move from one locality to another, 
following seasonal occupations or actuated by other motives, it seems 
likely that eventually the census of the United States also will have 
to be taken on the de facto basis, counting the people where they are 
found, even though the results have to be tabulated in such fashion 
as to assign each person to that area in which he has his customary 
residence (or perhaps his legal residence). . . . 

There are, therefore, three different concepts under which a geo- 


graphic location might be assigned to a person for census purposes; 
namely, (1) where the person is found on the census date (or on the 
date of actual enumeration) ; (2) where his usual home or place of 
residence is located; and (3) where he has his legal or voting resi- 
dence. Of these three the English census, as already noted, chooses the 
first. The census of the United States is now taken in accordance with 
the second, and conceivably some future census, seeking a strictly logi- 
cal basis for apportionment of representation, may choose the third. 12 

B. Adequacy in the Treatment of Statistics 

One function of statistics is to give a composite picture of a group. 
There is a tendency when statistics are used for this purpose to rely 
unduly on the average, or arithmetical mean. This, of course, is a 
figure obtained by totaling the numerical values of all the items in 
a group and dividing by the number of items. It has no validity in 
cases where there is no meeting ground between extremes. For in- 
stance, the average income would be nonexistent in a region where 
part of the population was wealthy and the remainder poverty 
stricken. The average daily rainfall might never occur in a locality 
which had a wet season and a dry season. Even a single extreme in- 
stance will affect the average so that the group as a whole appears 
higher or lower than it actually is. It is desirable to know also the 
mode, the value which occurs most frequently, and the median, or 
the middle value. In the following series of figures representing, for 
example, breakage fees $13, $8, $7, $6, $6, the mode is $6, the 
median $7, and the average $8. A graph or curve can show the entire 
distribution of a series. (See Chapter 15.) 

An incomplete statistical picture may also result if percentages 
alone or total figures alone are given. A total of a hundred petition 
signers may be impressive if it is not known that the figure repre- 
sents only 10 per cent of those requested to sign. The statement that 
75 per cent of a club's members favored a certain action loses its 
significance if it is disclosed that the club has only eight members. 
Figures indicating correlation, that is, the degree of positive or 
negative relationship between two sets of values, may be misinter- 
preted by those not familiar with statistical methods for computing 
correlations. (See Appendix A, p. 407.) 

12 Leon E. Truesdell in Methods in Social Science, Chicago, The University of 
Chicago Press, 1931, pp. 199-201. 


It should always be remembered that statistics deal with groups. 
Statistics may predict accurately what will happen to the group with- 
out predicting what will happen to any one individual. Those who 
work with individuals, as do doctors, lawyers, teachers, and social 
workers, must always be prepared for the possibility that any one 
individual may be the exception. Social scientists warn against inter- 
preting any individual in terms of a stereotype, that is, a generalized 
picture of the group. Even when such a composite picture is based 
on complete and accurate evidence, a given individual may differ 
markedly from it. A stereotype based on incomplete, prejudiced, or 
outdated evidence, such as the cartoon caricature of the gum-chewing 
stenographer or the cranky schoolteacher, may be altogether unjust. 

C. The Misuse of Statistics 

Although statistical evidence is valid when properly used, its in- 
tricacy and impressive character make it particularly liable to mis- 
representation by the self-interested and to misunderstanding by the 
unsophisticated. The scientific writer has a special obligation to 
handle statistics equitably insofar as he employs them. 

Many people are impressed by statistics simply because they sound 
substantial and scientific. Hence statistics may be introduced to make 
a subjective study seem objective or to buttress a weak cause. If the 
statistics are irrelevant to the point at issue, this practice is, of course, 
a variant of the non sequitur fallacy. Even if related to the issue, 
partial statistics may be misleading. The special pleader may select 
statistical evidence from the place or the time most favorable to 
his cause. Even out-of-date statistics may impress the particularly 
unwary. In estimating economies, employment, number of new in- 
stallations, or of accidents, for instance, overlapping categories may 
be combined to give an inaccurately large total. 

Small errors in collecting statistics, if they all tend in the same 
direction, may rise to a large aggregate through processes of addi- 
tion and multiplication. Stating in decimals, weights or measurements 
which were obtained in large fractions may give a false impression 
of accuracy. A British statistician has cited an instance of such mis- 
leading exactness. 

In a reply to a parliamentary question . . . , the approximate num- 
ber of Moslems in the Empire was given as follows: 


India 92,000,000 

Dominions 161,750 

Colonies 13,325,000 

Total 105,486,750 

The first figure is rounded to the nearest million. It is not only a waste 
of time to show the last six digits in the sum; it is positively mislead- 
ing. The sum should be given as 105 millions approximately. 13 


From the foregoing discussion of principles it is evident that there 
is no easy way to accurate interpretation. The interpreter must be 
constantly aware of man's tendency to rationalize; in the words of 
James Harvey Robinson, to engage "in rinding arguments for going 
on believing as we already do." The interpreter must be aware also 
of the dangers of oversimplification in its many forms of seeking 
a scapegoat or a panacea, of accepting plausible explanations of 
cause and effect, and of reducing complex problems to simple terms. 

Yet the interpreter must not become so engrossed by the exceptions 
and the doubtful cases that he loses perspective in viewing the whole. 
An experienced Committee on Research has summed up the qualities 
to be desired in the interpreter: "(1) a critical attitude toward the 
quantity and quality of evidence accumulated; (2) logical reasoning 
from this evidence; (3) maintenance of perspective concerning the 
subject as a whole; and (4) the use of good judgment in fitting the 
recommendations to the given situation." 14 Only constant regard for 
these injunctions will enable the writer to arrive at interpretations 
that will bring out the potential significance of his findings. 


1. Identify the fallacies represented or referred to in the following 
passages: (a) Many patients recovered who were treated by the old 
practice of blood-letting. Therefore the treatment must have had value, 
(b) This appliance has developed a leak and is not usable. Therefore 

18 R. G. D. Allen, Statistics for Economists, London, Hutchinson & Company, 
Ltd., 1949, p. 73. 

14 By permission from Manual on Research and Reports, by the Committee 
on Research of the Amos Tuck School of Administration and Finance, Dart- 
mouth College, 1937, p. 49. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 


it should be replaced by a new one. (c) Men of courage always make 
enemies. I have enemies. Therefore I am a man of courage, (d) Our 
city charter should not be revised, even though it is out of date, be- 
cause in the course of revision some of its good features might be 
lost and undesirable ones introduced, (e) Every well-informed person 
has some knowledge of chemistry. This individual has a knowledge of 
chemistry. Therefore he is a well-informed person, (f) The members 
of a college composition class misspelled from one to ten words on a 
single set of themes. Present-day college students are certainly poor 
spellers, (g) The voter in question must be a Republican because he 
comes from Vermont, (h) The law proposed should not be passed, 
because it is class legislation, (i) People never die at flood tide. They 
always "go out with the ebb." (j) All acids are not poisonous. This 
is an acid. Therefore it is not poisonous, (k) The last graduate of a 
certain preparatory school to be admitted to a college in a neighboring 
city made a very poor college record. Therefore graduates of this high 
school should not be considered for admission in the future. (1) A fal- 
lacy noted by Lynn Thorndike in The History of Magic and Experi- 
mental Science, Vol. I, p. 21 : "But to return to the supposed immunity 
of the Hellenes from magic; so far has this hypothesis been carried 
that textual critics have repeatedly rejected passages as later inter- 
polations or even called entire treatises spurious for no other reason 
than that they seemed to them too superstitious for a reputable classi- 
cal author." 

2. What would probably be the statistical unit in statistics concerned 
with each of the following: coal production, wheat production, inci- 
dence of cases of diphtheria, death rate, birth rate, unemployment, 
traffic accidents, industrial accidents, railroad car loadings, stock 
values? In each of these instances how much preliminary definition 
would be needed to define the statistical unit accurately? 

3. Why is it necessary to define the statistical unit carefully before col- 
lecting statistics? What precautions must be observed in comparing 
statistics collected by different agencies or at different times? 

4. Show how an average value might be misleading in each of the fol- 
lowing instances: stock market values in September 1929, the rainfall 
on an island in the South Pacific, a patient's temperature readings for 
a three-day period, bacterial count of milk over a period of a year. 

5. In commenting on Varga's experiments on rabbit muscle, experiments 
which had been interpreted to indicate that muscle does not contract 
at zero degrees Centigrade, A. Szent-Gyorgyi observes, "It was rather 
shocking to find a frog swimming about in ice water after the con- 
clusion of these experiments, and we had to decide whether the frog 
or Mr. Varga was wrong." Szent-Gyorgyi conducted similar experi- 
ments with frog muscle and found that not until 3 degrees did it 


reach the condition which the rabbit muscle had reached at zero 
degrees. At this point, adds Szent-Gyorgyi, the matter no longer in- 
terests the frog "because at this temperature he is frozen anyway." 
(Chemistry of Muscular Contraction, New York, Academic Press, Inc., 
1947, pp. 48-49.) What principles of scientific method and of inter- 
pretation are illustrated by this episode? 

6. Charles Darwin wrote: "I had, also, during many years followed a 
golden rule, namely, that whenever a published fact, a new observation 
or thought came across me, which was opposed to my general results, 
to make a memorandum of it without fail and at once ; for I had found 
by experience that such facts and thoughts were far more apt to 
escape from the memory than favourable ones." (Life and Letters, 
New York and London, D. Appleton and Company, 1925, Vol. 1, p. 71.) 
How do logicians express the principle which Darwin had discovered 
from his own experience? 


I. Communication as a concern of the scientist 

A. Historical division between scientific and literary writing 

B. The rise of science writing 
II. Reaching a variety of readers 

A. Differences between technical and nontechnical writing 

B. A preliminary analysis of periodicals 
III. The process of popularization 

A. Establishing contact with the reader 

1. The reader's self-interest 

2. Human interest 

3. Interest in the concrete 

4. Curiosity and wonder 

B. Keeping material within the reader's range 

1. A central plan of intrinsic interest 

2. The use of rhetorical devices 

Communication is the matrix in which all human 
activities are embedded. JURGEN RUESCH and GREGORY 
BATESON, Communication, 1951. 


The first American journal devoted entirely to science and its re- 
lation to the arts, The American Journal of Science, began publica- 
tion in 1818. Its founder, the chemist Benjamin Silliman, on the 
tenth anniversary of the journal commented on the state of scientific 
writing in this country at that time: "... our savants, unless they 
would be, not only the exclusive admirers but the sole purchasers 
of their own works, must permit a little of the graceful drapery of 
general literature to flow around the cold statues of science." 1 

Silliman could hardly have imagined the number and variety of 
readers for whom the modern scientist has occasion to write. In ad- 

1 John F. Fulton and Elizabeth H. Thomson, Benjamin Silliman, 1779-1864, 
Pathfinder in American Science, New York, Henry Schuman, 1947, p. 127. 


dition to his fellow specialists and scientists in related fields, there 
are individuals seeking expert opinion, as well as numerous agencies 
which sponsor research projects and control research funds. Finally 
there are general readers. How large a circle of readers then should 
the scientist attempt to reach, and how freely may he use literary 
adornment in order to appeal to a more diversified group? 

A. Historical Division Between Scientific and Literary Writing 

A conscious distinction between a scientific and a literary English 
prose style goes back more than three hundred years. Richard Jones 2 
has shown how British scientists of the seventeenth century deliber- 
ately avoided rhetorical ornament then so much a feature of the 
prevailing literary style because they considered rhetoric unsuited 
to the expression of scientific truth. Not all scientific writers were 
successful in avoiding the metaphors they so much deplored, as is 
evident from the words of Joshua Childrey in the preface of Britannia 
Baconia (1660) : "I have endeavour'd to tell my tale as plainly as 
might be, both that I might be understood of all, and that I might 
not disfigure the face of Truth by daubing it over with the paint 
of language." Nevertheless there is ample evidence to justify the con- 
clusions that "repugnance to the prevailing style and a feeling for 
the need of a simpler, more direct manner of expression were a 
characteristic feature of the new science from its very inception" 
and that style was regarded as "a distinguishing mark between the ex- 
perimental philosophers and those who held to the old tradition." 3 

A widely known expression of this ideal of scientific writing ap- 
pears in Thomas Sprat's History of the Royal Society (1667). The 
aim of the members was as he put it: 

... to return back to the primitive purity, and shortness, when men 
delivered so many things, almost in an equal number of words. They 
have exacted from all their members a close, naked, natural way of 
speaking; positive expressions; clear senses; a native easiness: bring- 
ing all things as near the Mathematical plainness, as they can: and 

2 Richard F. Jones, "Science and English Prose Style in the Third Quarter of 
the Seventeenth Century/' Publications of the Modern Language Association, 
45:977-1009, 1930. 

8 Reprinted from The Seventeenth Century by Richard F. Jones with the per- 
mission of the author and of the publishers, Stanford University Press. Copy- 
right by the board of trustees of Leland Stanford Junior University. 


preferring the language of Artizans, Countrymen, and Merchants, 
before that, of Wits, or Scholars. 

Jane Oppenheimer in quoting this passage 4 suggests that Sir Thomas 
Browne's failure to be admitted to the Royal Society may have been 
due to his metaphorical and ornate style. 

This tradition of plainness and directness in scientific style has 
endured to the present time, but various factors have combined to 
create new problems in communication for the scientific writer of 
the twentieth century. The extension of the scientist's technical vo- 
cabulary far beyond that of "Artizans, Countrymen, and Merchants" 
has made it increasingly difficult to achieve plainness. Meanwhile, 
the social and industrial ramifications of the scientist's work have 
increased, the number of potential readers has grown, and the knowl- 
edge to be communicated has been extended beyond anything which 
could have been foreseen. As this growing need for communication 
between the scientist and the public became more and more apparent 
in the latter half of the nineteenth century, such pioneering scientists 
as Thomas Henry Huxley and John Tyndall undertook the task of 
educating the public in science. This movement has continued until 
the present time, and many eminent scientists now address part of 
their writing to the lay reader. 

Writings on science have been divided into four groups: technical 
papers for fellow specialists, reviews and more general papers for 
other scientists, textbooks, and books and articles for the general 
reader. 5 Some of this writing is made available to the public through 
scientific societies which have recognized the importance of appeal- 
ing to the layman as well as to their own membership. The American 
Association for the Advancement of Science in addition to Science, 
its newsweekly for scientists, publishes a semitechnical journal, The 
Scientific Monthly, "for scientists and for everyone interested in 
the history, progress, and philosophy of science." Similarly the Amer- 
ican Medical Association besides its Journal publishes Today's 
Health, formerly Hygeia, for the general public. However, scientists 
are not entirely satisfied with their efforts to reach the general reader. 

4 Jane M. Oppenheimer, "John Hunter, Sir Thomas Browne and the Experi- 
mental Method," Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 21:25-26, January- 
February, 1947, The Johns Hopkins Press. 

5 Marston Bates, The Saturday Review, 35(24): 16, June 14, 1952. 


As one scientist has observed: "We have not solved the problem of 
how to write about science for the non-scientist." 6 

One reason perhaps for the persistence of this problem is that 
scientists have frequently shrunk from communication with the pub- 
lic for fear of being misunderstood. Now the view is growing that 
scientists are more likely to be misunderstood if they do not com- 
municate with the public. The newer attitude toward the dissemina- 
tion of scientific discoveries is expressed in the program of the 1954 
meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

The necessity for the general public to be kept informed of the 
results of the scientific research which it supports, directly and indi- 
rectly, is quite evident. Organized science and the individual scientist 
must have the understanding and support of all. It is, of course, equally 
important that the advances of science be publicized with accuracy 
and clarity without sensationalism. Progress in this direction in recent 
years has been most gratifying thanks largely to members of the 
National Association of Science Writers, other accredited science re- 
porters, managing editors of American newspapers, and program man- 
agers of radio and television stations. 

It is in the interest of accuracy and completeness that science writers 
frequently wish to discuss various research results with investigators. 
If you are asked to cooperate in this respect or to participate in a 
press conference, please do so not only for your own protection but 
for the benefit of science in general. 7 

B. The Rise of Science Writing 

It will be noted that the authors of scientific papers referred to 
in the preceding quotation are in this instance not communicating 
with the general public directly but through science writers or jour- 
nalists. This branch of journalism is not to be confused with scientific 
writing. The scientific writer is first a scientist and secondarily a 
writer; the science writer is primarily a professional writer. Scientific 
writing stems from the scientific tradition, science writing from the 
journalistic tradition. However, since some science writers are well 
trained in science and since some scientists devote part of their time 
to journalism, the categories do at times overlap. Scientific writing 

6 Bates, loc. cit. 

1 General Program, Annual Meeting of the American Association for the 
Advancement of Science, Berkeley, Calif., 1954, p. 63. 


done strictly by and for specialists may be termed technical writing. 
Like other branches of journalism, science writing was in its early 
days frequently lurid and sensational, and at times still is. Since the 
1920's, however, the influence of such writers as the late Howard W. 
Blakeslee, science editor of the Associated Press from 1927 to 1952, 
and Waldemar Kaempffert, a former editor of the Scientific American 
and science editor of the New York Times since 1931, has done a 
great deal to raise the general level of science writing. 


The individual who wishes to extend his own writing range must 
recognize two facts. First, it is not often that the same piece of 
writing appeals equally to technical and lay readers since the very 
qualities which give it popular appeal may be unpalatable to the 
expert. Each paper must be directed to the reader group which it is 
designed to reach. Second, there are easily recognized differences 
which distinguish technical and popular writing ; in adapting material 
to the destined reader group, the writer can follow specific techniques. 

Certain difficulties are inherent in the process of popularization. 
The general reader is likely to be impatient of the caution expressed 
by the scientist in such qualifications as "relatively," "with reason- 
able assurance," "although it has not been definitely proved," "in 
some but not in all cases," "the observations indicate," "from 
the present observations," and "are essentially in agreement, ex- 
cept. . . ." While some scientists overwork these phrases, the use of 
them is representative of the scientist's caution in interpreting his 
results. Though science writing for the layman should be accurate 
by nontechnical standards, it cannot go into all the possible qualifica- 
tions and objections which the technical writer is obliged to consider. 

While on the whole the relations between scientists and journalists 
are becoming more sympathetic, there are still occasions when the 
scientific and journalistic attitudes are widely divergent. For exam- 
ple, an article entitled "How to Keep from Getting False Teeth" 8 
drew cautionary comment from a Council of the American Dental 
Association. The article opens, ". . . now they've discovered that 

8 Herb Bailey, "How to Keep from Getting False Teeth," Better Homes and 
Gardens, 29(15) :32ff., November 1951. 


chlorophyll a chemical substance found in every blade of grass . . . 
may well save you the price of a set of 'store teeth,' heal your sore 
mouth if your newly acquired dentures give you trouble, or let you 
indulge your passion for onions without risking social ostracism." 
A preliminary report of the Council on Dental Therapeutics of the 
American Dental Association concludes more cautiously, "Since the 
Council's preliminary consideration of the available evidence gives 
rise to grave doubts about the remarkable statements concerning 
this dentifrice, the profession may be well advised to adopt a con- 
servative attitude toward this subject until a more comprehensive 
examination can be completed." 9 

The importance of scientific news and the difficulties of having 
it reported accurately have been summed up by E. Bright Wilson, Jr. 

But scientists are, and correctly so, under tremendous moral pressure 
to work incessantly for the proper utilization of their work by society. 
This must include strenuous efforts to educate the public, not only 
on the facts of science, a discouragingly vast job in view of the igno- 
rance in this field of even most college graduates, but also on the basic 
aims of science, its effects, and the climate necessary for its advance- 
ment. In this enterprise most scientists are inhibited by their well- 
grounded fear of dealing in any way with the press. Almost every 
scientist has at some time yielded, as a matter of duty, to requests 
for interviews with newspaper reporters. In spite of the most solemn 
promises, his reward is all too frequently a distorted and sensational 
article which serves no public purpose and damages his reputation. 
After such experiences, many scientists shun the press as the plague. 

Nevertheless the public should receive information about scientific 
advances, and some way should be worked out to give it to them. 
Reporters frequently promise to show their write-ups to the scientist 
for correction, but they do not always live up to these promises. This 
check also provides little protection from the headline writers, who 
reporters claim are out of their reach. A perfectly sound article on 
an anthropological expedition is of little help if headed by "Harvard 
Savant Discovers Savage Love Nest." Perhaps the best procedure is to 
work through an experienced press officer who understands the scien- 
tist's viewpoint and who also is in a position to apply some pressure 
on the newsmen. 10 

9 "Chloresium Toothpaste: Preliminary Report," The Journal of the Amen, 
can Dental Association^ 43:645, November 1951. 

10 By permission from An Introduction to Scientific Research by E. Bright 
Wilson, Jr., p. 9. Copyright 1952. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 


Among prizes and awards recognizing distinction in science writing 
have been the George Westinghouse Science Writing Awards, spon- 
sored by the Westinghouse Educational Foundation and administered 
by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Rachel 
Carson won the 1950 Westinghouse magazine award for "The Birth 
of an Island" and later received the 1951 nonfiction National Book 
Award for The Sea Around Us, a best-selling account of oceano- 
graphic research in which "The Birth of an Island" forms a chapter. 
In accepting the latter award Miss Carson expressed her philosophy 
of interpreting science to the layman. 

Many people have commented with surprise on the fact that a work 
of science should have a large popular sale. But this notion that 
"science" is something that belongs in a separate compartment of its 
own, apart from everyday life, is one that I should like to challenge. 
We live in a scientific age; yet we assume that knowledge of science 
is the prerogative of only a small number of human beings, isolated 
and priestlike in their laboratories. This is not true. The materials 
of science are the materials of life itself. Science is part of the 
reality of living; it is the what, the how, and the why of everything 
in our experience. It is impossible to understand man without under- 
standing his environment and the forces that have molded him physi- 
cally and mentally. 11 

A. Differences Between Technical and Nontechnical Writing 

Most of the differences between technical and popular writing 
arise from the differing demands and purposes of the two groups 
of readers. General readers require background information and 
interpretation. They often have little or no information about the 
subject and little prior interest in it. Technical readers, on the con- 
trary, have been classed as "a captive audience" readers who are 
obliged to read as part of their work. 

They come to the author, furthermore, with a common background of 
knowledge. He does not have to tell them; they know where his work 
fits into the scheme of things. They want him to get down to business 
right away, to give them all the data and a sufficiently detailed descrip- 
tion of the experiment so they can repeat it themselves. This leaves 
little space or time for generalization on what the work means. In fact, 
such generalization especially in American scientific literature has 
come to be regarded as an impropriety. As the judges of the work, 

11 The Courier- Journal, Louisville, February 3, 1952. 


the author's colleagues claim the evaluation of its significance as their 
prerogative; they do not want to be told what it means. 12 

Often the title alone of an article indicates the reader group it 
will appeal to. All of the following titles appeared under the heading 
"Chlorophyll" in the Readers 9 Guide: "Green Stuff," "Nature's De- 
odorant," "Sweeter Smell," "Chlorophyll Formation in Potato Tubers 
as Affected by Temperature and Time," and "Phosphorescence of 
Chlorophyll and Some Chlorin Derivatives." The first three titles are 
definitely popular in appeal and are designed to attract the reader's 
attention rather than to inform him about the contents of the articles. 
By contrast the last two titles give an accurate and specific indication 
of the contents of the articles and of their exact limitations. They 
would repel the general reader but would attract the scientist working 
in the same or a related field. 

The opening paragraphs of an article are likewise an indication 
of its potential audience. The technical article follows a logical plan, 
stating at once the problem in which the reader may be assumed 
to have interest. The article for "a wider audience of scientists" states 
the problem in somewhat broader terms. The article for the general 
reader often opens with an appeal to the reader's own interests or 
with a touch of human interest which will attract the reader's atten- 
tion. A difference is also apparent in the words and terms used, the 
diction becoming increasingly technical at advancing scientific levels. 
The three following examples, each of which deals with an applica- 
tion of hybridization, show a progression from a moderately popular 
to an extremely technical form of presentation. 

In the first example hybrid corn is presented as a "man-made 
product" and associated with agriculture in the American Corn Belt. 
Thus two human motives pride in man's achievement and economic 
interest in food production are appealed to. The wording is non- 
technical, and the key term hybrid corn is defined. 

Hybrid corn, a man-made product developed during the past 25 
years, may prove to be the most far-reaching contribution in applied 
biology of this century. With its accompanying improvements in farm- 
ing methods, it has revolutionized the agriculture of the American 
Corn Belt. Because of it U. S. farmers are growing more corn on 

12 Gerard Piel, "Biology for the General Reader," A. L B. S. Bulletin, The 
American Institute of Biological Sciences, 4(3): 17, July 1954. 


fewer acres than ever before in this country's history. The new abun- 
dance of food brought by hybrid corn played a significant role in World 
War II and in the rehabilitation of Europe after the war. Now this 
product, spreading to Italy, to Mexico and to other countries where 
corn is an important crop, promises to become a factor of considerable 
consequence in solving the world food problem. 

What is hybrid corn and how has it made possible these substantial 
contributions to the world's food resources? 

In a broad sense all corn is hybrid, for this plant is a cross-pollinated 
species in which hybridization between individual plants, between vari- 
eties and between races occurs constantly. Such natural, more or less 
accidental hybridization has played a major role in corn's evolution 
under domestication. But the hybrid corn with which we shall deal 
here is a planned exploitation of this natural tendency on a scale far 
beyond that possible in Nature. 13 

Though human motives are recognized in the second example, 
they are appealed to less directly. The diction is more technical; the 
term heterosis, for example, is introduced with only an incidental 

In the year 1932 corn was planted on 113,024,000 acres of United 
States farm land. The total yield for that year was 2,930,352,000 bush- 
els, an average of 25.9 bushels per acre. In the year 1946, 3,287,927,000 
bushels were harvested from plantings on 90,027,000 acres, represent- 
ing a per acre yield of 36.5 bushels. The difference in yield was due 
in greatest measure to the use of hybrid corn on a large scale. The 
production of 36 bushels to the acre instead of 26 represents nothing 
short of a revolution. The importance of the revolution extends even 
further than the increased yield figures indicate, for it has freed ap- 
proximately 23,000,000 acres of land for the growing of other crops 
or for inclusion in a rotation and conservation scheme to provide a 
hedge against soil fertility exhaustion. 

These developments suggest startling potentialities for other crops, 
and they may be a consideration pointing the way out of the dilemma 
of increasing populations and decreasingly fertile farm lands with 
which most of the Temperate Zone countries of the world are faced. 

The superiority of hybrid corn has its basis in a little-understood 
phenomenon known to biologists as heterosis. After some preliminary 
observations, we shall consider the various hypotheses as to the nature 
of heterosis. Whatever may be involved, heterosis gives to hybrids a 
developmental vigor which makes them larger, higher-yielding, im- 
proves the quality of their products, or otherwise renders them more 

18 Paul C. Mangelsdorf, "Hybrid Corn," Scientific American, 185(2) :39, Au- 
gust 1951. 


desirable than their parents. The occurrence of this hybrid advantage, 
generally referred to as hybrid vigor, provides one of the most in- 
triguing of biological puzzles. 14 

The concluding example is immediately recognizable as highly 
technical because of its diction and the assumption that the reader 
will be interested in the unadorned facts. 

The cytogenetical problem of introgression, as exemplified in trans- 
fer of genes from wild species of Nicotiana to cultivated tobacco, Nico- 
tiana tabacum, involves special features owing to the high sterility of 
the Fj hybrids and to the low degree of association of chromosomes 
of the two species in the hybrids. Thus in the transfer of necrotic 
mosaic resistance from glutinosa to tabacum, the normal hybrid is al- 
most completely sterile and the chromosomes of the two species exhibit 
only a low degree of association. The sterility may, however, be over- 
come by crossing tetraploid instead of diploid tabacum with diploid 
glutinosa, producing in the first instance a relatively fertile triploid 
hybrid having two sets of tabacum and a single set of glutinosa chromo- 
somes. 15 

The title, the opening paragraphs, the diction all indicate whether 
an article is intended for general or specialized readers. Beyond 
these easily recognized hallmarks, the entire cast of a popular article 
will be characteristic. The article will riot be as concise as one in- 
tended for the technical reader, nor will it include as much technical 
detail. This does not mean, however, that the popular article is 
merely a series of generalizations with the technical data omitted. 
Nothing is more discouraging to the general reader than unsupported 
abstractions. Carefully selected facts and cases, amplified by anec- 
dotes, illustrations, comparisons, and references to everyday situa- 
tions, replace the technical presentation of data in order to bring 
abstract theory within the range of the reader's experience. 

B. A Preliminary Analysis of Periodicals 

The habit of analyzing periodicals will help the reader in evaluat- 
ing what he reads (see Chapter 4) and aid the writer in shaping 
his material to meet the needs of different journals. Many journals 

14 W. Gordon Whaley, "The Gifts of Hybridity," The Scientific Monthly, 
70:10, January 1950. 

15 Roy E. Clausen, "The Cytogenetics of Introgression," Science, 115:481, 
May 2, 1952. 


of interest to the scientific writer are organs of scientific societies 
and industrial groups so that ^sponsorship is always a first considera- 
tion. In general, scholarly journals do not depend upon advertising 
as a source of income but derive their support from subscriptions, 
endowments, and organizations. Contributors to learned journals 
customarily do not receive financial compensation but are rewarded 
by the opportunity to exchange results and ideas with other investi- 
gators and by the recognition accorded their work. 

The outline given here suggests a plan for an analysis of periodi- 
cals which the writer can follow as fully as his current needs demand. 
Careful examination of representative issues, including the cover, 
title page, and masthead, will yield most of the information desired. 
To make a thorough analysis of a journal, however, it will be neces- 
sary to examine selected issues covering a period of years, including 
anniversary issues, and to consult such sources as N. W. Ayer & Son's 
Directory of Newspapers and Periodicals, Ulrich's Periodicals Direc- 
tory, and World List of Scientific Periodicals. 

Outline for an Analysis of Periodicals 
I. General information 

A. Name of periodical 

B. Sponsorship 

C. Editor 

D. Place and frequency of publication 

E. Circulation 

F. Sources of income 

1. Subscriptions 

2. Endowments or organized support 

3. Advertising 
II. General description 

A. Appearance 

B. Range of subject matter 

C. Reader-level 

D. Professional standing 
III. History 

A. Origin 

B. Development 

C. Trends in policy 


IV. Editorial policy 

A. Acceptance of articles 

1. Type 

2. Length 

B. Compensation of contributors 

C. Form of articles 

1. Titles 

2. Arrangement 

a. Subheadings 

b. Paragraphing 

D. Style preferences 

E. Documentation 

1. Adequacy 

2. Form 

a. Of citations in text 

b. Of footnotes 

c. Of bibliography 

F. Illustrations 

1. Number 

2. Kinds 

3. Size 

4. Methods of preparation 

5. Captions 

If the writer is not preparing the material for publication but for 
submission in the form of a letter or a report to an individual, a 
committee, or an agency, he still must make an analysis of the inter- 
ests, purposes, and wishes of his readers. (See Chapters 11 and 12.) 
However, the preceding outline will be primarily useful to the writer 
who is contemplating publication either for technical or general 


The writer addressing the general reader will find useful two re- 
minders of man's natural disposition. The one is, "Whether or not 
it be true that the proper study of mankind is man, it is certain that 
he finds great difficulty in studying anything else"; 16 the other, "The 

16 J. W. N. Sullivan, Aspects of Science, London, Richard Cobden-Sanderson, 
1923, p. 67. 


more the subject matter deviates from the reader's particular inter- 
ests, the greater the skill that must be exercised in retaining his at- 
tention." 17 Most readers are interested first in themselves, second 
in other people, third in things, and only remotely in abstract theory. 
Thus it follows that the reader must be led to discussions of theory 
through his more immediate interests. 

A. Establishing Contact with the Reader 

Establishing contact with the reader at the beginning of an article 
is particularly important; if the reader's interest is lost at this point 
it can never be regained. The possibilities for varying the openings 
of articles have been analyzed in detail. One such analysis 18 lists 
historical approach, specific instance, startling statement, appeal to 
fundamental interests of the reader, short narrative passage, quota- 
tion and literary references, definition, descriptive opening, analogy, 
anecdote or joke, gradual narrowing, comparison or contrast, nega- 
tive detail, direct statement of thesis, particulars and details, reference 
to specific occasion. Most of these approaches, however, are different 
forms of four major appeals to the reader's own self-interest, to his 
natural interest in other people, to his liking for the concrete, and to 
fundamental human emotions, such as curiosity or wonder. 

7. The Reader's Self-interest 

Few writers have shown greater skill in approaching the reader 
directly than has Thomas Henry Huxley, who opened an address 
to the working men of Norwich with these words: "If a well were 
sunk at our feet in the midst of the city of Norwich, the diggers 
would very soon find themselves at work in that white substance 
almost too soft to be called rock, with which we are all familiar as 
'chalk.' " 19 From the chalk in the working man's pocket and beneath 
the working man's feet, Huxley proceeded to discuss the skeletons 
of organisms which made up the chalk, the history of the chalk de- 
posits, and finally the theory of evolution. 

17 George S. Fichter, "Scientists and Science Writers," American Scientist, 
38:137, January 1950. 

18 W. George Crouch and Robert L. Zetler, A Guide to Technical Writing 
New York, The Ronald Press Company, 1948, p. 130. 

10 Thomas Henry Huxley, Discourses Biological and Geological, New York, 
D. Appleton and Company, 1896, p. 1. 


Following the same principle, the author of an introductory history 
of anatomy echoes in his opening paragraph the anatomy student's 
inmost thoughts: 

The day when the medical student enters the dissecting room is the 
time of dedication to his profession; for then he puts his hand to a 
task which other men dread, and joins the company of those who have 
laid aside the deepest fears and prejudices of mankind, to seek in the 
dead bodies of their fellows some increase of knowledge wherewith 
to fight the ignorance and disease that laid them low. As he under- 
takes his share of this work, the student of anatomy engages in one 
of the oldest of the sciences. He is following a tradition of twenty-five 
centuries; and if he is sensitive to such influences, the burden of his 
work will be lightened and his effort will be quickened by a sense of 
pride that he is one of that profession whose history is an endless 
record of hard-won progress from darkness toward the light. Whether 
we feel it thus keenly or not, however, the influence of the past in- 
evitably guides our hands as we work, for not only in the ancient 
seats of the science of anatomy, but in the newest schools of America, 
the methods we use, the names we learn, the present trends of our 
investigation have been determined by our predecessors; unless we 
understand them we can scarcely understand our own tasks. 20 

2. Human Interest 

The reader's interest in other people is secondary only to his in- 
terest in himself. Consequently, the anecdote, biographical allusion, 
case history, and other references to people are favorite openings 
for articles designed for popular appeal. The following example opens 
with a case history (see Chapter 13). 

A number of years ago a West Indian Negro youth who was enrolled 
in an Illinois professional school came to a Chicago hospital complain- 
ing of fever, a cough, dizziness and a headache. He showed the scars 
of recent ulcers on his ankles. The attending physician, James B. Her- 
rick, put the patient through a comprehensive examination and re- 
viewed his history exhaustively, but was not able to identify the illness. 

He observed a peculiarity in the blood, however, and described it 
as follows: "The shape of the red cells was very irregular, and what 
especially attracted attention was the large number of thin, elongated, 
sickle-shaped and crescent-shaped forms." 

The odd shapes were found repeatedly in blood taken from the pa- 
tient. Herrick was unable to find such cells in other persons whose 

20 George W. Corner, Anatomy, New York, Paul B. Hoeber, Inc., 1930, pp. 


blood he examined. He concluded: "The question of diagnosis must 
remain an open one unless reports of other similar cases with the same 
peculiar blood-picture shall clear up this feature." 

That was in 1910. Herrick recorded the strange and striking phe- 
nomenon he had observed in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The 
following year a Virginia physician reported a similar case. And four 
years later a mulatto woman came to the Washington University Hospi- 
tal in St. Louis for treatment of a leg ulcer, and again the blood showed 
the presence of numerous sickle cells. These three cases put doctors 
on the alert to watch for the abnormal shapes in blood. It soon ap- 
peared that the condition was hereditary and occurred almost ex- 
clusively in Negroes. 21 

3. Interest in the Concrete 

Many readers who are disinclined to accept abstract ideas can be 
appealed to through concrete images or illustrations. In the following 
example a concrete description of carved panels introduces Albert 
Einstein to the general reader, favorably disposing him to the sub- 
sequent discussion of the abstractions in Einstein's theory of rela- 

Carved in the white walls of the Riverside Church in New York, 
the figures of six hundred great men of the ages saints, philosophers, 
kings stand in limestone immortality, surveying space and time with 
blank imperishable eyes. One panel enshrines the geniuses of science, 
fourteen of them, spanning the centuries from Hippocrates, who died 
around 370 B.C., to Albert Einstein, who was sixty-nine years old this 
March. It is noteworthy that Einstein is the only living man in this 
whole sculptured gallery of the illustrious dead. 22 

4. Curiosity and Wonder 

The very nature of scientific writing precludes emphasis on the 
emotions. However, there are among the fundamental human drives 
a few, such as curiosity and a feeling for order and harmony, to 
which the scientist may on occasion legitimately appeal. The range 
permitted the science writer is somewhat wider. He too, however, 
has been well advised to address himself to "the highest interest" 
of his readers rather than to contribute "to further distortion of the 

"George W. Gray, "Sickle-Cell Anemia," Scientific American, 185(2) :56 f 
August 1951. 

22 Lincoln Barnett, The Universe and Dr. Einstein, New York, William Sloane 
Associates, 1948. 


popular idea of science as the modern 'House of Magic' and the mis- 
casting of the scientist as the shaman and bringer forth of won- 
ders." 23 

The following illustration of legitimate projection of feeling is 
taken from an article based on material presented in one of the 
National Lectureships of the Society of the Sigma Xi, whose aim is 
the encouragement of original investigation in pure and applied 
science. The author undertakes to depict for the general public the 
"thrill" which the scientist finds in the pursuit of the unknown. 

One of the most intriguing things about research work is the totally 
unexpected places it may lead. The casual passer-by does not sense 
this. When he glances into a laboratory he sees only a man oblivious 
of his surroundings, huddled over a bottle-littered table or peering 
intently down the tube of a microscope. As he goes on his way, if he 
thinks again of the scientist, he probably envisages him as having 
thick-lensed glasses and whiskers, a shambling walk, and an impervi- 
ous cloak of absent-mindedness. The visitor does not see the cherished 
visions, nor appreciate the possible intangible rewards of the long 
hours of critical observation and experimentation. He does not realize 
the thrill that conies to the scientist when he observes something never 
before seen, or finds by his experimenting the explanation of a phe- 
nomenon often seen but never understood. But the visions are there, 
nevertheless, for it is the dream of every investigator that some day 
he may feel the exaltation of unearthing the unknown. Few are des- 
tined to realize such dreams, but the dreams are always a lodestar 
a hope that never dies. And whether or not any one of us is fortunate 
enough to explore to the end the particular paths that lead toward 
great accomplishment, the joy of starting along an unknown trail and 
following where it leads belongs to us all. 24 

The author of the next selection has set forth clearly in a few sen- 
tences the scope and purpose of his article. At the same time by 
personifying the quantum theory and using the words history, prov- 
ince, and empire, he has cast over the brief account something of the 
glamour which surrounds the course of empire. 

This is the history of a physical theory which began in 1900 by tak- 
ing over a small province of physics and now has extended its empire 
over almost the whole of the sciences of physics and chemistry. More 

23 Piel, loc. cit. 

24 Bradley M. Patten, "The First Heart Beats and the Beginning of the 
Embryonic Circulation," American Scientist, 39:225, April 1951. 


precisely, it is half of the history, for it carries the story only to 1923, 
which happens to be about as far along the road as the non-physicist 
can travel easily. The story is that of the quantum theory, and this 
account will relate the main events in its early history. 25 

In making contact with the reader in the opening paragraphs of 
an article the writer should observe these precautions: the introduc- 
tory material should not be so long as to delay unduly the progress 
of the article, the necessity for interesting the reader should not be 
made an excuse for the use of irrelevant anecdote or statements, and 
the opening paragraphs should be linked smoothly with the rest of 
the article. 

B. Keeping Material Within the Reader's Range 

Though capturing the reader's interest at the beginning is essential, 
this alone does not insure the success of an article. To maintain this 
interest the writing must remain within the range of the reader's 
mind and imagination. Yet the writer must avoid a tone of either 
writing down to his reader or sermonizing, keeping in mind the 
sound advice never to overestimate the reader's knowledge and never 
to underestimate his intelligence. Lancelot Hogben has ascribed the 
success of some of the great Victorians in popularizing science to 
their "conviction that they could instruct their audiences . . . their 
firm faith in the educability of mankind." 2G In contrast, a reviewer 
has censured a present-day writer for condescending to her readers. 

The author's technique is to describe the aims of the investigation, its 
methods, its results and their interpretations, through the device of 
relating her own personal and professional experiences while carrying 
out the tests. The text is extensively written in the first person, which 
in itself might be no defect. But it degrades itself in content, style, and 
even grammar ("If I could not get the subjects the study was a bust"; 
"I showed the blot to Chico, our poodle, who is the only other person 
anywhere near. He was very haughty about the whole thing and a 
little insulted") in an apparent attempt to bring the material down to 
the level of the lay reader. The more technical portions of the text, 
which have escaped transposition to colloquialism, prove to be the 
most readable, since they follow the first of the cardinal rules for 

25 Karl K. Darrow, "The Quantum Theory," Scientific American, 186(3) :47, 
March 1952. 

26 Lancelot Hogben, Science for the Citizen, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 
1938, p. vii. 


successful popular exposition, that is, they respect rather than belittle 
the intelligence of the reader. Dr. Roe is to be commended for her 
decision to describe psychological research in subjective terms, but it 
is a pity, particularly in view of the great inherent interest of the ma- 
terial presented, that she has misjudged the key in which to compose 
her theme. 27 

7. A Central Plan of Intrinsic Interest 

The plan or scheme of organization adopted for an article is im- 
portant in keeping the interest of the reader. Whether basically narra- 
tive or expository, the plan should be simple enough for the reader 
to grasp and follow readily. Newspaper science feature stories in 
which space does not permit much introductory material often rely 
largely on simplicity of plan and the news value of the subject to 
hold the reader's interest. Other sources of intrinsic appeal are the 
elements of drama and conflict which are inherent in many subjects. 

Those who sense the elements of drama in their subjects frequently 
do effective popular writing. The author of a popular treatment of 
archaeology attributes this quality to Paul de Kruif: 

De Kruif found that even the most highly involved scientific problems 
can be quite simply and understandably presented if their working 
out is described as a dramatic process. That means, in effect, leading 
the reader by the hand along the same road that the scientists them- 
selves have traversed from the moment truth was first glimpsed until 
the goal was gained. De Kruif found that an account of the detours, 
crossways, and blind alleys that had confused the scientists because 
of their mortal fallibility, because human intelligence failed at times 
to measure up to the task, because they were victimized by disturbing 
accidents and obstructive outside influences could achieve a dynamic 
and dramatic quality capable of evoking an uncanny tension in the 
reader. It was in this spirit that the famous Microbe Hunters evolved. 28 

In his own work Ceram highlights personality and makes full use 
of suspense, as in his account of the Carnarvon-Carter excavation 
of the tomb of Tutankhamen. (See Appendix A, p. 409.) This account 
is largely narrative with suspense arising from the question as to 
what would be uncovered as the excavations proceeded. The writer 

27 Jane Oppenheimer, Review of The Making of a Scientist by Anne Roe, 
American Scientist, 42:14445, January 1954. 

28 Reprinted from Gods, Graves, and Scholars, the Story of Archaeology, by 
C. W. Ceram, translated from the German by E. B. Garside, p. vi, by permission 
of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright 1951 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 


need not, however, become dependent upon the narrative form since 
cause and effect, analysis of contributing factors, evidence and con- 
clusion, basis for predictions, and other expository patterns may also 
be developed in readable fashion if clearly presented. 

2. The Use of Rhetorical Devices 

Even when material seems to lack dramatic possibilities, the writer 
may introduce human and even dramatic interest through the use 
of such devices as anecdote, literary allusion, analogy, and personifi- 
cation. As the word rhetorical descending from a Greek word mean- 
ing orator implies, these devices which we now think of as useful 
to the writer originated in the orator's desire to hold the attention 
of his audience. Probably no one of these devices has been more 
frequently abused than the anecdote. Nevertheless the well-chosen 
illustrative story will often put over a point more effectively than will 
a long explanation. 

In the following example, an anecdote enlivens the abstractions 
of mathematics. The graphic detail helps the reader to comprehend 
the idea of large numbers, always particularly difficult for the layman. 

One victim of overwhelming numbers was King Shirham of India, 
who, according to an old legend, wanted to reward his grand vizier 
Sissa Ben Dahir for inventing and presenting to him the game of chess. 
The desires of the clever vizier seemed very modest. "Majesty," he 
said kneeling in front of the king, "give me a grain of wheat to put 
on the first square of this chessboard, and two grains to put on the 
second square, and four grains to put on the third, and eight grains 
to put on the fourth. And so, oh King, doubling the number for each 
succeeding square, give me enough grains to cover all 64 squares of 
the board." 

"You do not ask for much, oh my faithful servant," exclaimed the 
king, silently enjoying the thought that his liberal proposal of a gift 
to the inventor of the miraculous game would not cost him much of 
his treasure. "Your wish will certainly be granted." And he ordered 
a bag of wheat to be brought to the throne. 

But when the counting began, with 1 grain for the first square, 2 
for the second, 4 for the third and so forth, the bag was emptied before 
the twentieth square was accounted for. More bags of wheat were 
brought before the king but the number of grains needed for each 
succeeding square increased so rapidly that it soon became clear that 
with all the crop of India the king could not fulfill his promise to 


Sissa Ben. To do so would have required 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 
grains ! 

That's not so large a number as the total number of atoms in the 
universe, but it is pretty big anyway. Assuming that a bushel of wheat 
contains about 5,000,000 grains, one would need some 4000 billion 
bushels to satisfy the demand of Sissa Ben. Since the world production 
of wheat averages about 2,000,000,000 bushels a year, the amount re- 
quested by the grand vizier was that of the world's wheat production 
for the period of some two thousand years! 

Thus King Shirham found himself deep in debt to his vizier and 
had either to face the incessant flow of the latter's demands, or to 
cut his head off. We suspect that he chose the latter alternative. 29 

Literary allusion or reference to figures, episodes, or situations in 
literature is not common in the writing of scientists, even when it 
is directed to the general reader. The bookish tone which such allu- 
sions produce is removed from the world of natural phenomena with 
which the scientist works. The professional writer guards particu- 
larly against the hackneyed or irrelevant reference. Occasionally, 
however, a literary allusion establishes a common literary bond with 
the reader. 

The novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, alluded to in the following example, 
is the source of one very trite allusion Topsy's statement that she 
"just growed." In the passage quoted here a scientist has turned to 
a less familiar passage to illustrate a complex relationship between 
environment and personality. 

Environment (including particularly the attitude of one's contem- 
poraries) doubtless often leads certain individuals to behave as if one 
of their physical characteristics were the cause of a behavioral differ- 
ence. Thus Topsy in Uncle Tom's Cabin refused to behave properly 
because she was black, saying, "Couldn't never be nothin' but a nigger, 
if I was ever so good. If I could be skinned, and come white, I'd try 
then." Topsy seems to have appreciated also the difficulty of being 
accepted on equal terms by the majority, even if her behavior were 
up to their standards. No doubt many a person in real life is similarly 
deterred from attempts to live up to a different cultural ideal. 30 

Writers who wish to bring unfamiliar ideas within the range of 
the reader's experience frequently turn to analogy. An analogy is a 

29 George Gamow, One Two Three . . . Infinity: Facts and Speculations of 
Science, New York, The Viking Press, 1948, pp. 7-9. 

30 William C. Boyd, Genetics and the Races of Man, Boston, Little, Brown 
and Company, 1950, p. 14. 


comparison, often extended, between two unlike things which, never- 
theless, have certain essential characteristics in common. Among 
commonplace analogies are the comparison of the earth to an orange, 
the heart to a pump, man to a machine. The very readiness with which 
people resort to analogy entails certain dangers. An analogy may 
lead the reader to believe that he understands an abstraction when 
in reality he understands only its analogical counterpart. He may, 
for instance, have a fair understanding of the telephone switchboard 
without having any real comprehension of the human brain. Too, 
the analogy may be extended, through intent or through ignorance, 
beyond its logical application. (See Chapter 6.) If these limitations 
are kept in mind the analogy can be effective, as when William 
James compared habit to an endowment fund through which we 
could "capitalize our acquisitions, and live at ease upon the interest 
of the fund," 31 or when a newspaper columnist likened the two politi- 
cal parties "to two big office buildings the tenants may move out 
from time to time, and different persons may occupy the offices, but 
the two buildings remain just as sturdy." 32 

In the following selection Sir James Jeans, physicist and astrono- 
mer, uses a series of analogies to explain the twentieth-century physi- 
cist's new philosophy, first comparing the physicist to a traveler and 
nature to a desert. In a subsequent paragraph an analogy between 
the observer of nature and the viewer of a rainbow is elaborately 

That time has now come. The old philosophy ceased to work at the 
end of the nineteenth century, and the twentieth-century physicist is 
hammering out a new philosophy for himself. Its essence is that he 
no longer sees nature as something entirely distinct from himself. 
Sometimes it is what he himself creates, or selects or abstracts; some- 
times it is what he destroys. 

In certain of its aspects, which are revealed by the new theory of 
quanta, nature is something which is destroyed by observation. It is 
no longer a desert which we explore from the detached position of an 
aeroplane; we can only explore it by tramping over it, and we raise 
clouds of dust at every step. Trying to observe the inner workings 
of an atom is like plucking the wings off a butterfly to see how it flies, 
or like taking poison to discover the consequences. Each observation 

81 William James, Psychology, New York, Henry Holt and Company, 1923, 
p. 144. 
32 David Lawrence, Evening Star, Washington, D. C., August 5, 1952. 


destroys the bit of the universe observed, and so supplies knowledge 
only of a universe which has already become past history. 

In certain other aspects, especially its spatio-temporal aspects a 
revealed by the theory of relativity, nature is like a rainbow. Th< 
ancient Hebrew the analogue of the nineteenth-century physicist- 
saw the rainbow as an objective structure set in the heavens for al 
men to behold, the token of a covenant between God and man, am 
as objective as the signature to a cheque. We now know that the ob 
jective rainbow is an illusion. Raindrops break sunlight up into rayi 
of many colours, and the coloured rays which enter any man's eye: 
form the rainbow he sees; but as the rays which enter one man's eye* 
can never enter those of a second man, no two men can ever see the 
same rainbow. Each man's rainbow is a selection of his own eyes, i 
subjective selection from an objective reality which is not a rainbov 
at all. And it is the same with the nature which each man sees. 

Again, just as a man's rainbow follows him about as he moves 
round the country-side, so nature follows us about. At whatever speec 
we move, we find nature adjusting itself to our motion, so that this 
motion makes no difference to its laws. 

Yet the analogy fails in one respect. A rainbow will disclose our owr 
motion to us by the speed with which it moves against a backgrounc 
of distant forests and hills, but physical science can find no such back 
ground for nature. The whole of nature appears to follow us about. 

Imperfect though these analogies are, they will shew that the physi 
cist of to-day must needs have some acquaintance with ideas whicli 
used to be considered the exclusive preserve of metaphysics. 3 -* 

An even more extended analogy was used by H. J. Muller to stress 
the comparative brevity of man's existence. (See Appendix A, p. 412.) 

The last device to be discussed the personification of a type 
cannot be considered scientific although it has proved useful in fac- 
tual and informative writing of a more general nature. Such a per- 
sonification is a sort of composite picture which has all the distin 
guishing characteristics of the type but is individualized by name 
and sometimes by personal characteristics. It lacks the scientific 
standing of the case history (see III-A-2 of this chapter), which is 
an authentic account of a typical case. The public has been known 
to create its own personified types G.I. Joe, for example. Again, 
popular approval may carry such a personification beyond the intenl 
of the originator. The creator of Mr. Blandings, the personification 

38 Sir James Jeans, The New Background of Science, Cambridge, Eng., Cam 
bridge University Press, 1933, pp. 2-3. 


of the home builder, very possibly did not anticipate the sympathetic 
reception which greeted the Blandings and their struggles with the 
house, the architect, and the contractor as described in a magazine 
article, 34 a book, 35 and a motion picture. A somewhat related literary 
form is the documentary, in which a number of typical episodes and 
cases are combined into a unified whole to depict a place, situation, 
or social problem. 

The following paragraphs introduce Victor Martin, the personifica- 
tion of the political grafter. The last sentence of the quotation makes 
it clear that the name Victor Martin represents a generalized por- 
trait rather than an individual. 

Victor Martin was in grammar and high school during the confident 
years before 1914. His father had done well as a city contractor and 
Victor went on to college, taking a sort of common denominator course 
and specializing in nothing because he had no idea of what kind of 
career he wanted. But World War I, a year in the Army, a commission 
as second lieutenant of infantry, and a chance afterward to help or- 
ganize a local post of the American Legion, bent him toward politics. 

What he knew about it then he had learned chiefly from observation. 
His father, he was well aware, had paid graft to city councilors, state 
representatives, and senators: had contributed to mayors' campaign 
funds and had delivered the votes of those who worked for him. Victor 
knew this was wrong. He felt he had ideals and principles. He had 
seen some politicians who didn't seem to work that way, and he was 
determined that he wouldn't. 

Victor's father, interested in his ambition, spoke to a state senator. 
Victor was appointed executive secretary to a joint recess committee 
investigating electric light and power rates. When the hearings ended, 
he could hardly recognize his report after members tore it apart, 
amended, rewrote, and distorted it; but as he was Mike Martin's boy, 
the committee praised his work elaborately and he was taken over by 
the Public Utilities Commission as an assistant secretary. During the 
next three years he became an active member of every fraternal, serv- 
ice, and civic organization open to him, and managed to stand before 
the news camera at outings, clambakes, and celebrations. So when he 
became a candidate for the City Council his name was fairly well 

This candidacy of his was a carefully planned move. He had thought 

* Eric Hodgins, "Mr. Blandings Builds His Castle," Fortune, 33(4) : 138 ff., 
April 1946. 

86 Eric Hodgins, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, New York, Simon 
and Schuster, 1946. 


it out, talked it over with his father. He got heavy assists from the 
political friends to whom his father had paid graft for contracts, and 
the fact that he was engaged to Jean Tarbi, daughter of another con- 
tractor, did not hurt in a ward with a heavy Italian vote. In a non- 
partisan election he won handily. 

Thus Victor Martin, at the age of twenty-five, took the first step up 
the political spiral stairs. He was loyal, dependable, a good cam- 
paigner, a hard worker for the party ; he went down the line regularly 
at every primary and election. And he was ambitious. Victor Martin 
does not, of course, exist under that name, but almost every political 
reporter knows a dozen or more Victor Martins; they are to be found 
in every rank of government. 36 

In conclusion it may be said that this chapter does not purport to 
answer the question posed in its opening paragraphs concerning the 
extent to which scientists may employ literary devices without depart- 
ing from scientific attitudes. Only scientists themselves can answer 
this question, and it seems unlikely that they will ever come to total 
agreement. There is evidence in the foregoing pages, however, that 
scientists are thoroughly aware of the broader problems of communi- 
cation and that some scientists have employed a variety of means of 
reaching the general reader. 

A story which Sainte-Beuve once told of a surgeon in the time of 
Louis XIV seems applicable here. The surgeon remarked to the 
French Chancellor that he wished to see an impenetrable wall erected 
between surgery and medicine. "But," replied the Chancellor, "on 
which side of the wall will you place the patient?" 3T Scientists can 
hardly erect a wall between themselves and the rest of society, leaving 
man in the position of the chancellor's patient. Therefore it seems 
probable that efforts to reach the general public, difficult and dis- 
couraging though the task may be at times, will continue to be an 
important part of scientific communication. 


1. The paper by W. C. Allee et al. referred to in Chapter 1 opens with 
these two sentences: "When individual members of vertebrate groups 
are marked to permit ready recognition, they have been found to pos- 

36 Joseph F. Dinneen, "The Anatomy of Graft," Harper's Magazine, 205 :38, 
July 1952. 

87 C. A. Sainte-Beuve, Causeries du, Lundi, 3rd ed., Paris, 1850, Vol. Ill, p. 425. 


sess a surprisingly rich social life. Territory, social hierarchy and 
leadership are now known to extend down the vertebrate series at 
least through the teleost fishes." Write a paragraph giving the neces- 
sary definitions, details, and background to make these sentences, 
originally directed to the technical reader, meaningful to the general 

2. Classify the following titles as to the reader group which they prob- 
ably appealed to: "Living Records of the Ice Age," "Some Observa- 
tions on the Growth and Function of Heteroplastic Heart Grafts," 
"Nature's Undertaker," "Theory of Braids," "Rockets," "Future of 
Atomic Energy," "The Problem of the Spurious Letter of the Emperor 
Alexis to the Count of Flanders," "When Surgeons Improvise," "Plant 
Hormones," "In vitro Resistance of the Genus Bacteroides to Strepto- 
mycin," "The Egg and Dr. Romanoff," "The Theory of Games," "Some 
Problems of Human Ecology in Polar Regions," "Danger! Population 
Explosion Ahead," "Science Vindicates Antihistamines," "A System 
of Nomenclature for Isotopic Compounds," "Radiation Damage to 
Genetic Material." 

j& Choose a scientific concept which you feel biifficiently well informed 
(^ about to undertake to explain. Check your knowledge by reference 
reading and then devise an analogy which you think will make this 
concept more intelligible. Using this analogy, write an explanation of 
the concept for the general reader JThe following terms may suggest 
possible topics: ion exchange, valence, ambivalence (as used in psy- 
chology), parasite, buffer solution, diffraction, tension (restrict to one 
field), antibody, polymer, electrolysis. 

4. In the American Scientist, 39:136, January 1951, James E. Miller gives 
the following satiric account of "How Newton Discovered the Law 
of Gravitation." Can this selection be classified as scientific writing? 
Explain your answer. 

"It was on this excursion into the night air of Cambridge that 
Newton was struck by a flash of insight which set off a chain of events 
culminating in his announcement of the law of gravitation to the world 
in 1686. The season was autumn. Many of the good citizens in the 
neighborhood of the modest Newton home had apple trees growing in 
their gardens, and the trees were laden with ripe fruit ready for the 
picking. Newton chanced to see a particularly succulent apple fall to 
the ground. His immediate reaction was typical of the human side of 
this great genius. He climbed over the garden wall, slipped the apple 
into his pocket, and climbed out again. As soon as he had passed well 
beyond that particular garden, he removed the apple from his pocket 
and began munching it. Then came inspiration. Without prelude of 
conscious thought or logical process of reasoning, there was suddenly 
formed in his brain the idea that the falling of an apple and the 


motions of planets in their orbits may be governed by the same uni- 
versal law. Before he had finished eating the apple and discarded 
the core, Newton had formulated his hypothesis of the universal law 
of gravitation. By then it was three minutes before midnight, so he 
hurried off to the meeting of the Committee to Combat Opium Eating 
Among Students Without Nobility. 

"In the following weeks Newton's thoughts turned again and again 
to his hypothesis. Rare moments snatched between the adjournment 
of one committee and the call to order of another were filled with the 
formulation of plans for testing the hypothesis. Eventually, after sev- 
eral years during which, according to evidence revealed by diligent 
research, he was able to spend 63 minutes and 28 seconds on his plans, 
Newton realized that the proof of his hypothesis would take more spare 
time than might become available during the rest of his life. He had to 
find accurate measurements of a degree of latitude on the earth's sur- 
face, and he had to invent the calculus. 

"Finally he concluded that he must find some relief from his col- 
legiate administrative burdens. He knew that it was possible to get 
the King's support for a worthy research project of definite aims, 
provided a guarantee could be made that the project would be con- 
cluded in a definite time at a cost exactly equal to the amount stipu- 
lated when the project was undertaken. Lacking experience in these 
matters he adopted a commendably simple approach and wrote a short 
letter of 22 words to King Charles, outlining his hypothesis and point- 
ing out its far-reaching implications if it should prove to be correct. 
It is not known whether the King ever saw his letter, and he may not 
have, being overwhelmed with problems of state and plans for pend- 
ing wars. There is no doubt that the letter was forwarded, through 
channels, to all heads of departments, their assistants, and their 
assistants' assistants, who might have reason to make comments or 

5. What is the means of explanation employed in the following example : 
"This magnification [that of the electron microscope] can be under- 
stood better when one learns that with it a 25-cent piece would appear 
to have a diameter of about 1% miles!" (Walter C. Alvarez's column, 
"Dr. Alvarez on Health.") From your general reading bring in 
examples of explanations which you consider particularly vivid and 
understandable. What means have been used to bring the material 
within the experience of the reader? 

6. Use illustrations or examples to explain what is meant by one of 
the following: erosion, reciprocity, calcification, perfectionist, fungus, 



I. Qualities of scientific style 

A. Essentials of scientific style 

1. Clarity and precision 

2. Conciseness and directness 

3. Objectivity 

B. Distinction in scientific style 
II. Elements of style 

A. Sentence structure 

1. Relationship of ideas within the sentence 

2. Faulty reference of pronouns and misrelated modifiers 

3. Illogical shifts 

4. Balance and parallelism 

5. Interrogations 

6. Revision of sentences 

B. Diction 

1. Errors and incongruities in diction 

2. Idiomatic expression 

3. Tautology 

4. Cliche 

5. Mixed metaphor 

6. Making use of the dictionary 

III. Problems in scientific style 

A. The influx of shoptalk and jargon 

B. Achieving readability 

IV. Analysis of the style of a scientific paper 

Science demands great linguistic austerity and disci- 
pline, and the canons of good style in scientific writing 
are different from those in other kinds of literature. 
J. H. WOODCER, Biology and Language. 


In good scientific writing the style or manner of writing does not 
draw attention to itself but serves as unobtrusively as possible to 


embody the thought. For more than three hundred years it has been 
recognized that the linguistic ends and needs of the scientific writer 
differ from those of the litterateur. (See Chapter 7.) Scientific writing 
belongs to what Thomas de Quincey once called "the literature of 

There is, first, the literature of knowledge; and, secondly, the litera- 
ture of power. The function of the first is to t each ; the function of the 
second is to move: the first is a rudder; the second, an oar or a sail. 
The first speaks to the mere discursive understanding; the second 
speaks ultimately, it may happen, to the higher understanding or 
reason, but always through affections of pleasure and sympathy. 1 

The recording of scientific observations and the formulation of 
scientific theory demand, as J. H. Woodger has emphasized, stringent 
discipline in the use of language. 

. . . English is not only used for purposes of communication in the 
scientific sense. It is also used for the writing of poetry, for religious 
devotion, for political controversy and for persuading people to buy 
some of the products of industrial activity which they would not other- 
wise want. But these pursuits make demands upon language which 
are very different from those made by science. The requirements of 
science prove on investigation to be quite surprisingly meagre, and 
the excessive riches of a natural language like English are a source 
of embarrassment. They tempt us to employ linguistic devices bor- 
rowed from extra-scientific usages which can have unfortunate conse- 
quences. Metaphors, for example, with which some branches of biology 
abound, are often suggestive and may be harmless enough if they are 
recognized for what they are. But at best they are makeshifts and sub- 
stitutes for genuine biological statements, and the fact that recourse 
is had to them is surely a sign of immaturity. 2 

Woodger in fact has gone so far as to advocate the development of 
specialized languages in other disciplines analogous to the language 
of mathematics and the formulas and equations of chemistry. Even 
those commentators who are less critical of "the excessive riches of 
a natural language like English" recognize that the use of language 
for scientific communication imposes rigid restrictions on the writer. 
Though no attempt will be made in this chapter to review the sub- 

1 De Quincefs Literary Criticism, London, Henry Frowde, 1909, p. 94. Used 
by permission of Oxford University Press. 

2 J. H. Woodger, Biology and Language, Cambridge, Eng., Cambridge Uni- 
versity Press, 1952, pp. 7-8. 


ject of English style in general, the chapter will provide a discussion 
of the qualities essential to good scientific style and of the stylistic 
problems especially likely to arise in scientific writing. (For an ex- 
pression of the underlying philosophy of style, see Appendix A, p. 

A. Essentials of Scientific Style 

A reasoned approach to the subject of style demands a distinction 
between the qualities of style and the elements of style. Qualities of 
style represent over-all impressions or characteristics and are ex- 
pressed by nouns or by descriptive adjectives. Thus a style may be 
said to have the qualities of clarity, terseness, simplicity, or by con- 
trast may be described as obscure, wordy, involved. These qualities 
result from the author's characteristic use of the elements of style: 
diction, phrasing, sentence length and sentence structure, and figures 
of speech. 

I. Clarity and Precision 

It is generally agreed that the qualities of greatest importance 
in a good scientific style are clarity, precision, conciseness, directness, 
and emphasis. Clarity and precision are to a great degree interde- 
pendent. Clarity results when the writer is successful in making his 
communication understandable to the reader. Precision represents 
rather the attainment of an exact correspondence between the matter 
to be conveyed and its verbal expression. 

Lack of clarity in a piece of writing may be attributed most often 
to certain specific causes. 

1. The writer may not have mastered his subject matter sufficiently 
to be in a position to state it clearly. 

2. The writer, though informed on his subject matter, may not 
perceive fully its inner relationships. Thus he is not able to 
separate the important from the unimportant and to achieve a 
clear, logical pattern of presentation. 

3. The writer who has a thorough understanding of his subject 
matter may be inarticulate because of a deficiency in diction 
and syntax. The student who complains that he "knows but can't 
say it" may be acknowledging an incompetence in the funda- 
mentals of language. 


4. The writer's familiarity with his subject may prevent him from 
realizing what points will be obscure to his readers. 

Examples of confused or ambiguous statements may be particularly 
helpful to students who are not aware of their own lack of clarity. 


It is apparent that a hypothesis 
which narrows the question is the 
only answer that can be given. 

When a patient who has taken 
penicillin develops an allergic re- 
action, several ways of administer- 
ing it are possible. 

With all his work he brought 
many new facts and aspects into 
the open which had not been 
known before. 


It is apparent that formulating 
a hypothesis that can be tested by 
experiment is the only feasible 

When a patient who has taken 
penicillin develops an allergic re- 
action, the difficulty may possibly 
be overcome by changing the form 
in which the drug is administered. 

His work introduced new facts 
and new theories. 

The scientific writer has an obligation to use words as accurately 
as he does numbers and symbols. Following are examples of the im- 
precise use of words. 


With this information before 
them, ornithologists have an en- 
tirely new field open to them by 
which bird study may be made. 

The new factor was called the 
Rh factor, using the first two let- 
ters of the rhesus monkeys. 

More precise 

Bird banding has opened up a 
new field of study to ornithologists. 

The new factor was called the 
Rh factor after the first two letters 
of the word rhesus. 

2. Conciseness and Directness 

Writing that is concise that expresses its meaning in the fewest 
possible words saves the time and energy of the reader and con- 
tributes to readability. Directness also serves these ends and facili- 
tates communication through the avoidance of circumlocutions and 
awkward inversions and of excessively numerous "there is" and "it 


is" constructions in which the appearance of the subject is delayed. 
In general, directness is the foe of verbiage, which impedes a simple, 
straightforward approach. 

Wordy More concise 

There is an abundance of evi- An abundance of evidence in the 

dence in the literature which sup- literature supports the view . . . 
ports the view . . . 

The fact that these critics ignore These critics ignore the fact that 
is that this test has been made this test has been made several 
several times in the past. times in the past. 

3. Objectivity 

It is expected that the scientist's style should reflect the objectivity 
of his attitude toward the problems he investigates and toward his 
results. This emphasis on objectivity as a quality of scientific style 
implies that in subordinating subjective considerations, scientific 
style should be more formal and more impersonal than is prose 
style in general. Slang, colloquial expressions, and localisms are 
avoided; strict grammatical usage is observed; close is preferred 
to open punctuation ; and a technical rather than everyday vocabulary 
is employed. 

There is some difference of opinion as to whether impersonality 
in writing requires the use of the third person style in which the 
author refers to himself as "the writer," in preference to the first 
person style in which "I" or "we" is used. Some editors and advisers 
recommend the use of the first person, maintaining that its simplicity 
and directness outweigh any supposed gain in objectivity resulting 
from the use of the third person. 3 Among writers themselves, how- 
ever, there is a tendency toward the use of the third person, and some 
authorities recommend or specify this practice, especially in formal 
communications. 4 When the third person style is used, it may be 
necessary to employ the phrase "the present author" or "the present 

8 See The Wistar Institute Style Brief, p. 7; also Joseph N. Ulman, Jr., Tech- 
nical Reporting, New York, Henry Holt and Company, 1952, pp. 92-95. 

4 See William Giles Campbell, Form and Style in Thesis Writing, Boston, 
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1954, pp. 61-62; also W. George Crouch and Robert 
L. Zetler, A Guide to Technical Writing, New York, The Ronald Press Com- 
pany, 1948, p. 129. 


writer" to prevent confusion with authors quoted or referred to. 
Whatever the point of view adopted whether the author is referred 
to as "I" or "the writer" it should be maintained throughout the 
paper. In any event, if the writing is objective and impersonal in 
spirit, occasions for references to the author or authors will be few. 
The first of the three examples given here shows the first person 
singular pronoun referring to a single author, the second shows the 
first person plural pronoun referring to coauthors, and the third 
illustrates the impersonal third person construction. 

The formation of Liesegang Rings is adequately explained by the 
theories of Ostwald and Chatter ji and Dhar; an explanation of the 
origin of the radial lines, for which I propose to use the term radii, 
is still lacking. 5 

In the fall of 1941 we had an opportunity to study 18 adult male and 
female C. v. viridis recently removed from a hibernating den located 
near Cheyenne, Wyoming. 6 

The problem confronting the reviewer is, as usual, how to present the 
field in the space allowed. No apologies are offered for materials not 
included. . . . 7 

The passive voice is more frequently used in scientific than in 
general writing because it contributes to impersonality of style and 
because in scientific work the personal agent is often subordinated 
to what takes place; unfortunately, this legitimate use of the passive 
voice often becomes so habitual that the writer neglects to make use 
of the more forceful active voice even when its use is desirable. 

The passive voice is justified in the two following examples since 
nothing would be gained by reference to the agent the experimenter. 

Lead shielding 2 cm thick was placed so as to protect all plant parts 
except the short length of stem to be irradiated. 8 

5 H. Friedeberg, "Diffusion Lines in Silver Chromate Gelatin," Science, 119: 
651, May 7, 1954. 

6 L. E. Chadwick and Hermann Rahn, "Temperature Dependence of Rattling 
Frequency in the Rattlesnake, Crotalus v. viridis" Science, 119:442, April 2, 

7 J. S. Nicholas, "Developmental Physiology," Annual Review of Physiology, 
10:43, 1948. 

8 Eric Christensen, "Root Production in Plants Following Localized Stem 
Irradiation," Science, 119:127, January 22, 1954. 


As the experiment progressed, additional water was added to equal 
the amount lost from evaporation. 9 

Recasting in the active voice is an improvement in the next exam- 
ple, which is more concise and direct in the revised form. 

Original Revision 

This procedure may be justified Economy may justify this pro- 
in the interest of economy. cedure. 

Scientists differ about the extent to which figurative language may 
be employed in scientific writing. Owsei Temkin, in contributing 
to the University of Wisconsin centennial symposium "Science and 
Civilization,"- points out that writers of the past helped by the use 
of metaphors to shape the concepts of biological science. 10 Similarly 
a contributor to a symposium on "Form in Nature and Art" writes 
of "the engineering problems which living organisms have had to 
face" and refers to the biochemist Frederick Gowland Hopkins as 
"possessed of a particularly penetrating gift of imagination, which 
enabled him to visualize the protoplasm of the cell as a kind of chemi- 
cal factory, where a large number of reactions were able to proceed 
in close contiguity without becoming disorganised." 1X 

Another point of view, represented by the comment of J. H. Wood- 
ger, quoted earlier in this chapter, is that language can become com- 
pletely serviceable to science only as it draws away from the use 
of metaphor. It may be said at least that adherence to strict standards 
of scientific writing demands limitation in the use of figures of 
speech, particularly those which reflect emotion. The statement "na- 
ture abhors a vacuum," for example, is no longer considered genu- 
inely scientific, nor is it a mark of scientific sophistication to refer 
subjectively or emotionally to experiments or results. In such a state- 
ment as "Unfortunately it was impossible to collate the data at that 
time" the word unfortunately should be omitted. 

9 W. H. Preston, Jr., John W. Mitchell, and Wilkins Reeve, "Movement of 
Alpha-Methoxyphenylacetic Acid from One Plant to Another Through Their 
Root Systems," Science, 119:437, April 2, 1954. 

10 Owsei Temkin, "Metaphors of Human Biology," Science and Civilization, 
Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 1949, pp. 169-94. 

11 Joseph Needham, "Biochemical Aspects of Form and Growth," Aspects of 
Form, New York, Farrar, Straus & Young, Inc., 1951, pp. 77 and 83. 


These essentials of good scientific style clarity, precision, concise- 
ness, directness, and objectivity are all stressed in the following 
editorial directive concerning style. 

The style of presentation should be of the simplest, most direct and 
thoroughly objective type, since the purpose of the writing is to inform 
and not to entertain. Brief, clear and concise sentence structure is, 
perhaps, the most important feature of such a style. If to this is added 
a careful analytical outline, as a guide to the arrangement of the ma- 
terial, the paper should clearly convey the author's observations and 
conclusions. Circumlocutions, excessive qualification and irrelevant de- 
tail confuse the issue. . . . Words should be accurately adjusted to 
the shade of meaning desired. If a thing is actually observable it 
should be so stated and not be mentioned in conditional terms. Repe- 
tition is undesirable in written presentation. Final steps and conclu- 
sions, not the author's developmental progress in understanding and 
appreciation, are what interest qualified readers. 12 

B. Distinction in Scientific Style 

It is possible for a piece of scientific writing to have the essential 
qualities of style and still to be flat and dull. The qualities of smooth- 
ness, rhythm, emphasis, and even epigrammatic expression, which 
lift writing above mediocrity are, however, difficult to acquire by 
conscious effort. Writers who have commented on the subject agree 
that smoothness and rhythm are best developed by wide reading 
among the great English stylists. The writer who couples his reading 
with extensive practice in writing in an effort to improve his own 
style may find useful guidance in H. W. Fowler's definition of 
rhythm. "A sentence or a passage is rhythmical if, when said aloud, 
it falls naturally into groups of words each well fitted by its length 
and intonation for its place in the whole and its relation to its ne^h- 
bors . . . For, while rhythm does not mean counting syllables and 
measuring accent-intervals, it does mean so arranging the parts of 
your whole that each shall enhance, or at the least not detract from, 
the general effect upon the ear; and what is that but seeing to it that 
your sentences sound right?" 13 

12 The Wistar Institute Style Brief, Philadelphia, The Wistar Institute Press, 
1934, p. 7. 

13 H. W. Fowler, A Dictionary of Modem English Usage, Oxford, Oxford at 
the Clarendon Press, 1927, p. 504. 


Like smoothness and rhythm, emphasis is attained partly by un- 
conscious imitation. The writer may, however, rely on the principle 
that the beginning and end of the sentence are the strongest positions. 
Hence emphasis will be gained if important elements are placed in 
those positions and not relegated to the less conspicuous middle 
position. A good sense of sentence rhythm also contributes to em- 
phasis. Since the cadence of a passage will in part determine where 
the verbal emphasis falls, the skilled writer can use this natural 
stress to reinforce the important elements in his thought. 

In the following example, italics have been added to indicate points 
of emphasis as they are determined by the positions of words at the 
ends of clauses and sentences, balance and parallelism, and sentence 
rhythm. The order of climax in the concluding sentence is especially 

No one would deny that science has had a great effect on the reli- 
gious outlook. If I were asked to sum up this effect as briefly as pos- 
sible, I should say that it was two-fold. In the first place, scientific dis- 
coveries have entirely altered our general picture of the universe and 
of mails position in it. And, secondly, the application of scientific 
method to the study of religion has given us a new science, the science 
of comparative religion, which has profoundly changed our general 
views on religion itself. To my mind, this second development is in 
many ways the more important of the two, and I shall begin by trying 
to explain why. There was a time when religions were simply divided 
into two categories, the true and the false; one true religion, revealed 
by God, and a mass of false ones, inspired by the Devil. Milton has 
given expression to this idea in his beautiful "Hymn on the Morning 
of Christ's Nativity." This view, unfortunately, was held by the ad- 
herents of a number of different religions not only by Christians, 
but also by Jews, Mohammedans and others. And with the growth of 
intelligent tolerance, many people began to feel doubtful about the 
Qruth of such mutually contradictory statements. But the rise of the 
science of comparative religion made any such beliefs virtually impos- 
sible. After a course of reading in that subject, you might still believe 
that your own religion was the best of all religions; but you would 
have a very queer intellectual construction if you still believed that it 
alone was good and true, while all others were merely false and bad** 

To summarize, good scientific style conveys meaning with a maxi- 
mum of directness and accuracy and a minimum of interference. 

14 Julian Huxley, in Science and Religion: A Symposium, New York, Charles 
Scribner's Sons, 1931, p. 2. 


Though it is not lacking in aesthetic value, its aesthetic appeal is 
functional and intrinsically related to content. The scientific writer 
should have an understanding of simplicity as Frank Lloyd Wright 
once defined it "to know what to leave out and what to put in, 
just where and just how." 15 


When questions arise concerning usage, sentence structure, spell- 
ing, punctuation, and capitalization, the writer may refer to a stand- 
ard handbook of English composition and to a standard dictionary. 
Where practice differs concerning such details as capitalization and 
abbreviations, editorial and departmental style sheets and technical 
dictionaries afford guidance. Two major concerns sentence struc- 
ture and diction are so closely associated with the logic of scientific 
writing that they merit discussion here. 

A. Sentence Structure 

Editors generally agree in their emphasis on sentence structure, 
ranking it, with diction and logical organization, among the aspects 
of composition which the writer should master. 

7. Relationship of Ideas Within the Sentence 

Certainly, the scientific writer who understands and appreciates 
the capacities of the sentence for expressing simple and complex re- 
lationships will find it a responsive medium in giving form to his 
observations and generalizations. 

For stating an uncomplicated, unqualified observation a simple 
sentence is used. 

From June to September Trident's activity was marked by quiet ex- 
trusion of lava accompanied by steady, moderately vigorous steaming. 16 

The compound sentence expresses co-ordinate ideas in balance or 

15 Frank Lloyd Wright, Modern Architecture, Being the Kahn Lectures for 
1930, Princeton Monographs in Art and Archaeology, Princeton, Princeton 
University Press, 1931, p. 76. 

16 Ernest H. Muller, Werner Juhle, and Henry W. Coulter, "Current Vol- 
canic Activity in Katmai National Monument," Science, 119:319, March 5, 1954. 


The flow is dark brown and blocky on the surface, but it continues 
to steam from hot viscous lava beneath. 17 

In the complex sentence dependent clauses are used to express ideas 
subordinate to the thought of the main clause. 

In the year 1675, I discovered living creatures in rain water, which 
had stood but a few days in a new earthen pot, glazed blue within. 18 

Generalizations whether of fact or opinion may be expressed in 
simple sentences when the ideas are so completely crystallized that 
little or no condition or qualification is necessary. 

Mercury will dissolve many metals, such as pieces of tin or gold, but 
not iron, nor substances like salt, sugar, or wax. 19 

Great specialization is associated with corresponding limitations in 
other directions. 20 

When a generalization involves a subordinate idea of consequence 
a complex sentence is required, as in the following axiom from New- 
ton's Laws of Motion. 

Every body continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a 
right line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces im- 
pressed upon it. 21 

Scientific writing allows less latitude in sentence structure than 
does creative writing. Unconventional verbless sentences or contact 
clauses (independent clauses joined by a comma) are rare in scien- 
tific writing. Lapses such as those in the following examples taken 
from student papers require revision. 

17 Loc. cit. 

18 Anton van Leeuwenhoek, "Little Animals in Rain Water," The Autobiog- 
raphy of Science, New York, Doubleday Company, Inc., 1946, p. 158. Leeuwen- 
hoek spoke and wrote only Dutch. His letters to the Royal Society, from which 
this excerpt is taken, were translated for publication in the Society's Philosophi- 
cal Transactions. 

19 Julian Huxley and E. N. da C. Andrade, Simple Science, New York, 
Harper & Brothers, 1935, p. 49. 

20 Edwin Grant Conklin, Heredity and Environment, 5th ed., Princeton, 
Princeton University Press, 1923, p. 252. 

21 Sir Isaac Newton, Mathematical Principles, revision by Florian Cajori of 
Motte's translation, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1946, p. 13. 



Also the fact that there are dif- 
ferences of opinion among mem- 
bers of the profession as to the 
meanings of terms. 

Although if this apparatus is op- 
erated under pressure, objection- 
able quantities of gas escape. 

The combustion chamber was 
quartz and the furnace brick-lined, 
a silica tube cooler was used to 
cool the gas. 

The author does not name the 
materials of which the burner was 
constructed, however, it seems that 
he used refractory materials such 
as silica. 


Also there are differences of 
opinion among members of the 
profession as to the meanings of 

If this apparatus is operated un- 
der pressure, objectionable quanti- 
ties of gas escape. 

The combustion chamber was 
quartz and the furnace brick- 
lined ; a silica tube cooler was used 
to cool the gas. 

The author does not name the 
materials of which the burner was 
constructed ; however, it seems that 
he used refractory materials such 
as silica. 

Failure to establish correct structural relationships between the 
main and subordinate ideas in a sentence results in loosely con- 
structed compound sentences or in faulty subordination. 

Faulty co-ordination 

In February 1930 he was mar- 
ried, and in 1933 after making 
various archaeological expeditions, 
he wrote his treatise on the sub- 

Although the book will be of 
greatest value in introductory 
courses, it includes material from 
several different levels. 


In February 1930 he was mar- 
ried. In 1933, after making vari- 
ous archaeological expeditions, he 
wrote his treatise on the subject. 

Although the book includes ma- 
terials from several different levels, 
it will be of greatest value in in- 
troductory courses. 

2. Faulty Reference of Pronouns and 
Misrefafed Modifiers 

Faulty reference of pronouns and dangling and misplaced modi- 
fiers are responsible for many of the ambiguous statements and ludi- 
crous errors which vex the editorial reader. 


Reference of Pronouns 


The president's statement not 
only strengthened the feeling of 
uncertainty but also suggested 
changes in policies that the mem- 
bers of the board disapproved of. 

The temperature readings varied 
several points that day which left 
the interpretation of the results 
still more obscure. 


The president's statement not 
only strengthened the feeling of 
uncertainty but also suggested 
policy changes that the members 
of the board disapproved of. 

A variation of several points in 
the temperature readings that day 
left the interpretation of the re- 
sults still more obscure. 

Dangling Modifiers 


Realizing that dogmatic state- 
ments are unscientific, the follow- 
ing material will be presented with 
the understanding that it is in ac- 
cord with the best research avail- 
able at this time. 

When working on a large scale, 
it is more practical to prevent these 
conditions than to attempt to cope 
with them. 


Realizing that dogmatic state- 
ments are unscientific, I shall pre- 
sent the following material with 
the understanding that it is in ac- 
cord with the best research avail- 
able at this time. 

When the work is done on a 
large scale, it is more practical 
to prevent these conditions than to 
attempt to cope with them. 

Misplaced Modifiers 

Faulty Revised 

A sponge was placed on the nose A sponge filled with narcotics 
of the person filled with narcotics. was placed on the person's nose. 

The members were requested to 
fill out the questionnaire enclosed 
in ink. 

The members were requested to 
fill out in ink the questionnaire 

3. Illogical Shifts 

While changes in thought may necessitate changes in tense, person, 
voice, mood, and sentence pattern, irrational shifts are never justi- 
fied. Practice concerning tense, it may be noted, differs somewhat 
in different fields. One group of editors states, for example: 

Careful choice of tense, appropriate to the event, will make for brevity 
and clearness. A persistent condition observed at all times should be 
described in the present tense, while one which characterizes particu- 


larly the conditions of the observation or experiment should be in 
terms of the past tense. 22 

Another editorial preference is for adherence, in general, to the past 

Writers often skip lightly from one tense to another, even in the 
same paragraph, and not infrequently confuse the reader. Furthermore, 
[William H.] Woglom emphasizes that good reason does not exist 
for describing experiments in the past tense and microscopic morphol- 
ogy in the present, though this is common practice. Perhaps safest is 
to keep to the past tense in all descriptive matter. . . . 

A related difficulty arises with regard to the expressions "he be- 
lieved" and "he believes." In many instances it is impossible to deter- 
mine whether the view cited is still held and therefore whether "he 
believes" is correct. "He believed," on the other hand, may leave the 
reader with the impression that the opinion has been abandoned. In 
the publications of this press the difficulty is avoided as a rule by 
changing the verb of thinking to a verb of saying, so that, for instance, 
"Brown considered" becomes "Brown expressed the opinion." In re- 
views of recent literature in which the verbs of saying are in the 
present tense and in papers in which an author is discussing recent 
work by men whose opinions he obviously knows well, "he believes" 
is of course permissible. 28 

The following examples show unjustified shifts in tense, person, 
voice, and mood with accompanying revisions. 

Shift in tense Revised 

These effects were usually con- These effects were usually con- 
centrated on the blood system of centrated on the blood stream of 
the animal. The count of red and the animal. The count of red and 
white blood cells is affected white blood cells was affected. The 
greatly. The percentage of hemo- percentage of hemoglobin was also 
globin was also reduced. reduced. 

Shift in person Revised 

First, a new filing system can be First, a new filing system can be 

introduced. Second, you can train introduced. Second, personnel can 

personnel to handle the present be trained to handle the present 

complicated system. complicated system. 

22 Wistar Institute Style Brief, p. 7. 

28 By permission from Medical Writing, 2nd ed., p. 15, by Morris Fishbein. 
Copyright 1948. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 


Shift in voice 

The technicians began the tests 
on March 15, and the results were 
tabulated the following day. 

Shift in mood 

The student should take mean- 
ingful notes in outline form and 
keep them in order. Do not cram. 


The technicians began the tests 
on March 15 and tabulated the re- 
sults on the following day. 


The student should take mean- 
ingful notes in outline form and 
keep them in order. He should not 

A shift in sentence pattern occurs when the writer begins his sen- 
tence with one construction in mind and concludes it with another. 


It was because of a natural in- 
terest that made me choose the 
topic of anesthesia. 

As to whether a person suffering 
from self-pity could apply the ad- 
vice intelligently and with perse- 
verance is doubtful. 


It was because of a natural in- 
terest that I chose the topic of 

Whether a person suffering from 
self-pity could apply the advice in- 
telligently and with perseverance 
is doubtful. 

4. Balance and Parallelism 

Writers frequently begin the listing of a series of problems, pur- 
poses, effects, etc., only to break balance and parallelism by intro- 
ducing grammatical inconsistency or by abandoning the series before 
completing it. Faulty parallelism and balance may also result from 
the omission of necessary words, mishandling of correlative con- 
junctions, and incomplete or illogical comparisons. The following 
examples illustrate faulty parallelism and balance and suggest ways 
of correcting it. 


These phenomena include change 
of heart-beat rate, controlled dila- 
tion of the pupil of the eye, and 
recall or inhibit experiences which 
were a part of normal waking con- 
sciousness in the past. 


These phenomena include change 
of heart-beat rate, controlled dila- 
tion of the pupil of the eye, and 
the recall or inhibition of experi- 
ences which were a part of nor- 
mal waking consciousness in the 


Faulty Revised 

The investigator neither made a The investigator made neither a 

report nor a verbal statement to report nor a verbal statement to 

the committee. the committee. 

Your judgment is as good as Your judgment is as good as 
some of us who are years your that of some of us who are years 
senior. your senior. 

5. Interrogations 

Interrogations are not encountered with great frequency in scien- 
tific writing. Occasions for direct questions seldom arise and the 
rhetorical question is a literary rather than a scientific device. At 
times, however, the question form may be used advantageously to 
present a problem or to raise a topic for discussion. Each of the 
three questions quoted here serves to introduce one of three suc- 
cessive paragraphs in the author's "Discussion." 24 

At what point in the development of the young of Pomacentrus do 
the melanophores become active? 

How does the melanophore picture of the embryos and larvae of 
Pomacentrus fit into the picture given by the reports of other investi- 
gators in regard to their work on other fish embryos and larvae? 

What is the interpretation of these data? 

6. Revision of Sentences 

The consideration of sentences isolated from their context, like 
the examples in this section, serves the purpose of focusing attention 
on specific weaknesses with which the student must cope. The student, 
faced with the task of revising his manuscript sentence by sentence, 
may find encouraging the knowledge that Charles Darwin "did not 
write with ease, and was apt to invert his sentences both in writing 
and speaking, putting the qualifying clause before it was clear what 
it was to qualify. He corrected a great deal, and was eager to express 
himself as well as he possibly could." 

24 B. R. Coonfield, "Chromatophore Reactions of Embryos and Larvae of 
Pomacentrus leucostictus," Papers from Tortugas Laboratory, Vol. XXXII, 
Carnegie Institution of Washington Publication No. 517, Washington, D. C., 
1940, pp. 176-77. 


In commenting on these statements of Darwin's daughter, his son 
Francis Darwin adds: 

Perhaps the commonest corrections needed were of obscurities due 
to the omission of a necessary link in the reasoning, something which 
he had evidently omitted through familiarity with the subject. Not 
that there was any fault in the sequence of the thoughts, but that 
from familiarity with his argument he did not notice when the words 
failed to reproduce his thought. He also frequently put too much mat- 
ter into one sentence, so that it had to be cut up into two. 

On the whole, I think the pains which my father took over the liter- 
ary part of the work was very remarkable. He often laughed or grum- 
bled at himself for the difficulty which he found in writing English, 
saying, for instance, that if a bad arrangement of a sentence was 
possible, he should be sure to adopt it. ... When a sentence got 
hopelessly involved, he would ask himself, "now what do you want to 
say?" and his answer written down, would often disentangle the con- 
fusion. 25 

B. Diction 

Probably no element in writing is more closely associated with 
an author's thought than are the words which he chooses to convey 
his meaning. Nevertheless, writing in both student papers and pub- 
lished work too frequently displays a weakness in diction. 

7. Errors and Incongruities in Diction 

Many errors in diction arise from mistaking one word for a re- 
lated word: infer (conclude) for imply (suggest) ; effect (bring 
about) for affect (influence) ; homogenous (alike in structure) for 
homogeneous (alike in nature). Such confusion misled the student 
who wrote, "Examples were presented and conclusions deducted." 
Again, words may be incorrect in combination: "The author gave 
the theory of these techniques." One might "give" an explanation of 
a theory but hardly the theory itself. Similarly it is unwise to use 
the same word in different senses in close proximity, as in the example 
quoted by one editor : "After reaching Greenland the authors reached 
different conclusions." 26 

25 The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, edited by his son Francis Darwin, 
New York and London, D. Appleton and Company, 1925, Vol. I, pp. 130-31. 

26 Eugene S. McCartney, Recurrent Maladies in Scholarly Writing, Ann 
Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1953, p. 28. 


The undiscriminating writer fails to make a careful selection 
among such synonyms as dull, blunt, obtuse, or as pay, reimburse, 
indemnify, recompense, compensate which, though similar in mean- 
ing, are by no means interchangeable. Or he may lapse into outright 
illogicalities: "The identical procedure was followed with the excep- 
tion that. . . ." If the procedures were identical, no exception would 
be possible. The word fact is often illogically used: 

The facts he tells are few, and subsequent research has shown that 
they are inaccurate. 27 

However, a number of facts remain to be established. 

Such blunders are due in part to the tendency to overwork a few 
words instead of seeking the exact and appropriate word. On slang 
levels this tendency results in every object being known as a "doo- 
dad" or a "thingamajig," every person disapproved of being desig- 
nated as a "pill" or a "dope," and everything approved of being 
described as "smooth" or "cool." Yet writers who carefully avoid 
all suspicion of slang may be equally injudicious in their use of 
such words as thing, factor, field, interest, function, which are often 
used to the point of monotony. 

2. Idiomatic Expression 

The idioms of a language are expressions, usually of long stand- 
ing, which cannot be grammatically analyzed or logically explained. 
Writers who are trying hard to be technically correct sometimes avoid 
the use of such expressions. This extreme caution results in stiff, 
stilted writing what is known as an "unidiomatic" style. Among 
the idioms most frequently violated are those involving prepositions. 
The best preventive of departures from idiom is wide reading in 
those English writers who are recognized masters of idiom. It is also 
helpful to consult handbooks and dictionaries which list idioms, usu- 
ally under the key word of the phrase. 

The use of idiom often makes possible the succinct phrasing of 
an idea. For instance, Sir James Jeans' statement "It [humanity] 
has before it time enough and to spare in which it may understand 

Ibid., p. 39. 


everything" would be more cumbersome if expressed less idiomati- 
cally. Examples of violations of idiom, with revisions, follow. 

Unidiomatic Revised 

Probably no city in the United Probably no city in the United 

States of any age or size has not States of any age or size has es- 

experienced the sporadic and un- caped the sporadic and unorgan- 

organized rebuilding of sections of ized rebuilding of sections of its 

its central core areas. central core areas. 

The project was undertaken for The project was undertaken for 
the benefit to the public. the benefit of the public. 

3. Tautology 

Tautology the needless repetition of meanings, differently ex- 
pressed is an extreme form of wordiness. It is usually not difficult 
to avoid the more glaring tautological expressions such as sometimes 
occur in student themes: "Lincoln's fatal death," "fiction novel," 
"the first primary necessity," "when gases combine together." One 
should, however, guard also against less obvious but still objection- 
able tautologies such as "employ the use of" for "use," "during the 
daytime" for "during the day," and "recopy" for "copy." 

4. Cliche 

A cliche is a trite, overworked phrase, so called after a French 
word denoting a stereotype plate or cast of type. Such phrases as 
"last but not least," "beg to differ," "all walks of life" give the im- 
pression that the writer is willing to borrow worn-out words of others 
rather than exert himself to find fresh words which express his 
thought. The habitual use of cliches indicates that the writer has be- 
come uncritical of his own style. Like overworked slang, cliches, as 
Frederick A. Philbrick has pointed out, lower the tone of a composi- 

. . . such things are fatal to the creation of mood. A lawyer's argu- 
ment is equally valid whether he expresses it in terse and vivid Eng- 
lish or in hackneyed phrases that might have been taken from the 
balloon-enclosed conversations of the comic strip. But the mood that 
might win him a verdict is fatally injured by such mistakes, and just 


as a vulgarism can destroy the mood produced by a sermon, so can 
a lawyer's eloquence be made ineffective if his diction shows too 
clearly that he spent a neglected youth. 28 

5. Mixed Metaphor 

Although scientific writing requires the use of relatively few figures 
of speech (see Section I-A-3), no writing is entirely devoid of figura- 
tive language. The metaphor, or implied comparison, is the basis of 
many everyday expressions "run for office," "place the blame," 
"pass over the objection," "table the motion." The careless mixing 
of metaphors, as in the following examples, offends both editors and 

President Truman was an unknown quantity when he was tossed into 
the maelstrom of world affairs on a scale never before known to 

We may now have the determination to take the unpalatable but nec- 
essary steps for our survival. 

In another letter, the question of agreeing on the price was a bone 
of contention. 

6. Making Use of the Dictionary 

When Sir William Osier made his famous comment, "After all, 
there is no such literature as a Dictionary," he showed the way to 
a full appreciation of the dictionary as a repository of knowledge. 
This reference makes available a wealth of information geograph- 
ical, theological, literary, rhetorical, philosophical, historical, so- 
ciological, economic, scientific, and linguistic. In using the diction- 
ary to solve problems of diction the student will find, in addition 
to the definition of a word, its pronunciation, spelling, syllabication, 
derivation, classification among the parts of speech, and usage level. 
The listing of synonyms and antonyms is helpful in making discrimi- 
nating choices among words and in expressing fine shades of 

28 Frederick A. Philbrick, Language and the Law, 1949, p. 23. Used with the 
permission of The Macmillan Company. 


Many representatives of professional institutions and business 
groups have expressed concern in recent years about the faulty spell- 
ing of some college students and graduates. (A list of words reported 
as misspelled in science and professional courses appears in Ap- 
pendix A, p. 415.) Students who have difficulty with spelling will find 
it expedient to supplement the use of the dictionary with an analysis 
of their individual spelling problems. 


Apart from individual problems in attaining an adequate and 
pleasing style, there are broader problems of scientific style which 
have provoked wide discussion. Among such problems are the influx 
of shoptalk and jargon and the attainment of readability in scientific 

A. The Influx of Shoptalk and Jargon 

Because of its factual, impersonal character, scientific writing is 
subject to two frequently associated forms of vulgarization shoptalk 
and jargon. Shoptalk is the laboratory or office slang or colloquial 
usage characteristic of a professional or business group. Permissible, 
perhaps, in the oral exchange incident to the day's work, shoptalk 
is likely to be objectionable when transferred to writing. The abbre- 
viating of frequently used terms such as lab, hypo, schizo; the piling 
up of nouns used as adjectives as "the business world type man"; 
the use of such questionable forms as enthused, accessorize, phony 
these are characteristic of shoptalk and lower the tone of a piece of 
writing. Many companies forbid the use of shoptalk and localisms 
in reports because the terminology of a report must be such that 
the report can be circulated to other branches of a company and 
be understandable in years to come. 

Of somewhat different origin, jargon, or writing which is un- 
necessarily pretentious, verbose, and involved, derives its name 
from its unintelligibility. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch years ago identi- 
fied the marks of jargon as first, the use of vague, "fuzzy," abstract 
nouns in preference to specific concrete ones; second, a tendency 
toward elaborate circumlocution. 


Jargon Improved 

One of the major causes of One of the major causes of the 
inaccurate or fallacious interpre- misinterpretation of experimental 
tations of the results of an ex- results is the experimenter's fail- 
periment or investigation is the ure to understand the basic as- 
absence of the experimenter's or sumptions underlying his study, 
investigator's cognizance of his 
basic assumptions in the area of 
the particular experimentation or 

We are about to enter an area We are ready to begin, 
of activity. 

More recently, Representative Maury Maverick coined the terra 
gobbledygook to designate the excessively wordy, obscure jargon 
often found in official documents and exemplified by the following 

The careers department, not to be confused with the placement office, 
has taken its position on the campus because this institution recog- 
nizes the need to obviate one contributing factor in careers maladjust- 
ment stemming from inadequacy of occupational information and 
sound interpretation during the undergraduate training. 

B. Achieving Readability 

In recent years the terms readability and readability yardsticks 
have become rallying points for many of those who have resisted 
the influence of jargon in current factual writing. This group asserts 
that many writers, particularly scientific writers, in an effort to be 
formal, have become pretentious and have deviated farther and far- 
ther from simplicity of speech. As the proponents of "readability" 
themselves recognize, their position is not entirely new, but is a re- 
cent development of the old conflict between the plain and the literary 

The history of English prose is, in fact, the history of the plain 
style and successive attempts to replace it by something else. All these 
attempts broke down in the end; the plain style is the only classic 
style that has survived. The pomposities and complexities of Dr. Sam- 
uel Johnson, Edward Gibbon, Edmund Burke, Walter Savage Landor, 
Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin, and Walter Pater are now museum 


pieces; the simplicity of John Bunyan, Samuel Pepys, John Dryden, 
Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, and Oliver Goldsmith is still a model 
of good writing. 29 

The belief that readability can be measured has grown up during 
the past thirty years and has attracted widespread interest since 
World War II. A number of readability "yardsticks" have been de- 
vised, some of which distinguish two elements in readability : reading 
ease and reading interest. 30 While different "yardsticks" rely on 
different units of measurement, the factors listed by Robert Gun- 
ning 31 include those most often taken into account: 

Average sentence length in words 
Percentage of simple sentences 
Percentage of strong verb forms 
Portion of familiar words 
Portion of abstract words 
Percentage of personal references 
Percentage of long words 

This current emphasis on readability as a central aim in writing 
has undoubtedly helped to reactivate the attack on jargon, long, 
windy introductions, awkward inversions and otherwise involved 
sentence structure, pretentious diction, "fine writing," and verbiage 
generally. The uncritical acceptance of all that has been written in 
behalf of readability may, however, lead to two misconceptions: an 
expectation that the art of writing can be reduced to a formula and 
a disregard of the fact that the scientific writer has an obligation 
to his material as well as to the reader. (See Appendix A, p. 415.) 


"The Great Piltdown Hoax," 32 an article reprinted in part here 
for purposes of stylistic analysis, affords ample evidence that scien- 
tific writing need not be dull. The author has evidently addressed 

29 Rudolf Flesch, The Art of Readable Writing, New York, Harper & Brothers, 
1949, p. 198. 

30 Rudolf Flesch, How to Test Readability, New York, Harper & Brothers, 
1951, pp. 5, 9. 

31 By permission from The Technique of Clear Writing, pp. 32-33, by Robert 
Gunning. Copyright 1952. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 

32 William L. Straus, Jr., "The Great Piltdown Hoax," Science, 119:265-69, 
February 26, 1954. 


his review not to the specialist but to readers generally who are in- 
terested in the history of scientific thought. With this wider circle 
of readers in mind, the author has undoubtedly permitted himself 
adjectives "astounding," "inexplicable" which would be inappro- 
priate in a report of experimental results to a group of specialists. 
At times a tinge of irony verging on humor colors the phrasing "a 
veritable bone of contention," "polite anthropological society," "the 
disjecta membra of the Piltdown 'dawn man,' " as if the author were 
mindful that it is a chronicle of scientific fallibility he is recounting. 
While this article could not serve as a model for all types of scientific 
writing, it is admirably adapted to its purpose. 

The analysis which is offered following the article permits a de- 
tailed comparison of the two introductory paragraphs and paragraph 
15, which is more theoretical. The analysis covers principally sentence 
structure and diction with some attention to qualities of style. In 
the calculation of the length of sentences and paragraphs each proper 
name has been counted as one word, as has each foreign phrase. 


William L. Straus, Jr. 

Laboratory of Physical Anthropology, The Johns Hopkins University, 
Baltimore, Maryland 

[1] When Drs. J. S. Weiner, K. P. Oakley, and W. E. Le Gros Clark 
(7) recently announced that careful study had proven the famous Pilt- 
down skull to be compounded of both recent and fossil bones, so that 
it is in part a deliberate fraud, one of the greatest of all anthropologi- 
cal controversies came to an end. Ever since its discovery, the skull of 
"Piltdown man" termed by its enthusiastic supporters the "dawn 
man" and the "earliest Englishman" has been a veritable bone of 
contention. To place this astounding and inexplicable hoax in its 
proper setting, some account of the facts surrounding the discovery 
of the skull and of the ensuing controversy seems in order. 

[2] Charles Dawson was a lawyer and an amateur antiquarian who 
lived in Lewes, Sussex. One day, in 1908, while walking along a farm 
road close to nearby Piltdown Common, he noticed that the road had 
been repaired with peculiar brown flints unusual to that region. These 
flints he subsequently learned had come from a gravel pit (that turned 
out to be of Pleistocene age) in a neighboring farm. Inquiring there 
for fossils, he enlisted the interest of the workmen, one of whom, some 
time later, handed Dawson a piece of an unusually thick human parie- 


tal bone. Continuing his search of the gravel pit, Dawson found, in the 
autumn of 1911, another and larger piece of the same skull, belonging 
to the frontal region. His discoveries aroused the interest of Sir Arthur 
Smith Woodward, the eminent paleontologist of the British Museum. 
Together, during the following spring (1912), the two men made a 
systematic search of the undisturbed gravel pit and the surrounding 
spoil heaps; their labors resulted in the discovery of additional pieces 
of bone, comprising together with the fragments earlier recovered by 
Dawson the larger part of a remarkably thick human cranium or 
brain-case and the right half of an apelike mandible or lower jaw with 
two molar teeth in situ (2). Continued search of the gravel pit yielded, 
during the summer of 1913, two human nasal bones and fragments of 
a turbinate bone (found by Dawson), and an apelike canine tooth 
(found by the distinguished archeologist, Father Teilhard de Chardin) 
(3). All these remains constitute the find that is known as Piltdown I. 

[3] Dawson died in 1916. Early in 1917, Smith Woodward an- 
nounced the discovery of two pieces of a second human skull and a 
molar tooth (4). These form the so-called Piltdown II skull. The cra- 
nial fragments are a piece of thick frontal bone representing an area 
absent in the first specimen and a part of a somewhat thinner occipital 
bone that duplicates an area recovered in the first find. According to 
Smith Woodward's account, these fragments were discovered by Daw- 
son early in 1915 in a field about two miles from the site of the origi- 
nal discovery. 

[4] The first description of the Piltdown remains, by Smith Wood- 
ward at a meeting of the Geological Society of London on December 
18, 1912 (2), evoked a controversy that is probably without equal in 
the history of paleontological science and which raged, without prom- 
ise of a satisfactory solution, until the studies of Weiner, Oakley, and 
Clark abruptly ended it. With the announcement of the discovery, sci- 
entists rapidly divided themselves into two main camps representing 
two distinctly different points of view (with variations that need not 
be discussed here) (5). 

[5] Smith Woodward regarded the cranium and jaw as belonging 
to one and the same individual, for which he created a new genus, 
Eoanthropus. In this monistic view toward the fragments he found 
ready and strong support. In addition to the close association within 
the same gravel pit of cranial fragments and jaw, there was advanced 
in support of this interpretation the evidence of the molar teeth in 
the jaw (which were flatly worn down in a manner said to be quite 
peculiar to man and quite unlike the type of wear ever found in apes) 
and, later, above all, the evidence of a second, similar individual in 
the second set of skull fragments and molar tooth (the latter similar 
to those imbedded in the jaw and worn away in the same unapelike 
manner). A few individuals (Dixon [6], Kleinschmidt [7], Weinert 


[8]), moreover, have even thought that proper reconstruction of the 
jaw would reveal it to be essentially human, rather than simian. Re- 
constructions of the skull by adherents to the monistic view produced 
a brain-case of relatively small cranial capacity, and certain workers 
even fancied that they had found evidences of primitive features in 
the brain from examination of the reconstructed endocranial cast 
(9, 10) a notoriously unreliable procedure; but subsequent altera- 
tions of reconstruction raised the capacity upward to about 1400 cc 
close to the approximate average for living men (10, p. 596). 

[6] A number of scientists, however, refused to accept the cranium 
and jaw as belonging to one and the same kind of individual. Instead, 
they regarded the brain-case as that of a fossil but modern type of 
man and the jaw (and canine tooth) as that of a fossil anthropoid 
ape which had come by chance to be associated in the same deposit. 
The supporters of the monistic view, however, stressed the improba- 
bility of the presence of a hitherto unknown ape in England during 
the Pleistocene epoch, particularly since no remains of fossil apes 
had been found in Europe later than the Lower Pliocene. An anatomist, 
David Waterston, seems to have been the first to have recognized the 
extreme morphological incongruity between the cranium and the jaw. 
From the announcement of the discovery he voiced his disbelief in 
their anatomical association (11, p. 150). The following year (1913) 
he demonstrated that superimposed tracings taken from radiograms 
of the Piltdown mandible and the mandible of a chimpanzee were 
"practically identical"; at the same time he noted that the Piltdown 
molar teeth not only "approach the ape form, but in several respects 
are identical with them." He concluded that since "the cranial frag- 
ments of the Piltdown skull, on the other hand, are in practically all 
their details essentially human ... it seems to me to be as inconse- 
quent to refer the mandible and the cranium to the same individual 
as it would be to articulate a chimpanzee foot with the bones of an 
essentially human thigh and leg" (12). . . . 

[7] A third and in a sense neutral point of view held that the whole 
business was so ambiguous that the Piltdown discovery had best be 
put on the shelf, so to speak, until further evidence, through new dis- 
coveries, might become available. I have not attempted anything re- 
sembling a thorough poll of the literature, but I have the distinct im- 
pression that this point of view has become increasingly common in 
recent years, as will be further discussed. Certainly, those best quali- 
fied to have an opinion, especially those possessing a sound knowledge 
of human and primate anatomy, have held largely with a few notable 
exceptions either to a dualistic or to a neutral interpretation of the 
remains, and hence have rejected the monistic interpretation that led 
to the reconstruction of a "dawn man." Most assuredly, and contrary 


to the impression that has been generally spread by the popular press 
when reporting the hoax, "Eoanthropus" has remained far short of 
being universally accepted into polite anthropological society. . . . 

[8] In 1892, Carnot, a French mineralogist, reported that the 
amount of fluorine in fossil bones increases with their geological age 
a report that seems to have received scant attention from paleontolo- 
gists. Recently, K. P. Oakley, happening to come across Carnot's 
paper, recognized the possibilities of the fluorine test for establishing 
the relative ages of bones found within a single deposit. He realized, 
furthermore, that herein might lie the solution of the vexed Piltdown 
problem. Consequently, together with C. R. Hoskins, he applied the 
fluorine test to the "Eoanthropus" and other mammalian remains found 
at Piltdown (20). The results led to the conclusion that "all the re- 
mains of Eoanthropus . . . are contemporaneous"; and that they are, 
"at the earliest, Middle Pleistocene." However, they were strongly in- 
dicated as being of late or Upper Pleistocene age, although "probably 
at least 50,000 years" old (19). Their fluorine content was the same 
as that of the beaver remains but significantly less than that of the 
geologically older, early Pleistocene mammals of the Piltdown fauna. 
This seemed to increase the probability that cranium and jaw be- 
longed to one individual. But at the same time, it raised the enigma 
of the existence in the late Pleistocene of a human-skulled, large- 
brained individual possessed of apelike jaws and teeth which would 
leave "Eoanthropus" an anomaly among Upper Pleistocene men. To 
complete the dilemma, if cranium and jaw were attributed to two 
different animals one a man, the other an ape the presence of an 
anthropoid ape in England near the end of the Pleistocene appeared 
equally incredible. Thus the abolition of a Lower Pleistocene dating 
did not solve the Piltdown problem. It merely produced a new prob- 
lem that was even more disturbing. 

[9] As the solution of this dilemma, Dr. J. S. Weiner advanced the 
proposition to Drs. Oakley and Clark that the lower jaw and canine 
tooth are actually those of a modern anthropoid ape, deliberately 
altered so as to resemble fossil specimens. He demonstrated experi- 
mentally, moreover, that the teeth of a chimpanzee could be so altered 
by a combination of artificial abrasion and appropriate staining as 
to appear astonishingly similar to the molars and canine tooth ascribed 
to "Piltdown man." This led to a new study of all the "Eoanthropus" 
material that "demonstrated quite clearly that the mandible and canine 
are indeed deliberate fakes" (1). It was discovered that the "wear" 
of the teeth, both molar and canine, had been produced by an artificial 
planing down, resulting in occlusal surfaces unlike those developed 
by normal wear. Examination under a microscope revealed fine 
scratches such as would be caused by an abrasive. X-ray examination 


of the canine showed that there was no deposit of secondary dentine, 
as would be expected if the abrasion had been due to natural attrition 
before the death of the individual. 

[10] An improved method of fluorine analysis, of greater accuracy 
when applied to small samples, had been developed since Oakley and 
Hoskins made their report in 1950. This was applied to the Piltdown 
specimens. . . . The results clearly indicate that whereas the Pilt- 
down I cranium is probably Upper Pleistocene in age, as claimed by 
Oakley and Hoskins, the attributed mandible and canine tooth are 
"quite modern." As for Piltdown II, the frontal fragment appears to 
be Upper Pleistocene (it probably belonged originally to Piltdown I 
cranium), but the occipital fragment and the isolated molar tooth are 
of recent or modern age. . . . 

[11] In conclusion, therefore, the disjecta membra of the Piltdown 
"dawn man" may now be allocated as follows: (1) the Piltdown I 
cranial fragments (to which should probably be added Piltdown II 
frontal) represent a modern type of human brain-case that is in no 
way remarkable save for its unusual thickness and which is, at most, 
late Pleistocene in age; (2) Piltdown I mandible and canine tooth 
and Piltdown II molar tooth are those of a modern anthropoid ape 
(either a chimpanzee or an orangutan) that have been artificially 
altered in structure and artificially colored so as to resemble the 
naturally colored cranial pieces moreover, it is almost certain that 
the isolated molar of Piltdown II comes from the original mandible, 
thus confirming Hrdlicka's (78) earlier suspicion; and (3) Piltdown II 
occipital is of recent human origin, with similar counterfeit coloration. 

[12] Weiner, Oakley, and Clark conclude that "the distinguished 
palaeontologists and archaeologists who took part in the excavations 
at Piltdown were the victims of a most elaborate and carefully prepared 
hoax" that was "so extraordinarily skilful" and which "appears to 
have been so entirely unscrupulous and inexplicable, as to find no 
parallel in the history of palaeontological discovery." 

[13] It may be wondered why forty years elapsed before the hoax 
was discovered. Two factors enter here: first, there was no reason at 
all to suspect the perpetration of a fraud, at least, not until fluorine 
analysis indicated the relative recency of all the specimens, thus mak- 
ing the association of a human cranium and an anthropoid-ape jaw, 
either anatomically or geologically, hardly credible; and, second, 
methods for conclusively determining whether the specimens were 
actual fossils or faked ones, short of their wholesale destruction, were 
developed only in recent years (it will be recalled that even the 
fluorine-estimation method used by Oakley and Hoskins a few years 
ago was inadequate for detecting a significant difference between brain- 
case and jaw). . . . 


[14] The ready initial acceptance of the Piltdown discovery at its 
face value, at least by a majority of interested scientists, can probably 
be attributed to the philosophical climate that invested the problem of 
human evolution at that time. In September, 1912, before the announce- 
ment of the discovery of "Piltdown man," the distinguished anatomist, 
Elliot Smith, in an address before the Anthropological Section of the 
British Association for the Advancement of Science at Dundee (22), 
expressed a prevailing point of view when he developed the theory 
that the brain led the way in the evolution of man and that modification 
of other parts of the body followed. Thus the stage was set for the 
ready acceptance of the Piltdown fragments as constituting a single 
individual, a "dawn man" possessing a human cranium housing a 
human brain, but with phylogenetically laggard, hence simian, jaws 
and teeth. . . . 

[15] Recent finds of fossil men and other primates, however, indi- 
cate that it is the brain that was the evolutionary laggard in man's 
phylogeny; indeed, the studies of Tilly Edinger (24) of the phylogeny 
of the horse brain suggest that this may well be a general rule in 
mammalian evolution. It was such concepts as this, leading to a change 
in philosophical climate, that evoked an increasing skepticism toward 
the validity of the monistic interpretation of the Piltdown fragments 
and led in turn to what appears to have been the prevailing recent 
opinion, namely, that the fragments should, as expressed in 1949 by 
Le Gros Clark (25), "be laid aside without further comment until 
more evidence becomes available." This view, enhanced by the redating 
of the remains by Oakley and Hoskins, provided the proper psycho- 
logical setting for the coup de grace delivered by Weiner, Oakley, and 

[16] As the three latter point out, the solution of the Piltdown 
enigma greatly clarifies the problem of human evolution. For "Eoan- 
thropus," both morphologically and geologically, just simply did not 
fit into the picture of human evolution that has gradually been unfold- 
ing as the result of paleontological discoveries throughout the world. 

[17] The Piltdown story is a significant one in the history of ideas, 
more particularly as it bears on the concept of the precise course of 
human evolution. For, if man's biological history be likened to a book, 
it is seen to be composed of both blank and written pages and, by 
those who note them carefully, many if not most of the written ones 
will be seen to be in the nature of palimpsests pages that have been 
rewritten after their original writing has been rubbed out. Of this, 
the Piltdown affair is a striking demonstration. It is a demonstration, 
furthermore, that the palimpsest nature of the pages of man's history 
is not always due directly to new fossil discoveries but can also result 


from changes in the philosophical climate of the science. That this 
phenomenon is peculiar to anthropology, however, is seriously to be 


1. WEINER, J. S., OAKLEY, K. P., and CLARK, W. E. LE GROS. Bull. Brit. Mus. 
(Nat. Hist.}, Geol. 2, 141 (1953). 

2. DAWSON, C., and WOODWARD, A. S. Quart. J. Geol. Soc. London 69, 117 

3. DAWSON, C., and WOODWARD, A. S. Ibid. 70, 82 (1914). 

4. WOODWARD, A. S. Ibid. 73, 1 (1917). 

5. MILLER, G. S., JR. Smithsonian Kept. 1928 413 (1929). 

6. DIXON, A. F. Nature 99, 399 (1917). 

7. KLEINSCHMIDT, O. Cited by Miller, p. 437 (5). 

8. WEINERT, H. In: Anthropology Today, (p. 111). A. L. Kroeber, Ed. Chi- 
cago: Univ. Chicago Press, 1953. 

9. SMITH, G. ELLIOT. Appendix to Dawson & Woodward (2). 

10. KEITH, A. The Antiquity of Man, Vol. 2, 2nd ed. London: Williams and 
Norgate, 1925. 

11. WATERSTON, Prof. Appendix to Dawson & Woodward (2). 

12. WATERSTON, D. Nature 92, 319 (1913). 

13. MILLER, G. S., JR. Smithsonian Inst. Pubs. Misc. Collections 65, no. 12 

14. BOULE, M. UAnthropologie 28, 433 (1917). 

15. RAMSTROM, M. Bull. Geol. Inst. Univ. Upsala 16, 261 (1919). 

16. FRIEDERICHS, H. F. Z. Anat. Entwicklungsgeschichte 98, 199 (1932). 

17. WEIDENREICH, F. Palaeontologia Sinica, n.s.D, no. 10 (whole ser. no. 127) 

18. HRDLICKA, A. Am. J. Phys. Anthrop. S, 337 (1922). 

19. OAKLEY, K. P. In: Anthropology Today, (p. 47). A. L. Kroeber, Ed. Chi- 
cago: Univ. Chicago Press, 1953. 

20. OAKLEY, K. P., and HOSKINS, C. R. Nature 165, 379 (1950). 

21. WOODWARD, A. S. The Earliest Englishman. London: Watts, 1948. 

22. SMITH, G. ELLIOT. Nature 90, 118 (1912). 

23. SOLLAS, W. J. Ancient Hunters, 3rd ed. New York : Macmillan, 1924. 

24. EDINGER, T. Geol. Soc. Am. Mem. 25 (1948). 

25. CLARK, W. E. LE GROS. History of the Primates. London: British Museum 
(Natural History), 1949. 

Sentence Structure 

Simple Compound Complex ' Toial 

Par. 1 




Par. 2 





Par. 15 





The author's liking for periodic sentences (sentences in which the 
main idea or principal clause comes at the end) is also evident, as 


in the three sentences of paragraph 1 and the second sentence of 
paragraph 2. 

Sentence Length (in words) 







Par. 1 




Par. 2 




Par. 15 




A few extremely long sentences raise the average sentence length. 
The effective use of short sentences to open and close paragraph 2 
should be noted. 



Total number of words: 105 

Technical terms: Piltdown, fossil, anthropological. Total 3, about 
3 per cent. 

Words with "human interest": famous, skull, bones, deliberate, 
fraud, greatest, controversies, discovery, man, enthusiastic, sup- 
porters, "dawn man," "earliest Englishman," veritable, bone of 
contention, astounding, inexplicable, hoax, setting. Total 21, 
about 20 per cent. 

Foreign words: 


Total number of words : 255 

Technical terms: Pleistocene, parietal, frontal, paleontologist, cra- 
nium, mandible, molar, nasal, turbinate, canine, archeologist, in 
situ. Total 12, about 4.7 per cent. 

Words with "human interest": lawyer, amateur, antiquarian, walk- 
ing, farm, road, peculiar, brown, flats, unusual, region, gravel, pit, 
neighboring, inquiring, interest, unknown, human, bone, search, 
autumn, skull, discoveries, aroused, comment, spring, spoil, heaps, 
labors, fragments, remarkably, brain-case, apelike, jaw, teeth, 


yielded, summer, distinguished, remains, find. Total 40, about 
15 per cent. 
Foreign phrase: in situ. 


Total number of words: 142 

Technical terms : primates, phylogeny, mammalian, Piltdown. Total 
4, about 3 per cent. 

Words with "human interest": recent, finds, men, brain, laggard, 
horse, suggest, rule, change, climate, fragments, comment, evi- 
dence, view, remains, setting. Total 16, about 9 per cent. 

Foreign phrase : coup de grace. 

Unlike paragraphs 1 and 2, paragraph 15 contains a number of no- 
ticeably long or abstract words: evolutionary, concepts, philo- 
sophical, skepticism, validity, monistic. 


From the foregoing analysis and from further examination of the 
article the following generalizations seem justified. 

1. The preference for simple or complex rather than compound 
sentences is a mark of a mature style. In contrast the average student 
paper would probably contain a number of straggly compound sen- 

2. Though a few sentences are extremely long, their length does 
not impair readability because the length of sentences is varied, minor 
considerations are skillfully subordinated to major ones, and sen- 
tence rhythm is maintained. 

3. Human interest is not lacking although this article was con- 
sidered suitable for publication in a journal directed almost entirely 
to scientific readers. 

4. In spite of the use of everyday, concrete words, the tone of the 
article is detached rather than subjective or personal. There are no 
direct references to the author in either first or third person. 

5. The diction is clear and precise, and the movement of the sen- 
tences direct and straightforward. There is no evidence of shoptalk 
or jargon. 

6. The style varies slightly as the immediate purpose changes in 
different paragraphs of the article. The opening paragraph, for ex- 


ample, designed to introduce the subject to the reader, is less tech- 
nical than paragraph 5, which sums up the contrasting theories by 
which scientists interpreted the Piltdown remains. 

At the opening of this chapter it was noted that style in scientific 
writing should be unobtrusive. This does not mean, however, that 
style in scientific writing is unimportant. On the contrary, style is 
of great consequence in all expository writing. Perhaps the most 
famous definition of style is Buffon's "Style is the man." Generalized 
to apply to scientific writing such a definition would imply that scien- 
tific style is expressive of the scientific attitude of mind. 


1. Contrast the style of these two sentences: (a) Lillie represented the 
American Society of Zoologists for four years in the Division of Biol- 
ogy and Agriculture, serving as Vice Chairman of the Division in the 
year 1921-22 and as chairman the following year, (b) Lillie was active 
during this period in scientific organizations and his abilities were 
recognized by elevating him to a number of offices. By the standards 
of scientific writing, which is to be preferred? 

2. Dwight E. Gray says (Journal of Chemical Education, 25:226-28, April 
1948) that "somewhere in his consideration of organization the author 
should decide upon a sensible title" and cites as bad examples two 
reports received in the laboratory, one called "Final Report on Item 
No. 2" and the other "The Most Important Research Work of the Last 
Time and Proposals about Reports Still to Be Written." What is wrong 
with these titles and what should titles covering comparable subject 
matter include? 

3. Point out the faults in style in the following statements and suggest 
revisions: (a) The article contrasted the problems of the rural country- 
side with those of the urban city, (b) The property reverted back to 
the original owner, (c) Almost all of the cells present are small in 
size, (d) Illumination at controlled thermal temperature was obtained 
by the use of a light -transmitting quartz rod. (e) The availability of 
the necessary raw materials is essentially negligible, (f ) A death rate 
of almost 35 per cent is claimed by this deadly disease, (g) Blood 
coagulation has puzzled medicine for many years. 

4. Revise the following sentences: (a) However, he does not overempha- 
size wit; observe this sentence, which illustrates his style, (b) The 
summary condensed what the lecturer covered for the student's con- 
venience, (c) The mesenchymal parts are reduced in size which is 
more marked in some parts of the bodies than in others, (d) If the 


two instruments are examined closely it will be seen that they are not 
alike but differ, (e) Nowhere does the author make reference to this 
occurrence, instead one finds vague generalities, (f) Bearing this in 
mind, the weaknesses of theory are obvious. 

5. Suggest changes to improve the diction of the following sentences: 
(a) He brings out the concept of science as being too indifferent to 
human values, (b) This is a comparatively minor error and one of 
little importance, (c) The author has prepared this as the first volume 
of an anticipated eight-volume work, (d) Numerous phenomena which 
revolve around us are taken for granted, (e) His statement inferred 
that he had begun the project some time before. 

6. Proofread the paragraph below, correcting all errors in spelling, punc- 
tuation, and usage. Make no unnecessary changes. 

Although this problem has long been familiar to members of the 
medical profession ; it is difficult to find it's nucelus and to seperate its 
essential from its nonessential elements. It is all to easy to let our very 
familarity with the subject prevent us making a vigorous attack on the 
problem. The principle issues have been slow to develope, their serious- 
ness would now be difficult to exagerate. Before we can hope to affect 
a solution we must undo some of the affects of yesterdays neglect. A 
first step is to breifly define the boundries of our present knowledge 
and of course establishing a criteria by which we can evaluate a new 
possibility as they arise. 

7. Apart from the errors you have corrected in the foregoing paragraph, 
what do you find to criticize in its style? 



I. The place of exposition in writing 

A. Exposition defined 

B. Exposition and the other forms of writing 
II. The expository paragraph 

A. Length of paragraphs 

B. Structure of paragraphs 

1. The paragraph as an assembling unit 

2. The paragraph as a developmental unit 

III. The plan of the short expository paper 

A. Defining the purpose 

B. Achieving progression 

C. Maintaining unity, coherence, and emphasis 

IV. Analyses of examples 

/ could wish that it [instruction] were more expository, 
less polemical, and above all less dogmatic. JOHN 
STUART MILL, Inaugural Address. 


In the process of writing there are certain products of training 
and experience which the writer utilizes but which he does not com- 
municate directly to the reader. Such terms as exposition, statement 
of purpose, paragraph structure, and method of development seldom 
appear in the finished paper, but the knowledge they represent guides 
the writer as he prepares it. This technical knowledge of the writer's 
craft often makes the difference between an effective and an ineffec- 
tive piece of work. 

Fundamental in the theory of writing is the division of prose dis- 
course into four forms: narration, description, exposition, and per- 
suasion. Though all four are used by the scientific writer, his greatest 

concern is with exposition. 



A. Exposition Defined 

The distinction among the four forms of writing is arrived at by 
defining the author's intention. If the dominant intent is to relate 
a series of events with regard for chronological order, the writing 
is classified as narration. If the intent is to convey to the mind of 
a reader a sensory or emotional impression a "mental picture" 
the writing is description. If the intent is to win the reader to the 
writer's way of thinking, it is persuasion (sometimes termed argu- 
mentation) . If the intent is to explain facts, theories, or ideas, it is 
exposition. The derivative meaning of exposition a setting forth 
is literally realized in public expositions where the products of art 
and industry are arranged and displayed. Exposition in writing is 
a setting forth also, but it is the information and ideas of the writer 
which are arranged and presented for the reader's consideration. 

Expository writing is further characterized by its inherent appeal 
to reason. Unlike narrative which establishes a time order, or descrip- 
tion which is guided either by an impressionistic or a spatial order, 
or persuasion which follows the order that will gain the desired sup- 
port (which may of course be also the logical order), exposition is 
committed by its nature to a logical development. It proceeds from 
the whole to the parts, from the parts to the whole, from cause to 
effect, from purpose to method, and from evidence to conclusion. 
When the physical relationships of time and space become conse- 
quential in exposition, it is because they are important to the rational 
concept which is being developed in the reader's mind. 

B. Exposition and the Other Forms of Writing 

If exposition is to be fully understood, its relationship to the other 
forms of writing must be clear. Little difficulty arises in distinguish- 
ing exposition from narration. However, passages of narrative often 
appear in exposition as subsidiary means of explanation. The writer 
may narrate an incident to illustrate a point or to dramatize a result. 
What purpose, for example, may be ascribed to the writer of the 
following paragraphs? 

A puff of wind comes down the street. An old newspaper stirs in 
the gutter, jumps up on the sidewalk, spirals up to second-story height 
and flaps about there for a moment; then, with a new burst of energy, 


it sweeps upward again, and when you last see it, it is soaring high 
above the roof tops, turning over and over, blinking in the sunlight. 
The wind has picked up a piece of paper and blown it away. What 
of it? A generation ago, in philosophical discourse, one might have 
chosen this as an example of an event completely void of significance, 
completely chance. But not in the air age. The tiny occurrence demon- 
strates an important fact concerning the air ocean one that is only 
now becoming the practical knowledge of practical airfaring men: 
there are winds which blow neither east nor west, neither north nor 
south, but in the third dimension: straight up. 1 

In other contexts the first of the preceding paragraphs might serve 
a writer in various ways. The last sentence of the second paragraph, 
however, establishes the passage as exposition and makes it clear 
that the significance of the simple incident as related here lies in its 
demonstration of a principle of aeronautics. The concrete illustration, 
because of its greater appeal to the general reader, has been placed 
before the statement of abstract principle. 

The distinction between description and exposition is often difficult 
to define. There are two quite different types of description: first, 
factual or scientific description, which is closely related to exposition, 
and, second, the more subjective type of description which is met 
with in the short story or novel. The passage quoted below illustrates 
the second type. It creates a mood, an impression, as well as a sen- 
sory image. The words are chosen for their sound and connotative 
values as well as for the meanings they convey. The situation is spe- 
cific and the treatment highly subjective. 

... I wandered out, pursued by distressful thoughts, into the gardens, 
those famous gardens of Stein, in which you can find every plant and 
tree of tropical lowlands. I followed the course of the canalised stream, 
and sat for a long time on a shaded bench near the ornamental pond, 
where some waterfowl with clipped wings were diving and splashing 
noisily. The branches of casuarina-trees behind me swayed lightly, 
incessantly, reminding me of the soughing of fir-trees at home. 2 

In contrast, the following example of scientific description conveys 
factual knowledge, and the words are chosen from an established 
scientific terminology to convey exact technical meanings. The situa- 

1 Wolfgang Langewiesche, "Winds That Blow Straight Up," Harper's Maga- 
zine, 191:107, August 1945. 

2 Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim, Garden City, N. Y., Doubleday, Page & Company, 
1925, p. 349. Used with permission of J. M. Dent & Sons, London. 


tion is generalized and the treatment objective. It will be noted that 
the sentences are not complete; the verb to be is omitted throughout. 


Tilia americana 

A large symmetrical tree 50-70 and in favorable conditions of forest 
growth 130 feet high, with a trunk diameter of 3 or more feet, the 
stem rising straight to the round-topped head, the branches horizontal, 
slender, often drooping. Bark deep brownish gray, firm, scored per- 
pendicularly with elongated fissures, the ridges confluent, narrow, 
flat-topped marked with transverse cracks; the twigs slender, smooth, 
ruddy brown, and often zig-zagged, slightly dotted. 

The leaves perfectly heart-shaped, sharp-pointed, sometimes oblique 
or asymmetrical, large, 4-7 inches long, coarsely double-toothed, promi- 
nently yellow-veined, light green above, scarcely paler beneath . . . 
with few white hairs scattered on the general surface, the stem about % 
of the length of the leaf. Flowers with 5 cream white petals and sepals, 
sweet-scented, a scale alternating with each petal; blooming in May- 
June. Fruit spherical, about the size of a pea, borne singly or few in 
a cluster on a common stalk merged half-way in a leaflike narrow 
wing or bract; often persistent on the tree until mid- winter. 

Like this example, much scientific writing is descriptive. In the 
development of every natural science, time has been devoted to the 
minute description of the phenomena with which the science deals, 
and to this end a precise descriptive vocabulary has been accumu- 
lated. The botanist, for example, may choose from oval, elliptical, 
linear, deltoid, ovate, lanceolate, and a number of other terms to 
describe the general outline of a leaf. 4 

The distinction between exposition and persuasion is at times dif- 
ficult to establish since a tinge of persuasion often colors otherwise 
expository material. (See Chapters 11 and 12.) While a writer is 
free to employ narration and description in exposition, if he intro- 
duces a perceptible note of persuasion, his writing is better classified 

8 F. Schuyler Mathews, Field Book of American Trees and Shrubs, New 
York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1915, pp. 322-23. 

4 Scientific description, in contrast to literary or impressionistic description, 
is sometimes classified as a form of exposition. At the other extreme are those 
who maintain that "the primary aim of Science is the concise description of 
the knowable universe" in the sense that science deals with verifiable phe- 
nomena rather than with ultimate causes. See J. Arthur Thomson, Introduction 
to Science, New York, Henry Holt and Company, 1911, p. 35 if. 


as persuasion. This leaves to persuasion a wide field, and persuasion 
both for good and ill is becoming an increasingly large factor 
in our national life. In contrast to the honest use of persuasion is 
the activity of the propagandist who disguises his motives and the 
sources of his material. 

In the first of the two following examples of legitimate persuasion 
an anecdote disarms the reader. 

At present, however, a certain amount of criticism of both historians 
and social scientists for their indifference to each other's work is 
justified. Perhaps no single historian or social scientist deserves all 
of the reproof contained in this little volume. There is a story (se non 
e vero, e ben trovato) told about Charles Dana as a young reporter, 
which may be appropriate here. Asked to cover the United States 
Senate, he had expressed the opinion that everyone in the Senate was 
a fool. The editor, realizing that such an opinion would anger every 
member of the Senate, advised him to change his statement to read 
that every senator but one was a fool. The revised statement, the 
editor explained, would have the approval of every senator. Since I 
readily admit that the "historian" and the '"social scientist" rebuked 
in the following pages are merely straw men, made up out of frequently 
obsolescent or unwanted bits that probably belong to no one person 
altogether, I hope many historians and social scientists will be tolerant 
of my opinion, while admitting that certain of my criticisms apply to 
certain of their colleagues. 5 

In the second example the method is partially that of factual ex- 
position, but the persuasive tone is evident in such phraseology as 
"respective claims," "narrowly individualistic outlook," "if any event 
must be singled out," "if any event need be singled out." 

The respective claims of Newton and his continental contemporary 
Leibniz to be regarded as the author of the infinitesimal calculus have 
given rise to considerable discussion in which national sentiment has 
played no small part. Such controversies reflect a narrowly individu- 
alistic outlook on the history of science. Nobody invented the calculus. 
It was the co-operative product of a group of men. If any event must 
be singled out as the beginning of the differential calculus, credit 
would seem to be due pre-eminently to Barrow, who was Newton's 
teacher. If any event need be singled out as the beginning of the 
integral calculus, it was the recognition that the determination of an 

5 Louis Gottschalk, "The Historian and the Historical Document," The Use 
of Personal Documents in History, Anthropology and Sociology, New York, 
Social Science Research Council, Bulletin 53, 1945, p. 5. 


area is the same thing as solving a differential equation, and the credit 
for this step is mainly due to Leibniz, who also introduced the dx 
symbolism. Newton's main contribution was to show how differential 
equations could be used to interpret the observed truths of mechanics, 
astronomy, and optics, and so to emphasize the extraordinary useful- 
ness of the new methods. 6 

Only a small part of all exposition follows the tradition of the 
literary essay. A larger part consists of reports, reviews, and short 
articles varied in length and pattern to suit the immediate purpose. 


Whatever the length of the entire paper, the accepted unit of ex- 
position is the paragraph. In order to handle paragraphs competently 
the writer must realize that they have two functions which are quite 
different. One is to present the material in units of thought and de- 
velopment which can be readily grasped in their entirety by the 
reader. The other function is to provide physical and mental breaks 
for the reader in order to spare him the effort of too long continued 

A. Length of Paragraphs 

The paragraph length which will best serve these ends naturally 
varies with the subject matter and the circumstances. Light journal- 
istic articles usually have shorter paragraphs than do heavier articles 
to which the reader is expected to give more serious attention. How- 
ever, in brief presentations of some types of very technical material, 
short paragraphs are customary. For most purposes considerable 
variety in paragraph length is permissible and even desirable, and 
it is not unusual to find paragraphs within a single article ranging 
in length from fifty to two hundred words. 

Some writers tend habitually to compose short, choppy para- 
graphs; others to compose long, tedious paragraphs. Each of these 
tendencies is annoying to the reader who must be either constantly 
shifting his attention or fixing it for excessively long periods. Even 
if a paragraph seems like a unit to the writer, the units may still 
be too short or too long to be readily assimilated by the reader. The 

6 Lancelot Hogben, Mathematics for the Million, New York, W. W. Norton 
& Company, Inc., 1937, p. 542. 


recommended practice is to combine short paragraphs or to develop 
them more fully and to divide extremely long paragraphs or to 
streamline them by making omissions or by employing more efficient 

B. Structure of Paragraphs 

There are two ways of undertaking the construction of a paragraph. 
If space is available for the expansion and development of the writer's 
ideas, the paragraph is primarily a developmental unit elaborating 
the basic thought. In a condensed style such as that demanded in 
some types of scientific papers, the paragraph is essentially an as- 
sembling unit. 

7. The Paragraph as an Assembling Unit 

As an assembling unit the paragraph is used to group ideas or 
facts which are closely related, but such a paragraph affords little 
opportunity for elaboration or extended discussion. The first of the 
two following examples brings together facts of general interest 
concerning amber. 

Amber is a translucent substance, yellowish, brownish, or reddish 
in color, formed by the fossilization of resin exuded from ancient trees. 
It is found in the region of the Baltic Sea, Sicily, Burma, India, and 
elsewhere. When rubbed, it electrostatically attracts small pieces of 
paper, chaff, and other light materials. This property of amber first 
provided man with an opportunity to observe static electricity in a 
simple form. 7 

The second example lists the types of scientists needed in the South- 
west Pacific during World War II. 

The types of scientific men that officers in the Southwest Pacific 
were eager to obtain as they laid elaborate plans to conquer climate, 
distance, terrain, equipment, and supply in chopping off the military 
tentacles of Japan were these: medical experts to study their second 
most important enemy, malaria, and to cure the fungus infections 
that sapped morale; electronics engineers to test a homing torpedo 
developed in the field; radio and radar research men to study propa- 
gation of radio waves and to design lightweight air-transportable radar 
gear; counter-measures experts to find ways of jamming enemy radar; 
engineers to assist in introducing an aerial bomb launched backwards 

7 "Amber," Medical Radiography and Photography, 29(l):cover 2, 1953. 


to offset its forward path so that it drops on a target directly below 
the point of release; biologists whose skills could be used against tiny 
marine organisms that were destroying wooden craft and docks in 
tropical waters; chemists and chemical engineers to study the behavior 
of poison gases and smokes in thickly forested, humid areas ; physicists 
to produce a fuze that would cause a bomb to explode about thirty 
feet above the ground; experts in time and motion analysis to unwind 
snarls in handling communications; men to analyze bottlenecks in 
transportation, failure of equipment, effectiveness of antiaircraft fire, 
and tactics of our air and surface craft in spotting and obliterating 
Japanese submarines. 8 

2. The Paragraph as a Developmental Unit 

The expository paragraph as a developmental unit offers a further 
explanation of the central idea of the paragraph, which is often ex- 
pressed in a topic sentence. The concept of development in writing is 
analogous to the concept of development in biology. A point empha- 
sized in biological studies is that though the potentialities of the adult 
organism are present in the germ cell from which it develops, these 
potentialities are not realized until the organism has grown to the 
adult stage. Similarly the potentialities of a paragraph are present 
in the central or germinal idea, but are not realized until the idea 
has been developed into the completed paragraph. Thus development 
does not mean mere repetition or extension any more than biological 
development is a simple multiplication of cells. 

It is the writer's responsibility to choose the means of exposition 
which will bring the central idea of the paragraph to its full develop- 
ment. Illustrations may be offered, terms defined, situations analyzed, 
entities classified or compared, evidence presented and inferences 
drawn, causes and effects traced, misconceptions corrected, or some 
of these means of exposition may be employed in combination. While 
the following examples of expository paragraphs have been selected 
to show different methods of development, the order of sentences 
within the paragraph and the means of gaining coherence and em- 
phasis (see Section III-C) should also be noted. 

The following paragraph illustrates development by example. In 
this instance concrete illustrations are particularly effective since the 

8 Lincoln R. Thiesmeyer and John E. Burchard, Combat Scientists, Boston, 
Little, Brown and Company and Atlantic Monthly Press, 1947, p. 34. 


central idea of the paragraph, expressed in the opening sentence, is 
highly abstract. 

Let me illustrate the predictive nature of abstract laws by some 
examples. The law that fire is hot goes beyond the experiences on 
which this law was established and which belong to the past ; it predicts 
that whenever we shall see a fire it will be hot. The laws of the motion 
of the stars permit us to predict future positions of the stars and 
include predictions of observations like eclipses of the sun and the 
moon. The atomic theory of matter has led to chemical predictions, 
verified in the construction of new chemical substances; in fact, all 
industrial applications of science are based on the predictive nature 
of scientific laws, since they employ scientific laws as blueprints for 
the construction of devices that function according to a preconceived 
plan. Bacon had a clear insight into the predictive nature of knowledge 
when he coined his famous maxim: knowledge is power. 9 

The next example, developed by definition, first explains the varied 
uses of the word document and then indicates how the writer expects 
to use the term. 

The word document has been used by historians in several senses. 
On the one hand, it is sometimes used to mean any written source of 
historical information as contrasted with oral testimony or with arti- 
facts, pictorial survivals and archaeological remains. On the other, it 
is sometimes reserved for only official and state papers such as treaties, 
laws, grants, deeds, etc. Still another sense is contained in the word 
documentation, which, as used by the historian inter alios, signifies 
any process of proof based upon any kind of source whether written, 
oral, pictorial or archaeological. For the sake of clarity, it seems best 
to employ the word document in the last, the most comprehensive 
definition, which is etymologically correct, using written documents 
and official documents to designate the less comprehensive categories. 
Thus document becomes synonymous with source. 10 

The type of analysis known as classification (see Chapter 5) is 
fundamental in science. The following paragraph, developed by anal- 
ysis, deals with some of the problems of classifying odors. 

Any number of groupings of odors have been recorded. A great 
number of these are on the basis of "like" some well-known substance. 
Thus, they may be fruity, aromatic, balsamic, or alliaceous. On the more 

9 Hans Reichenbach, The Rise of Scientific Philosophy, Berkeley, University 
of California Press, 1951, pp. 80-81. 

10 Gottschalk, op. cit., p. 12. 


objectionable side are the empyreumatic or burnt odors, the caprylic or 
goaty odors, the fetid odors, and so on. Most of these classifications are 
convenient but scientifically are meaningless. The Crocker-Henderson 
classification and method of classification are at the present time the 
most acceptable. In this procedure, four fundamental odor sensations 
are recognized as being fragrant, acid, burnt, and caprylic. Each of 
these four qualities is arbitrarily registered on a scale of from 
through 8. On this basis a substance without any odor would appear 
as 0000. Ethanol, for example, an odorous substance, is registered as 
5414. This number indicates that ethanol is substantially fragrant, 
moderately acid, scarcely burnt, and fairly caprylic. A large number 
of substances have been registered on this basis, and the method is in 
common application among odor analysts. 11 

The two following selections, both developed by comparison and 
contrast, show the usefulness of this method in entirely different 
fields. The first concerns a problem in engineering, the second in the 
history of language. 

There are two extreme conditions of lubrication hydrodynamic and 
boundary. In the hydrodynamic condition, no contact exists between 
the rubbing solids; the parameters of importance involve only proper- 
ties of the bulk liquid such as the viscosity, the density, the tempera- 
ture coefficients of the viscosity and the density, the heat transfer 
coefficients, and those defining the geometry of the bearing system. 
In the boundary condition, contacts always exist between the rubbing 
solids, and the physical and chemical properties of the contacting 
surfaces are important. Hydrodynamic conditions of lubrication are 
usually desired in the operation of mechanisms because the coefficient 
of friction may be a few hundredths or less, and practically no wear 
occurs ; boundary conditions of lubrications are avoided where possible, 
because of the resulting power consumption and the wearing, galling, 
or seizure of the rubbing solids. 12 

Any Chinese or Sinologist reading my brief description of [Egyp- 
tian] hieroglyphics will say to himself that it applies very well to 
Chinese characters. The Egyptians and the Chinese, working inde- 
pendently at two ends of the world, created two vast collections of 
word symbols. It is very interesting to compare the fruits of those 

11 By permission from Air Pollution by L. C. McCabe, Proceedings of the 
United States Technical Conference on Air Pollution, p. 249. Copyright 1952. 
McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 

12 W. A. Zisman, "Present Problems and Future Trends in Lubrication," 
Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, 45:1406, July 1953. Reprinted by per- 


gigantic experiments. They started with pictograms as everybody 
would; moreover, the early Chinese and Egyptian pictograms of the 
same objects sun, moon, mountains, water, rain, man, bird were 
often analogous. As the two kinds of word symbols were standardized 
and simplified, and became more and more numerous, both peoples 
reached the same general conclusion that each word should contain 
a phonetic element (sound sign) and a determinative one (sense sign) . 
The Chinese did this very consistently. About 80 percent of their 
characters are made up of two parts, one of which is a clue to the 
sound, while the other (one of 214 "classifiers") is a clue to the 
meaning; generally speaking, the pronunciation of the classifier and 
the meaning of the phonetic element are disregarded. 

Thus far the Chinese and Egyptian achievements are very much 
alike; there are fundamental differences between them, however and 
what else could we expect, considering that the two nations were very 
unlike and had been submitted for thousands of years to very different 
physical and psychologic environments? In Egyptian writing the vowels 
are omitted and in speech they are frequently changed either to 
obey grammatical inflections or to indicate variations of meaning; 
in Chinese, on the contrary, the vowels belong to the root, have a 
semantic value, and are constant. The study of the meanings of Chinese 
words cannot be separated from the study of their sounds. One can see 
how alphabetic signs could eventually emerge from the Egyptian habit 
of script; they could not have emerged from the Chinese one. The 
Chinese word is always concentrated in a single character, more or 
less complex, yet meant to occupy the same space as any other char- 
acter; the Egyptian word is more like a word in any syllabic script, 
it may cover more or less space. 13 

The next paragraph presents the evidence derived from one of 
Pasteur's experiments which showed that microorganisms are present 
in the air. Since the development of the paragraph is from evidence 
to conclusion, an inductive arrangement with the particulars pre- 
ceding the generalization is appropriate. 

Pasteur had already obtained direct evidence that germs of life are 
present in the air by concentrating the fine particles suspended in 
the atmosphere and observing them under the microscope. He had 
aspirated air through a tube in which was inserted a plug of guncotton 
which acted as a filter and intercepted the aerial germs. When at the 
end of the experiment, the guncotton plug was dissolved by placing 
it in a tube containing a mixture of alcohol and ether, the insoluble 

13 George Sarton, A History of Science, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 
1952, pp. 22-23. 


dust separated from the solvent and settled in the bottom of the tube. 
Under the microscope, the sediment was found to contain many small 
round or oval bodies, indistinguishable from the spores of minute 
plants or the eggs of animalcules; the number of these bodies varied 
depending upon the nature of the atmosphere and in particular upon 
the height above the ground at which the aspirating apparatus had 
been placed. The dust recovered from the alcohol and ether solution 
always brought about a rapid growth of microorganisms when it was 
introduced into heated organic infusions, despite all precautions taken 
to admit only air sterilized by heat. It was thus clear that the fine 
invisible dust floating in the air contained germs which could initiate 
life in heated organic fluids.^ 

The following paragraph dealing with the causal connection be- 
tween air movement and sound is developed by showing this cause 
and effect relationship in a number of different situations. Cause and 
effect paragraph development whether used with reference to a physi- 
cal situation, as it is here, or to a social situation demands careful 
treatment such as Jeans has given it, since causal relationships are 
sometimes extremely complex. 

We may seem to be still a long way from music. Actually we are 
very near, for it is precisely these little whirlwinds of air that are 
responsible for the production of sounds in wind instruments without 
them our flutes and organ-pipes would cease to function. When whirl- 
winds are formed by the wind streaming past an obstacle of any kind, 
the formation of each little whirlwind gives a slight shock, both to the 
obstacle and to the air in its neighbourhood. If the wind blows in a 
continuous steady stream, these shocks are given to the air at perfectly 
regular intervals. We may then hear a musical note it is what is 
often described as the "whistling of the wind," or the "wind whistle." 
Its pitch is of course determined by the frequency of the shocks to the 
air, and this is the number of whirlwinds formed per second. Experi- 
ment shews that a whirlwind is formed every time the wind passes 
over a distance equal to 5% times the diameter of the obstacle, and 
this makes it possible to calculate the pitch of the note. Suppose, for 
instance, that we are at sea, with the wind blowing at 40 miles an 
hour through the rigging of half-inch ropes. Simple arithmetic shews 
that 40 miles an hour is 704 inches a second, so that the wind traverses 
1408 diameters of the rope every second. Dividing this by 5%, we 
obtain 261 as the frequency of the note of the "wind whistle" 
middle C of the piano. If the wind blows faster, whirlpools are formed 

14 Rene J. Dubos, Louis Pasteur, Boston, Little, Brown and Company, 1950, 
p. 170. 


faster and the pitch of the wind whistle rises, the frequency being 
exactly proportional to the wind velocity. When the wind "howls," 
we hear the pitch of the note rising and falling, and its frequency 
at any instant gives a measure of the speed of the wind at that instant. 
If the obstacles which the wind meets are smaller, the pitch is higher; 
this is why we hear notes of high pitch when the wind blows over 
the telegraph wires on land, and still higher notes when it blows 
through stalks of corn or blades of grass. 15 

When the paragraphs offered as examples in this chapter are con- 
sidered as a group, it is evident that the means of development in 
each instance have been chosen because of their appropriateness to 
the exposition of the central thought of the paragraph. Analyses of 
paragraph development should not lead to the impression that para- 
graphs are constructed according to formula or that all paragraphs 
can be placed in distinct categories. Many paragraphs are combina- 
tions of different methods of development, as is the concluding ex- 
ample which leads from definition into inference. 

By far the most prolific sources of neutrons known are the nuclear 
chain reactors or piles. A nuclear reactor is an assembly of fissionable 
material (such as uranium, enriched U 235 , Pu 239 , or U 233 ) arranged 
in such a way that a self-sustaining chain reaction is maintained. In 
each fission process a number of neutrons (somewhere between one 
and three) are emitted. The requirement common to all reactors is 
that at least one of these neutrons must be available to produce another 
fission rather than escape from the assembly or be used up in some 
other type of nuclear reaction. Therefore, for a given type of reactor 
there is a minimum (or critical) size, below which the chain reaction 
cannot be self-sustaining. It is also necessary to avoid as much as 
possible the presence in the reactor of materials which consume neu- 
trons in processes other than the fission reaction. This imposes a severe 
restriction on structural materials, coolants, and moderators. 16 


In a well-planned short paper, each paragraph not only is ade- 
quately developed in itself but contributes its share to the develop- 
ment of the paper as a whole. Planning an expository paper involves 

15 Sir James Jeans, Science and Music, Cambridge, Eng., Cambridge Univer- 
sity Press, 1937, pp. 126-27. 

10 Gerhart Friedlander and Joseph W. Kennedy, Introduction to Radiochem- 
istry, New York, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1949, p. 101. Reprinted with per- 


certain steps: (1) defining the scope of the paper; (2) deciding on 
the topics to be treated; (3) determining the aspects of the paper 
which should receive the greatest emphasis; (4) arranging the topics 
in the order in which they will be taken up; and (5) anticipating 
the approximate number of paragraphs which will be needed to 
assemble or develop the topics to be considered. Anyone who has 
once sensed the difference between a planned and an unplanned 
paper will appreciate the value of plan in even a brief piece of 

A. Defining the Purpose 

Before a successful plan can be made, the writer must have clearly 
in mind his specific purpose in writing the paper. While the general 
intent of all exposition is, of course, to explain, each individual paper 
has also its specific or immediate purpose, often called the controlling 
purpose because it guides the entire plan of the paper. In other 
words, the writer intends to explain a specific subject to the reader. 
Whether a formal statement of purpose appears in the paper or not, 
the writer should prepare such a statement for his own guidance. 
The following statements of purpose are representative of those which 
a writer might draw up for his own use before beginning a paper. 

1. The purpose of this paper is to explain the principal differences 
between the Student Council's new by-laws and the old ones. 

2. The purpose of this paper is to explain what is meant by the 
term Mannich reaction. 

3. The purpose of this paper is to describe the nesting habits of 
the mourning dove. 

4. The purpose of this paper is to explain the principal precau- 
tions observed in handling radioactive materials. 

5. The purpose of this paper is to explain the principle of opera- 
tion of the Diesel engine. 

Once the writer has the controlling purpose of the paper clearly 
in mind, he is prepared to select and list the topics to be considered. 
This list of topics may be arranged in an order of climax (from 
those of lesser to those of greater importance), may proceed from 
the simple to the more complex, or may follow one of the many pos- 
sible patterns of logical sequence (see Section I-A). A simple outline 


of this sort is usually all that is needed for a short paper, (For a dis- 
cussion of more extensive outlines see Chapter 5.) 

B. Achieving Progression 

Unlike longer papers, the short paper does not have a strongly 
defined introduction, central section, and conclusion. However, the 
opening, the advancement of the subject, and the ending combine to 
create a sense of progression. It is particularly important that the 
short paper open briskly and proceed without wasted motion to the 
conclusion. Many writers mistakenly try to adapt to this type of 
paper the long, formal introductions often used in extended scientific 
papers and reports. Such introductions are inappropriate in short 
papers. Similarly, if an attention-getting device such as an anecdote 
or quotation is used at the beginning, it should be brief and closely 
linked to the main point of the paper. 

A roundabout introduction is an unfailing means of losing the 
reader's interest. For example, one report on the subject of on-the-job 
training programs in a certain industry began with a long discussion 
of the impracticality of many academic courses and the limited prac- 
ticality of others. By the time the writer reached his real topic, all 
possible enthusiasm for the subject had been destroyed. 

After the paper is under way there is less temptation to digress. 
While continuity should, of course, be maintained, elaborate transi- 
tional sentences are out of place. Bringing the paper to a conclusion 
is often difficult. Three common types of ineffective endings are 
the abrupt ending, the spun-out ending, and the tacked-on ending. 
Sometimes a summarizing sentence is all that is needed to round 
out the paper. Or the last sentence may re-emphasize the central 
thought developed in the paper. Again, a question may be an appro- 
priate ending. Since the ending is the writer's last word with the 
reader, it should make a definite contribution to the purpose of the 

C. Maintaining Unity, Coherence, and Emphasis 

If the purpose of a paper is well conceived and an efficient plan 
devised to achieve that purpose, it should not be difficult to insure 
the presence in the paper of the traditional rhetorical virtues unity, 
coherence, and emphasis. 


The word unity in composition implies singleness of effect, impact, 
or impression. Because of the limited scope of a short paper, it is 
essential that every element contribute directly to the controlling 
purpose. "In the whole composition," as Edgar Allan Poe expressed 
it, "there should be no word written, of which the tendency, direct 
or indirect, is not to the one pre-established design." 17 

A unified composition should be an organic whole in which each 
part is adequately developed in itself and also serves to advance the 
central theme; that is, the whole is more than the sum of the parts. 
It cannot be assumed that a paper is unified merely because it deals 
with a single subject. Though a thousand word paper on the geog- 
raphy of South America would deal with a single subject, it could 
scarcely attain unity ; it would cover a diversity of topics which could 
not in brief compass be joined into a harmonious whole. The short 
paper should be restricted to a purpose which can be achieved within 
the projected length. 

If the paper from the opening sentence advances consistently to- 
ward the ending, the paper will have a natural coherence; its dif- 
ferent parts will hold together well. If sentences or paragraphs are 
inserted without reference to what precedes or follows, coherence is 
lost. The continuity will be strengthened by the use, where appropri- 
ate, of transitional expressions such as however, hence, indeed, at 
the same time, on the contrary. The repetition of key words and the 
effective use of pronouns also contribute to coherence. In a short 
paper these means of gaining coherence are preferred to the transi- 
tional sentence or paragraph. 

Emphasis, the placing of stress on important ideas, should also 
be in part a natural result of the writer's interest in his subject and 
his feeling for what is consequential concerning it. It is well to re- 
member in planning any unit of composition that the beginning and 
the end are the positions of prominence; the middle is less conspicu- 
ous. (For emphasis as a quality of style, see Chapter 8.) 


Much can be learned about the techniques of exposition by ana- 
lyzing the work of skilled writers. With this understanding, three 

17 Edgar Allan Poe, The Works of Edgar Allan Poe, New York, W. J. Wid- 
dleton, 1849, Vol. Ill, p. 198. 


examples are presented here to show how the same basic techniques 
may advantageously be used in articles differing markedly in subject 

The first example has been chosen for two reasons: it shows how 
a unit of exposition may be developed as a part of a longer paper, 
in this instance one which is partially persuasive; it shows how co- 
herence may be obtained by the use of phrases and reference words 
(indicated by boldface in the example). 

The controlling purpose of the entire article might be stated as 
showing the usefulness of scientific method in human affairs. The 
purpose of this part of the article is to explain the importance and 
use of measurement in scientific method. Nothing is included which 
does not contribute to this purpose. 

The arrangement of paragraphs leads from the general to the 
specific. The first two paragraphs, developed partly by comparison 
and partly by example, support the author's opening generalization 
that the scientific method is a measuring method. The third para- 
graph divides measurement into qualitative and quantitative and 
also serves as a transition leading into the specific example to which 
the next two paragraphs are devoted. This example in turn is used 
to demonstrate the point with which the selection ends the possi- 
bility of serious error if measurements are not accurately made and 
interpreted. This idea echoes the reference in the first paragraph to 
procedures which "look" scientific. The emphatic style of the short 
opening sentence and of the concluding sentence should be noted. 

. . . The scientific method is a measuring method. It is the method 

by which the "facts in the case" are weighed. It is the method which 
uses "facts" as the basis of judgments. Since science is based on 
measurement, any situation which can be treated by the use of units, 
methods and means of measurement has reached its highest possibility 
of development in the matter of scientific treatment. Of course, if the 
wrong units are used, and the methods and means used are not appli- 
cable to the situation, the whole procedure may look very scientific, 
but it is not. The scientific method will not tolerate anything that is 
false, whatever the intentions of those who try to use it. 

It should also be recognized that the scientific method may be 
applied to the phenomena of human behavior, and that the scientist 
is able to measure some kinds of human reactions. But so far, the kinds 


of measurements which may be made in this field are for the most 
part relative and not absolute. A relative measurement is one which 
associates a given kind of behavior with a given kind of environment. 
It is not absolute in the sense of how much. For example, it is a well 
demonstrated fact that fear (for which there is no unit of quantitative 
measurement) will cause many specifically determinable body changes 
(some of which can be measured) and that the relationship between 
fear and these changes is always positive. Fear then is a kind of force 
which can be depended upon to produce specific kinds of reactions. . . . 

The scientist measures quantities (how much) and qualities (what 
kind) and the relationships between forces that is, how one tends to 
behave with respect to the other. These tendencies may be measured 
quantitatively in some cases and only qualitatively in others. How does 
the scientist go about making such measurements? What are some of 
the methods he uses, especially in measuring trends and relationships? 

A usual method employed for measuring relationships is that of 
charting observations. For example, suppose it is desired to know the 
relation between the amount of weight put on a given coiled spring 
and the corresponding amount of deflection in inches. The measure- 
ment is made by putting different known weights on the spring, ob- 
serving the number of inches of deflection with each weight, and 
plotting the results. Such an experiment with a given spring may lead 
to the following observations: 

When the The 

weight deflection 

in pounds in inches 

10 1 

20 2 

30 3 

40 4 

50 5 

A piece of paper is ruled as shown in the accompanying figure, and 
each observation is plotted as follows: on the lower "scale," weight 
in pounds, locate the reading 10, then follow the line upward and 
make a mark on the horizontal line passing through the number 1 
on the deflection "scale" to the left of the chart. Follow the same 
procedure for relating the weight 20 pounds to the deflection 2 inches, 
and so on. Connect the five points with a line. By this means the 
relationship between any load between 10 and 50 pounds and the 
resulting deflection in inches, can be predicted, for this spring or any 


other spring made exactly like it in material and dimensions. For 
example, it can be stated that if the load should be 35 pounds, the 
deflection will be 3 l /2 inches. 



O 4 

U I 

Uj U 3 

10 20 30 40 


This prediction is made by locating the number 35 on the weight scale, 
tracing upward a line and when the slanting line connecting 
the points is reached, tracing from there to the left a horizontal line 
and reading the number (3%) which it meets on the deflection 

In using the above relationship to predict what deflection will result 
from a given load, you will note that the load (35) chosen for illustra- 
tion was between 10 and 50 pounds. Can the chart be used to predict 
the deflection resulting when a load greater than 50 pounds is applied? 
Does the trend shown hold true beyond the range of observation? 
It may, and then again it may not. It depends on the length of the 
spring, for one thing, and on the range of elasticity of the material 
of which the spring is made. It is known from experience that a given 
spring, when stretched beyond a certain amount, will not deflect uni- 
formly that is, equal amounts for equal additional weights. This point 
can be determined by experiment, but the fact in this case is that it 
was not determined. Hence the behavior of the spring when loaded 
more than 50 pounds cannot be confidently predicted from the known 
facts. Any prediction in this matter would be a guess which might or 
might not give the correct answer. 


This is very important, for the incorrect use of data and the incorrect 
interpretation of the range over which a given observed relationship 
between the data holds, has led to some serious errors in predicting 
probable future events. . . , 18 

The second example is noteworthy for the way in which interest 
is maintained through effective arrangement of the facts with no 
sacrifice of conciseness. In approximately 750 words the author es- 
tablishes the truth of his opening description of the rattlesnake's 
rattle as "one of the most remarkable structures in nature," and ex- 
plains its structure and function. To emphasize the strong sense of 
paragraph value in the selection, marginal notes are included. An 
examination of the paragraph topics shows that though each para- 
graph is a unit, all contribute to the author's central purpose, giving 
unity to the article as a whole. The sequence of the paragraphs, end- 
ing with the discussion of the rattle's origin and purpose, indicates 
a feeling for climax. The article opens briskly and ends strongly. It 
would be difficult to accomplish more in the same number of words. 


"Remarkable" character The rattle is the most characteristic feature of 
the rattlesnakes, and is one of the most remarkable 

the use of the adjective, structures in nature. Nothing remotely resembling 
the rattle is found in any other group of snakes. 
The astonishment and incredulity with which early 
travelers to America were greeted when they re- 
turned to Europe with stories of a snake with a 
"bell" on its tail may easily be imagined. 

Long interest in the It is not surprising that so extraordinary a struc- 
subject. The historical ture sn ould have attracted the attention of natu- 

aspects of the subject 

are not treated here, but ralists from the time of its discovery. A long 

a reference is given, ^ Qf their writings Qn this su bject is given by 

Klauber (Klauber, L. M, 1940, A Statistical Study 
of the Rattlesnakes. VII, The Rattle, Occ. Papers 
San Diego Soc. Nat. Hist., No. 6, 62 pp., il.), who 
has also carefully reviewed the many theories 
regarding the rattle and studied its development, 
structure, and method of functioning. 

18 Walter Rautenstrauch, "The Scientific Method in Human Affairs," The 
American Scholar, 14:475-79, Autumn 1945. 

19 Karl P. Schmidt and D. Dwight Davis, Field Book of Snakes, New York, 
G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1941, pp. 290-93, courtesy G. P. Putnam's Sons. 


Structure of the rattle. 

This paragraph is 

developed by details 

and comparison. 

Development of the 

rattle. This account is 

adroitly introduced as a 

refutation of error. 

Length of the rattle in 

nature. This paragraph 

assembles a number of 

facts of interest. 

The rattle is made up of a number of segments 
that interlock loosely with one another to form a 
jointed string. The rattle is higher than it is wide, 
and is vibrated sideways, not up and down. Each 
segment is composed of a thin shell of hornlike 
substance, and the several segments striking 
against each other when the tail is vibrated pro- 
duce the "rattling" sound. Actually the sound is 
more like the buzz of a cicada or the hiss of 
escaping steam than like a true rattling sound. 
Klauber found by using a kymograph (the instru- 
ment used to record heartbeats) that the rattle 
averages about 48 cycles per second, a speed that 
makes the rattle look blurred when it is in motion. 

One of the most persistent stories about rattle- 
snakes is that their age can be told by the number 
of segments or "joints" in the rattle. This story is 
false for several reasons. One reason is that a 
rattler adds a new segment to its string every time 
it sheds its skin, which it does three or four times 
a year or oftener, instead of only once. A rattle- 
snake is born with a delicate rounded structure, 
quite different from the true rattle in shape and 
texture, on the tip of its tail. This is the "pre- 
button," which is lost the first time the baby snake 
sheds its skin, usually within a week or two after 
birth. At the same shedding the snake acquires 
the "button," which is the first segment of the true 
rattle. Thereafter another segment is added each 
time the skin is shed, the button being displaced 
farther and farther from the tip of the tail. Of 
course, a young rattlesnake with only a button 
cannot rattle, since the button alone has nothing 
to rattle against. 

If a rattlesnake retained all the segments that 
were added to its rattle, in a few years it would 
be carrying around an enormous string of a dozen 
and a half or two dozen segments. Such phenome- 
nal rattles are never seen in nature, although they 
are sometimes faked by slipping parts of several 
rattles together. A very long string does not rattle 
properly, and hence would be much less useful to 
the snake than a shorter one. Wild-caught rattlers 
usually have from five to nine segments in their 
strings, and one of 14 segments is exceptional. 


What happens is that segments are continually lost 
from the end of the string through wear and 
breakage, so that an adult rattler with a "perfect 
string" (that is, with the original button present 
at the tip) is very unusual; most of them have 
"broken strings." 
Function of the rattle, in The origin of the rattle is much easier to 

"wSTaTtelt 6 ima ine when h is remembered that many harm- 

to this pomt conciete m less snakes vibrate their tails when they are nerv- 

content, a philosophical Al * . ri_' 

point is introduced-the ous or **&?> exactly as a rattler does. This is 
ongm and function of a particularly characteristic of rat snakes and king 

protective device in the , , , , , , 

snake Thus, unhke the snakes, for example. Many people have speculated 

preceding selection, this on t h e purpose of the rattle, and it is now gen- 
one leads from the 

specific to the general, erally agreed that it is a warning to intruders who 

might injure the snake, like a skunk or badger 
intent on a meal or a bison that might crush the 
snake by stepping on it accidentally. It is all too 
easy to assume human purposive reasoning on the 
part of the snake, however, and hence to assume 
that it is consciously "warning" an intruder. Actu- 
ally the snake vibrates its tail for the same reason 
that a harmless snake does because it is nervous 
and angry; the fact that a startling noise results 
is incidental, and certainly unknown to the snake. 
Remember that a rattlesnake is deaf, and conse- 
quently cannot hear its own rattle! 

The concluding example is strictly factual. Its readability derives 
from the clear arrangement of the facts. The opening paragraph fol- 
lows the journalistic principle of giving the most important informa- 
tion in the "lead." The remaining paragraphs deal with different 
functional aspects of the building. 

The American Memorial Library now under construction in West 
Berlin was made possible by the Point IV program of the United States 
Government; in the words of former U. S. High Commissioner John 
McCloy, it was given to the German city "in recognition of the 
courageous attitude of all Berliners during the time of the blockade." 
It will be one of the city's most important public libraries, serving as 
a research center and lending agency for some 60 smaller district 

The new building is in the south central portion of Berlin, almost 
facing the present boundary between the eastern and western zones. 
Its main fagade, an impressive curve of reinforced concrete, is to the 


north, fronting on a square which is an important intersection for city 
transportation systems. The area to the south is densely populated, and 
contains numerous small and medium-sized industries. 

Although part of the building is six stories in height, all reading 
rooms and public areas are on the ground floor, eliminating the need 
for public stairs or elevators. One lobby serves both the library and 
the 350-seat auditorium forming the low east wing; since checkrooms 
and washrooms are at the eastern end of the lobby, both are accessible 
from the auditorium even when the library itself is closed. 

The plan of the main library floor stresses maximum flexibility. 
There are only two fixed partitions in the entire area glass walls 
enclosing the children's department and the listening booths of the 
music departments; all other partitions are movable book shelves ar- 
ranged around book lifts to the basement stacks. The book lifts are 
spaced at regular intervals along the entire length of the building, 
giving every department direct access to the stacks no matter how 
the movable partitions are placed. A long corridor, with display cases 
on both sides, runs from east to west, connecting every department 
with the lobby. 

The location of the various reading rooms and departments has been 
worked out on a basis of use and noise. Those departments expected 
to be used most frequently are nearest to the main entrance, with the 
public catalog and reference room serving as a focal point. The "noisy" 
rooms home reading, youth department, and children's library will 
be at the eastern end of the building, the quieter specialized sections 
such as law and science at the opposite end. 

Main floor book shelves will accommodate about 65,000 reference 
and general circulation volumes; the basement stacks will house an- 
other 360,000. 20 

Writers no doubt differ greatly in the conscious thought which they 
give to technique. Nevertheless, the theory of paragraph development 
and paper planning has its concrete counterpart in the work of suc- 
cessful writers of exposition. With an understanding of these basic 
techniques, the writer can advance confidently from short units of 
exposition to longer and more specialized types of papers. 


1. Characterize each of the following passages as predominantly narra- 
tive, descriptive, persuasive, or expository: 

20 "American Memorial Library," Architectural Record, 113(3): 125-26, March 


"The seaweeds are primitive, water-dwelling plants, ranging from 
microscopic, one-celled forms to large and complex plants. They show 
an advance over some other groups of the thallophytes in the presence 
of the green coloring matter, chlorophyl, which is, however, in certain 
of the algae masked by brown or red pigments. . . . Upon other struc- 
tural and reproductive characters coupled with the difference in color 
is based the classification into green, brown, and red algae." 21 

"... a young man sitting outside on a bench turned his head and 
greeted him by a careless nod. His face was rather long, sunburnt and 
smooth, with a slightly curved nose and a very well-shaped chin. He 
wore a dark blue naval jacket open on a white shirt and a black neck- 
erchief tied in a slip-knot with long ends. White breeches and stockings 
and black shoes with steel buckles completed his costume. A brass- 
hiked sword in a black scabbard worn on a cross-belt was lying on the 
ground at his feet." 22 

"The most obvious thing about Ruskin is his sensibility. Other char- 
acteristics his integrity, his simplicity, his attitude towards art, his 
fatherly affection for the English poor, his querulous indignation are 
the most striking at certain times; but underlying all these and ani- 
mating his whole life is an extreme emotional sensitiveness." 28 

"Having finished his pipe and obtained a bit of candle in a tin 
candlestick, Citizen Peyrol went heavily upstairs to rejoin his luggage. 
The crazy staircase shook and groaned under his feet as though he 
had been carrying a burden. The first thing he did was to close the 
shutters most carefully as though he had been afraid of a breath of 
night air. Next he bolted the door of the room." 24 

According to a newspaper account, so many agencies had reported 
directly to the President that the situation became a nightmare to 
experts on military and industrial organization. And it grew steadily 
worse as Congress added more to the list. 

"Military theorists," it was noted, "say no top-level commander 
should have more than seven or eight subordinates directly under him. 
Management engineers have said that no policy-making official in in- 
dustry should have to deal with more than four or five second-level 

"But directly under the President of the United States are 61 agen- 
cies departments, commissions, authorities, administrations, etc. Be- 

21 H. W. Shimer, An Introduction to the Study of Fossils, New York, The 
Macmillan Company, 1924, p. 35. 

22 Joseph Conrad, The Rover, London, E. P. Dent and Sons, 1926, p. 39. 

28 Walter S. Hinchman and Francis B. Gummere, Lives of Great English 
Writers, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1908, p. 447. 
24 Conrad, op. cit. f p. 11. 


sides that there are a number of permanent committees and temporary 
commissions. More than 235 officials have direct access to him." 

"The concrete highway was edged with a mat of tangled, broken, 
dry grass, and the grass heads were heavy with oat beards to catch 
on a dog's coat, and foxtails to tangle in a horse's fetlocks, and clover 
burrs to fasten in sheep's wool; sleeping life waiting to be spread and 
dispersed, every seed armed with an appliance of dispersal, twisting 
darts and parachutes for the wind, little spears and balls of tiny thorns, 
and all waiting for animals and for the wind, for a man's trouser cuff 
or the hem of a woman's skirt, all passive but armed with appliances 
of activity, still, but each possessed of the anlage of movement." 25 

2. Select one of the expository selections from Appendix A and analyze 
the structure and development of the individual paragraphs; point out 
the relationship of each paragraph to the plan of the selection. 

3. Write two or three well-developed paragraphs, explaining the distinc- 
tion between pure and applied science and using comparison, contrast, 
and illustration as the principal means of paragraph development. 

4. Write a paragraph in which you state an opinion as a topic sentence 
and then present evidence in support of this opinion. 

5. Write a paragraph in climax order, devoting the first part of the para- 
graph to controverting a belief which is in your opinion erroneous and 
concluding the paragraph with a topic sentence summarizing the 
proposition which you have undertaken to establish. 

6. Examine a miscellany of short expository articles such as one might 
find in current scientific or industrial publications or in periodicals 
and state in a sentence what you understand to be the central purpose 
of each article. 

25 John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath, New York, The Viking Press, 1939, 
p. 20. 



I. Types of long scientific papers 

A. The report and the review 

B. The thesis 

C. The research paper 

II. Preparation of a research paper 

A. Steps in writing 

B. Pervasive importance of the problem 

C. Value of the outline 

D. Clarity of framework 

III. Process of evaluating a research paper 

A. Criteria employed 

B. Frequently occurring faults 

IV. Analysis of a paper from a scientific journal 

Such is the substance of my faith; and if I were to 
sum up my credo in a single word, it would be that 
proud motto of Fustel de Coulanges, Quaere / seek 
to learn. SAMUEL ELIOT MORISON, Faith of a His- 
torian, The American Historical Review, January 1951. 


When the student of scientific writing turns his attention to long 
scientific papers, he is likely to think first of the research paper. This 
type of paper involves the investigation of a problem through library 
research and the presentation of the results in a fully documented 
composition. The preparation of a research paper has great value 
for the student because it affords training in many of the techniques 
employed in writing and preparing for publication various advanced 
types of scientific papers, particularly the report, the review, and the 
thesis. Though these types of papers differ in the situations which 
occasion them, and in the source of the subject matter, they share 
a basic pattern. This pattern consists of the statement of the problem 



or subject to be treated, an analysis of the findings, and the presenta- 
tion of the conclusions reached. 

A. The Report and the Review 

Two basic types of papers in scientific writing are the report of 
a scientific investigation (see Chapters 11 and 12) and the review. 
An essential difference between the two lies in the origin of the sub- 
ject matter. The report presents at first hand the research of the 
author or authors. Many scientific journals are devoted to the pub- 
lication of such reports. The purpose of the review, not to be con- 
fused with the book review, is to summarize and to some extent to 
interpret the research which has been done on a problem over a 
period of time. The writer of a review draws his material not from 
his own research but from published reports of research on the 

Reviews represent an intermediate stage between original reports 
and books. When a new field of research is opened up, the first pub- 
lications to appear on the subject are reports, followed shortly by 
reviews, and later by books. When a topic awakens immediate and 
general interest, the periods of time between these stages may be 
very short. Some journals, such as Chemical Reviews and Biological 
Reviews, have as their principal purpose the publication of reviews. 
Reviews also appear in numerous periodicals published by academic, 
professional, and industrial groups. The value of a review depends 
in part upon an exact delimitation of the time and subject covered. 
In some fields annual reviews are customary. Since about three- 
quarters of a million scientific and technical articles are published 
annually, 1 the importance of the review in enabling the research 
worker to keep up with his own and related fields is evident. 

Both the report and the review are formal scientific papers. As 
such, they are fully documented, the report with the references which 
give the background of the problem, the review with the sources 
covered in the paper. Many informative magazine articles resemble 
the review since they are designed to give a factual and interpretive 
presentation of a single topic. Such articles, being intended for a 

1 E. Bright Wilson, Jr., An Introduction to Scientific Research, New York, 
McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1952, p. 10. 


less restricted group of readers, are not documented and are less 
formal and usually less authoritative than the scientific review. 

B. The Thesis 

The thesis, also a fully documented formal paper, is particularly 
associated with the academic requirements for certain college and 
university degrees. Based on the candidate's research, the thesis typi- 
cally follows the pattern of the statement of the problem, presentation 
of methods and results, analysis and interpretation of findings, and 
the summarizing of conclusions. 

Departmental directions as to the form and arrangement of the 
thesis should be carefully followed. Style manuals (see Chapter 14) 
and manuals in thesis writing 2 are valuable adjuncts to the instruc- 
tions of the department or institution concerned. Theses are fre- 
quently published as books or, especially in the sciences, as journal 

C. The Research Paper 

The research paper as it is known in colleges and universities is 
designed partly to afford instruction in the techniques of such ad- 
vanced types of papers as the report, the review, and the thesis. At 
the same time the demands of the research paper are kept within 
the limitations of the classroom situation. The writing of a research 
paper culminates a project customarily completed in an academic 
semester. It is usually not expected that the undergraduate should 
do original research or that he should cover library sources with 
the thoroughness of the professional reviewer. It is possible, how- 
ever, for him to approach a problem from an individual angle, to 
collect and select material bearing on that problem, to analyze and 
interpret his material, to come to conclusions concerning his prob- 
lem, and to present his work in a properly drawn up and adequately 
documented paper. 

The term research paper has been the subject of some controversy. 
Since the word research strictly used denotes original investigation 
leading to new knowledge, some scientists have objected to the use 
of the word research in connection with undergraduate study, pre- 

2 A useful manual of this type is Form and Style in Thesis Writing by 
William Giles Campbell, Boston, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1954. 


ferring to reserve it for work leading to advanced degrees and be- 
yond. It has been suggested that in graduate research the emphasis 
falls on the search, implying a searching for new knowledge, while 
in undergraduate work the emphasis is on the re (again), implying 
that the student, from his own point of view, re-examines materials 
already known. Since the research paper even on the undergraduate 
level represents the working out of a problem (see Chapter 2), it 
is more challenging than the reference paper, which represents only 
the summarized presentation of source material on an assigned topic. 
The scientist's regard for the term research should, moreover, be 
respected. The tendency to refer to all library reference work as 
"doing research" is to be deplored. 

It should be noted finally that some authoritative published papers 
which interpret previous research may be considered research papers 
rather than reviews since they represent a discussion of a single 
aspect of a subject rather than a review of it as a whole. 


Most of the considerations which apply to writing a research paper 
apply also to writing other types of papers described in this chapter. 
For the sake of simplicity these considerations are discussed here 
in connection with the research paper, with the understanding that 
much of what is said has a broader application. The length of time 
devoted to the entire process of collecting, studying, and writing up 
material may range from the several months usually allowed for 
an undergraduate research paper to several years for a doctor's 
thesis or report of research. 

A. Steps in Writing 

Many of the steps involved in the writing of the research paper 
and closely related types of papers are an integral part of the phi- 
losophy and method of scientific writing. Consequently, the discus- 
sion in this chapter relies on the detailed treatment of these steps 
in other chapters of this book, as the following outline indicates. 

1. Finding and limiting the problem (see Chapters 1 and 2) 

2. Locating and selecting material and preparing a tentative bib- 
liography (see Chapter 4) 


3. Reading and taking notes (see Chapter 4) 

4. Analyzing and interpreting material (see Chapters 5 and 6) 

5. Preparing an outline (see Chapter 5) 

6. Writing the paper (see Chapters 7, 8, and 9) 

7. Documenting the paper (see Chapter 14) 

8. Revising the paper (see Chapter 8) 

9. Providing illustrations if needed (see Chapter 15) 

10. Putting the manuscript into final form (see Chapter 14) 

These steps are interrelated, and one step cannot necessarily be 
completed before another is begun. An early focusing of the problem 
will always save time in collecting material and preparing the outline. 
Nevertheless, the fuller understanding of the subject which the stu- 
dent gains through his reading may at times make it desirable to 
restate the problem midway in the study. Similarly, the finding of 
new material may necessitate a revision of the outline. Hence, like 
science itself, the plan for the preparation of a research paper should 
not be so inflexible that it precludes taking advantage of new facts 
or new ideas. 

B. Pervasive Importance of the Problem 

If the research paper is to rise above mere reference work, it must 
do so on the basis of the problem. Research training is held to be 
inadequate when it develops "scientific workers who know how to 
carry out instructions and to follow in the footsteps of others, but 
who have not learned how to discover a rewarding research problem, 
how to plan the attack on it and how to solve it." 3 The first task of 
a research paper is to explain the problem and its background to 
the reader, the second to give an account of the research, and the 
third to summarize the conclusions. Since all of these phases of the 
paper depend on the problem, the paper is likely to have progression 
and unity to the degree that the writer keeps the problem in the fore- 
front of his mind. 

Although the introductory section which states the problem and 
the concluding section which sums up the outcome appear respec- 
tively at the beginning and the end of the paper, their relationship 
is very close. If the problem has been well conceived, well investi- 

8 George B. Kistiakowsky, The New York Times, October 4, 1952, p. 19. 


gated, and well stated, the point or points summed up in the con- 
clusion will correspond to those under investigation as explained in 
the introduction. 

An adequate introduction to a research paper must contain all 
the information necessary to an understanding of the problem. Points 
covered in a typical introduction include, not necessarily in this 

1. A brief account of the history of the problem. This account 
serves to show the origin and significance of the problem and to 
relate the paper to previous studies. 

2. A definition of key terms. All terms essential to the problem 
should be denned initially if there is any possibility that the terms 
will be ambiguous or confusing. Often technical papers do not re- 
quire definitions, since specialists in the field are already familiar 
with the accepted terminology. (See Chapter 3.) 

3. A statement of the assumptions on which the investigation is 
based. These assumptions may be implicit in the historical back- 
ground of the problem and the definition of terms. It sometimes hap- 
pens, however, that certain previous work has been accepted by some 
investigators in the field and not by others. In such situations the 
writer should make his own position clear. 

4. The simple statement of the problem. The intention of the sim- 
ple statement of the problem is to set forth explicitly for the reader 
the specific purpose of the study covered in the research paper. In 
papers intended for technical readers it is customary to make this 
statement directly. In papers intended for the general reader the 
problem may be stated less directly or expressed in the form of a 
question. However, the writer of a report of research, a review, or 
a thesis should not hesitate to tell in so many words the purpose of 
his paper. 

It is a good plan for the writer at an early stage of his investiga- 
tion to prepare a preliminary draft of his introduction, which later, 
when the study is nearly complete, is rewritten. The conclusion 
cannot, of course, be written until all the material has been examined 
and interpreted. The first of the examples given here, all of which 
are accompanied by explanatory notes, presents the introduction and 
conclusion of a social anthropologist's inquiry into the curious prac- 
tice of water witching. 






The opening sentence of [1] This paper will attempt an interpretation 

^^""TtirsptTfil > the phenomenon of water witching as a folk- 

problem of this paper, ritual pattern which has been extraordinarily per- 

The remainder of the fitst . , . . , 11-11 

paragiaph relates this sistent in rural American culture and which has 
specific problem to not b een replaced by the services of competent 

previous discussions of . 

water witching, ground water geologists in locating family-size 
wells in countless rural American communities. 
There is a vast literature on this water-divining 
pattern, but by and large the writings have cen- 
tered on the problem of whether dowsing does or 
does not work as an empirical technique for locat- 
ing underground supplies of water. The latest 
publication of note in this vein is the best seller 
by Kenneth Roberts, Henry Gross and His Dowsing 
Rod, which, as a spirited defense of the empirical 
validity of the dowsing technique, has renewed 
and publicized the age-old controversy. But, so far 
as this writer has been able to determine, there 
has been no systematic attempt to analyze the 
phenomenon as a folk-ritual pattern functionally 
equivalent to the magical practices found in the 
nonliterate cultures of the world. 

The second and third [2] Emanating from the writings of Pareto, 
b^oTa^S"? Malinowski, and Weber, and continuing in the 
the immediate problem present generation of theorists notably Parsons, 

thp significance of water T^T 111 ITT iijf 

witchmg-bv i elating it to Kluckhohn, and Romans a general body of 
the linger piobiem of the theory concerning the function of ritual in the 

significance of rituals The . . , . i r> n 

theory of ritual stated situation of human action has emerged. Briefly 

here is one of the concepts sta ted, the essence of this theory is that when 
on which this study 

is based, human beings are confronted with situations that 
are beyond empirical control and that are, there- 
fore, anxiety-producing both in terms of emotional 
involvement and of a sense of cognitive frustration, 
they respond by developing and elaborating non- 
empirical ritual that has the function of relieving 
emotional anxiety and of making some sense of the 
situation on a cognitive level. Kroeber has recently 

4 Evon Z. Vogt, "Water Witching: An Interpretation of a Ritual Pattern in 
a Rural American Community," Scientific Monthly, 75:175-76, 186, September 


questioned the universality of this relationship by 
pointing out that the Eskimos, who live in a far 
more uncertain and anxiety-producing environ- 
ment than do Malinowski's Trobriand Islanders, 
have little ritual as compared to the Trobrianders, 
whereas given Malinowski's formulation one would 
expect more Eskimo ritual. Kroeber goes on to 
indicate that the arctic environment is so severe 
that had the Eskimos devoted much energy to the 
development of ritual patterns, they would long 
since have perished. This latter point is sound, but 
further analysis of Eskimo culture may reveal that, 
although there is little elaboration of ritual, the 
ritual patterns that do exist are still clustered 
around the greatest uncertainties of Eskimo life. 

[3] Others, notably Radcliffe-Brown, have raised 
the issue as to whether rituals do not create anx- 
iety (when they are not performed or are not per- 
formed properly) rather than alleviate it. Romans 
has treated this problem in terms of "primary" 
and "secondary" rituals focused around "primary" 
and "secondary" types of anxiety. Primary anxiety 
describes the sentiment men feel when they desire 
the accomplishment of certain results and do not 
possess the techniques that make these results 
certain; secondary anxiety describes the sentiment 
resulting when the traditional rites are not per- 
formed or are performed improperly. Kluckhohn 
has carried the analysis further by demonstrating 
that ritual patterns have both a "gain" and a 
"cost" from the point of view of the continued 
functioning of a society, and that problems are 
created as well as solved by the presence of ritual 
patterns in a given culture. 
Paragraphs four and five [4] Finally, I should like to advance the theory 

t^M H"* that ritual P atterns which initia y eraer .s e as 

and set up his assumptions responses to critical areas of uncertainty in the 

concerning the nature . . e -. , t j j ^ ^ j 

of ritual, situation of action are elaborated and reinterpreted 

in terms of certain selective value-orientations in a 
given culture. 

[5] We are brought, then, to a dynamic con- 
ception of ritual which includes the following 
considerations: Ritual patterns develop as a re- 
sponse to emotional anxiety and cognitive frus- 
tration in a situation of uncertainty; but ritual 


The last paragraph of this 

section states the three 

aspects of the problem 

with which the paper 

is concerned. 

The two final paragraphs 
of the paper state and 
explain briefly the 
conclusion that the author 
has reached as the result 
of his study. The points 
brought out in the 
conclusion coi respond to 
those raised in the intro- 
duction : the relationship 
of water witching as 
a ritual pattern to an 
aiea of uncertainty, the 
significance of this pattern 
to the community, and the 
attachment of value to 
the supposedly "rational" 
control of the environment. 

patterns come to have both "functional" and "dys- 
functional" aspects (both a "gain" and a "cost") 
for the continuing existence of a society as the 
patterns are elaborated and developed in terms of 
the selective value-orientations of a given culture. 

[6] In this paper I shall analyze the relation- 
ship of the water-witching pattern to the critical 
area of uncertainty in the location of underground 
water supplies, explore the functional and dys- 
functional aspects of this pattern for the continu- 
ing survival of the community, and try to show 
how the pattern has become an expression of the 
value stress on "rational" environmental control in 
a rural American community. . . . 

[7] Our conclusion is that water witching is a 
ritual pattern which fills the gap between sound 
rational-technological techniques for coping with 
the ground water problem and the type of control 
which rural American farmers feel the need to 
achieve. The best geological knowledge of ground 
water resources that is currently available still 
leaves an area of uncertainty in the task of predict- 
ing the exact depth to water at a given location in 
a region with a variable ground water table. The 
water-witching pattern provides a reassuring mode 
of response in this uncertain situation. 

[8] Thus, although water witching is to be re- 
garded by the scientific observer as a nonempirical 
means for achieving empirical ends and is func- 
tionally equivalent to the magical practices of 
nonliterate societies it is generally viewed as a 
rational-technological procedure by its adherents 
in rural communities. The technique can, there- 
fore, best be described as a type of "folk science" 
or "pseudo science" in the rural American cultural 
tradition. As a body of pseudo-scientific knowl- 
edge, the water-witching pattern in our rural farm- 
ing culture is the same order of phenomena as the 
pseudo-scientific practices that cluster around situ- 
ations of uncertainty in other areas of our culture ; 
as, for example, in modern medical practice where 
there appears to be a pattern of "fashion change" 
in the use of certain drugs, an irrational "bias" in 
favor of active surgical intervention in doubtful 


cases, and a general "optimistic bias" in favor 
of the soundness of ideas and efficacy of proce- 
dures which bolsters self-confidence in uncertain 

The next example of an introduction is of particular interest be- 
cause of the definitions presented as a background for the remainder 
of the paper. (The figures referred to in the text are not included 


How tensile strength data from standard property 
tests can be used more effectively in design 

The first two paragmphs Actual loading of a machine part can seldom 

aV^KT'J be res lved int sim P le unidirectional stresses. 

show the difficulties Consequently the prediction of actual part per- 

involved in mtorpietmg r r , -111. i 

tension strength values, tormance from theoretical loading considerations 
and knowledge of conventional strength "proper- 
ties" data is at best an approximation. The margin 
for error, however, can be reduced by careful at- 
tention to the implications of the various strength 

Strength in tension is perhaps the most widely 
used type of strength data, being employed not 
only to supply numerical strength values, but also 
as a comparative indicator of strengths of various 
materials. Here again, caution is necessary, since 
compression, torsion, shear or flexural strength 
may actually be a better indicator for the particu- 
lar design. Additionally, different materials are 
not always evaluated on the same basis tension 
strength values reported for one material may not 
have the same meaning as similar values reported 
for another. Condition (cold-rolled, heat-treated, 
etc.) has a large influence on the value reported, 
as do section size, variations between lots and 
other effects. 

Paragraph three states the Some of these considerations will be discussed 

immediate ^^* e pe f i n this article, along with a summary of the main 

tensile properties for representative engineering 

materials. Tensile strength and various other 

5 Robert L. Stedfeld, "Strength in Tension," Machine Design, 25(11) :161, 
163, November 1953. 


strength properties of materials will also be con- 
sidered further in future articles. 

The next thiee paragraphs Characteristic Stress-Strain Curves: As pointed 

"^"trrare out in man y engineering texts, most materials can 

essential to the reader's be classified into one of three groups: ductile, 

undei standing of the i . i i i r i A i *i 

remainder of the article, brittle or elastomeric, as shown in big. 1. A ductile 
material, Fig. 1 a, has a stress-strain curve com- 
posed essentially of an elastic portion, in which 
the stress-strain curve follows Hooke's law, and a 
"plastic" portion where the curve deviates from a 
constant stress-to-strain relationship. Some ductile 
materials, such as mild steel, have definite yield 
points. Most, however, show only a relatively sharp 
"bend" where the material enters the plastic re- 
gion, without a definite reversal in slope of the 
stress-strain curve. The main distinguishing fea- 
tures of the curve are the large "hump" and 
the difference in strain or elongation between the 
tensile strength and breaking strength. 

Brittle materials usually have a curve similar to 
Fig. 1 b. Generally, the distinction between brittle 
and ductile materials is the tensile strain at rup- 
ture; metals with a total elongation greater than 
0.05-inch per inch (5 per cent elongation), for 
instance, are considered to be ductile. The curve 
of Fig. 1 6, however, may be representative of 
materials normally considered as brittle but which 
have larger elongations than called for by this 
criterion. For most materials with a curve of this 
shape, such as gray cast iron or austenitic alloy 
steels, there is no true elastic region; the elastic 
portion of the curve is slightly curved and even 
for ductile materials there is some question 
whether highly accurate measurements might not 
show deviations from Hooke's law. The "tail" of 
the curve (roughly from the yield strength up- 
ward) may be shortened or missing entirely for 
very brittle materials. Laminated plastics, for in- 
stance, have almost no elongation, and conse- 
quently the stress-strain curve becomes practically 
a straight line. 

Stress-strain curves for elastomeric or soft ma- 
terials resemble Fig. 1 c. Soft rubber and plastics 
such as vinyl chloride, nylon and polyethylene are 
typical examples. 


The third and most technical of the examples is the introduction 
and conclusion from a forty-five page contribution to Chemical Re- 
views. Following the conclusion, nine pages of the review are devoted 
to listing 378 references, ranging in date from 1861 to 1953 with 
a preponderance in the 1940's and 1950's. The selection is notable 
for the clarity and conciseness of its style. 


/. Introduction 

This review opens with an In nearly all of the higher forms of animal life, 
Vbot 6 structural strength and rigidity are provided by 
the bony skeleton. The strength and rigidity of 
bone are derived from its composition and archi- 
tecture, which is unique among living tissues. 
About one-third of its mass is in the form of 
mineral crystals, which are embedded in an extra- 
cellular matrix composed largely of a complex 
interwoven network of a tough fibrous protein, 
collagen. There is present also a poorly char- 
acterized interfibrillar "ground substance." Bone 
cells, attached to one another by protoplasmic proc- 
esses, small blood vessels, and variable amounts 
of extracellular and intracellular fluid make up 
the rest of the organic matrix. 

The next two paragraphs This review is concerned with the general prob- 
o? e th P e r p b ap" "d lem f establishing the chemical nature and prop- 
define its coverage, erties of the mineral crystals of bone. While this 
problem has been under investigation for over a 
century, very recently a number of new techniques, 
principally electron microscopy and tracer chem- 
istry, have added a great deal to our understand- 
ing. With this newer knowledge an attempt has 
been made to present a unified concept of the 
problem. To do this it has been necessary, where 
critical data are lacking, to resort to speculation. 
It is the aim of this review to stimulate interest 
and research, not to predict the future. If, as new 
facts are learned, all of the speculation here prc- 

6 W. F. Neuman and M. W. Neuman, "The Nature of the Mineral Phase of 
Bone," Chemical Reviews, 53(1) :l-2, 35-36, August 1953. 


sented proves false, the authors will be neither 
surprised nor discouraged. 

Only certain phases of the subjects have been 
covered in detail. The reader is referred, therefore, 
to a number of excellent reviews (9, 65, 80, 81, 
121, 139, 187, 241, 248, 262, 291, 325) for a more 
comprehensive bibliography. . . . 

VIII. Conclusions 

The seven paragraphs Subject to modification and, with the risk of 
:^ oversimplification, the present knowledge concern- 
proceed from the more ing the nature of the mineral phase of bone may 

specific conclusions to , j f n 

those which are more be summarized as follows: 
theoretical and speculative. The crystals of bone are minute tablets, 25-50 A. 

In accordance with the . . , . . t i 11 

problem as stated in thick, approximately 400 A. long and nearly as 
the introduction, the w ^ e j n tne j ntact k one t h ese crystals are found 

conclusions are concerned 

with "the chemical natuie to be closely associated with the collagen, lying 
" b ! tween the Characteristic banding of the fibers, 
with the long crystal axis (and the c-axis) paral- 
lel to the longitudinal direction of the fiber. 

These crystals are comprised of calcium, phos- 
phate, and hydroxyl ions arranged in a hexagonal 
lattice structure which diffracts x-rays to give a 
pattern characteristic of the apatite minerals. This 
lattice structure is not of fixed composition but 
may undergo some isomorphic substitution, par- 
ticularly at the surface. 

The specific surface area of bone mineral is 
enormous, because of the minute size of the crys- 
tals. To obtain measurements it is necessary to 
remove the organic material by heat treatment; 
therefore, the observed values of about 100 m. 2 /g. 
are minimal. 

Because of this enormous area, surface phe- 
nomena dominate the chemical behavior of the 
bone mineral. One of the most important proc- 
esses yet demonstrated is ionic exchange. The sur- 
face ions have been shown to be in equilibrium 
with the solution bathing the crystals. By hetero- 
ionic exchange, many non-lattice ions are bound 
by the crystals: hydronium, sodium, fluoride, car- 
bon dioxide, and citrate. The crystals become 
highly hydrated in aqueous medium because of a 


boundary charge and the presence of exchange- 
able ions. The extreme thinness of the crystals 
permits an interchange of ions within the crystal 
with ions in solution, a process termed recrystal- 

The variability of the lattice structure, and the 
crystal surfaces especially, does not permit the 
application of the usual solubility principles. No 
single Kfi p governs the solubility of either bone 
crystals or the basic calcium phosphates. However, 
the K H{} of CaHP0 4 sets a solubility maximum, 
above which precipitation occurs. Present data 
indicate that calcification in vivo involves a cata- 
lyzed crystallization rather than a precipitation, 
as frequently postulated. 

All evidence is consistent with the belief that 
the skeleton and the body fluids are in equilib- 
rium. The bones do not regulate the blood levels 
but they may provide considerable buffering ac- 
tion with respect to [Ca+ + ], [HP0 4 ], and 

[H 3 + ]. Thus, changes in blood composition in- 
duced by diet are reflected by the skeleton, espe- 
cially in acidosis. The deposition of radioisotopes 
confirms the dynamic equilibrium between blood 
and bone. Furthermore, recent studies with iso- 
topes have shown dramatic variations in reactivity 
from bone to bone and from one microscopic area 
to another within a given bone. These data point 
up the fact that the crystal surfaces become less 
and less reactive with increasing age of the crys- 
tals. Foreign elements that concentrate in the 
skeleton do so by one of two processes: (1) a 
surface exchange with ions in the mineral crystals 
or (2) a specific but uncharacterized deposition 
in the organic or osteoid portion. 

C. Value of the Outline 

Early in the stages of collecting material and taking notes on the 
problem under investigation, the writer of a research paper begins 
to consider the analytical divisions of his subject matter and the 
preparation of an outline. (See Chapter 5.) The final draft of the 
outline of the paper becomes a basis for the table of contents, if one 


is desired. (See Chapter 14.) During the actual preparation of the 
paper, however, the outline is useful primarily as a plan for its 
composition. To serve this purpose the outline must represent both 
a logical organization of the material and a workable guide to its 

The Introduction and the Conclusion are fixed points at the begin- 
ning and end of the outline. Usage differs as to whether the Introduc- 
tion and Conclusion should be treated as outline topics and given 
Roman numerals or should appear at the beginning and end of the 
outline perhaps italicized but without numerals. Either practice is 
correct, so long as the Introduction and Conclusion are treated alike. 
It is not desirable to co-ordinate the Introduction and Conclusion 
with a middle section, the "Body." Although this arrangement may 
seem superficially logical, it does not represent accurately the rela- 
tionship between the analytical divisions of the paper. In an outline 
for a relatively short paper the Introduction and Conclusion are often 
omitted, and the central idea of the paper is expressed in a theme 
or thesis statement preceding the outline proper. 

The preparation of the outline begins with the grouping of the 
note cards accumulated in the course of the investigation. (See 
Chapter 4.) The note cards should first be grouped under the main 
topics suggested by the headings on the cards, and then the question 
of subdivisions should be considered. At this stage a logical sequence 
of ideas and a valid distinction between major and minor topics 
are more important than the outward form of the outline. When 
the writer is ready to consider the final form of his outline, he may 
choose between two types the topic outline and the sentence outline. 
The topic outline has the advantage of being more easily converted 
to a table of contents, the sentence outline of showing more fully the 
subject matter and process of reasoning developed in the paper. 

In a topic outline the main topics are usually made up of short 
phrases, most frequently nouns and their modifiers. The subtopics 
show a greater variety of grammatical structure, including preposi- 
tional phrases, infinitives, and even dependent clauses. Neither the 
main topics nor the subtopics in a topic outline are ever complete 

In the following topic outline, set up by a student in preparation 


for writing an undergraduate research paper, a theme statement 
replaces the introduction and conclusion. 


Statement of theme: Temper tantrums are basically 
reactions to frustration which may often be effectively 
treated by redirecting the child's energy. 

I. The temper tantrum as a response to frustration 

A. The immediate causes of temper tantrums 

1. Outside objects or persons 

2. Conflicts within the child himself 

B. Tensional outlets characteristic of different 

II. The relationship of aggressive tendencies to 
environmental factors 

A. Importance of deficiencies in family 

1. Undesirable parental attitudes 

a. Excessive dominance 

b. Submission of the parent's will to 
the child's 

2. Poor sibling relationships 

B. The school as an influence in the child's 

1. Possibility of transference of attitudes 
toward parents to the teacher 

2. Opportunity for development of social 

III. The treatment of temper tantrums through a 
knowledge of the causes 

A. Ineffective forms of punishment 

1. Futility of verbal punishment 

2. Danger that physical punishment may lead 
to a feeling of insecurity in the child 

B. Effective forms of treatment 

1. Adapting treatment to the individual 

2. Ignoring temper tantrums in very young 

3. Redirecting energy 

a. Through reasoning 

b. By providing new outlets 

In the sentence outline each topic and subtopic is stated as a com- 
plete sentence. The following outline covers much the same subject 
matter as the preceding outline, but the Introduction and the Con- 
clusion are made separate topics and given Roman numerals. 



I. Introduction 

A. Temper tantrums constitute a problem of 
frequent occurrence at home and at school. 

B. The temper tantrum may be considered basi- 
cally a reaction to frustration. 

II. The causes of temper tantrums are complex. 

A. Temper tantrums may be related to outside 
objects or persons. 

B. Temper tantrums may arise from conflicts 
within the child himself. 

C. Differing tensional outlets for frustration 
are characteristic of different ages. 

III. Aggressive tendencies are related to environ- 
mental factors. 

A. Deficiencies in family situations are sig- 

1. Parental attitudes may be imitated or 
revolted against. 

a. The dominant parent exercises exces- 
sive control over the thoughts and 
actions of the child. 

b. The submissive parent allows the 
child too much freedom. 

2. Good sibling relationships are difficult 
to achieve but with great effort can be 

B. The school shares with the home the respon- 
sibility for the child's behavior. 

1. Attitudes toward parents or other rela- 
tives may be transferred to the teacher. 

2. The school offers an opportunity to 
develop social compatibility. 

IV. Effective treatment of temper tantrums depends 
upon a knowledge of their causes. 

A. Treatment should be adapted to the indi- 
vidual case. 

B. Certain types of punishment are ineffective. 

1. Verbal punishment is usually futile. 

2. Physical punishment may lead to a feel- 
ing of insecurity in the child. 

C. Temper tantrums in very young children may 
sometimes be ignored with good results. 

D. Temper tantrums may be treated by redirect- 
ing the child's energy. 

V. Conclusion 

A. An understanding of temper tantrums may be 
achieved from a study of the environmental 
situation in the individual case. 


B. Since temper tantrums are basically a reac- 
tion to frustration, they are in general 
best controlled by redirecting the child's 

Certain conventions should be observed in preparing any type of 
formal outline. These conventions, illustrated by the foregoing out- 
lines and by the revised outline in Chapter 5, may be summed up 
as follows: 

1. The title of the outline is the same as the title of the theme. 

2. The first word only of each topic is capitalized; the topic is not 
treated as a title. The topics should not depend for clarity upon 
pronominal reference to words in the title of the outline. 

3. Indentation should be employed to show the subordination of 
the various ranks of subtopics. 

4. Periods are used following the numerals and letters designating 
the topics. No periods are used following the topics in a topic 
outline. The usual sentence punctuation is used in a sentence 

5. The use of single subtopics under a heading should be avoided 
since a whole cannot logically be divided into less than two 

6. Co-ordinate headings should not be used to represent topics 
differing greatly in consequence. 

7. Co-ordinate headings should be expressed in parallel gram- 
matical structure. 

8. Fewer than three or an excessively large number of main topics 
should be avoided as indicative of an inadequate analysis of 
the subject. 

D. Clarity of Framework 

One obligation of the writer of the long formal paper is to make 
the analytical framework of the paper evident to the reader. This 
end is accomplished partly by the use of centered or marginal head- 
ings in the text of the paper and partly by transitional words, phrases, 
and statements. The more definitely a paper is directed to a specialized 
group of readers, the more explicit and conspicuous the verbal indi- 
cation of its structural divisions may be. 


Writers of long formal papers are frequently hampered by attempt- 
ing to follow advice which is particularly relevant to the short 
informal paper. The frequently heard admonition "don't write an 
introduction just begin," while sound enough counsel when applied 
to some short papers, is inapplicable to the long formal paper. The 
space devoted to establishing the structural divisions of a paper 
should be proportional to the length and seriousness of the study. 

In making clear the progress of thought between the introduction 
and the conclusion, transitional words, phrases, and sentences serve 
as "guideposts" to the reader. Such guideposts may point forward, 
awakening interest in what is to follow, or backward, reminding the 
reader of what has been covered. An enumeration early in the paper 
of the main points to be covered contributes to clarity and at the 
same time arouses some degree of anticipation in the reader. The 
following example, chosen from an article suggesting investigation 
into u some unsolved problems of the scientific career," shows the 
use of such an enumeration. 

These investigations would throw light on such problems as: (a) the 
special stresses, both economic and psychological, which occur in the 
life of the young scientist; (b) the great variety of conscious and un- 
conscious forces whose interplay determines a young man's choice of 
scientific research as a career; (c) the interplay of conscious and 
unconscious forces in his subsequent emotional and scientific matura- 
tion; (d) how the special stresses which develop later in life react 
upon the earlier emotional forces which originally turned him towards 
science; (e) how unconscious stresses influence the young investi- 
gator's general approach to scientific research and scientific contro- 
versy; (/) how the unconscious symbolic significance of particular 
scientific problems and theories can distort the logic and the judgment 
even of men of exceptional ability. This article will attempt only to 
illustrate the wide variety of problems which are relevant to these 
general headings. 7 

Various transitional devices are used in the next selection, which 
opens with the last paragraph of the introductory section of the 
article. First, a transition is effected between the introduction and 
the next main division; then the idea of "an office without duties" is 
picked up at the beginning of the succeeding paragraph to keep the 

7 Lawrence S. Kubie, "Some Unsolved Problems of the Scientific Career," 
American Scientist, 41:597, October 1953. 


point under discussion in the foreground of the reader's mind. The 
italics (except for those marking esse and posse) have been added 
to indicate words and phrases used with transitional effect. 

The issue is clear. In order to resolve it let us begin by examining 
the fundamental difficulty of the vice presidency: the enormous dis- 
parity between the importance of the office and the importance of the 

The first thing to observe about the office is that it has no duties. 
True, the vice president is President of the Senate and, as such, per- 
forms duties analogous to those of the Speaker of the House. But the 
two offices are separate and distinct. "I am possessed," said John 
Adams, "of two powers; the one in esse and the other in posse. I am 
Vice President. In this I am nothing, but I may be everything. But I am 
President also of the Senate." The combination of offices has excited 
surprise. Roger Sherman explained it in the Federal Convention: "If 
the Vice President were not to be President of the Senate, he would 
be without employment." 

Now an office without duties, no matter how great its reversionary 
prospects, is not an office to inspire or satisfy the expectations of an 
ambitious mind. John Adams declared the vice presidency the most 
insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his 
imagination conceived almost the only one in the world in which 
patience and firmness are useless. 8 

In an effort to achieve smooth transition, inexperienced writers 
sometimes introduce cumbersome, roundabout explanations which 
impede rather than further the progress of thought. Illustrations of 
such ill-advised attempts at transition are shown here accompanied 
by suggested revisions. 

Original Revision 

In the year 1944 the United In 1944 approximately 280,000 

States mined approximately 280,- tons of ilmenite and 7,000 tons of 

000 tons of ilmenite and 7,000 tons rutile were mined in the United 

of rutile. Perhaps a few words States. The ore of rutile comes 

should be mentioned about the ore from Virginia, 
of rutile. The ore of rutile comes 
from the state of Virginia. 

As indicated above, titanium is Though titanium is the fourth 

the fourth most abundant structural most abundant metal in the earth's 

metal in the earth's crust, yet it crust, it was selling for $3,000 a 

8 Lucius Wilmerding, Jr., "The Vice Presidency," Political Science Quarterly, 
68:19, March 1953. 


was selling for $3,000 a pound only pound only five years ago. This 
five years ago. What does this indi- high price, which accounts for the 
cate? As you know, the cost of a relatively small use of titanium, was 
product depends on the availability due to the high cost of extracting 
of the ore. If the ore is easy to titanium from its ore. In 1946 the 
extract from the earth or its bond- Bureau of Mines released a process 
ing agent then the ore is relatively developed by William J. Kroll, bu- 
cheap. But if the ore is hard to reau consultant, for extracting ti- 
extract from its bonding agent, we tanium from its ore for the first 
then have a very costly raw mate- time in practical amounts, 
rial. Thus we see the reason for the 
exorbitant cost of this metal. How- 
ever, in the year 1946 the Bureau 
of Mines released a process devel- 
oped by William J. Kroll, bureau 
consultant, for extracting titanium 
from its ore for the first time in 
practical amounts. 

In sum, transitional expressions, even in a formal paper, should 
not seem artificial or extraneous but should arise naturally out of 
thought relationships. In a long but less formal paper directed to the 
general reader, the analytical framework is present but is less appar- 
ent. Examples, anecdotes, analogies, and other means of holding the 
reader's interest are relatively prominent and tend to soften though 
not to obliterate the lines of the framework. 


When the research paper has been written, revised, and put into 
final form, it will presumably undergo appraisal. It will be helpful 
to the student if he can, while completing his paper, be aware in 
advance of the criteria by which it will be judged. Since the subjective 
element in a research paper as compared with that in impressionistic 
or purely creative writing is relatively small, it is possible to achieve 
some accord as to what should be expected in a research paper. 

A. Criteria Employed 

The research paper will ultimately, of course, be judged as a whole 
since the many factors which affect its quality are interrelated and 
combine to produce the impact of the entire paper. The principal 


criteria employed in making an analytical appraisal on which this 
final judgment may be based are indicated here. 

I. Research 

Focusing of problem Coverage of sources Evaluation of 
sources Extent of reading Efficiency of note-taking 
Accuracy of documentation 
II. Content of paper 

Selection of material Interpretation of material 
Individual contribution of ideas 

III. Organization of paper 

Suitability of title Outline Introduction Structural 
development Transitions Conclusion 

IV. Composition 

Paragraph development Sentence structure Spelling 
Punctuation Usage 
V. Style 

Conciseness Effectiveness (Choice of words Handling 
of sentences ) Readability 
VI. Format 

Title page Table of contents Text of paper with headings 
indicating subdivisions Presentation of references. (Some 
instructors may also require a letter of transmittal and/or 
an appendix, both of which are discussed in Chapters 11 
and 12.) 

B. Frequently Occurring Faults 

Even when the student is aware of the criteria by which a paper 
is to be judged, he may fall short in meeting these standards through 
lack of experience. Faults which are often conspicuous in the finished 
research paper can best be prevented through an understanding of 
the causes which lead to them. 

The poorly integrated research paper is a type all too frequently 
encountered. Such a paper consists of a piecing together of large 
blocks of material from a limited number of sources. This lack of 
integration results not so much from insufficient reading as from 
inadequate assimilation of material and a failure to relate the findings 
to the problem under consideration. 

Lack of balance is another common fault in research papers. 
Disproportionate space is given to relatively minor topics while im- 
portant points are treated sketchily. This difficulty is attributable to 


a number of causes, the principal ones being a faulty work schedule 
which leaves insufficient time for proper development of parts of 
the paper, a poorly constructed outline which fails to show relative 
values accurately, and disregard of a balanced outline during the 
actual writing of the paper. 

The research paper which does not convey its central point to 
the reader fails in its purpose. This ineffectiveness in a paper may 
likewise be due to more than one cause. If the writer has not grasped 
the meaning of his problem, the paper will not progress logically 
from the statement of the problem to its resolution and will lack the 
dynamic quality which readers find convincing. Again the writer may 
have worked out his problem but may not demonstrate its resolution 
because he does not appreciate the value of factual evidence and 
offers it in insufficient quantity. 

Finally, the slipshod or generally careless paper is ubiquitous. 
Such a paper, with its irregular margins, poor handwriting or nu- 
merous typographical errors, inconsistent punctuation of documen- 
tary references, and many mistakes in spelling, merits little consid- 
eration. Faults of this sort in a research paper, moreover, suggest 
carelessness in such fundamental matters as accuracy of research 
and fidelity to sources. 


The theoretical study of the preparation of long scientific papers 
should be followed by a careful analysis of at least one paper which 
may be regarded as a model. Such a paper is presented here with 
the addition of notes pointing out features particularly pertinent to 
the needs of the student of scientific writing. 


referring explicitly to the VfTRTITPT? ATTTC 9 

problem under V JLK 1 fctfttA 1 ^ 

consideration a- 

The opening paragraph, The golden plover (Pluvialis) each fall flies a 
with ,ts use of a variety nongtop 2 ()00 miles across the trackless Pacific 

of illustrations, is designed v 

to eaptuie the interest of from Alaska to Hawaii. The salmon (Oncorhyn- 

returns from mid-ocean to spawn in the 

"one of the unsolved very stream in which it was born. A pet dog 
mys eues. returns home over hundreds of miles of unfamiliar 

9 William J. Beecher, "The Unexplained Direction Sense of Vertebrates," 
The Scientific Monthly, 75:19-25, July 1952. 


terrain. We are in danger of thinking of the "di- 
rection sense" here exhibited as commonplace 
because these events occur every day. But actually 
it is one of the unsolved mysteries. 

The two succeeding Take birds, for example. If these mobile verte- 

etTm g e r nT h o 8 f "Urn ^* > *> vive as a type, the early models 

by illustrating the must have been able, despite stormy winds and 

direction sense of . , . c e , 

vertebrates by reference extensive wandering in search of food, to return 
to the migration of birds, home to the care of young. Moreover, annual mi- 
grations may have been a necessity from the start. 
On a planet whose spin axis is inclined to the 
plane of rotation, there must always have been 
seasons, even sixty million years ago when Green- 
land was subtropical. These migrations probably 
became longer as the Tertiary unfolded and cooler 
climate crowded subtropical and tropical zones 
toward the equator, and the Ice Age saw birds 
pushed into our Gulf States and into Central and 
South America. Warm interglacial periods per- 
mitted long migrations, relieving the resulting 
population pressure, and finally the Ice Cap shriv- 
eled to the brooding relict we see in Greenland 
now. Today, waterfowl and other birds, following 
the long retreat of the ice, nest as far north as 
the short summer will permit successful raising 
of a brood. 

What is the stimulus? We know now that it is 
not the warming weather but the increasing day 
length that conditions the northward migration of 
birds in spring and the growth of their reproduc- 
tive organs (1). Each species may "set its clock" 
by the day-length threshold that will time its 
arrival on the nesting ground as soon as it is ready 
for occupancy a vital matter for short-season 
nesters beyond the Arctic Circle. And it is not 
simply the cooling weather that sends birds south 
in the fall, for some leave us in July and August. 
This was necessary in the Ice Age, and the day- 
length threshold triggering southward movement 
then may be still in effect, since natural selection 
imposes no penalty for early migration south so 
long as a brood is raised. Wolf son covers the phys- 
iological basis of bird migration admirably (2). 


This paragraph focuses the What concerns us is the precision of these 
migrations. Many of these birds will return thou- 

and the implication of an sands of miles, flying through dark nights when 

inherited direction sense. , , .11.1 i 

they cannot see, to the particular thicket or meadow 
in which they nested last year. Moreover, the 
young in some species precede their parents in the 
southward migration to the wintering grounds, a 
journey they have never made before! This seems 
to imply inheritance of an instinctive direction 
sense, and such navigational ability may fall into 
the same class with the homing of pigeons or of 
swallows, used in war by the ancient Romans (3). 
All that has been said of birds goes for bats and 
many other mammals (particularly aquatic ones), 
various fishes, and in lesser degree reptiles and 

Here the theories which Historically, the semicircular canals seem to 
^ the first sense organs credited with space- 

sense of birds are reviewed orientation, de Cyon suggesting them simply be- 

and the coverage of the , , n jrn i i i 

paper is indicated m the cause the three, fluid-filled, sensory canals on each 

last two sentences of the s [^ e o f the head lie mutually perpendicular in the 

paragraph, thus concluding . 

the introduction or three dimensions of space (4). By 1882 Viguier 
statement of the problem. had p ropose d t h a t birds might be able to detect 
the earth's magnetic field in the canals (5), and 
by 1894 Hodge was claiming that pigeons home 
by random search (6). All these viewpoints have 
been pursued intermittently down to the present 
without resolving the question. This is particularly 
interesting because each of these theories has been 
revived by modern workers employing relatively 
refined investigation techniques within the past 
few years. Their evidence and conclusions are re- 
viewed below. 

Griffin's Theory of Random Search 

This section of the paper Griffin (7) believes that homing can be ac- 
IB devoted to reviewing counted for on the assump tion that birds make a 

experiments concerned r 

with "random search." random search upon release until they chance to 

terrain familiar to them - Griffin and Hock 
be noted. (8) removed gannets from their nests on Bonaven- 

ture Island in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and re- 
leased them 218 miles away at Caribou, Maine 
70 miles from any coast. When followed by air- 


plane these birds appeared to wander randomly 
until the St. Lawrence River or the coast was 
sighted, after which most returned home. The 
homing sense in these seabirds might not be ex- 
pected to be highly perfected, since they are virtu- 
ally never out of touch with coasts, and it is dif- 
ficult to accept the application of these conclusions 
to all birds. Airplane observations of homing 
pigeons by Hitchcock suggest that a clear course 
toward the loft is taken (9). It is hard to account 
for most homing by chance. Watson and Lashley 
reported noddy terns (Anous) returning to their 
nehts on Bird Key, Florida, from Galveston, Texas 
(north of their range), a distance of 460 miles 
across the Gulf against heavy winds in three days 
(10). Lack and Lockley report the record for wild 
bird homing in a Manx shearwater (Puffinus) , 
transported from the coast of Scotland outside its 
range to Venice, Italy (11). It returned the 3700 
miles in fourteen days, averaging 260 miles per 
day! When it is remembered that in both cases the 
birds would have to rest at night and feed on the 
way, even a thirteen-hour flying day seems exces- 
sive, yet this gives an average speed for the shear- 
water of 20 miles per hour. 

Yeagley's Theory of Homing by a 
Coriolis-Magnetic Grid 

In this section experiments Yeagley hit upon the ingenious idea that pigeons 
invSatr^tr/h" y home by detecting the effect, due to their 
theory of bird migration movement through the air, of the earth's magnetic 
discussed, field and of the Coriolis force caused by the earth's 
rotation (12). Lines representing equal intensity 
of these forces form a gridwork, those of Coriolis 
force being true latitude lines, those of magnetic 
force dipping down so as to intersect the latter at 
two points in North America. The essential fact is 
that the intersection at Pennsylvania State College 
is duplicated by a conjugate point at Kearney, 
Nebraska. Yeagley trained pigeons to home up to 
70 miles to a mobile loft at State College, then 
transported them, with the lofts, to the vicinity of 
Kearney. He theorized that, if pigeons correlate 
their ground speed with these two forces to return 


to the loft where they effect the right "feeling," 
then the birds should experience the same feeling 
at Kearney and should return there if released in 
its vicinity. Three groups of birds were released 
one near Kearney, one near State College, and one 
midway between. 

Although the last group were in a "tangential" 
area of parallel grid lines, where navigation 
should be impossible by Yeagley's theory, homing 
was easterly. This agrees belter with a simple 
Coriolis theory than with magnetic field or grid 
detection. In fact, Thorpe (13) suggests that there 
seemed to be a tendency to home to the correct 
latitude. Yeagley believes the total flight vectors 
in these three groups support his theory, but this 
does not appear to be the consensus. The super- 
imposing of a pulsating field (to destroy the effect 
of the earth's magnetic field) was effected by 
attaching magnets to the wings of pigeons, but this 
apparently did not affect their performance when 
compared with controls. Other experiments of this 
sort have always been negative. This valuable 
work is hard to assess because of terrain and 
meteorological differences between Pennsylvania's 
mountains and Nebraska's prairies. There is also 
a suspicion that homing ability has been "domesti- 
cated out" in pigeons. Although Yeagley is con- 
tinuing his experiments with wild ducks, these are 
mainly diurnal and may migrate by visual clues. 
One would like to see the many nocturnal migrants 
tested for homing ability, as was done with swal- 
lows (Hirundo) by Polish investigators (14). 

Ising's Theory of Coriolis Force Detection 
in the Semicircular Canals 

A third theory is dealt Ising thinks birds find their way by detecting 

t^nTent^tnt ^ Coriolis force due to the earth's rotation (15). 

some detail. Any object on the equator has a momentum of 

about 1000 miles per hour (the earth's velocity 

at the equator), whereas objects at the North Pole 

have a momentum of zero. An object projected 

through the air at the North Pole from the equator 

will curve to the right because it is progressively 

moving into latitudes of lesser momentum. The 


force it would have to overcome to fly to the pole 
is Coriolis force. Ising showed that a microscopic 
streaming occurs in a fluid-filled glass tube 
fashioned into a ring when it is rotated on its own 
diameter. This hydromotor force, which is due to 
Coriolis effect, obeys the same law as* induced emf 
in a closed conductor, and Ising suggests that the 
direction sense of birds may be based on the 
motion, relative to the rest of the bird's body, of 
the fluid in the semicircular canals. The three 
canals of the inner ear are mutually perpendicular 
and thus are oriented in the three dimensions of 
space on either side of the head. Within the bony 
canals are membranous canals filled with endo- 
lymph, each one terminating in an ampulla con- 
taining a crista in which sensory hairs enveloped 
by a gelatin cupula or door record flow of endo- 
lymph. This is an inertia system, and the normal 
function of the canals is based on the inertia of 
this fluid. When an animal swings its head, the 
endolymph of the canal in the plane of the move- 
ment remains behind. Relative to the cupula it 
flows in the opposite direction, its velocity and 
amplitude directly proportional to the head move- 
ment. Ising reasoned that in such a system there 
should be an inertia effect resulting from the at- 
tempt to fly a true course despite the deviating 
influence of Coriolis force. His critics (16, 17) 
object that the effect is too small for the sensory 
apparatus to detect (about the amplitude of 
Brownian energy), but if the bird turns its head 
from side to side more rapidly, especially in flight, 
the force would increase considerably. 

It has appeared to me that the semicircular 
canals may be more than a latitude sense, measur- 
ing the increasing value of Coriolis force north- 
ward (18). They should serve as a "gyrocompass," 
since Ising measured different values for different 
compass directions of the couple on the glass ring. 
But it also follows from Lowenstein and Sand's 
(19) finding that the ampulla in the living semi- 
circular canal discharges spontaneously and that 
any rotation of the animal producing flow in a 
canal toward its ampulla enhances the discharge, 


whereas flow away from it inhibits the discharge. 
Thus, if we visualize Coriolis force acting from 
west to east on the latitude lines there should be 
a streaming in the four vertical canals for a north- 
ward course which is inhibiting ( ) in the am- 
pullae on the left side, enhancing ( + ) in the 
canals of the right side. On a northwest course all 
the streaming will take place in a single canal of 
each side, since the other vertical canal will be at 
right angles to a force acting from the west. 
Although it must not be imagined that Coriolis 
force acts so simply, there seems to be a basis for 
thinking that the opposing sign of the canals of 
the two sides affords a means by which the resolu- 
tion of the force for any latitude among the 
six ampullae will be different for each compass 

The maculae of the utricle, saccule, and lagena 
of the inner ear each a layer of calcium carbon- 
ate crystals (30/u) embedded in gelatin on a mat 
of sensory hairs form a gravity system similarly 
opposite in sign for the two sides. This may also 
aid direction-finding in the canals by measuring 
the deviation from the pull of gravity resulting 
from Coriolis force. In their normal functions the 
roles of the canals and maculae are supplemen- 
tary, even complementary, the latter reporting 
deviations of the head from the horizontal by the 
effect of slight weight shifts of the crystals on the 
sensory hairs. 

If this analysis is correct in principle, the canals 
and maculae may balance the Coriolis force value 
of a particular latitude differently for each direc- 
tion with the qualification that directions of 180 
different will produce the same sensation. This 
provides a theoretical basis for the inheritance 
of a direction sense that would permit young birds 
to migrate south before their parents and for local 
populations of a species to pass on genetically 
the exact direction taken to breeding and resting 
grounds. The force, of course, increases on a north- 
ward course, decreases on a southward one. Thus 
young European storks (Ciconia) precede the 
parents to the wintering grounds in South Africa. 


Having reviewed the three 

principal theories of 

"direction sense," the 

writer turns to a discussion 

of phenomena supporting 

the Coiiohs force theory. 

The phiase "inherited 

direction sense" from the 

first sentence of the 

paiagraph is depended on 

later for transition. This 

section of the paper deals 

first with "direction sense" 

in a number of different 

animals. The compression 

of the last sentence is 

worthy of note since six 

different refeiences are 

alluded to. 

West German storks migrate southwest through 
France and Spain to Africa by way of Gibraltar; 
East German storks of the same species migrate 
southeast through Transylvania, the Balkan Pen- 
insula, and Asia Minor to Africa by way of the 
Nile Delta. Eggs of East German birds raised in 
West Germany hatch young that migrate by the 
route normal to East German birds in an en- 
vironment where adult birds migrate in the oppo- 
site direction indicating an inherited direction 
sense (20). 

Other Phenomena Supporting the 
Coriolis Force Theory 

The larvae of European and American eels 
(Anguilla) afford a striking case of inherited 
direction sense (21). In the breeding ranges of 
the two species south of Bermuda, the larvae hatch 
and are found together but separate as they mi- 
grate in opposite directions. Larvae of the Ameri- 
can eel swim west, metamorphosing into elvers in 
one year, at which time they find themselves off 
the eastern coast of North America, up whose 
rivers they swarm to complete their growth. Larvae 
of the European eel swim east, metamorphosing in 
three years, at the end of which time they have 
reached the coasts of western Europe, in whose 
streams they complete their development. The 
well-known ability of the Pacific salmon to return 
from far out at sea to spawn in the stream in 
which it was born (22), of the fur seal (Callo- 
rhinus) to make a long migration on a true course 
(23), and of the green sea turtle (Chelonia) to 
home indicates that direction sense is most highly 
evolved in animals living in the fluid media of the 
earth. It is on these fluid media that Coriolis force 
acts (trade winds and ocean currents), and it may 
also affect the fluid in the canals possessed by all 
these animals in common, even though the fish 
lack the outer and middle ear. Homing always 
implies return to a known locale and is known in 
all vertebrate classes e.g., in frogs (24), toads 
(25), box turtles (26), snakes (27), mice (28), 
and flying squirrels (29). 


Direction-finding possibly related to homing and 
migration is ability to run a maze. Watson (30) 
found that maze-learning was not impaired in 
white rats by experimental extirpation of eyes, 
middle ear, olfactory lobe, or vibrissae, or by anes- 
thesia of feet and nose, or even by elimination of 
air and temperature currents. But he obtained one 
result with these animals that he was unable to 
explain satisfactorily. When the maze was rotated 
180 the animals were still able to run it, with 
some initial hesitation, but when it was rotated 90 
none of them could run it. One hardly dares sug- 
gest that these animals could run the maze by 
detecting Coriolis force in the canals and maculae, 
yet the inner ear alone remained, excepting pos- 
sible kinesthetic receptors in muscles and joints. 
In the case of the latter, rotating the maze should 
have no effect, but if the rats were oriented by 
Coriolis force, rotation 90 might have the effect 
noted. It seems possible that, with other senses 
removed, the inner ear could become supersensi- 
tive to Coriolis force. 

Other vertebrates learn mazes readily, turtles 
showing as much aptitude as laboratory rats (31). 
Birds are slower than rats, but the cowbird (Molo- 
thrus) and English sparrow (Passer) learn faster 
than pigeons (Columba) (32). Birds seem to 
react to most environmental stimuli with complex 
but stereotyped instinctive responses, and concen- 
tration on learning is difficult (they are "bird- 
brained," in other words). English sparrows were 
confused when the maze was reversed, persistently 
trying to make certain turns as they had been 
accustomed to do, suggesting a sense of absolute 

Bats (My otis) seem to have such a sense. When 
conditioned to fly to one end of a cage 27 inches 
long for food, they continued to fly to the same 
absolute spot in space after the cage had been 
rotated 180, even though the white square of cloth 
on which they had been conditioned was plainly 
visible at the original end of the cage (33). 


Some Peculiarities in the Ears of Birds, Bats, 
and Aquatic Mammals 

Another topic i elating to I have found that birds that migrate mainly at 

C " 5 ni S ht . f * edin g and res ' in g b ? d *? (especially song- 
birds), have a membranous sac lining the bony 
wall of the outer ear (18). This sac is composed 
of cavernous tissue which can be inflated with 
venous blood by the action of M. tensor tympani 
in damming the auricular vein leading from it. 
It seems to be a mechanism for covering the drum, 
which in small birds is ten times the relative size 
in man. Since the outer ear in such birds is shaped 
a little like an air scoop, and its opening is thinly 
veiled by auricular feathers designed to admit air, 
the head-turning postulated by Ising would, at 40 
miles per hour, set up strong plus-minus pressures 
on the drum. These would make it difficult for the 
bird to make an estimate of Goriolis force, and 
it may be under these conditions that the sac is 
inflated. It is interesting that this tissue is special- 
ized as a cavernosa just in those species making 
the most phenomenal, chiefly nocturnal, migra- 
tions warblers, buntings, thrushes, golden plover, 
etc. The diurnal ducks, geese, and swans, gen- 
erally thought to migrate by visual clues, lack this 
specialization. In them the sac is composed of 
relatively undifferentiated connective tissue, but in 
the ruddy duck (Erismatura) , which alone mi- 
grates habitually at night (34), the sac contains 
a venous plexus approaching the cavernosa. 

Cavernous tissue has also been reported in asso- 
ciation with the drum of bats (35), though it may 
never amount to more than a venous plexus (36). 
Eschweiler thought the filling of this cavernosa 
with blood might create tension on the drum in 
place of the missing M. tensor tympani in the 
pangolin (Manis) (37). This tissue has been re- 
ported also in the armadillo (Tolypeutes) and 
hedgehog (Erinaceus), but in my own dissections 
of the ear in bats I have not been much impressed 
with it, nor is the mechanism by which it might 
be induced to swell evident. However, the cartilage 
at the base of the pinna seemingly forms a series 
of valves which may close under the combined 


effect of the venous plexus and the extrinsic ear 
musculature. Griffin and Galambos (38-41) have 
shown that plugging the ear in bats prevents their 
hearing their own supersonic cries, but they might 
momentarily close their ears in homing or migrat- 
ing, as was suggested for birds. Curiously, neither 
bats nor birds close the ear in response to foreign 
objects threatening the drum and thus may only 
do this in flight when trying to determine direction 
in the inner ear. 

In all these animals having a cavernosa in the 
ear or an approach to one, a common need to close 
the external ear exists. The pangolin, armadillo, 
and hedgehog are burrowing animals, and the 
need for closing the external ear opening in bats 
and birds has already been suggested. Aquatic 
mammals are apparently also able to close the 
ear (42). And now a curious relationship is seen: 
vertebrates living in the earth's fluid media air 
and water can either close the outer ear or (like 
turtles and fishes) have it lacking. It may be 
coincidence, but these are the animals that exhibit 
homing and migration most dramatically, and in 
them the inner ear, suspected of detecting direc- 
tion stimuli, is peculiarly protected from disturb- 
ing effects of the medium in which they live. The 
olfactory sense may aid salmon in homing to a 
stream (43) but hardly accounts for its long sea 
journey and this sense seems to be totally lack- 
ing in birds. 

Other Theories of Bird Orientation 

In these three paragraphs Ruppell (44) showed that hooded CroWS (C0r- 

commented on, rounding in Europe, migrate on a course parallel to it, and 
out the review, jjjj^^^ f oun( j t h a t pigeons trained to fly in only 
one direction to the loft will, if released off this 
flight line, continue to fly in this direction (9). 
Possibly these facts are explained by Matthews' 
observation that overcast skies have a disorienting 
effect on homing pigeons (45). At any rate, 
Kramer has been able to modify the tendency of 
starlings (Sturnus) in an outdoor aviary to mi- 
grate in a particular direction by altering the 


normal incidence of light with mirrors (46). Con- 
ditioned birds were also confused in their selection 
of feeders, concentrically arranged around a cage, 
by mirrored light. Although they do not perceive 
the polarization pattern of the sky, they apparently 
allow for the daily movement of the sun. Pigeons 
show the same ability, and Matthews thinks gulls 
home by sun navigation (47). Unfortunately none 
of this explains how starlings and the great host 
of birds migrate at night. Such birds are waifs 
of the winds and with their poor nocturnal vision 
could hardly risk alighting at night (48). Once 
launched on a migratory flight, they must presum- 
ably continue until dawn, and a direction sense 
must be assumed. The moon may be ruled out, for 
they often migrate on nights when it is not visible. 
The largest migration waves occur in the spring 
in the warm sector of a low pressure area, 
when the sky is overcast and even stars are in- 
visible (49). 

It is vital that such waves wait on southerly 
winds strong Gulf air masses apt to hold all 
night. On a west wind, coastal migrants would 
be carried east while flying north. Dawn would 
find them over the Atlantic, an error lacking in 
survival value. So it may be that these waves have 
evolved in adjustment to the peculiar spring baro- 
metric patterns of eastern North America. 

Drost (50) believes flying birds respond to 
radar waves, and Kramer (51), theorizing that 
they might detect the low-energy, ultra short-wave 
frequencies emitted by the sun and several stars, 
tried to obtain evidence. He failed to get reactions 
of any kind from red-backed shrikes (Lanius), 
flying or perching, to wavelengths of 60 cm, al- 
though the field intensities were similar to those 
used by Drost. 

The final paragraph Examples of direction-finding from all verte- 

ofTh^^er'lX'r.t brate groups have been assembled here in an 

is possible to arrive at one effort to discover a common denominator. The 

on the basis of evidence 1 -, , i r i 

currently available, maze-learning results may not be examples ot the 
same phenomenon, and for the other examples it 
is clear that present evidence does not permit gen- 
eralizing from species to species. The homing abil- 
ity of gannets does not seem to be of the same 


order as that of the Manx shearwater, and the 
sun-compass supposedly used by starlings in day- 
light could hardly serve them during their noc- 
turnal migrations. Available evidence suggests that 
the direction sense is most highly perfected in 
animals of the fluid media air and water ani- 
mals in which the outer ear is either lacking or 
may be closed against pressures incidental to 
movement through the media. A certain amount of 
circumstantial evidence thus supports the theory 
that the inner ear may detect Coriolis force and 
employ it as a compass. 


1. Rowan, W. Proc. Boston Soc. Nat. History, 38, 147 

2. Wolfson, A. Sci. Monthly, 74, 191 (1952). 

3. Aldrovandi, U. Ornithologiae, hoc est de avibus 
historiae, libri XII. Bononiae apud Franciscum de 
Franciscis Senensem (1599-1603). 

4. Cyon, E. de. Ann. scL nat. Zool, 7, (6), 1 (1878). 

5. Viguier, C. Rev. intern, sci. biol. (Paris), 10, 255 

6. Hodge, C. F. Pop. ScL Monthly, 44, 758 (1894). 

7. Griffin, D. R. Quart. Rev. Biol., 19, 15 (1944). 

8. Griffin, D. R., and Hock, R. J. Ecology, 30, 176 

9. Hitchcock, H. B. Proc. Am. Phil. Soc. (in press). 

10. Watson, J. B., and Lashley, K. S. Papers Dept. 
Marine Biol. Carnegie Inst. Wash., 7, 1 (1915). 

11. Lack, D., and Lockley, R. M. Brit. Birds, 31, 242 

12. Yeagley, H. I. /. Applied Phys., 18, 1035 (1947). 

13. Thorpe, W. H. Proc. Linnean Soc. London, 160, 
85 (1949). 

14. Wojtusiak, R. J. Ibid., 99. 

15. Ising, G. Arkiv Mat. Astron. Fysik, 32A (18), 1 

16. Wilkinson, D. H. Proc. Linnean Soc. London, 160, 
94 (1949). 

17. Thorpe, W. H., and Wilkinson, D. H. Nature, 158, 
903 (1946). 

18. Beecher, W. J. Am. Midland Naturalist, 46, 367 

19. Lowenstein, O., and Sand, A. /. Exptl. Biol., 13, 
416 (1936). 

20. Schiiz, E. Vogelzug, 5, 21 (1934). 

21. Norman, J. R. A History of Fishes. London: Ernest 
Benn, Ltd. (1931). 

22. Rich, W. H., and Holmes, H. B. Bur. Fisheries 
Doc. No. 1047, 44, 215 (1929). 


23. Jordan, D. S., et al. The Fur Seals and Fur Seal 
Islands of the North Pacific Ocean, Pts. 1-13. 
Washington, D. C.: (1898). 

24. McAtee, W. L. Copeia, 96, 39 (1921). 

25. Bogert, C. M. Am. Museum Novitates, No. 1355, 1 

26. Nichols, J. T. Copeia, 1939, 125 (1939). 

27. Stickel, W. H., and Cope, J. B. lbid. y 1947, 27 

28. Murie, 0. J., and Murie, A. /. Mammal, 12, 200 

29. McCabe, R. A. Ibid., 28, 404 (1947). 

30. Watson, J. B. Psychol. Rev. Monogr. Suppl., 8, (2), 

31. Tinkelpaugh, 0. L. /. Comp. Psychol., 13, 201 

32. Porter, J. P. Am. J. Psychol., 17, 248 (1906). 

33. Hahn, W. L. Biol. Bull., 15, 135 (1908). 

34. Philips, J. C. A Natural History of the Ducks, 
Vol. IV. Boston New York: Houghton Mifflin 

35. Bondy, G. Anat. Hefte, 1. Abt. 106, 35, 295 

36. Grosser, 0. Arch, mikroskop. Anat. Entwicklungs- 
mech., 60, 191 (1902). 

37. Eschweiler, R. Ibid., 53, 558 (1899). 

38. Griffin, D. R., and Galambos, R. /. Exptl. Zobl., 
86, 481 (1941). 

39. Galambos, R., and Griffin, D. R. Ibid., 89, 475 

40. Galambos, R. Sci. Monthly, 56, 155 (1943). 

41. Griffin, D. R. Nature, 158, 46 (1946). 

42. Howell, A. B. Aquatic Mammals. Springfield, 111.: 
Thomas (1930). 

43. Hasler, A. D., and Wisby, W. J. Am. Naturalist, 
85, 223 (1951). 

44. Ruppell, W. /. Ornithol. (Leipzig), 92, 106 (1944). 

45. Matthews, G. V. T. /. Exptl. Biol., 28, 508 (1951). 

46. Kramer, G. Ibis, 94, 265 (1952), 

47. Matthews, G. V. T. Ibid., 243. 

48. Beecher, W. J. Science, 115, 607 (1952). 

49. Bagg, A. M., et al. JPilson Bull., 62, 5 (1950), 

50. Drost, R. Vogelwarte, 15, 37 (1949). 

51. Kramer, G. Ibid., 16, 55 (1951). 


1. Consider the possibilities of the following topics as starting points in 
defining a problem for a research paper : the principle of ion exchange 
and the variety of its applications, the importance of Gibbs' "Phase 
Rule" to engineering, the work of Cuvier, Magendie, and Bernard as 


illustrative of the transition from descriptive to experimental methods, 
the background and significance of the term Avogadro's number, evi- 
dence offered in support of the "recapitulation theory" in embryology, 
Whitehead's emphasis on "the organic theory of nature" and on "or- 
ganism" in contrast to Eddington's emphasis on analysis, the back- 
ground and significance of the term Occam's razor. Consult a history 
of science such as C. Singer's or Sir William Dampier's and list other 
possible topics for research papers with a historical background. 

2. On the basis of what criteria would the example which concludes this 
chapter be classified as a review? What characteristics of the research 
paper does it have? In examining scientific periodicals, how do you 
distinguish among reports, reviews, and research papers? 

3. Select a representative long scientific paper and note the means which 
the author has used to make the framework of the paper clear to the 
reader. Do you find that the introductory, transitional, and concluding 
statements are made directly or indirectly? If this suggestion is fol- 
lowed as a class project, notes may be compared. 

4. Can you suggest any research paper problems which might be formu- 
lated as a result of considering the area in which the following lines 
of interest intersect: science and music; aesthetics and automotive 
design; science and religion; science and poetry; the science of lan- 
guage and chemistry, biology, or medicine; architecture and meteor- 
ology; color and the work of Sir Isaac Newton; color and the work 
of Goethe; color and perception; color and personality; chemical or 
physical science and the determination of time intervals. 

5. Which of the following topics of current interest might suggest prob- 
lems for a research paper: the sea as a source of food, vaccines for 
the prevention of poliomyelitis, the sun as a source of power, the tran- 
sistor, space travel, helicopters, hurricane prediction, changes in life 
expectancy? Can you supplement these suggestions with others, in- 
cluding topics of particular interest in your locality? 



I. The report as a means of modern communication 

A. Characteristics of the report 

B. How and why reports are initiated 
II. Reports according to function 

A. Work reports 

1. Routine or record reports 

2. Periodic reports 

B. Investigative reports 
III. Short reports 

A. Outline reports 

B. Memorandum reports 

C. Business-letter reports 

D. Short-form reports 

Report me and my cause aright. SHAKESPEARE, Ham- 
let, v. ii. 


Any responsible individual who communicates information based 
on his activities or investigations to those who want or need it is 
making a report. Though the written report is an ancient form of 
communication, its use has been greatly extended in modern times, 
particularly during the last twenty-five years. The distances across 
which modern business must be transacted, the gap of specialized 
knowledge between the executive and the expert, the complex struc- 
ture of governmental, professional, and business organization, and 
the growing intricacy of the issues involved have combined to create 
a situation in which oral reporting is totally inadequate and the 
written report becomes the conduit through which modern enterprise 
is channeled. 



This pre-eminence of the report has come about inconspicuously. 
Indicative of the number and variety of reports used in industry is 
the estimate of a representative firm that approximately sixty regular 
monthly reports, two daily reports, and fifteen quarterly, semi-annual, 
and annual reports, as well as numerous single and temporary re- 
ports, pass over the desk of the general manager. Likewise, the af- 
fairs of the national government go forward by means of reports. 
As a Naval manual puts it: 

The contact between a coxswain in New Caledonia and CNO in 
Washington may not be direct or immediately apparent; but it exists. 
It must, or the Navy will not function. To maintain that contact is 
the purpose of reports. They are numerous, they often change, they 
are sometimes bewildering to the inexperienced and they can be infuri- 
ating to the veteran. But they are absolutely essential. Everyone recog- 
nizes that, from coxswain to admiral. It's a long, wet walk to Washing- 
ton to make a verbal report. 1 

A. Characteristics of the Report 

The word report, from the Latin reportare (to bring back), sums 
up the communicative function of the report. Varied in length and 
subject matter as the many types of written reports are, they all con- 
form to this basic definition. Each is a communication especially de- 
signed to convey factual information from a person who has it or 
who has accumulated it to persons who are entitled to it or who need 
it, frequently for a practical purpose. 

The form of the report varies with the nature of the information 
to be conveyed, the purpose for which it is wanted, and the person 
who will receive it. A report is constructed most successfully, accord- 
ing to one authority, when it is "designed to meet certain definite 
requirements like any structure destined to carry its load." 2 Yet 
structure alone is not enough. The good report should also be dy- 
namic. Whether long or short, it should move forward with no waste 
motion from the presentation of its purpose at the beginning to the 
conclusions or recommendations at the close. Thus, "effective reports 

1 Yeoman 1 and Chief, Washington, D. C., United States Government Printing 
Office, 1950. 

2 J. Raleigh Nelson, Writing the Technical Report, New York, McGraw-Hill 
Book Company, Inc., 1947, p. vii. 


are at once products of sound craftsmanship and contributions to 
practical action." 8 

Important decisions may hinge on the information presented in 
a report or on its recommendations. The location of a new plant, 
adoption of a new manufacturing process, rejection of a product, 
changes in personnel policy, allocation of funds these are some of 
the decisions that may be arrived at on the basis of reports. Since 
such policies may involve millions of dollars and may affect the lives 
of many people for many years, it is essential that the report should 
be complete and accurate. It may even be required to withstand the 
test of litigation. The signatures attached to a report, therefore, entail 
great responsibility. 

Since reports serve practical, utilitarian purposes, literary orna- 
ment has no place in their composition. The reader is seeking facts, 
well organized and clearly presented. As one engineer put it dryly: 
"A report is usually a serious form of writing. The temptation to 
enliven a report by including an occasional bit of levity should be 
suppressed; so often those who read reports are devoid of any sense 
of humor." 4 Those writers who excel in report writing excel in their 
ability to understand what is wanted, to observe and record data 
accurately, to analyze it intelligently, and to communicate the results 
not only through verbal expression but through typographical form, 
graphs, figures, charts, maps, tables, and equations. 

B. How and Why Reports Are Initiated 

Because of the complexity of the circumstances which demand re- 
ports, no one classification will reveal the full nature of the report. 
A complete understanding will come only from considering the way 
in which the report is initiated, its function, and its form. 

The person who writes a report is frequently not responsible for 
initiating its preparation. Consequently the writer must disregard his 
own interests and wishes in favor of the needs of the person who has 
requested the report. Reports are often initiated by executive order. 
Such orders may be either standing or special, or they may stand as 

8 Lisle A. Rose, Burney B. Bennett, and Elmer F. Heater, Engineering Re. 
ports, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1950, p. ix. 

* By permission from Technical Report Writing, by Fred H. Rhodes and 
Herbert Fisk Johnson, p. 34. Copyright 1941. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 


long as a given piece of work is in progress. Certain reports are re- 
quired by law, others by the bylaws of an organization. Custom pro- 
vides the impetus for many reports, including some which are par- 
tially self-initiated. A research worker may, for example, decide when 
to report his results to a technical journal, but the making of such 
reports is a long-established custom. The report of experimental re- 
search is a highly specialized type and has been treated briefly in 
Chapter 10 in connection with the research paper. 

Whether the writer initiates the report or not, he should have a 
clear understanding of the purpose which the report is to serve. This 
purpose should be kept in mind throughout the writing process, for 
it affects everything about the report from the selection of data to 
the final form of its presentation. If factual data alone are desired, 
the reporter is responsible for collecting them carefully and for pre- 
senting them accurately and clearly. But facts alone may not be 
enough : " 'The facts speak for themselves' sounds good but is often 
untrue. In many reports we have to offer estimates, interpretations, 
hypotheses, theories, predictions, conclusions, recommendations." 5 
The writer should understand clearly whether he is expected to con- 
fine his reports to facts, to go on to conclusions, or to go still fur- 
ther and draw up recommendations. 

Certain types of reports are used in part for promotional purposes. 
A charity agency, a research foundation, or an industry may invite 
the support and good will of the public by means of the annual re- 
port. A persuasive arrangement of facts then is highly important. 
Color, layout, and pictorial illustration become dominant features. 
The appearance may simulate a newspaper, photographs may repre- 
sent typical cases, or cartoons may dramatize events. If the report 
is to be worthy of its name, however, the use of these devices must 
be confined to bringing the facts home to the reader ; the report must 
not distort or misrepresent facts or suggest unworthy motives. 

... if a plan is strategic, it must be honest; anything that suggests 
propaganda, however concealed or camouflaged beneath the massing 
of facts, any effort of the writer to sell himself or his company to the 
reader, when he is supposed to be doing something else, will bring 
his report under suspicion. 8 

5 Rose, Bennett, and Heater, op. cit., p. 7. 

6 By permission from Writing the Technical Report, by J. Raleigh Nelson, 
p. 18. Copyright 1947. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 



The report writer should understand the term function to mean 
what the report does : whether it gives an account of work in progress, 
presents the results of an investigation or survey, or recommends a 
course of action. Since the functions of reports differ greatly in dif- 
ferent fields, terms which classify reports according to function 
should be understood in relation to their setting. A progress report 
in industrial research, for example, is quite different from the prog- 
ress report of a committee. 

A broad classification of function generally applicable makes a 
distinction between work reports and investigative reports. When the 
writer of an investigative report is expressly charged with making 
recommendations, the report becomes a recommendation report. A 
progress report is an account of the current status of a project or 
an estimate of achievement in terms of goals. 

A work report gives an account of work normally in progress. An 
investigative report deals with a problem of which a special study is 
projected. The writer of a work report is already in possession of 
the facts. The writer of an investigative report must determine the 
facts before he can undertake the task of reporting them. Between 
these two types there may be a relationship. In a large industrial 
plant, for example, the daily reports of tests and analyses are work 
reports; yet viewed in larger perspective this work is part of a re- 
search program involving the investigation of problems. 

A. Work Reports 

Work reports are of two principal types routine or record reports, 
which are prepared currently as a part of the day's work, and 
periodic reports, which are prepared at intervals to sum up what has 
been accomplished. 

I. Routine or Record Reports 

The first type of work report which a beginner will probably have 
to prepare is the routine or record report of tests, examinations, 
operations, or performance. (See Section III-A of this chapter.) In 
some industries projects range from one-person projects to plant proj- 
ects requiring several technically trained men and in addition three 

DOBS* write u this sate* 




of Private Water 
Md Other Watcra Not ra SebeMe 

bdlMt State BMrd f Itelth ! to mU NK( to 

All fliers Mm* Be Rewlv* b dw Latoratory N* Liter Tfe 


Read Direction* on accompanying sheet 
Answer all questions-USE SOFT PENCIL 
BOTTLE No rnitVTV Marlon 

1. 8orc of sunple (Dug, drilled or driven well, spring or 
cistern) (Underline) 


3 Owner 
4. w 

Colleoted by Js&ULDS* 

J. Pe famil 

f ^TtJy ?2SQ flullforil 


Reason for examination _ nav wall 

7 Age of wellJLJttftkAny recent r*plrtu_nfl _ 
8. Location with respeet to pnvy_5Q_J> Cesspool 5Q-fl 
Septic t.nlr y) ft Sewers or draina_50__/ t _ 
. Top oT pump ipout open or cloaed__jBloattH _ 
10 Does pump require priming? _ DO _ 

11 Dug well information Diameter _ Are walls water- 
tight to depth of 10 ft or moreT - Is cover water- 
tight? - Is waste water carried away? - 

12 Driven or drilled well information Diameter-?!! __ 
Single or double tubular_&l&gl_Depth eased_SQ n _ft. 
Is there a well pitT, . no - Drained to _ Has it a 
water-tight cover? - If double tubular, is annular 
space between the two pipes sealed? _ 

13 Spring information Is it walled up and covered? _ 
Can spring be flooded by heavy rams' _ 

14 Cistern information Material of pipe line to cistern _ 
1$ Remarks. 

8 B H a+tt "IM-ttl) 

DiMt write to ftlasfttt 

DM4 write fas ftl>*M* 

BQ'B Bo'.a BQ r B BO'B 


O SATISFACTORY At the time of examination this water 
was bactenologically safe for drinking and eulinary 

UNSATISFACTORY. At the time of examination this 
water was bactenologically unsafe It should not be 
used for drinking and eulinary purposes unless boiled or 


Q The water sample bottle was broken in shipment 

O There was too long a tims between collection of sample 
and receipt for examination. 


on the Mcompanyinf tbeet. 

Indiana State Board of Health, Bureau of Laboi atones, Indianapolis, Indiana. 

Routine or record reports often follow prepared forms. Accuracy is of 
great importance in their preparation because they are sometimes the 
basis of higher-level reports. 


shifts of operators records must be kept on this scale twenty-four 
hours a day. 7 Accuracy is a primary responsibility of the person pre- 
paring the record report, for the reliability of all reports at higher 
levels depends on accuracy at this level. 

Like many routine or record reports, the example 8 given on page 
255 follows a printed form. 

2. Periodic Reports 

Whether in business, industry, institutions, or government, staff 
members in an ascending scale of responsibility receive periodic 
reports from their subordinates or associates. One industrial execu- 
tive has explained the method used by his department to "follow up" 
on all regular reports routed to the general manager. (See illustra- 
tion, p. 257.) 

A wall chart is maintained on which "regular" reports are listed 
vertically. Horizontally, and in order, appear the days of the month. 
A green [horizontally striped] square opposite a particular report and 
directly under a date indicates that the report is "due" on that date. 
When this due date has been passed during the month and the report 
has been received "on time," a small yellow [checkered] magnet is 
placed over the green [horizontally striped] square. If the report has 
not been received, a red [vertically striped] magnet is placed over the 
green [horizontally striped] square indicating that the report is late. 
At the end of each month, a "Report on Reports" is prepared for the 
Head of the Administration and Planning Department, indicating those 
reports which were delinquent during the month and the reasons for 
the delinquency. 9 

As reports pass through various hands they undergo a sifting 
process: "So efficient is this routine of condensation by which each 
individual extracts for his head the essence of the reports submitted 
to him, that not more than one one-thousandth of the data compiled 
by the members of a railroad staff appears in the final summary pre- 
pared for the stockholders." 10 The year's end has for so long been 

7 E. L. d'Ouville, "Original Records of Experimental Work," Journal of 
Chemical Education, 25:97, February 1948. 

8 This example, classified functionally here, can also be classified according 
to form as an outline report. (See Section III-A of this chapter.) 

9 Administration and Planning Department, Square "D" Company, Detroit, 
April 30, 1952. 

10 Ray Palmer Baker and Almonte Charles Howell, The Preparation of 
Reports, rev. ed., p. 97. Copyright 1938, The Ronald Press Company. 




















No. 2 


No. 3 
No. 4 





Adapted from Administration and Planning Department, Square "D" Company, Detroit, 

A method of "follow up" for routine reports may be necessary. This wall 
chart shows at a glance the over-all and individual status of reports for 
a given month. Colors, instead of patterns, may be used for keying. 

regarded as a stopping point for reviewing the year's work that the 
annual report has become a distinct type of periodic report. In certain 
fields, including public utilities, specific requirements for the annual 
report have been established by law. Most annual reports include a 
message from the president, a financial statement, a summary of the 
year's operations, and a comparative analysis of past achievements 
and future prospects. 

B. Investigative Reports 

The variety of problems which may be assigned for investigation 
and report is almost unlimited. An engineering firm's report may 
map a route for a highway, a municipal report may present a survey 
of housing conditions, or an investors' service report may analyze 
recent trends in the stock market. Obviously, specialized knowledge 


is basic to the successful performance of such functions. Investigative 
reports depending upon the requirements may be descriptive, analyti- 
cal, evaluative, statistical, experimental, or historical in approach. 

The first investigative report included here follows an outline 
appropriate to the analysis of chemical products. 

NO. 19 


(Electrochemicals Department Technical Division 

Field Research Section) 


(5) H 2 C CH 2 (3) 


(6) H 2 G GH 2 (2) 

\ o / ELCHEM-596 



Appearance Colorless, mobile 


Odor Ether-like 

Molecular Weight 86.13 

Boiling Point 88C. (190. 4F) at 

760 mm. 

Specific Gravity, 20/4 .... 0.8814 
Refractive Index, N20/D .... 1.420 

Flash Point -20C. (-4F) 

Solubility in water at 20C. . . 9.6 gms./lOO gms. 

Solubility of water in 

tetrahyd ropy ran at 20C. . . . 2.8 gms./lOO gms. 

tetrahyd ropy ran 
Solubility in organic solvents Miscible with alcohol, 

ether and most common 

organic solvents 
Boiling Point of Water 
Aze trope containing 
8.5% water by weight .... 71C. (159. 8F) 



Tetrahyd ropy ran is a powerful solvent for many natural 
and synthetic resins including the following: 

Rosin Manila copal 

Ester gum Shellac 

Ethyl cellulose Chlorinated polyvinyl chloride 

Cellulose acetate Vinylidine chloride copolymers 

Polyvinyl chloride Alcohol soluble phenolic resins 

Vinyl chloride Polystyrene 

copolymers Chlorinated rubber 

Lacquers and plastics can be prepared by dissolving 
certain organic film forming substances in tetrahydro- 
pyran. The liquids are colorless. Modifiers, dyes, 
pigments, and plasticizers may be added as desired. 


Tetrahyd ropy ran is a cyclic ether, similar to tetra- 
hydrofuran in physical properties and reactions. 
Chlorination yields mono-, di-, tri-, and tetrachloro- 
tetrahydropyrans . Tetrahyd ropy ran reacts with acid 
chlorides to form omega-haloamyl esters. Conversion 
to dihalides such as 1,5-dibromopentane and 1,5- 
dichloropentane can be effected. Many mono and di 
substituted derivatives of pentane can be obtained 
from the dihalide. Tetrahyd ropy ran reacts with ammo- 
nia and aliphatic and aromatic amines to form piperi- 
dine and substituted piperidines. 

The following equations illustrate the above reactions 
of tetrahydropyran: 


Tetrahydropyran can be chlorinated at 65-70C and 
then fractionally distilled in vacuo to obtain mainly 
tri and tetrachloro tetrahydropyran. Upon distilla- 
tion at 100-110C, 2,3,3-trichlorotetrahydropyran 
and 2, 3, 5-trichloro tetrahydropyran can be isolated. 
The former is stable on distillation at atmospheric 
temperature, but the latter decomposes to give 3,5- 
dichlorodihydropyran. On standing, a crystalline de- 
posit of 2,2,3,3 tetrachlorotetrahydropyran comes down 
which distils at 130-140C. Chlorinating tetrahy- 
dropyran to 2,3-dichlorotetrahydropyran and then 
distilling at ordinary pressure, with evolution of 
hydrogen chloride, yields 5-chlorodihydropyran, which 


can be chlorinated further to the 2,3,3-trichloro 
derivative. Also, 2,3-dichlorotetrahydropyran can be 
hydrolyzed with water in the presence of calcium car- 
bonate to 2-hydroxy-3-chlorotetrahydropyran, which 
reacts with 5-chlorodihydropyran to form bis- (3 
chloro-2-tetrahydropyryl) ether. 

CH 2 CH 2 

H 2 C GH 2 H 2 C C.C1 2 

I | + 4C1 2 -> I |+ 4HC1 

H 2 C CH 2 H 2 C C.C1 2 

V V 


Lit. Ref. Brit. Pat. 571,265 and 571,266 Soc. Dyers 
and Colourists 62. 55, Feb. 1946. 

Reaction with Acid Chlorides 
CH 2 

H 2 C CH 2 11 

I | + CHaCOCl -> C1.CH 2 .CH 2 .CH 2 .CH 2 .CH 2 .O.C. 

H 2 C CH 2 Acetyl Omega-chloroamyl acetate 

\ / chloride 

Conversion to Dihalides 
CH 2 

H 2 C CH 2 

I I + 2NaBr + H 2 SO 4 - 

H 2 C CH 2 

O Br.CH 2 .CH 2 .CH 2 .CH 2 .CH 2 .Br + Na 2 SO 4 + H 2 O 

1 ,5-Dibromopentane 

Lit. Ref. J. Chem. Soc. 1945. 48-51. C.A. 39. 2748-9. 

The halogen atoms on the above compounds are highly 
reactive. For example, they can be replaced by 
cyanogen (CN) radicals which, in turn, can be reduced 
to primary amine groups or hydrolyzed to carboxyl 
groups . 

Br.CH 2 .CH 2 .CH 2 .CH 2 .CH 2 .Br + 2NaCN -> 

NC.CH 2 .CH 2 .CH 2 .CH 2 .CH 2 .CN -f- 2NaBr 


NC.CH 2 .CH 2 .CH 2 .CH 2 .CH 2 .CN + 4H 2 -> 

H 2 N.CH 2 .CH2.CH 2 .CH2.CH 2 .CH2.CH 2 .NH2 

Heptamethylene diamine 

NC.CH 2 .CH 2 .CH 2 .CH 2 .CH 2 .CN + 4H 2 O + 2HC1 -> 

HOOC.CH 2 .CH2.CH2.CH2.CH 2 .COOH -f 2NH 4 C1 
Pimelic acid 

Reaction with Ammonia 

CH 2 CH 2 

H 2 G CH 2 H 2 C CH 2 

I ! + NH 3 - I I + H 2 

H 2 C CH 2 H 2 C CH 2 



Lit. Ref. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 66. 1710 4(1944). 
C.A. 38. 6178. 


We recommend the following precautions: 

Keep tetrahyd ropy ran away from heat and open flame. 
Use with adequate ventilation. 
Avoid prolonged or repeated breathing of vapor. 
Avoid prolonged or repeated contact with skin. 

Although tetrahyd ropy ran is fairly stable to peroxide 
formation, there is a possibility of explosion haz- 
ards. To avoid these, tetrahyd ropy ran should never be 
distilled or evaporated without first testing it for 
peroxide and removing the latter if found to be 
present. Tetrahyd ropy ran as provided by the Electro- 
chemicals Department contains a stabilizer to inhibit 
peroxide formation. As a routine precautionary 
measure, however, even the stabilized material should 
be tested for peroxide before it is subjected to dis- 
tillation or evaporation. (On distillation, most of 
the stabilizer remains in the residue and the distil- 
late is therefore unprotected.) The following method 
is suggested for testing for and removing peroxide: 


The method consists of the use of a mixture of ferrous 
sulfate heptahydrate, F0S04. 7^0, and sodium bisul- 


fate, NaHS04- The ferrous sulfate destroys the 
peroxide while the sodium bisulfate provides an acid 
condition which favors the peroxide destruction. 

To use this method, the per cent of tetrahydropyran 
peroxide present should be determined by the usual 
titration. (This consists of agitating a sample with 
acidified potassium iodide solution and titrating the 
liberated iodine with standard sodium thiosulfate 
solution. ) Then there is added to the tetrahydropyran 
at ordinary temperatures somewhat more than the 
theoretical quantity of an equimolecular mixture of 
the ferrous sulfate heptahydrate and sodium bisulfate. 
The mixture is shaken or stirred vigorously for a 
short time. A sample is then titrated and if peroxide 
is still present, the agitation is continued until no 
test for peroxide is obtained. Usually a period of a 
few minutes suffices. Since the reaction results in 
the liberation of a small amount of water from the 
FeS04.7H20, the product may be dried if desired by 
stirring with or allowing the liquid to stand for a 
time in the presence of solid caustic soda. 


Tetrahydropyran is available at present in limited 
quantities for research and development purposes. 

July 11, 1946 

This second example illustrates the importance of making a clear 
distinction between recommendations and other features of the report. 
The first paragraph concludes the discussion, Section IV presents 
specific recommendations, and Section V, the final section, offers 
general conclusions. 

Why Is Modern Architecture Modern? ll 

What is most striking about the number of instances of Modern 
architecture already on college campuses is the enormous variety repre- 
sented in design types. Of course, this merely reiterates the fact that 
the "Modern style" in architecture is above all a changing, testing 
evolution which has never become sufficiently static to justify the cog- 

11 "Report of the Committee for the Revision of the Larson Plan," prepared 
under the direction of Dr. Walter L. Creese, University of Louisville, June 


nomen "style." Nor can such a result be adjudged completely desirable. 
For three reasons this is perhaps what makes it most vital and alive: 

1. Its flexibility of design allows for the adoption of any technological 
or engineering improvement and a corresponding aesthetic response 
in the appearance of the building, not true in Georgian or Gothic. 

2. Although new crimes are constantly committed in the name of its 
latitude of choice, when a person of true originality arrives, his genius 
has a chance to fulfill itself completely. Unrestrained by long-standing 
or deep-seated traditions, adventurous American builders have long 
shown a proclivity for veering off toward experimental individualism. 
Sometimes its results have been comic, sometimes tragic, but the 
integrity of the architecture of Thomas Jefferson, H. H. Richardson, 
Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright and many other architects at 
work today would seem to indicate that when it finally makes a return, 
it does so superbly. 3. Modern architecture helps to keep our buildings 
in tempo with current political, social and economic changes. The 
retreat into a few stylistic categories which characterized the late 
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was in part, at least, due to 
the underlying hope that America was over its erratic adolescent 
growth and was ready to settle down. We know now that this was 
thankfully not true, either for the whole country or more particularly 
for the American university. 


For the purpose of bringing the campus development into a better 
system of coordination, the Committee for the Revision of the Larson 
Plan recommends that after its dissolution a second, permanent com- 
mittee be organized consisting of members of the administration, repre- 
sentatives of the faculty, elected by the Senate, a member from build- 
ings and grounds and possibly one from the athletic department. All 
elements should have sufficient representation, but the group should 
not be so large as to hinder effective action. Its duties should be light, 
but it should consider itself as responsible for the maintenance of 
consistent aims of which the whole university community might be 
aware. If either or both a landscape and a campus plan architect is 
appointed, we believe that this group should serve as a liaison body 
between them and the school. If not, then the committee should be 
given some authority to generally oversee the disposition of buildings, 
walks, parking spaces, planting and other objects. 


The character and appearance of the physical plant deserves perma- 
nent consideration if for no other reason than its importance as a 
symbol. While it may be argued that it is impossible to tell a university 


by its campus any more than a book by its cover, and that the real 
worth of a school lies in its library, the minds of its scholars and 
students, and in the competence of its administration, this argument 
is only pertinent within certain limits. If any twentieth century indi- 
vidual discounts the value of socio-physical symbols, so indispensable 
to primitive man, let him try to visualize New York without thinking 
of skyscrapers, Washington without the Capitol and White House, or 
his own alma mater without its campus. For the alumnus, the potential 
freshman and the general public, as well as present students and 
faculty, the buildings of the college must constitute the essential physi- 
cal fact around which other, more nebulous impressions are gathered. 
Great architecture has only resulted when people have had the hardi- 
hood and persistence to try to incorporate their most abstract concep- 
tions in wood or stone, steel or concrete. If we neglect the outward 
appearance of our campuses, do we not also deny our inner image 
of a university of its rightful power to inspire external beauty above 
and beyond the casual thoughts of a sadly makeshift world? 


For convenience, reports are often classified according to length, 
as well as function (see pages 254-64) . Short reports are ten pages or 
less; long reports may run to many volumes. There are four basic 
types of short reports: the outline report, the memorandum report, 
the business-letter report, and the short-form report. 

A. Outline Reports 

The outline report is a mimeographed, multilithed, or printed form 
used principally for routine and periodic reports. If the writer must 
make a routine report for which no specified form has been provided, 
he may devise his own form, remembering to use the same topic 
headings in the same order for all comparable reports in a series. 
The outline report often has a heading giving the subject, the date, 
and the name and position of the person making the report. 

The following examples are representative of forms used in indus- 
try for making outline reports. 12 

12 The example on p. 255, classified functionally as a work report, is classi- 
fied according to form as an outline report. 



Inspected By Date- 

Dealer's Name _ Dealer's Address ____ 

Owner's Name - Owner's Address __ 
Painter's Name, _ Painter's Address _ __ __ ____ 

Type of building Frame Q- Bnck O Stone Q. Stucco Q 

Type of roof: Tile D- Tin Q. Composition Q. Shingle Q Insulation -------------- 

Date of painting _ Date when defect was first noticed ___ , . _ 
Nature of complaint --- _ . . 


Y No Yei No 

General tint failure. ..................... ..- ...... - . . D D Mildewing ............... O Q 

Fading in spots ............... - ........... --------- D D Metal staining ................... Q Q 

Dirt collection ........ ....., ...... -... .......... D D Gas discoloration .......... Q Q 

Structural defects found where water could enter. 

Yes No Yet No 

Window frames .................. ---- .............. --- D D Wet basement ....... . . . . Q D 

Louvres _________ . _______ ...... __ ............. ___ D D Lumber siding near ground . ] Q 

Headers ___ ........ ~ .................. ______________ D D Lack of ventilation in side walls Q Q 

Hoof ................... . ^^ ................... . Q Q 

Insulation ...... .......... ~ ........... ____________ D D Were siding butts leaded? . ______ fj Q 

Warped siding or trim boards ...... D D Were valley gutters leaded? . ~ ......... Q D 

Absence of flashings or defective flashings . . Q Q Were hanging gutters leaded, . _ .. Q Q 

Poor drainage of surface water ............... ... . D Q Were nails driven in and puttied? . . Q Q 

Have similar failures occurred on previous paintings on this job? Yes Q No Q 

What was done to overcome these previous defects? - -- _ 

Have failures occurred on the garage or other outbuildings in the same manner and was the same kind of lumber and 
paint used? - - - - - - - -- -- 
Indicate side of house upon which defect has occurred and the degree of failure in such terms as slight, medium or bad. 

Slight Medium Bad Slight Medium B*d 

O Cracking D D D D Peeling to bare wood ... ODD 

D Flaking - D D D D Checking D DO 

O Blistering -.. . D D D D Washing or chalking off .... D DO 

Q Peeling of previous paint Q D D 

Appbed on new or previously painted surface: New Q Old Q. 

Condition of old paint at time of repainting Chalking ... D Cracking . . Q 
Checking . n Flaking . . Q 

Peeling Q Blistering fj 

Number of old coats in film .Adherence of old coats to underlying surface . _ 

Brand of paint previously used 

(Continued oxer) 
LABORATORY-Return To Office For Filing 

Kurfees Paint Company, Louisville, Kentucky. 

An outline report, often a long prepared form, provides a checklist for 
the procedure of investigation. 

Name of Employee- 
Present Rate 


Employee Rating Sheet 



Date of Last Increase- 

Time on Present- 

Lost Time 

10 9 8 765 

__ Times Tardy 

432 1 00 

Job Performance 

Does more 

All that is 

Barely makes 

Docs not 

than is ex- 


his standard 

make his 



Job Quality 






Job Knowledge 









Lacks interest 



Very re- 


Very little 















Inspires con- 


Not too con- 

Lacks assur- 






Excellent di- 

Good direc- 

Fair direc- 







Above criti- 

Seldom sub- 

Subject to 

Subject to 


ject to crit- 






10 9 8 765 

Is worker satisfied with what he is doing? 

Does worker wish to transfer? If so, to which other Department? 

432 1 00 

If not, Why? 


Is he qualified to accept a better position? 

Do you recommend a transfer? Or Discharged?. 

Do you recommend an increase? 



. Supervisor- 


B. Memorandum Reports 

Memorandum reports are used chiefly for communication between 
administrative levels and between different departments within an 
organization or industry. Such a report may consist of a single 
sentence, or it may run to several pages. Many firms have their own 
printed memorandum forms. When no form is supplied this arrange- 
ment may be followed: 

June 5, 1952 

From: J. R. Andrews, Vice-president 
To: A. B. Taylor, General Manager 
Subject: Run No. 476 

The short memorandum has no complimentary close, and initials 
may replace the signature. With a longer and more formal memo- 
randum a complimentary close such as "Respectfully submitted" and 
a signature may be used. The body of the long memorandum follows 
the usual pattern of a business communication. The opening para- 
graph states the essential business. This paragraph or the paragraphs 
immediately following may present the conclusions reached or the 
recommendations to be made, depending on whether the writer feels 
they will be more favorably received here or at the end of the 
communication. The middle paragraphs add whatever facts or expla- 
nations are needed. A final paragraph may present conclusions or 
recommendations if these points have not been adequately covered 
in the opening paragraphs. Tabular, mathematical, or graphic data 
may be included if their use does not unduly extend the length of the 

The choice between the memorandum report and the more elabo- 
rately organized formal report should not be made on the basis of 
length alone. The memorandum is suited to the reporting of an event 
or activity of limited scope, while the formal report is appropriate 
for the coverage of a considerable period of time and a variety of 

The following memorandum makes a final report on work done in 
examination of certain materials. In this example the directive and 
the report made in response appear on the same memorandum form. 


Cross Index: 436, 51, 1655 cc J. E. Masters 

G. W. Neumann 
L. K. Scott 
J . S . Long 


Research Department 


INVESTIGATORS. C. Spalding, Jr. COMPLETED August 13, 1952 



You have received samples of emulsions from Alkydol 
Products Company. Such samples included polystyrene 
resin dispersion, alkyd resin dispersion, copolymer 
of styrene butadiene and alkyd resin dispersion. 
Please use this work order to report the work you have 
done in examination of these materials. 

J. E. Masters 
JEM: jc 

P. S. 

Attached hereto is the Technical Service Bulletin on 
these products. Please attach this bulletin to the 
file copy of the work order when the final report is 

J. E. M. 


Alkydol Labs products Alkyd-0-Mer, 8106, 8200, 7004 
(respectively an alkyd emulsion, an alkyd-emulsion GRS 
type latex blend, a GR type latex) were received and 
rated as films against a Syntex 40 Hi Sol. emulsion 
made using Emulsifier #107 at 2% of F.F.S. and ca 60% 
N.V.M. and .04%Co 0.5 Pb as driers. Alkyd-0-Mer 8106 
is not as good in drying speed and does not dry to a 
clear film as the Syntex 40 emulsion. Alkyd-0-Mer 


8200 is matched by a blend of Syntex 40 emulsion with 
Dow's 762K butadienestyrene emulsion to give 43 1/2% 
of 762K solids in the dried film. 

S C. Spalding. Jr. 

C. Business-letter Reports 

The business-letter form is used for a report when it is desirable 
to emphasize a person-to-person relationship. It is favored also for 
reports offering professional advice or opinion. The business letter 
(see Appendix B, p. 441) is not usually employed for reports of 
more than a few pages since it is difficult to maintain a personal tone 
throughout a lengthy document. 

The effective use of the business-letter form in reporting to a group 
is illustrated by the letter, reprinted here, from the president of the 
Santa Fe Railway to the stockholders following the severe floods in 
the summer of 1951. The presentation of the material in this report 
is carefully adapted to the persons addressed. While a casual reader 
might easily consider the report unnecessarily painstaking and de- 
tailed, the stockholders many of them small-town investors had 
a more than casual interest in damage to the Santa Fe system. An 
informal, person-to-person tone helps to convey the desired note of 

80 East Jackson Boulevard, Chicago 4, Illinois 


Chicago, Illinois, July 23, 1951 

I returned to the office this morning from an in- 
spection trip of our lines in Kansas and Missouri and 
write to tell you of high water and flood damage in 
those states - especially in Kansas. 

There were severe rains during June. We had high 
water difficulties and traffic interruptions in the 
drainage of the Kaw and along Walnut Creek, a tribu- 
tary of the Arkansas River. In Missouri we had some 


troubles at crossings of streams which flow into the 
Missouri. We had reinstated normal train service 
almost everywhere by July 9. 

During the evening and night of July 10 there were 
terrific rains in Kansas for instance, six to seven 
inches in the vicinity of Emporia. These rains af- 
fected the territory drained by the Kaw, the Osage, 
and various branches of the Neosho. All of our lines 
lying to the east of a line drawn through Newton - 
Wichita, Kansas, were damaged sufficiently to prevent 
train operation. The Kaw assumed destructive flood 
proportions, exceeding the height of the disastrous 
flood of 1903 by five or six feet at Kansas City, 
Kansas . 

Following the disastrous flood of 1903 the Kaw 
Valley Drainage District was created - its principal 
purpose being to protect land and property in the 
Kansas City, Kansas, area. Santa Fe lands and prop- 
erty were a substantial part of the lands and property 
protected by dikes built by the Kaw Valley Drainage 
District. The design and height of the dikes were 
based upon protection against flood waters of the 
proportions of 1903. 

Early in the morning of July 13 the Kaw in the 
vicinity of Kansas City, Kansas, was substantially 
higher than the dikes, and large areas were inundated, 
including our valuable terminal known as Argentine. 
In some locations there was as much as twenty-two feet 
of water over our track. Fifty one Diesel locomotive 
units were under water, as were some steam engines and 
some 4,000 freight cars. There was about two and one- 
half feet of water in our shops at Topeka and much of 
the line from Topeka to Kansas City, which is in the 
Kaw Valley, was under water. Service on our trans- 
continental line was suspended between July 10 and 
July 20. 

The combination of (a) revenue losses, and (b) in- 
creased expenses produced by these flood waters will 
amount to some millions of dollars. It has been 
impossible in the time that has elapsed since the 
beginning of the trouble to form anything like an 
accurate estimate. The damage was that incident to 
the cutting action of water and the damage that is 
implicit in equipment and property being under water. 
The fifty-one Diesel engines, for example, were not 
damaged as damage is inflicted by the force of impact 
incident to a serious derailment, but batteries were 


severely damaged or ruined - battery damage will prob- 
ably be about $4,000 per engine. Other than that, the 
principal "repairs" to the Diesels will be drying of 
motors and the removal of mud and slime, especially 
from moving parts. The principal damage to freight 
cars was that incident to water, mud and slime in 
journal boxes, in brake cylinders, and in air brake 

The money loss, of course, is serious, yet I feel 
warranted in assuring you that in the light of the 
volume of our traffic in 1951, it will not be "too 
serious" I appreciate that it is difficult to make 
an accurate distinction between "serious loss" and 
"not too serious loss." 

Our organization, following the sudden and terrific 
rains on July 10 so controlled all train movements 
that there were no derailments. While several pas- 
senger trains, carrying hundreds of passengers, were 
held at outlying stations for as long as two days, the 
passengers were well cared for - they appreciated the 
circumstances, and there have been no serious com- 

One cannot forecast now the amount of damage to in- 
undated shipments in freight cars, nor can we,, say now 
what our liability may prove to be under applicable 
liability laws. 

Now as to the future what to do in the light of 
these high waters and this destructive flood. 

In the places which may be described as those "out 
in the country" we should make such improvements as 
increasing bridge openings, and in low places raising 
the track to higher elevations. These are the pro- 
cedures which we have followed historically when ex- 
perience has demonstrated that the changes were 
necessary. In other areas, notably in the valley of 
the Kaw, our future course will be decided upon fol- 
lowing conferences in which the Army Engineers and 
interested Communities will participate. Since the 
days when the Kaw Valley Drainage District was formed, 
the Congress, through passage of various flood control 
acts, has charged the Army Engineers with certain 
obligations for plans and has made certain appropria- 
tions for the control of flood waters. The President 
of the United States and various other Federal 
Officers have made inspection of these areas since 
July 13 and there is a meeting scheduled at Kansas 


City, July 25, to consider what should be done. This 
meeting will be attended by representatives of the 
Federal Government, the States, the Communities, and 
individual companies. My purpose is to attend this 
meeting. I am quite confident that measures will be 
taken which will protect us against a repetition of 
the 1951 flood waters. 

(signed) F. G. Gurley 

An analysis of the Santa Fe report shows that the plan and para- 
graphing are well adapted to its purpose. It opens with a simple 
statement of subject and closes with a declaration of intended action. 
Of the nine intervening paragraphs, two recount the history of the 
flood, and a third describes previous efforts at flood protection. The 
following five deal with damage: (1) with the extent of the inunda- 
tion, (2) with the losses, particularly to equipment, (3) with the 
money loss, (4) with inconvenience to passengers, (5) with damage 
to freight shipments. Then comes a short transitional paragraph in- 
troducing the concluding statement of future plans. 

The tone of care and confidence maintained throughout this letter 
is strengthened by such concrete references as those to Diesel engines 
and other equipment and by the use of railroad terms. The unob- 
trusive use of "I," particularly in such passages as "I returned to 
the office this morning," "I feel warranted," "I appreciate," and "I 
am quite confident," gives the reader a feeling of being in close 
contact with the situation and with those responsible for its control. 

D. Short-form Reports 

Like the memorandum, the short-form report is used largely for 
communication within the company or industry, and the needs of 
the individual laboratory or division determine the format used. This 
type of report is impersonal and objective in style. Centered or 
marginal headings indicate the subdivisions. General information 
the subject of the report, date, responsible agency, number, and such 
other data as are desired is given on the title page or on the upper 
half of the first page. Thus the short-form report is a somewhat 
streamlined version of the long-form report. (See Chapter 12.) Re- 
ports of this type are easily handled and quickly read, and the limita- 


tion as to length encourages a concise style and compact arrangement. 
In the following example the title page has several headings which 
serve various company record needs. The division of the report into 
sections headed Purpose, Procedure, Comments, and Conclusions 
facilitates rapid examination. The specific nature of the conclusions 
should be noted. 



n.^ March 12-1948 


Report No. 70 

Memo No. 

Subject Adhesive a for Laminated Pre a aboard 

Mr. J. 0. Ford, Manager, Manufacturing Engineer ing for fll*> 
Copies fc Mr. W. 0. James, Division Engineer, Power 
Mr. R. L. Brown* Section Engineer 

Budget or Order No fi-3Hr7QQa7a 

D Confidential Figuring Book No Page 

SxGeneral Company Distribution Tet Record Book No.-Z26 Pge_fiL. 

Pile No, MP -600.1 

nrg fingrg, 

Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company, Sharon, Pennsylvania. 
This is the title page for the short-form report following. The format is 
governed by such individual company needs as distribution and cata- 



To determine if an adhesive other than treated paper 
M794-1 can be used for laminating pressboard used in 
oil-filled transformers. 


Standard pressboard PDS 5181-1 was built up to a 
thickness of two inches according to P.S. SH-115348 by 
using the following materials: (1) treated paper 
M794-1; (2) Lepage's Dextrin glue #201, M7667-3; and 
(3) hide glue M6249. Pressboard beams 2" x 12" were 
then cut from each of the experimental plates of lami- 
nated material. This was to simulate the use of lami- 
nated pressboard as lead supports in power transformers. 

The beams were then supported at each end (on a 12" 
span) and placed in the Tinius Olsen machine, where a 
measured load could be applied to the center of the 
beam. The load was increased until failure of the 
beam occurred. 

Small pieces of the laminated material (approximately 
110 grams) were placed in 400 cc. of Wemco "C" oil at 
90C for one week. At the end of this time, the acidity 
of the oil was measured and compared with the acidity of 
a blank sample of oil under the same conditions. 

The 60-cycle one-minute hold creep strength of the 
laminates was measured along the glue lines at dis- 
tances of one and two inches. These tests were made in 
air on untreated samples and in oil after exposure to 
oil at 90C for one week. 

I Breaking Load of Beams (in pounds) 12" Span 

Type of Adhesive 

794 Paper 201 Glue Hide Glue 
Test No. (M7667-3) (M6249) 

1 2340 1765 1040 

2 2240 1955 950 

3 2020 1895 1020 

4 2500 1850 1030 
Ave. 2275 1866 1010 


II Oil Acidity after One Week at 90C MgNaOH/gr.oil 
Pressboard Bonded with: 

794 Paper 

201 Glue 

Hide Glue 




III Creepage Strength along Glue Lines 60-Cvcle 
one-Minute Hold 








Pressboard bonded with: 

794 Paper 

16 KV 

27 KV 

16 KV 

27 KV 

201 Glue 

16 KV 

27 KV 

16 KV 

27 KV 

Hide Glue 

16 KV 

27 KV 

16 KV 

27 KV 

Remarks: Flash-over at electrodes before failure 
by creep. 


All of the pressboard beams failed parallel to the 
laminations at the values given above. Treated paper 
M794-1, which we are now using, gives a laminate which 
has a breaking load approximately 25 per cent greater 
than a laminate made with #201 glue (M7667-3) . Hide 
glue gives the poorest bond of all the samples tested, 
since beams made with this adhesive fail at less than 50 
per cent of the value of laminates made with treated 

There was no appreciable change in oil acidity as a 
result of exposure to pressboard bonded with treated 
paper or dextrin glue. However, an appreciable increase 
in acidity was evident after exposure to pressboard 
bonded with Hide glue. The quantities of laminated 
pressboard which are used in our transformers are so 
small in comparison with the quantity of oil that this 
increase in acidity probably will not have any notice- 
able effect on the oil. 

The actual creepage strength along the glue lines 
could not be measured because flash-over at the elec- 
trodes occurred before failure by creepage. An attempt 
was made to measure the creepage strength at a distance 
of six inches, but this value was not within the limits 
of the laboratory test outfit. 


Treated paper M794-1 costs 25 cents per pound as com- 
pared with a cost of 5 cents per pound for dextrin glue 
M7667-3. This difference in cost will not be affected 
by the extra labor involved in coating the pressboard 
with this glue. It is estimated that a saving of 
approximately $1,600 per year can be realized by using 
this dextrin glue if only labor and material costs are 

In addition, we have found that pressboard laminated 
with dextrin glue does not require as long a cooling 
cycle after pressing as does pressboard laminated with 
treated paper. This factor in itself eliminates the 
need for large quantities of cooling water and, as well, 
reduces delays in production which occur when laminated 
pressboard is made. 

The shop also believes that pressboard laminated with 
dextrin glue will be easier to cut and will reduce the 
cost of maintenance for saws. This latter item is now 
considerable and can be attributed partly to the diffi- 
culty of cutting pressboard laminated with treated 

The pressboard which we now get from our suppliers in 
thicknesses greater than 1/4 inch is laminated by gluing 
the required number of plies to the desired thickness 
with dextrin glues. It has been our experience that 
pressboard such as this is satisfactory in every way and 
has shown no tendency to delaminate. 

In view of these facts, it is recommended that dextrin 
glue be used instead of treated paper for laminating 
pressboard. Although no specific tests were made in 
this investigation to determine the resistance of dex- 
trin glue to Inerteen, we know from past experience that 
water-soluble dextrins such as the #201 covered herein 
are resistant to Inerteen. Process Specification 
SH-115348 will be revised in the near future to specify 
the use of this glue for laminated pressboard used in 
oil- and Inerteen-filled transformers. 


(1) Pressboard beams laminated with treated paper 
M794-1 have a breaking strength approximately 
25 per cent greater than the strength of beams laminated 
with dextrin glue. 


(2) Pressboard beams laminated with dextrin glue 
M7667-3 have a breaking strength approximately 

80 per cent greater than beams made with hide glue 

(3) The acidity of oil is not appreciably affected 
by the various adhesives covered in this 


(4) The creepage strength of the pressboard lami- 
nates is not affected by the various ad- 

(5) Based on material costs, approximately $1,600 
per year can be saved by using dextrin glue 

for laminating pressboard. Additional savings can be 
realized in the time and amount of water needed for 
cooling and in maintenance of saws. 

(6) It is recommended that dextrin glue #201 (our 
M7667-3) be used in place of treated paper 

M794-1 for laminating pressboard for oil-filled trans- 



IV. The long-form report 

A. Arrangement 

1. Cover and title pages 

2. Letter of transmittal and foreword 

3. Table of contents 

4. Summary or abstract 

5. Body of the report 

6. Bibliography and appendix 

B. Preparation 

1. Collecting, selecting, and arranging material 

2. Writing and revising the report 

V. Major considerations in report writing 

A. Reaching the reader 

B. Applying the principles of composition 


A project or investigation of consequence to which considerable 
time has been devoted demands a long- form report. (For an example 
of a long-form report, see Appendix A, p. 422.) In making long re- 
ports it becomes increasingly important to employ an arrangement 
which will enable the busy person to grasp the content and essential 
significance of the report quickly. 

A. Arrangement 

In a full-scale formal report the following arrangement of parts 
is widely accepted: 

Cover page 

Title page 

Letter of transmittal 

Table of contents 

Summary or Abstract 





Certain circumstances may demand the inclusion of such additional 
elements as letter of authorization, foreword, list of tables, list of 
illustrations, distribution lists, signatures, and index. 

1. Cover and Title Pages 

The title of a report should be specifically descriptive and should 
include key words by which the report may be indexed. The title page 
gives, in addition to the title, the name of the person or agency 
preparing the report, the place of issuance, and the date. It may also 
include such items as the name of the person authorizing the report, 
the serial number, and the abstract. If the report is bound, it may 
have a heavier cover page which includes all or part of the informa- 
tion given on the title page. Examples of a cover page and of a title 
page are shown on pages 280 and 281. 

2. Letter of Transmitter/ and Foreword 

The letter of transmitted, which usually precedes the table of con- 
tents, is the personal message which accompanies the report from 
the author to the recipient, usually the person who authorized it. 
From one point of view this letter is like the covering letter sent with 
any enclosure; from another it is the writer's opportunity to make 
any necessary comments on his report and to stress his chief findings. 
Certain points are customarily included : ( 1 ) a reference to the letter 
of authorization, indicating the date, (2) a statement of submittal 
or transmittal, (3) an indication of the purpose and scope of the 
report, (4) an acknowledgment of any assistance received. Some- 
times the letter of authorization, as well as the letter of transmittal, 
is bound with the report. 

The writer may use the letter of transmittal to stress any feature 
of the report which he thinks particularly significant. Nevertheless, 
this letter, like any other business letter, should be governed by the 
"you attitude," and the needs and interests of the reader should take 
precedence over those of the writer. Apologies and other forms of 
negative suggestion should be avoided. 




AUGUST, 19^8 



E. I, du Pont de Nemours & Company 


E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, Wilmington, Delaware. 

A cover page for the long-form report presents the pertinent data in a 
form such as shown here. It is used in addition to the title page, not in 
place of it. 


Serial No. ED-1948 

E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company 


Wilmington, Delaware 

August, 1948 



Prepared by 


This report is the guide to be used by Engineering De- 
partment personnel when preparing reports. It super- 
sedes Engineering Department Report, Serial Number 
ED 1447, "Instructions for Preparing Formal Reports on 
Investigations and Experimental Work," and is expanded 
to include instructions for the preparation of informal 
and memorandum reports. Flexibility of arrangement and 
variety of expression are stressed to permit adapting a 
report to fit the type and importance of the subject 
matter presented. 



The following letter of transmittal with its accompanying letter 
of authorization was issued with a printed report of sixty-three pages. 


WASHINGTON, D. C., December 11, 1947. 

On July 13, 1946, you established the President's Commission on 
Higher Education and charged its members with the task of examining 
the functions of higher education in our democracy and the means 
by which they can best be performed. 

The Commission has completed its task and submits herewith a 
comprehensive report "Higher Education for American Democracy." 
The magnitude of the issues involved prompted the Commission to 
incorporate its findings and recommendations in a series of six volumes 
of which this is the first. 

The Commission members and the staff are grateful for the oppor- 
tunity which you have given us to explore so fully the future role of 
higher education which is so closely identified with the welfare of our 
country and of the world. 

Respectfully yours, 


The Honorable 



WASHINGTON, D. C., July 13, 1946. 

As veterans return to college by the hundreds of thousands, the insti- 
tutions of higher education face a period of trial which is taxing their 
resources and their resourcefulness to the utmost. The Federal Govern- 
ment is taking all practicable steps to assist the institutions to meet 
this challenge and to assure that all qualified veterans desirous of 
continuing their education have the opportunity to do so. I am confident 
that the combined efforts of the educational institutions, the States, 

1 "Higher Education for American Democracy," Vol. I, "Establishing the 
Goals," a Report of the President's Commission on Higher Education, Washing- 
ton, D. C., December 1947. 

2 Ibid. 


and the Federal Government will succeed in solving these immediate 

It seems particularly important, therefore, that we should now re- 
examine our system of higher education in terms of its objectives, 
methods, and facilities ; and in the light of the social role it has to play. 

These matters are of such far-reaching national importance that I 
have decided to appoint a Presidential Commission on Higher Educa- 
tion. This Commission will be composed of outstanding civic and edu- 
cational leaders and will be charged with an examination of the func- 
tions of higher education in our democracy and of the means by which 
they can best be performed. I should like you to serve on this body. 
Among the more specific questions with which I hope the Commission 
will concern itself are: ways and means of expanding educational 
opportunities for all able young people; the adequacy of curricula, 
particularly in the fields of international affairs and social understand- 
ing; the desirability of establishing a series of intermediate technical 
institutes; the financial structure of higher education with particular 
reference to the requirements for the rapid expansion of physical 
facilities. These topics of inquiry are merely suggestive and not in- 
tended to limit in any way the scope of the Commission's work. 

I hope that you will find it possible to serve on this Commission. 

Very sincerely yours, 
(signed) Harry Truman 

Unlike the foregoing letters, which are official government letters, 
the next example of a letter of transmittal follows the usual business 

Knoxville, Tenn., August 4, 1950 

Mr. George F. Gant, General Manager, 
Tennessee Valley Authority, Knoxville, Tenn. 

Dear Mr. Gant: 

Technical Report No. 23, Surveying. Mapping and Re- 
lated Engineering, is the third of a series of special 
reports being prepared to cover certain phases of en- 
gineering and construction work common to all projects 
designed and constructed by TVA in the unified develop- 
ment of the water resources of the Tennessee River 

8 "Surveying, Mapping and Related Engineering," Tennessee Valley Author- 
ity, Technical Report No. 23, Washington, D. C., United States Government 
Printing Office, 1951, p. Hi. 


These special technical reports have been planned as a 
companion series to technical reports on the individual 
projects and record the results of experience gained on 
TVA projects in specialized fields over a period of 
years. It is recommended that Technical Report No. 23 
be printed as a public document. 

Yours very truly, 
C. E. BLEE, Chief Engineer 

In reports addressed to a special group or to the general public, 
a foreword often replaces the letter of transmittal. The foreword is 
signed by the author or by the executive who is responsible for the 
report. The substance of the foreword quoted here parallels that of 
a letter of transmittal but is addressed to all readers, not to an 


This preliminary factual report on the survey of uni- 
versity patent policies which the National Research 
Council has been conducting is released for the informa- 
tion and guidance of research scientists, university 
administrators, patent attorneys, industrialists, and 
others concerned with the conduct, administration, and 
support of scientific research and the handling of 
patentable discoveries and inventions growing out of 
research on the university campus. 

For more than thirty years the National Research 
Council has been interested in the patent problem. In 
1917 the United States Commissioner of Patents, with the 
approval of the Secretary of the Interior, requested the 
National Research Council to appoint a committee to in- 
vestigate the Patent Office and the patent system, with 
a view to increasing their effectiveness, and to con- 
sider what might be done to make the Patent Office more 
of a national institution and more vitally useful to the 
industrial life of the country. The report of the 
Patent Committee, appointed by the Council in compliance 
with that request, was issued in 1919 as the first pub- 
lication in the Council's Reprint and Circular Series. 

The Council's present Committee on Patent Policy, 
under whose sponsorship this survey of university patent 

4 Archie M. Palmer, "Survey of University Patent Policies," Preliminary 
Report, Washington, D. C., National Research Council, 1948, p. i. 


policies has been conducted, was created in 1933. 
Through the years this committee has given continuing 
consideration to the various aspects of the patent 
problem and has held several conferences on the general 
subject and on specific patent questions. 

The present survey has been conducted under the direc- 
tion of Dr. Archie M. Palmer, who has been a member of 
the Council's Committee on Patent Policy since its in- 
ception in 1933. With thoroughness and acuity, result- 
ing from deep personal interest and extended experience 
with the problem as university administrator and re- 
search worker, he has analysed the prevailing practices 
of the universities and has prepared this preliminary 
report on his findings. 

Through its Committee on Patent Policy and the di- 
rector of the survey, the National Research Council 
gratefully acknowledges its indebtedness to the college 
and university officials, scientists, and others who 
liberally contributed information and data concerning 
existing policies and practices; to Research Corporation 
which made the survey possible through a generous grant 
to the National Research Council without placing any 
restrictions on the conduct of the survey or assuming 
any responsibility for the findings; to the various 
professional journals which have published preliminary 
material on the survey; and to Hugh Samson and Paul F. 
Johnson who assisted the director of the survey in the 
collection and analysis of the basic material used in 
the preparation of this report. 


(Chairman, Committee on Patent Policy, National 
Research Council) 

3. Table of Contents 

The table of contents, usually headed simply Contents, directs 
the reader to the page numbers of different sections of a long report. 
It is prepared after the report is complete by revising the outline 
from which the report was written and adding the necessary page 
numbers. The headings and page references should correspond ex- 
actly, even to articles, prepositions, and punctuation, to the headings 
of divisions and subdivisions in the text of the report. The table of 
contents offered here shows a typical arrangement. 




From One Telephone to 43,000,000 1 

Some Early Service Problems 3 

From Bell to Bell System 6 

How the Bell System Grew 7 


Inside and Outside the Telephone Business 8 

The Bell Telephone Laboratories . 17 
Bell System Research in World War II . . . 20 

Where Bell Telephones Come From 21 

"Ready for Delivery" 24 


Telephone Statistics of the World 25 

How America's Telephone System Has Grown . . 26 

Statistical Notes ... . ... 27 

Telephone Conquest of Distance (Chronology) ... 28 


A Good Citizen on Main Street 29 

600 Bell Patents Used by Other Businesses 30 

More for Your Dollar 30 

A Good Place to Work 31 

Increased Speed and Efficiency 32 

Within a Single Lifetime 32 

Looking Ahead 33 

4. Summary or Abstract 

For the convenience of readers a summary or abstract of the entire 
report is often included between the table of contents and the body 
of the report, or between the title page and the report. This summary 
or abstract presents briefly frequently in a single paragraph the 
essence of the report: its purpose, its chief findings, and its conclu- 
sions or recommendations. Thus readers who may not wish to read 
the entire document are informed of its essential contents. In some 
reports, especially in industry, this abstract appears on a separate 
sheet so that it can be detached and circulated independently. The 

5 "75 Years of Service to the Nation," Bell Telephone System, 1951. 


reports of some agencies close with a verbatim repetition of the open- 
ing summary. Little distinction is made in general between the terms 
summary and abstract as applied to this part of the report. Some 
writers prefer to reserve the term abstract for the type published by 
abstracting journals, which summarizes the contents more thoroughly 
with less emphasis on purpose and conclusion. (See Chapter 13.) 

The following abstracts introduced reports of from ten to eighteen 
pages; the introductory summaries or abstracts of extremely long 
reports may be more extended. The first example is entirely descrip- 
tive; the second goes on to give results and conclusions. The third 
abstract devotes a paragraph each to achievement, method, procedure, 
and conclusion. 


This paper describes the effect of exposure for 10,000 
hours (about 14 months) at 900, 1050 or 1200F on micro- 
structure, hardness at room temperature, and notch- 
impact strength at different temperatures of 18 ferritic 
and austenitic steels applied in service at elevated 
temperature. 6 


This paper describes the important factors that must 
be considered in a study of engine power loss due to 
combustion chamber deposits. Data are presented to show 
the effects of fuel composition, sulfur and lead concen- 
tration, and lubricant composition, engine design, and 
operating conditions on deposit-power loss. The influ- 
ence of engine operating conditions existent during the 
accumulation of deposits, and the importance of the 
engine conditions selected to evaluate the magnitude of 
the deposit-power loss are illustrated. It is indicated 
that deposits cause power loss by thermal and physical 
restriction of the intake charges, and by reduction of 
thermal efficiency. It is concluded that differences in 
effect among the majority of commercial fuels and lubri- 
cants are probably small although relatively large dif- 
ferences may exist in certain critical engine applica- 
tions. The engine operating conditions under which the 
deposits are accumulated are a major factor in deposit- 
power loss. Constant-speed, constant-load operation 
represents the most adverse condition. Engine design is 

G. V. Smith, W. B. Seens, H. B. Link, and P. R. Malenock, "Microstruc- 
tural Instability of Steels for Elevated Temperature Service," American Society 
for Testing Materials, Philadelphia. 


indicated as the principal means of alleviating the 
problem where it does exist, and several design features 
which will minimize deposit-power loss are discussed. 7 


A rolling method for the fabrication of longitudinally tapered sheet 
of aluminum alloys has been designed and proved on a pilot scale. 
The developed method utilized the principle of synchronization of 
screwdown speed with roll rotation velocity to accomplish the desired 
purpose. This synchronization was achieved by means of an auxiliary 
electrical control system used in conjunction with a conventional rolling 

Methods were developed for producing both linear (one taper per 
unit) and multiple (two tapers per unit) tapers. In addition, a cyclical, 
repetitive mode of operation was developed by means of which tapered 
sheet can be produced by a continuous rolling (high speed production) 
method simulating conventional strip rolling methods. 

The range of flatness attainable for tapered sheet was determined 
on a pilot scale utilizing flattening facilities which were locally avail- 

The investigation indicated that the developed rolling method is 
applicable to the commercial production of tapered sheet, and that the 
necessary rolling and flattening equipment are within practical design 
limits. 8 

5. Body of the Report 

The substance of the report comprises the body, which customarily 
includes an introduction, conclusion, and such intervening subdivi- 
sions as the subject matter of the report requires. All other parts of 
the report are secondary to the body and are provided to increase 
its availability and usefulness. 

6. Bibliography and Appendix 

Many reports end with the concluding section of the body, but 
numerous others add a bibliography or an appendix or both. The 
bibliography often called References or Literature Cited is a list 

7 H. J. Gibson, C. A. Hall, and A. E. Huffman, "Combustion Chamber 
Deposition and Power Loss," Ethyl Corporation Research and Engineering 
Department, Detroit. 

8 J. B. English and R. E. Jordan, "The Development of Rolled Tapered 
Sheet of Aluminum Alloys," sponsored by the United States Air Force Materiel 
Command, Reynolds Metals Company, October 1951. 


of sources used in compiling the report. It is used, especially in 
published scientific, scholarly, or technical reports, to acknowledge 
sources, to direct the reader to additional information, and to com- 
ply with copyright laws. Various forms of documentation, including 
different combinations of bibliography and footnotes in the text, are 
used by different groups and journals. (See Chapter 14.) 

The appendix is a supplementary section designed for pertinent 
material which the writer wishes to include but cannot present at 
length in the text without impeding the reader or throwing the report 
out of balance. Through the use of the appendix the writer may offer 
additional evidence for his conclusions. This material may include 
copies of documents, statistics, data sheets, mathematical computa- 
tions, instructions and procedures, personnel lists, and illustrations. 

B. Preparation 

The preparation of a long report is a complex process. The writer's 
work will involve initial preparation, assembling, studying, and select- 
ing material, planning the report and making an outline, writing the 
report, revising the report, and putting the report into final form. 

This outline from the Office of Naval Research divides the process 
into four major steps with a detailed analysis of each one. 


Step I Study 

1. Collect material 

2. Check details 

3. Consider purpose of report 

Who will read it? 
Why does he want it? 
What does he require? 
How will he use it? 

4. Draft a thesis sentence 

Step II Plan 

1. List topics to be covered 

2. Decide on topics for 

Body of report 
Terminal section 

9 Scientific Personnel Division, Office of Naval Research, Washington, D. C. 


3. Make an outline 

4. Sketch headings and sub-headings 

Step HI Write 

1. Introduction: state subject, purpose, plans; summarize results, 

2. Body: tell equipment used, action taken, facts found; analyze 

3. Terminal Section : summarize ; draw conclusions ; make recommen- 
dations; give final emphasis 

4. Abstract: condense report to paragraph or two 

5. Prepare Table of Contents 

6. Arrange Appendix, Bibliography 

Step IV Criticize 

1. Examine as a whole; check balance of parts, soundness of pat- 
tern; eliminate confusion 

2. Check agreement of title, table of contents, introduction, and ab- 
stract; check clarity of subject, purpose, plan 

3. Check terminal section for agreement with introduction, for 
proper emphasis 

4. Check headings for agreement with table of contents, for propor- 
tion of parts 

5. Examine text; check topic transitions, coherence and length of 
paragraphs, sentence structure, and word usage 

7. Collecting, Selecting, and Arranging Material 

If the writer is solely responsible for the report, he should not 
slight the initial period of preparation. It involves studying the pur- 
pose of the report and the wishes of the person or persons who 
authorized it. The directive or letter of authorization should be care- 
fully examined. Before going further, the writer should be sure that 
he knows what is wanted and how far his responsibility extends. A 
review of plant or institutional practice and of reports of similar 
character will be helpful. These considerations will be influential in 
determining the general make-up of the report. 

Source materials for reports include data obtained from experi- 
ments, from laboratory tests, and from field observations; letters 
and other documents in company files; minutes of meetings and 
hearings; records of interviews; questionnaires; and published mate- 
rials of all kinds. (See Chapter 4.) Much raw data in industrial 
plants is recorded in notebooks. The notebook system is given pref- 


erence because a numbered, dated, and bound book with numbered 
pages offers proof of priority in work involving patents. 10 This legal 
protection offsets the advantages of the card and loose-leaf filing 
systems popular in library research and in many laboratories where 
patents are not involved. Whatever the sources of the material, selec- 
tion according to the purpose of the report will be necessary before 
the writer can plan the body of the report. 

The writer may have to draw up an original outline, or he may 
have at hand a conventional pattern into which he can fit details. 
In either case the writer should think through his material thor- 
oughly before undertaking the outline of a report. Many beginners 
attempt to prepare an outline before studying their material thor- 
oughly. Such a procedure is comparable to attempting to set up 
categories for itemizing the merchandise in a warehouse before 
finding out what the warehouse contains. (For further discussion of 
the outline, see Chapters 5 and 10.) 

2. Writing and Revising the Report 

Once a tentative outline is set up, the writer is ready to com- 
pose the body of the report. Here, as in the research paper, the 
introduction and conclusion demand separate consideration. (See 
Chapter 10, Section II-B.) 

The first section of the body of the report, whether formally 
labeled Introduction or not, serves to orient the reader to the purpose 
and subject matter of the report. In this section the writer states the 
purpose, defines the scope, and explains the plan of the report. Some- 
times, particularly in a report of a purely factual investigation, an 
anticipatory summary of the conclusions is included in the introduc- 
tion. However, in delicate or controversial questions of policy, it is 
frequently wise to lead the reader through the logical considerations 
that resulted in a particular conclusion before presenting him with 
that conclusion. The complexity of the matters covered in the intro- 
duction will determine its length. 

The following introduction from a report of the Testing Division of 
the Douglas Aircraft Company serves to explain to the reader the 
occasion and purpose of the report. 

10 Marlin T. Leffler, "Abbott Laboratories Notebooks," Journal of Chemical 
Education, 25:99-100, February 1948. 



Failures of brake pressure accumulator bolts (part No. 1243720) 
during and after assembly by the manufacturer have been reported. 
The details and assemblies are manufactured for ... by the . . . , 
and are used on the ...,..., and some . . . models. 

The assembly consists of two hemispherical, flanged aluminum alloy 
forgings bolted together at the flanges by steel bolts. Installation is 
normally made by tightening each bolt until it elongates .005-.006 as 
measured by a micrometer. The assembly is proof tested at a hydraulic 
pressure of 6,000 psi. The engineering drawing for the bolt requires 
the use of 4130 steel (An-QQ-S-684) heat treated to a tensile strength 
of 150-180,000 psi. 

This investigation was conducted to determine the cause for break- 
age, and provide data to be used in determining the disposition of 
parts from the same batch as the installation failures. 

The arrangement of the material between the introduction and the 
conclusion varies with the subject matter of the report. Investigative 
reports usually cover the methods or procedure followed, the findings, 
the results derived from an analysis of the findings, and a discussion 
of the results. The inexperienced writer often does not perceive the 
importance of this part of the report because he tends to proceed 
too quickly to conclusions. The evidence must be adequately presented 
before conclusions can be drawn. In fact, authorities have attributed 
greater value to the data included in a report than to the comments 
on those data. This distinction between fact and judgment is also 
helpful to the student who has difficulty in developing his paper to 
the required length. 

A judgment ("He is a fine boy," "It was a beautiful service," "Base- 
ball is a healthful sport," "She is an awful bore") is a conclusion, 
summing up a large number of previously observed facts. The reader 
is probably familiar with the fact that students, when called upon to 
write "themes," almost always have difficulty in writing papers of the 
required length, because their ideas give out after a paragraph or two. 
The reason for this is that those early paragraphs contain so many 
such judgments that there is little left to be said. When the conclusions 
are carefully excluded, however, and observed facts are given instead, 
there is never any trouble about the length of papers; in fact, they 
tend to become too long, since inexperienced writers, when told to give 


facts, often give far more than are necessary, because they lack dis- 
crimination between the important and the trivial. 11 

The concluding section of the body of the report may be called the 
summary, conclusion, or recommendations. In strict usage the term 
summary denotes a synopsis while conclusion denotes the propositions 
arrived at as a result of the study. The term recommendations is used 
when the purpose of the report is to recommend a course of action. 
The individual items in this section are often numbered as an aid 
to clarity and precision. Many reports include a terminal summary 
as well as a summary or abstract preceding or following the table 
of contents. (See Section IV-A-4.) Even though these two summaries 
may contain some of the same materials, they serve different purposes 
for the reader. 

Of the two examples of conclusions given here, the first represents 
a numerical summary, the second offers conclusions of a more general 


The following has been done in this paper: (1) The mathematical 
nonlinearized equations (neglecting viscosity and heat conduction) 
have been obtained in conical form; (2) an invariance relation for 
these nonlinear equations has been proved; (3) it was shown that an 
attached shock, two-shock pattern is not possible for air; (4) the 
possibility of the existence of reciprocal flows has been discussed; 
(5) the patching curve relations were obtained, and with the aid of 
these, (6) the existence of a form of transonic singularity in the 
straight attached wedge shock was obtained; (7) it was shown that 
a certain type of attached shock flow cannot exist. 12 


Smoke, cinder, and fly-ash emission can be reduced to conform with 
air pollution ordinances. It is largely a problem of educating the small 
plant owner and operator in the benefits and necessity of cleaning up 
their stacks. 

Many small plants are already conforming to air pollution ordi- 
nances; others must improve conditions. Some of the latter plants, 
however, can be made non-violators without the addition of dust traps 
or collectors. It can be and has been accomplished through careful, 

11 S. I. Hayakawa, Language in Action, New York, Harcourt, Brace and 
Company, 1941, p. 50. 

12 S. F. Borg, "On Unsteady Nonlinearized Conical Flow," Journal of the 
Aeronautical Sciences, 19:85-92, February 1952. 


intelligent firing practices and elimination of dust accumulations in 
the hoppers, breeching, and stack bases. For certain plants a change 
of fuel size has satisfactorily reduced stack dust. To aid in smoke 
abatement, modern overfire jets are being increasingly used to accom- 
pany proper firing practices. 

When there is a need for dust traps or collectors, most problems 
can be solved with inexpensive low-draft-loss equipment. 13 

The accessory parts of the report (see Section IV-A) are prepared 
after the first draft of the body of the report has been written. Then 
the entire report is revised and polished and the copy checked for 
completeness, clearness, coherence, and correctness, as well as for 
tone, smoothness of phrasing, and probable effect on the reader. (See 
Chapter 7.) After the writer has made the necessary changes in 
the manuscript, he is ready to prepare the report for typing, hecto- 
graphing, mimeographing, multilithing, photographic processing, or 
printing. 14 The entire process of preparing a report is a long one, 
but, as has been pointed out, "to prepare an outline, a preliminary 
draft, and a final report may appear to involve the expenditure of 
an excessive amount of work, but experience shows that usually less 
effort is required than is needed to write a good report directly from 
the data." 15 


The fundamental principles of report writing are the same as those 
of other forms of written composition. Some of these principles, how- 
ever, apply with particular force to the report because of its special 

A. Reaching the Reader 

Since the report is often an assignment and is always designed to 
meet the needs of a particular reader or group of readers, the writer 
has a direct obligation to make his report serviceable to the reader. 

18 William S. Major, "Small Industrial Plants Can Abate Smoke and Dust," 
Bituminous Coal Research, Inc., Reprinted from The Plant, June 1950. 

14 B. H. Weil and John C. Lane, "Reproduction Techniques for Reports and 
Information Service," Journal of Chemical Education, 25:13441, March 1948. 
B. H. Weil, ed., The Technical Report: Its Preparation, Processing, and Use in 
Industry and Government, New York, Reinhold Publishing Corporation, 1954. 

16 By permission from Technical Report Writing by Fred H. Rhodes and 
Herbert Fisk Johnson, p. 7. Copyright 1941. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 


The individual who will receive the report and be responsible for 
action on it is often, especially in industry, personally known to the 
writer. If not, at least his requirements are known. As one authority 
has explained, "My most important function was not inserting 
commas or revamping awkward sentences but helping the weary 
investigator plan the presentation of his results to meet the require- 
ments of the man paying the bill." 16 The reader's individual interests 
will influence the writer's choice of analogies and illustrations. The 
knowledge with which the reader approaches the paper will affect 
the number of definitions and explanations which must be provided. 
In fulfilling the purpose of the report the writer must often sub- 
ordinate his own desires and interests. There is an ever-present 
temptation to display his knowledge, describe his difficulties, or air 
his views, but this temptation must be overcome. 

The skilled report writer keeps in mind diverse means of reaching 
the reader. Maps, tables, charts, graphs, and pictures are among the 
many forms of communication other than verbal expression which 
are appropriate in reports. (See Chapter 15.) In scientific and 
engineering reports, tables, technical graphs, equations, flow sheets, 
maps, and diagrams will appear. The business report will mainly 
employ statistical tables, as well as linear, bar, pie, and picture 
graphs. The promotional report will include, in addition to relatively 
simple graphic illustrations, abundant pictorial material and also 
pictorial analogies. 

The external design of the report is a valuable means of facilitating 
the reader's study of the report. Lines, spacing, variations of type, 
and centered or marginal headings may call attention to the divi- 
sions and subdivisions. Emphasis may be given to important points 
by spacing, capitalization, underlining, color, and even arrows or 
"boxes." Meaningless ornament, such as fancy arrangements of 
asterisks, is undesirable. Printed reports, especially in business and 
industry, often appear as attractive booklets or brochures. 

B. Applying the Principles of Composition 

The report writer, however skilled in planning and designing his 
report to meet the needs of the reader, is expected in composing it 

16 J. Raleigh Nelson, Writing the Technical Report, New York, McGraw-Hill 
Book Company, Inc., 1947, p. x. 


to show above all else competence in verbal expression. It is assumed 
that anyone who has advanced to the writing of long reports under- 
stands the principles of composition. (See Chapter 9.) 

In applying these principles the report writer may find that while 
coherence and emphasis may be achieved by the same means used 
in other types of papers, unity becomes a special problem in report 
writing because of the multiplicity of detail and variety of subject 
matter to be covered. A careful subordination of minor to major 
points is the best means of coping with excessive detail. The use of 
an appendix and of explanatory footnotes will sometimes help. The 
problem of varied subject matter is especially likely to be trouble- 
some in the annual report which must handle numerous unrelated 
matters. One means of handling this difficulty is to select a "theme" 
or focal point of interest for each yearly report, as is often done in 
planning meetings and conventions. 

Unity of tone is as important as unity of subject matter. The more 
vivid cliches, such as "scraping the bottom of the barrel" or "a 
rubberstamp," may at times be effective in informal reports to put 
over an idea, but a serious, formal report should not descend to 
colloquial or slangy language. The tone of a report may, as the 
occasion demands, be highly scientific, scholarly, or technical, soberly 
factual, breezy, cordial and friendly, or matter of fact. But whatever 
the tone, it should be maintained consistently throughout the paper. 

The style of a report should be simple, direct, and concise. (See 
Chapter 8.) Except in reports in memorandum or business-letter 
form, the style is usually impersonal. This impersonality may demand 
considerable use of the passive voice, though the active voice is 
generally considered more forceful. Passive constructions with im- 
personal or expletive openings are unfortunate, such as "It was 
observed in the course of the demonstration" for "The demonstration 
showed" or "There was evidence to be observed in the data" for 
"The data pointed to." "Deadwood" should be painstakingly pruned 
from the report. The inexperienced report writer is often charged 
with substituting paragraphs for sentences and pages for paragraphs. 

Logic of both substance and expression affects the degree of respect 
which a report commands. (See Chapter 6.) Probably the commonest 
flaw in logic is extending the conclusions beyond the scope of the 
data. Not only should facts be kept distinct from conclusions, but 


any limiting factors in the data should be clearly repeated in the 

The making of reports forms a large part of man's whole scheme 
of communication. In keeping with this emphasis, new employees 
entering business and industry have been well advised to cultivate 
skill in expression through such "basic tools" as the report. 

As an employee you work with and through other people. This 
means that your success as an employee and I am talking of much 
more here than getting promoted will depend on your ability to com- 
municate with people and to present your own thoughts and ideas to 
them so they will both understand what you are driving at and be per- 
suaded. The letter, the report or memorandum, the ten-minute spoken 
"presentation" to a committee are basic tools of the employee. 

If you work as a soda jerker you will, of course, not need much 
skill in expressing yourself to be effective. If you work on a machine 
your ability to express yourself will be of little importance. But as 
soon as you move one step up from the bottom, your effectiveness de- 
pends on your ability to reach others through the spoken or the written 
word. And the further away your job is from manual work, the larger 
the organization of which you are an employee, the more important it 
will be that you know how to convey your thoughts in writing or speak- 
ing. In the very large business organization, whether it is the govern- 
ment, the large corporation, or the Army, this ability to express oneself 
is perhaps the most important of all the skills a man can possess. 

Of course, skill in expression is not enough by itself. You must have 
something to say in the first place. The popular picture of the engineer, 
for instance, is that of a man who works with a slide rule, T square, 
and compass. And engineering students reflect this picture in their 
attitude toward the written word as something quite irrelevant to their 
jobs. But the effectiveness of the engineer and with it his usefulness 
depends as much on his ability to make other people understand his 
work as it does on the quality of the work itself. 17 

This chapter has described the great variety of current practices in 
report writing. An understanding of these practices will help the 
writer on a job to learn rapidly from experience, provided he does 
not let rigid conventions prevent a new approach to changing needs 
and problems. Anyone who has seen the changes in business and 
industry during the past twenty-five years will realize that many 
changes will take place during the working years of those who are 

17 Peter F. Drucker, "How to Be an Employee," reprinted by special permis- 
sion from Fortune, 45(5): 126-27, May 1952. Copyright 1952 Time Inc. 


now getting their training. No wonder the counsel of the experienced 
is that the analyst "must never quit his education because once he 
does his value is gone." 18 Inevitably, the report writer will be called 
on in the future to learn and develop new techniques to meet new 
demands placed on the report. 


1. Obtain several annual reports and analyze them, covering the points 
referred to in the foregoing chapter. What resemblances and differ- 
ences do you note among the reports of municipalities, industrial 
organizations, charitable organizations, insurance companies, etc.? 
How do you account for these differences? 

2. Collect as many examples of reports as possible and classify them 
as to form. Among the reports of different companies do you find 
greater similarity in the format of outline, memorandum, short-form, 
or long-form reports? Why? 

3. Make a thorough analysis of the Stone and Webster report given in 
Appendix A, considering the purpose, format, parts included, ar- 
rangement, organization, style, and use of illustrations. 

4. Prepare in outline-report form a check list covering the various styles, 
types of punctuation, salutations and complimentary closes used in 
business letters. Examine a group of letters from representative firms 
and fill out an outline report for each letter. 

5. Analyze the reports prepared for Exercise 4, and in a memorandum 
report to your instructor, summarize fully the results of your analysis. 

6. List as many reports as possible which have to your knowledge been 
circulated on your campus or within your organization. In each in- 
stance, how was the report initiated, who prepared it, what was its 
purpose, what was its form, and to whom and by what means was it 

7. Plan and carry out a survey of student opinion concerning some prob- 
lem on your campus, such as poor attendance at convocations, park- 
ing, student housing, or campus publications. Analyze and interpret 
your findings, make any recommendations you think are justified, and 
present the results as a short-form report. 

8. Examine your experience for opportunities for observation which 
might provide subject matter for a report. The following list may 
offer suggestions: industrial practices observed in part-time or tem- 
porary jobs you have held, provisions for serving food on your cam- 
pus, styles of architecture represented on your campus, campus 

18 D. B. Keyes, "Training Men to Appraise and Develop Markets for Chemi- 
cals," Chemical and Engineering News, 27:488, February 21, 1949. 


services such as the bookstore, post office, commissary. Write a letter 
leport, presenting the information you have obtained to a person 
whom you may assume to have requested it. 

9. Many students have sources of information which can be drawn on 
for long-form reports. Analyze your experience for opportunities to 
make: (a) a case study a specific study of some practice or process 
in an institution or industry with which you are acquainted; (b) a 
comparison a comparative study of two related practices or situa- 
tions; (c) a recommendation report an analysis of a local situation 
with recommendations for its improvement; (d) a survey an in- 
quiry into practices or situations in a number of different plants or 

10. Many reports require extensive library research, the motivation for 
which must come from the needs or interests of the individuals initiat- 
ing the report. Consider the following as possible topics for such 
reports: advertising practices in a selected group of periodicals, the 
circulation and reception of American movies abroad, design and per- 
formance in automobiles of European manufacture, opportunities for 
engineering or technically trained graduates, work of the recently 
established educational foundations, scholarship programs, new de- 
velopments in the different phases of communication, the distribution 
of the modern newspaper, the relative place of soaps and detergents, 
the present industrial status of pure silk, new ideas in merchandising, 
accounting practices in relation to tax requirements, adjusting the 
gas supply to seasonal requirements, prefabricated houses, planning 
and zoning regulations, traffic signals, reforestation projects, new de- 
velopments in lighting (either street or residential), electronic beams, 
difficulties in developing and maintaining city water supplies, auto- 
matic classifying and index cards, microfilm, microcards, suburban 
shopping centers, educational opportunities in rural areas. 



I. The abstract 

A. Writing of abstracts 

B. Examples of abstracts 

II. Description of device and explanation of process 

A. Definition of terms 

B. Writing of papers of device and process 

C. Examples of papers of device and process 

III. The case history 

A. Definition of terms 

B. Writing of case histories 

C. Examples of case histories 

IV. The book review 

A. The scientific writer and the book review 

B. Examples of book reviews 

... a// advances in science consist either in enlarging 
the range of experience or in expressing the regulari- 
ties found or to be found in it. HERBERT DINGLE, 
Presidential Address, Royal Astronomical Society, Lon- 
don, 1953. 

The types of papers with which this chapter is concerned have 
been evolved over a period of many years to meet specialized needs 
of science or have been adapted by scientific writers to their needs. 
Of these types of papers the most sharply defined is the abstract. 
The case history is almost as widely used as the abstract, but its 
form is less standardized. The description of device or instrument 
and the exposition of process are sometimes separate papers, some- 
times a part of longer papers. The book review, though not of scien- 
tific origin, has an established place in scientific periodicals. 



A number of scientific periodicals, known as abstracting journals, 
are devoted wholly to the publication of abstracts. In general, an 
abstract is a summary of an article which has appeared previously 
elsewhere and includes a bibliographical reference to the original 
article. Authors frequently have occasion to prepare abstracts of their 
own papers: some scientific journals require that each paper sub- 
mitted for publication be accompanied by an author abstract, scien- 
tific societies in advance of their meetings issue programs in which 
appear abstracts of the papers to be presented, and an author abstract 
often appears at the beginning of a long report. While abstracting 
journals sometimes make use of author abstracts, it is usually con- 
sidered that better perspective and greater objectivity are achieved 
if the abstract is prepared by another writer thoroughly familiar 
with the author's field. 

The most generally useful type of abstract is the informative ab- 
stract which presents in condensed form the content of the original. 
Since the abstract is a summary and not a criticism or evaluation, 
the writer of the abstract should preserve an attitude of the utmost 
objectivity, regarding himself only as a medium for conveying to 
the reader the most accurate idea possible of the content of the 
original article. The abstracter should follow the article's order and 
sequence and should keep as nearly as possible the same proportion 
and emphasis; no major division or essential material should be 
overlooked or omitted. The abstract should not include anything 
which was not a part of the original article, and its author should 
not express his own opinion of either the subject or its presentation. 

A second type of abstract, called the descriptive abstract, defines 
the coverage of the original article and indicates the contribution it 
has made but does not summarize it. The description of the original 
article as offered by this type of abstract must be expressed in 
objective terms, since evaluation of the original is not a part of the 
abstracter's task. While the descriptive abstract is more serviceable 
than a mere reference, its usefulness is necessarily limited. 


A. Writing of Abstracts 

For certain purposes the abstract may be limited by editorial policy 
to a maximum length of 225 or 300 words. Since an abstract may thus 
be only a fraction of the length of the article, its writing demands 
rigorous exclusion of ail illustrative detail and involved discussion. 
Though it is not necessary to enclose in quotation marks short phrases 
taken verbatim from the original, the condensed style of the abstract 
will seldom permit extended use of the original wording. The skilled 
abstracter will cultivate verbal economy. A group of cases, for exam- 
ple, may be reduced to an adverbial clause, a statement of purpose 
to an infinitive, a list of conclusions to a series of parallel phrases. 

An abstract is frequently a single paragraph. Sometimes a short 
paragraph is devoted to the introduction or statement of purpose, 
a paragraph to the results, and a paragraph to the conclusions. It is 
seldom possible to allow a paragraph to each division of the paper, 
and no attempt should be made to include topical headings or formal 

B. Examples of Abstracts 

The first two examples of informative abstracts show how a con- 
siderable amount of technical information can be presented in the 
condensed style of the abstract. It will be noted that the example from 
Chemical Abstracts employs certain acceptable abbreviations which 
are characteristic of technical writing in the chemical field. 

Time and stress effects in the behavior of rubber at low temperature. 
J. R. Beatty and J. M. Davies. J. Applied Phys. 20, 533-9 (1949). The 
stiffening of rubber-like materials at low temp, involves several dif- 
ferent phenomena, sometimes with their effects superimposed. One of 
these is crystn. This is a rate process which is generally very fast at 
high stresses and very slow at zero stress. In these expts. at temps, 
near 25 and under a shear stress of about 148 Ib. per sq. in. the 
dynamic modulus of the rubber increased at a rate convenient to 
study. Correlation with x-ray data showed that crystn. was likely re- 
sponsible for the increase in stiffness. The rate of change of stiffness 
increased rapidly with increase in applied stress, and there was no 
optimum rate at 25 as has been found for unstressed rubber. The 
degree of vulcanization influenced the rate of change, tighter cures 
giving smaller changes. Neoprene-FR, GR-S, and polybutadiene, which 
ordinarily show little evidence of crystn., showed very definite but small 


increases in stiffness. Mixing GR-S with natural rubber seems to limit 
the crystn. of the natural rubber rather effectively, but apparently 
Neoprene-FR does not mix intimately enough with natural rubber to 
affect the crystn. of the latter appreciably. H.P.K. 1 

The example from Biological Abstracts is somewhat longer than 
the average abstract, but is an effective and adept condensation of a 
complex subject. 

Splithoff, C. A., Origin and development of the erect posture. Surg., 
Gynecol. and Obstet. 84(5) :943-949. 5 fig. 1947. Human posture is 
shown to have evolved through a series of progressive changes, begin- 
ning with the prehistoric Devonian fish, 350 million years ago. Am- 
phibians evolved land adaptation some 50 million years later. Because 
of poor adjustment to terrestrial locomotion, their abilities were prob- 
ably limited simply to obtaining food with little attempt made to move 
for any distance. Walking continued to be cumbersome in the ancient 
reptiles, whose limbs were widely separated. From Cynognathus, a 
creature between reptile and mammal which existed 175 million years 
ago, and could run on land, has evolved the more highly developed 
Notharctus, an arboreal lemur-like primate. Other lemurs, monkeys, 
and apes retained the ability to climb trees. The only ape able to 
walk upright on the ground is the gibbon. The skeleton of this ape 
begins to appear almost human in type. The gibbon has the ability 
to walk by up-ending one tower of the suspension bridge to which the 
shoulder and pelvic girdle, together with the spine, may be compared, 
and balance it on its rear tower, represented by the pelvic girdle. The 
ability to walk upright evolved from the habit of sitting upright and 
from the habit of brachiating or swinging from limb to limb. The abil- 
ity to walk has been peifected in the human through modification of 
the entire skeleton, but principally the pelvis and lumbosacral spine. 
It is true that certain apes can walk upright, but the pelvis is not 
mechanically suited for such progression. The muscle pattern of ape 
and man is similar, yet there is a difference in function and in com- 
parative size; and a difference in the focal point of action of the glu- 
teal muscles which is the secret of human ability to walk. In the 
ape the external iliac surface points backward at right angles to the 
acetabulum, rather than externally or outward as in the human. Thus 
human posture evolved by progression from water onto land, then 
into the trees and to the ground again. K. W. Buchwald. 2 

The third informative abstract appeared in the section "Industrial 
and Other Applications" of Psychological Abstracts. Though brief, 

1 Chemical Abstracts, 43:6853 e, September 10, 1949. 

2 Biological Abstracts, 22(1) :No. 73, pp. 7-8, 1948. 


it is in proportion to the length of the original article, which is 
included with it here. 

Chandler, William R. (Harvard U., Cambridge, Mass.), The relation- 
ship of distance to the occurrence of pedestrian accidents. Sociometry, 
1948, 11, 108-110. From information taken from the files of the Brook- 
line Police Department on 264 pedestrian-vehicle accidents, the dis- 
tance between place of residence and point of accident was measured. 
The data indicate that there is an inverse proportionality between the 
distance from residence and the frequency of accidents. H. H. 
Nowlis. 8 


This study investigates the relationship between pedestrian accidents 
on the one hand and the pedestrians' distances from their homes at 
the time of the accident on the other. 1 

The data were taken from the traffic files of the Police Department 2 
of Brookline, Massachusetts, and include all cases of pedestrian- 
vehicle (i.e. auto, bus, and trolley) accidents in the files for the years 
1946 and 1947. There were in all 284 accidents of this type recorded 
of which 20 cases had to be excluded because of inadequate informa- 
tion. The 264 remaining cases which were used constitute the entire 
sample to which the present article refers. The distance between the 
place of residence and point of accidents was measured 8 in each case 
to the nearest quarter of a mile over the shortest walking route. Since 
98.1% of the accidents took place within eight miles of the pedes- 
trian's residence, for convenience, all accidents (i.e. 1.9%) occurring 
beyond this eight mile limit were excluded, because the latter showed 
wide scattering in distance. 

These data are presented graphically in the adjoining Figure One 
and are grouped as indicated according to the class middles of the 
unit selected. Distance is measured logarithmically on the abscissa, and 
the frequency of accidents is measured logarithmically on the ordinate. 
The best straight line fitted to these points by least squares had a 
slope of 1.191 (.265) or in equation form log y 1.919 log x 
2.781 (P. ..177). 

From these data it is clear that there is an inverse proportionality 
between the distance that the pedestrian is from his residence and 
the frequency of accidents. 

8 Psychological Abstracts, 24:101, February 1950. 

4 William R. Chandler, "The Relationship of Distance to the Occurrence of 
Pedestrian Accidents," Sociometry, 11:108-10, 1948. 



8 12 16 20 32 


FIG. 1. Accidents to pedestrians from vehicles of all kinds in 
relation to the pedestrian's distance from home (Brookline, Mas- 
sachusetts, 1946 and 1947). 

The reason for this inverse proportionality is not necessarily because 
of any preference for accidents near home, but instead, because a 
person is more often near his home and, therefore, has a greater op- 
portunity to suffer an accident there. If we assume that accidents occur 
at random, then we may conclude that pedestrians are proportionately 
less likely to take trips of increasing lengths. This conclusion is in 
line with earlier investigations of others. 4 

1 A paper written under the direction of the University Lectureship of Harvard 

2 I am grateful to Chief M. Tonra for his cooperation in allowing me access to the 
files, and to all those in the Traffic Department for their help. 

3 I am grateful to the Brookhne Engineering Department for allowing me to use their 
maps and street guides. 


4W. J. Reilly, "Methods for the Study of Retail Relationships," University of 
Texas Bulletin, 2944, Nov. 22, 1929. J. Q. Stewart, "An Inverse Distance Variation for 
Certain Social Influences," Science, n. s. 93 (1941), 84; "The 'Gravitation,' or Geo- 
graphical Drawing Power of a College," Bulletin American Association University Pro- 
fessors, 27 (1941), 70; "A Measure of the Influence of a Population at a Distance," 
SOCIOMETRY, 5 (1942), 63-71. J. H. S. Bossard, "Residential Propinquity as a 
Factor in Marriage Selection," American Journal of Sociology, 38 (1932), 219-244. 
S. A. Stouffer, "Intervening Opportunities' A Theory Relating to Mobility and Dis- 
tance," American Sociological Review, V (1940), 845-867. G. K. Zipf, "The Hypothesis 
of the 'Minimum Equation' as a Unifying Principle: With Attempted Synthesis," 
American Sociological Review, XII (1947), 627-650; "The Repetition of Words, Time 
Perspective, and Semantic Balance," Journal of General Psychology, 32 (1945), 127-148. 

The following example of a descriptive abstract illustrates how 
this type of abstract indicates to the reader whether the article will 
be of interest to him even though it does not summarize the content 
of the article. 

Burrill and A. John Gale. Electronics 25, 98-101 (1952) Nov. 

The importance of the scanning system used with high-energy elec- 
tron beams to give uniform sterilization of sealed products moving 
through the beam on high-speed conveyor belts is stressed. A 200-cps 
scanning circuit to sweep the beam through an 8 arc is diagramed. 
Elaborate fail-safe provisions are included. 5 


Since every experiment in pure science and every operation in 
applied science has its necessary equipment and fixed procedure, 
much scientific writing takes the form of descriptions of device and 
explanations of process. Such descriptions and explanations, dealing 
with devices, apparatus, objects, and structures and with actions, 
operations, and procedures, may be the subject of independent scien- 
tific papers and are frequently included in longer papers and in text- 
books. Descriptions of device and explanations of process, along with 
directions for handling equipment and performing operations, also 
constitute much of the subject matter of laboratory and instruction 
manuals. 6 

A. Definition of Terms 

A process may be defined as an orderly sequence of events or ac- 
tions which will, if repeated, produce the same or similar results. 

5 Nuclear Science Abstracts, 7(1) :5, January 15, 1953. 

6 A highly specialized type of manual is the engineering instruction manual. 
A typical manual of this kind may be divided into such sections as: general 
theory, theory of operation, installation instructions, operating instructions, 
maintenance instructions, and catalog of replacement parts. 


Processes may be within man's control, like many processes of ap- 
plied science, or beyond his control, like geological processes or 
digestive processes. The explanation of process is an expository analy- 
sis of such a sequence of actions or events. By breaking down the 
process into its parts and showing their logical relationships, the 
writer acquaints the reader with the process and affords him an un- 
derstanding of its significance. Since many processes involve devices 
or structures which demand description (see Chapter 9), description 
of device is often a part of an explanation of process. When the steps 
in a process are stated imperatively as a series of commands, the 
whole is known as directions. Although the explanation of process, 
description of device, and directions are distinct forms, they are so 
often used in combination that they will be discussed together. 

B. Writing of Papers of Device and Process 

Before beginning an explanation of process, the writer must decide 
whether his purpose is to tell the reader how to do something or how 
something is done. For example, a paper on the analysis of uranium 
in sea water may be intended to explore the method of analysis in 
such technical detail that the properly qualified reader will be able 
to repeat the process. Yet an explanation of the same process written 
for the general reader may give only enough information to enable 
the reader to understand the significance of the process and the nature 
of the principal steps involved. Similarly, a description of device 
a description of a radio receiving set, for instance may stop with 
making clear the structural principles of the set or may add the detail 
which will enable the reader to construct it. 

In preparing papers of device and process the writer may follow 
a fairly well standardized plan. If the explanation is to enable the 
reader to construct the device or carry out the process, all materials 
must be accurately identified and all measurements exactly given; 
detailed diagrams will probably also be needed. Such necessary pre- 
liminary information as definitions of terms, descriptions of essential 
equipment, and lists of materials should be given before beginning 
the explanation of the steps in the process. In explaining these steps 
the order is determined by the time sequence, but mere regard for 
time sequence is not enough. The process must be analyzed into its 
separate parts. Even a simple task such as replacing a plug on an 


electric cord consists of a series of distinct steps. A complex process 
may consist of several stages or phases with different steps in each 

Writing a description of a device or apparatus, whether such a 
description is offered as an introductory part of an explanation of 
process or as an independent paper, also involves the use of analysis. 
A description of an electric refrigerator, for example, may begin 
with the statement that there are three main parts: the motor, the 
compressor, and the freezing unit. An orderly arrangement of detail 
in describing a device or apparatus helps to make spatial relationships 
clear. A description may proceed from the outside in, from front to 
back, from left to right, or any of these directions in reverse. The use 
of an analogy may help the reader to follow the description if the 
structure resembles a ball, a wheel, a figure-eight, or any other well- 
known and easily visualized form. The operation of the gear-shift 
lever of a car, for example, is often described by reference to the 
letter H. 

Once the order of details within the description has been estab- 
lished, the next essential is simple and consistent expression. Parallel 
sentence structure should be used to state corresponding facts. Tense 
and mood should not be needlessly shifted. The same terms should 
be used throughout to refer to the same objects and operations. Stu- 
dents are often needlessly afraid of repetition. In an exposition of 
process, referring to one thing by half a dozen synonyms does not 
result in pleasing variety but in most unpleasing confusion. 

Careful observance of parallelism is particularly important in writ- 
ing directions since the reader is treated as a participant and not 
merely as an observer, and each direction given must be stated in 
the imperative mood. Directions in the imperative may, however, be 
accompanied by explanatory sentences in the indicative. The second 
person pronoun you is used in addressing the reader, as in the follow- 
ing selection from a series of directions designed to help in the de- 
velopment of study skills. 

1. Glance over the headings in the chapter to see the few big points 
which will be developed. This survey should not take more than a 
minute and will show the three to six core ideas around which the 
rest of the discussion will cluster. If the chapter has a final summary 


paragraph this will also list the ideas developed in the chapter. This 
orientation will help you organize the ideas as you read them later. 
2. Now begin to work. Turn the first heading into a question. This 
will arouse your curiosity and so increase comprehension. It will bring 
to mind information already known, thus helping you to understand 
that section more quickly. And the question will make important points 
stand out while explanatory detail is recognized as such. This turning 
a heading into a question can be done on the instant of reading the 
heading, but it demands a conscious effort on the part of the reader 
to make this query for which he must read to find the answer. 7 

C. Examples of Papers of Device and Process 

The following description of a spectroscope is intended to give 
the student of spectroscopy an understanding of the instrument. The 
classification which precedes the description explains the purpose of 
the spectroscope and its relation to other instruments. The description 
itself is analytical in form, and the essential parts of the instrument 
are illustrated by a simple diagram. 

Spectroscopes and Spectrographs. Any instrument that can be used 
to produce a spectrum, visible or invisible, is called a spectroscope. 
Under this general heading instruments are classified according to the 
means by which the spectrum is observed. 

A spectrograph produces a photographic record of the spectrum 
called a spectrogram. The word spectroscope is sometimes used in a 
restricted sense to designate an instrument arranged so that the spec- 
trum can be viewed by eye. It will be used in this book only in the 
broad sense; the term visual spectroscope will be used to designate 
instruments arranged for direct eye observation of the spectrum. Spec- 
trometers are so built that an observer can determine wavelengths by 
reading a scale, which may or may not be calibrated to read directly 
in microns, millimicrons, or angstroms. 

Most spectroscopes contain three main elements: a slit; a dispersing 
device such as a prism or a diffraction grating to separate radiation 
according to wavelength; and a suitable optical system to produce the 
spectrum lines, which are monochromatic images of the slit. A simple 
spectroscope optical system is shown in Fig. 1.2. The spectrum line? 
are arrayed along a focal curve where they may be photographed, ob 
served with an eyepiece if visible, or isolated from their neighbors by 
a second slit. The first method is used in spcctrographs, the second in 
visual spectroscopes, and the third in monochromators. 

7 Francis P. Robinson, Effective Study, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1946, 
p. 28. 



FIG. 1.2. Optical system of a simple spectroscope. S, slit; C, col- 
limator lens; P, prism; T, telescope lens; F, curve along which 
the various parts of the spectrum are in focus; B, blue or short 
wavelength part; R, red or long wavelength part. 

Spectrum lines are detected or recorded by various means. Infrared 
spectroscopes are usually equipped with radiometers, which produce 
variations in current through a galvanometer and hence vary its de- 
flection. These variations of deflection may be recorded in curves of 
the type shown in Fig. 1.3 [not shown]. The spectrum can be recorded 
by this means at any wavelength, but more sensitive methods are used 
in spectral regions where they are available. Photography is feasible 
between 15,000 and 10 A. Though sensitive and convenient, photog- 
raphy requires careful control if quantitative results are to be ob- 
tained. Fluorescence and phosphorescence methods, combined with 
visual observation or photography, can also be used between 15,000 
and 10 A, with some loss in sharpness of narrow lines. Photoelectric 
recording has been used between 33,000 A and the short vacuum ultra- 
violet. In all these cases the 10 A limit is purely arbitrary, since the 
sensitivity extends on into the region of X-ray spectroscopy. 8 

The following article on the Geiger counter leads the reader effec- 
tively from an identification and history of the counter through an 
explanation of its operation to an enumeration of important uses. 
Marginal notes are offered here to indicate the relation of the para- 
graphing to the general plan. 

Preliminary definition The concept of radiation, keystone of modern 
of radiation is bewildering indeed to the layman. Here 

lies that strange, unreal world where matter and 

8 George R. Harrison, Richard C. Lord, and John R. Loofbourow, Practical 
Spectroscopy (Copyright 1948 by Prentice-Hall, Inc., New York) ; pp. 7-10. 
Reprinted by permission of the publisher. 


energy merge, where unseen light may burn and 
kill deep under the skin, where voices are carried 
on nothingness at fantastic speeds. The physicist 
talks of X-rays, of radio waves, of cosmic rays, 
of radiation from uranium and atomic bombs. 
What does he mean? 

Briefly radiation is the release and transmission 
of energy by changes in the atom or the atomic 
nucleus. Some changes result in emission of pure 
energy, such as light. At other times, as in the case 
of radium, actual fast-moving particles are thrown 

History of the Nearly 40 years ago, Hans Geiger, a German 
Geiger counter student of England's Lord Rutherford, invented 
a mechanism to detect radiation. The Geiger 
counter, which can reveal the presence of a single, 
tiny electron, is science's most sensitive instru- 
ment. Moreover, it is fast becoming one of the 
most important tools of science, a vital aid to 
the nuclear physicist and of increasing medical 
and commercial value. 

Principle of operation High energy radiation, whether from X-rays, 
radium, atomic bombs or cosmic rays, is able to 
ionize or charge electrically neutral gas molecules 
either directly by simply knocking off electrons 
or indirectly. The electrons carry a negative 
charge, and the molecules from which they are 
separated become positively charged ions. This 
resembles the photoelectric effect of visible light 
which is also radiation of relatively low energies. 
The ionization property is used in the Geiger 
counter to detect and estimate the intensity of 

Physical description The counter consists of a vacuum tube in the 
form of a negatively charged metal cylinder 
through which a positively charged wire is 
stretched. The difference in potential between wire 
and cylinder may run from 250 to 5000 volts. 
Radiation, permitted to enter the tube through a 
window, ionizes the small amount of gas left in 
the tube. 

Mechanism of operation The positive ions move toward the negative 
metal walls; the free electrons rush to the wire. 
The motion produces a pulse of electricity large 
enough to be measured. Upon reaching the wall 


the ions are again neutralized, the pulse dies away 
and the counter is sensitized for the next ray or 
particle. In a "slow" counter the electric pulse 
persists from one-tenth to one-hundredth of a 
second following the entrance of the radiation; 
in a "fast" counter it lasts only one ten-thousandth 
of a second. 

Uses The feeble electric discharge generated in the 
process may be amplified to operate a mechanical 
counter, to mark an oscillograph or to click in 
a pair of head phones. The significance of the 
number of pulses per second depends upon the 
design of the instrument, the probable amount of 
radiation absorbed by the walls and the constancy 
and location of the source of radiation with re- 
spect to the counter. 

We live constantly bathed in radiation of all 
kinds, so that a counter operates continually at 
a fairly constant rate. In the vicinity of a source 
of radiation, such as an X-ray machine or a cap- 
sule of radium, the number of pulses recorded 
goes up markedly. The counter is a super-snooper. 
An atomic bomb explosion, even on the other side 
of the world, releases enough radiation to increase 
its activity. Increasing use of radioactive tracers 
in medicine, scientific research and industry has 
given it many new jobs. Foundries use it to in- 
spect castings and forgings, petroleum companies 
for logging of oil wells, hydro-electric plants for 
estimating the volume of flow through the tur- 
bines. 9 

The next two examples are concerned with processes. In the first 
selection the steps in the process of wool stapling are presented in 
direction form. The numbered directions are accompanied by an 
opening and concluding paragraph of explanation. 

In the stapling of wool, it is necessary to get some idea of the dis- 
tribution of fiber lengths as well as the average staple. In the case 
of wool, also, we have longer fibers which are easier to handle singly 
or in small numbers. Wool stapling, therefore, consists of laying out 
all the fibers from a sample on a proper background in the order of 
their lengths. The steps in stapling a sample of top are as follows: 

9 Power Plant Engineering, 51:101, October 1947. 


1. On a piece of black velvet, mounted rigidly on a board, draw a 
chalk line for a base. 

2. Square up the end of the top by pulling out the loose fibers. 

3. Grip the square end of the top between the thumb and forefinger 
of the left hand and pull out a tuft of fibers free from the rest of the 
top, being careful not to break the fibers. This new end will be long 
and tapering. 

4. Transfer the square end to the right hand and, very slightly, 
twist together the longest fibers in the tapering end. 

5. Place the top of the longest fibers on the chalk line, hold with 
one finger of the left hand and slowly pull the main tuft away with 
the right hand, at right angles to the base line. The fibers should cling 
to the black velvet. 

6. Repeat with the next longest fibers, alongside of the first set, 
and continue until all the fibers are on the velvet. Try to get a uniform 
density of fibers throughout. 

For ordinary mill routine, the average length of staple is determined 
by placing a rule parallel to the base line and in such a position that 
there is as much long fiber above as short fiber below. This average 
length is read, also the longest length. For a somewhat more accurate 
determination of average staple, a tracing of the fiber layout may be 
made. The area, measured with a planimeter, divided by the length 
of the base would then be the average staple. A still more accurate 
method would be to take all fibers between certain length measure- 
ments and weigh them, repeating this operation for the same length 
interval all along the array. The average length of each group would 
then be multiplied by the weight of the group. These products added 
up and divided by the total weight of the sample would give the aver- 
age staple. 10 

The concluding example in this section is an explanation of process 
taken from an article dealing with procedures used in tests of com- 
mercial tires for treadwear. 

Procedure of Test 

Weight Method. The procedure is essentially the same as that used 
by Roth and Holt. The tires for test are mounted with inner tubes on 
appropriate rims. The mounted tires are weighed on an equal-arm bal- 
ance. The main knife edges of the balance rest on tungsten-carbide 
inserts in order to avoid changes in sensitivity, which is 0.5 gram or 
less. However, all weighings are made to the nearest gram. The weigh- 
ings are made by the constant sensitivity method, in which a tare 

10 John H. Skinkle, Textile Testing, Brooklyn, Chemical Publishing Company, 
Inc., 1949, pp. 36-37. 


heavier than the heaviest mounted tire is placed on one pan of the 
balance and the tire assembly is placed on the other pan together with 
sufficient weights to balance the tire. The balance point is detected 
by the method of swings. A periodic determination of the rest point 
is made by checking the tare with an equivalent known weight. 

In the early tests, all weighings were made with the tires inflated. 
Corrections were made in the inflation pressure for changes in the 
ambient temperature. Since an error of % pound per square inch in 
the adjustment of the inflation pressure results in an error of about 
% gram in the weight of a 6.00-16 tire to about 3 grams in the weight 
of a 11.00-20 tire, recent tests have been made by making all weighings 
with the tires deflated. In these tests, the valve core was removed to 
be sure that the air in the tube was at atmospheric pressure. The com- 
pressed air for inflation of the tires was filtered to remove any dirt, 
oil or water droplets. Before inflating the first tire, the air line was 
opened to blow out any condensate that might have accumulated. 

Before test, passenger car and light truck tires are dynamically 
balanced and heavy truck tires are statically balanced. The weighings 
are made with the balancing weights in place. A check is made before 
each weighing, however, to see if any balancing weights were lost. 
Also, the mass of the balancing weights on each tire is determined by 
weighing the tire assembly before and after balancing. Thus, it is 
possible to determine the weight of the tire in case one or more of 
the balancing weights are lost. 

The vehicles are loaded before each test with cast iron weights in 
such a manner that the same load is on each wheel. The load in most 
tests is the maximum recommended load of the Tire and Rim Asso- 
ciation, Inc. Because of the limiting minimum weight of the empty 
vehicle, small sizes of tires are overloaded but in no case more than 
15 per cent. The alignment of the wheels and the condition of the 
brakes are examined and any necessary corrections made prior to the 
test. During the course of a test, every effort is made not to disturb 
the alignment of the wheels, the condition of the brakes, or any other 
mechanical condition of the wheels. In this connection, the alignment 
of the wheels is checked before each period to verify that it has not 

The tires are placed on the vehicles in accordance with the design 
of test. The vehicles in each test are operated in a convoy. During each 
period of slightly more than 500 miles, each tire remains on the wheel 
to which it is allocated. At the end of the period, the tires are removed 
from the vehicles, stones and other foreign particles are removed from 
the treads, and dirt on the tires is removed by washing with water. 
If the tires become contaminated with road tar, it is removed with 
gasoline. After washing, the surplus water is removed with compressed 


air and the tires are allowed to dry at least 16 hours before they are 
deflated and weighed. 

As a control, the spare tire on each vehicle is treated in the same 
manner as the tires being tested. The weight of the spare tire remains 
essentially constant except when most of the period is wet (transient 
showers do not cause any difficulty). Even under these conditions, the 
weight of the spare tires remains fairly constant when mounted on full 
drop-center rims. However, tires mounted on truck rims increase in 
weight indicating that water has gotten into them. When this condition 
occurs, the tires are deflated and dried in a room maintained at 100 F. 
until the spare tires return to the correct weight (generally 48 hours). 
The drying is sometimes accelerated by passing filtered compressed 
air between the rim and the tire. This difficulty in wet weather is the 
principal disadvantage of the weight method. The following procedure 
for conditioning tires before weighing has, however, been found to 
eliminate the principal difficulties generally encountered in wet 
weather: After the tires are removed from the vehicles and cleaned 
at the end of each test period, they are deflated and placed in a room 
maintained between 100 and 110 F. for a period of 40 hours. If the 
roads were wet during the test period, filtered compressed air is in- 
jected through the valve hole or slot in the rim during the drying 
period. Before the tires are weighed initially, they are also placed in 
the drying room for a period of 40 hours. 

If a puncture occurs on the road, the mileage is recorded and the 
tire is replaced with the spare until the vehicle returns to the testing 
station where the object causing the puncture is removed. The punc- 
tured tire after complete deflation is weighed. The tube is removed and 
repaired or replaced depending on the extent of the damage. After 
remounting the tire with the valve stem of the tube in the same relative 
position as before the puncture, the assembly is again weighed. The 
difference in weight before and after repair is applied as a correction 
in determining the total weight of the tread. When it is necessary to 
replace the tube, the tire is rebalanced and appropriate corrections 
are made for any change in the mass of the balancing weights. If a 
tire is damaged beyond repair (which did not occur in any of the 
tests in this paper), a duplicate tire is substituted for the one that 
failed and the test continued; if necessary, the period in which failure 
occurred is repeated. 

After the road test is completed, the remaining tread is removed 
by buffing to determine the total weight of tread. A specially designed 
machine is used. It has adjustments for buffing to any tread radius 
between 6 and 13 inches, to any tread depth on tires between 6.00-16 
and 11.00-20 in size, and for centering the different sizes of tires with 
respect to the buffing wheel. Each tread is buffed to the tread radius 


that existed 1 at the end of the road test. The tread is removed in such 
a manner that the depths of the two outside grooves are equal even 
though one shoulder jnay have worn faster than the other during the 
road test. Buffing is terminated when any one of the tread grooves 
disappears for 180 degrees around the circumference of the tire. After 
buffing, the tire assembly is again weighed in the manner previously 
described and the weight of the tread is calculated from the initial 
and final weights and any corrections resulting from punctures. 

If tires having the same tread design and carcass construction are 
tested, it is not necessary to buff the tread to determine the compara- 
tive treadwear. Since the volume of the tread is the same on such 
tires, relative treadwear can be determined from rate of wear and 
density measurements only. 

Depth Method. In the tests reported in this paper, the depth of each 
tread groove was also measured each time that weight measurements 
were made. Depth measurements were made to the nearest thousandth 
of an inch at four locations in each groove, spaced approximately 90 
degrees apart. Since the bottom of many tread grooves was not smooth, 
three or more readings were taken with a dial gage at each location. 
The minimum reading was taken to represent the depth at that point 
since exploratory tests showed this reading to be the most reproducible. 
The locations at which measurements were made were marked so that 
the depths could be measured at the same locations after each period. 
The values for the depths at the four locations in each groove were 
averaged. Considerable difficulty was encountered in measuring the 
depth of the grooves in certain tread designs, and the poorer reproduci- 
bility in making depth measurements in these tests than in tests pre- 
viously reported may be partly attributed to this cause. 11 


Of all the specialized forms of scientific writing, the case history 
probably makes the strongest appeal to the general reader. The indi- 
vidual instance of a principle or condition a case of murder, a case 
of measles, a case of juvenile delinquency, a case of hysteria has 
the human appeal which the abstraction lacks. 

A. Definition of Terms 

In order to understand fully the scientific significance of the case 
history, the student must understand the relationship between the 
individual instance and the generalization in the growth of scientific 

11 R. D. Stiehler, G. G. Richey, and J. Mandel, "Measurement of Treadwear 
of Commercial Tires," Rubber Age, 73:202-04, May 1953. 


knowledge. First, a general principle or concept is built up from the 
study of many individual instances or cases. 12 Then a typical case 
may be taken as illustrative of that principle. In popular usage, and 
even in uncritical professional usage, the term case is often used in 
referring to the person concerned. Authorities, however, are more 
restrictive in their use of this term: 

A case is an instance of disease, the totality of the symptoms and 
of the pathologic and other conditions; a patient is the human being 
afflicted. One continually finds in medical manuscripts such sentences 
as "The case had a fever," "Thirty cases were admitted to the hospital" 
and "The case was operated on." In the publications of the American 
Medical Association such usages are banned. 13 

Similarly : 

The social worker's "case" is the particular social situation or prob- 
lem not the person or persons concerned. For the person, as distin- 
guished from his problem, the term now in general use is "client." 14 

From the time that an individual presents himself for professional 
assistance his case becomes a matter of record. Prepared blanks or 
forms are often used in making these records, and laboratory and 
other special reports are filed with them. When the case records are 
written up for presentation to a professional society or agency, the 
paper is known as a case report. (See Chapter 11.) A short case 
report may be a simple summary in narrative form. For a longer 
report analytical divisions are used, such as the subject's history, 
family history, physical examination, laboratory examination, etc. 

Case history is a general term used to denote an account of a case 
from its inception to date or to its conclusion. The term case history 
may also apply to a short illustrative summary used for teaching 

12 Recognizing the possibilities in teaching general principles through spe- 
cific instances, James Bryant Conant in 1947 suggested in On Understanding 
Science, New Haven, Yale University Press, pp. 16-17, that the nature of science 
be taught by the use of "case histories" or accounts of individual scientific 
discoveries which illustrate "the tactics and strategy of science." More recently 
Conant's suggestion has found expression in his book Science and Common 
Sense, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1951. 

13 By permission from Medical Writing, by Morris Fishbein, p. 44. Copyright 
1948. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 

14 Mary E. Richmond, What Is Social Case Work?, New York, Russell Sag*! 
Foundation, 1922, p. 27. 


or expository purposes. In introducing a series of case histories, 
S. W. Ranson has stressed their instructional value: 

An excellent review of anatomic neurology can be obtained by a study 
of a series of neurologic patients and an attempt to interpret their 
symptoms in terms of damaged cell masses and fiber tracts. The fol- 
lowing brief case histories may serve in lieu of actual patients. Each 
will be found to illustrate some important facts concerning the organi- 
zation of the nervous system. 15 

B. Writing of Case Histories 

The problems presented in the writing of a case history or a case 
report are those of selection, arrangement, and style. (See Chapters 
8, 9, and 11.) Material, however colorful, which does not bear on 
the scientific interest of the case should be excluded. Even if the 
account is long enough to justify an analytical arrangement, chrono- 
logical order should be followed within the divisions. The writer 
should never interrupt the course of his narrative to go back to relate 
something that happened previously. The telegraphic style sometimes 
used in case records is not permissible in case reports or case his- 

Although there is a strong resemblance among case histories, there 
are also differences among them in both content and presentation. A 
case may be selected for presentation to a clinical society or journal 
because of its unusual or surprising features. For purposes of in- 
struction, a typical case is more likely to be chosen. The aim may 
be the presentation of enough clinical detail to form the basis of 
thorough study or discussion, which will demand a long and analyti- 
cally arranged report. Or the aim may be the inclusion of only enough 
detail to make possible an understanding of the essential or the 
peculiar features of the case. 

C. Examples of Case Histories 

The form of the medical case history has had a widespread influ- 
ence in other areas. The following case history, included by John 
A. Ryle in The Natural History of Disease to illustrate the "mani- 
festations of thyroid deficiency," is in chronological order. It includes 

15 Stephen Walter Ranson and Sam Lillard Clark, The Anatomy of the Nerv- 
ous System, 9th ed., Philadelphia, W. B. Saunders Company, 1953, p. 396. 


a brief family history and a fairly detailed account of the patient's 
illness, the symptoms, the treatment, and the results. 

Case 1. Mrs. N , aged 42, was admitted on 23 February 1923. 

Her mother died of consumption. She had two daughters living, aged 
21 and 19 years. Two other children died in infancy. Twenty-two years 
ago she had enteric fever. Before this date she enjoyed perfectly good 
health, but she has never felt really fit since the illness. In 1911 she 
had pneumonia, and six months later was operated on for appendicular 
abscess. These two illnesses further aggravated her feelings of unfit- 
ness. For 12 years she has noticed gradually increasing muscular weak- 
ness, with impairment of memory and slowness of speech. She has also 
experienced an increasing intolerance for cold, and feels chilly even 
in summer. In recent years she has been growing fat, though latterly 
she has again lost weight. She has noticed puffiness of the face and 
eyelids and dryness of the skin. She never sweats. Recently she has 
had to give up her household duties on account of weakness. She fre- 
quently forgets what she wants to say, and whereas she used to be 
"sharp-spoken," she is now "very slow." Her hair has been falling. The 
periods have been irregular. She was sent to Guy's, however, not so 
much for these general symptoms as for some vague abdominal dis- 
comforts, for which she was seen by Mr. Turner. He considered that 
these symptoms could be sufficiently accounted for by visceroptosis, 
and was struck by her general condition. He drew attention to the 
hyperaemic patches on her cheeks, which suggested mitral stenosis. 
These were a striking feature, contrasting sharply with her rather 
yellowish underlying pallor. Even more striking, however, was the gen- 
eral heaviness of the features, and the complete absence of any play 
of emotion or expression in the course of the interrogation. The eyelids 
were slightly puffy. The hair was dry and coarse, and the outer half 
of the eyebrows was lacking; the hair-margin had considerably re- 
ceded. Her voice was monotonous, and her words were uttered slowly. 
Her latent period in answering questions was longer than normal. The 
integument of the forehead was thick. The skin was everywhere dry, 
and the axillary hair was scanty. Her pulse was 64, temperature 97.4, 
and respiration-rate 20. The systolic blood-pressure was 135. The blood 
showed a haemoglobin percentage of 65, and a red cell count of 4,140,- 
000. The basal metabolic rate was minus 24.7 per cent. Glucose toler- 
ance was, however, normal. It should be mentioned that she had been 
taking small doses of thyroid while awaiting admission. She was treated 
with thyroid in the form of Tab. Thyroid (B. & W.), and seemed to 
do best on a dose of gr. 2 thrice daily. This represents only about gr. 
1% of dried thyroid in the day. She improved steadily, and a few 
months later, excepting for a slight tendency to dizziness, had lost all 
her symptoms. Her colour had improved remarkably. In figure she 


became slim and sprightly. Her face and expression were happy and 
vivacious. 16 

Out of the vast number of case histories in psychosomatic medi- 
cine, psychiatry, and psychology, it is impossible to select one which 
is typical. The example included here from the writings of Sigmund 
Freud has not been chosen with any thought of implying a judgment 
on the Freudian theory and practice of psychoanalysis. It has been 
selected rather because the interest which the ideas of Freud aroused 
was undoubtedly due in part to the literary skill with which he ex- 
plained his theories in terms of his case studies. 

In this instance an account of the previous history of one of Freud's 
patients is offered as evidence in support of Freud's theory of the 
dream as a wish fulfillment, and the introduction and arrangement 
of the account are governed by this purpose. 

Yet another dream of a more gloomy character was offered me by 
a female patient in contradiction of my theory of the wish-dream. This 
patient, a young girl, began as follows: "You remember that my sister 
has now only one boy, Charles. She lost the elder one, Otto, while I was 
still living with her. Otto was my favourite; it was I who really brought 
him up. I like the other little fellow, too, but, of course, not nearly 
so much as his dead brother. Now I dreamt last night that I saw 
Charles lying dead before me. He was lying in his little coffin, his 
hands folded; there were candles all about; and, in short, it was just 
as it was at the time of little Otto's death, which gave me such a shock. 
Now tell me, what does this mean? You know me am I really so bad 
as to wish that my sister should lose the only child she has left? Or 
does the dream mean that I wish that Charles had died rather than 
Otto, whom I liked so much better?" 

I assured her that this latter interpretation was impossible. After 
some reflection, I was able to give her the interpretation of the dream, 
which she subsequently confirmed. I was able to do so because the 
whole previous history of the dreamer was known to me. 

Having become an orphan at an early age, the girl had been brought 
up in the home of a much older sister, and had met, among the friends 
and visitors who frequented the house, a man who made a lasting im- 
pression upon her affections. It looked for a time as though these barely 
explicit relations would end in marriage, but this happy culmination 
was frustrated by the sister, whose motives were never completely ex- 

16 John A. Ryle, The Natural History of Disease, 2nd ed., Oxford, Oxford 
University Press, 1948, pp. 368-69. 


plained. After the rupture the man whom my patient loved avoided 
the house; she herself attained her independence some time after the 
death of little Otto, to whom, meanwhile, her affections had turned. 
But she did not succeed in freeing herself from the dependence due 
to her affection for her sister's friend. Her pride bade her avoid him; 
but she found it impossible to transfer her love to the other suitors 
who successively presented themselves. Whenever the man she loved, 
who was a member of the literary profession, announced a lecture any- 
where, she was certain to be found among the audience ; and she seized 
every other opportunity of seeing him unobserved. I remember that 
on the previous day she had told me that the Professor was going to 
a certain concert, and that she too was going, in order to enjoy the 
sight of him. This was on the day before the dream; and the concert 
was to be given on the day on which she told me the dream. I could 
now easily see the correct interpretation, and I asked her whether she 
could think of any particular event which had occurred after Otto's 
death. She replied immediately: "Of course; the Professor returned 
then, after a long absence, and I saw him once more beside little Otto's 
coffin." It was just as I had expected. I interpreted the dream as fol- 
lows: "If now the other boy were to die, the same thing would happen 
again. You would spend the day with your sister; the Professor would 
certainly come to offer his condolences, and you would see him once 
more under the same circumstances as before. The dream signifies 
nothing more than this wish of yours to see him again a wish against 
which you are fighting inwardly. I know that you have the ticket for 
to-day's concert in your bag. Your dream is a dream of impatience; 
it has anticipated by several hours the meeting which is to take place 

In order to disguise her wish she had obviously selected a situation 
in which wishes of the sort are commonly suppressed a situation so 
sorrowful that love is not even thought of. And yet it is entirely pos- 
sible that even in the actual situation beside the coffin of the elder, 
more dearly loved boy, she had not been able to suppress her tender 
affection for the visitor whom she had missed for so long. 17 

The case history as used in social work has been defined as "a 
body of personal information conserved with a view to the three 
ends of social case work, namely, (1) the immediate purpose of fur- 
thering effective treatment of individual clients, (2) the ultimate pur- 
pose of general social betterment, and (3) the incidental purpose of 

17 Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams, translated by A. A. Brill, 
3rd ed., London, George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1932, pp. 156-58. Used with per- 
mission of the publisher. 


establishing the case worker ... in critical thinking." 18 Because of 
the day-to-day character of the social case worker's relationship with 
the client, social case records involve a great deal of detail. Such 
records are difficult to keep accurately and difficult to summarize in 
narrative form. 

The opening sentence of the following example of a case history 
is a succinct statement of the point which the authors wish to illus- 
trate through the use of the account of this case. The arrangement 
here is more analytical and less chronological than that of the pre- 
ceding examples. In order to give a complete background of this 
child's case, it was necessary first to consider her parents as indi- 
viduals, then to offer an account of their marriage. The concluding 
paragraph sums up again the significance of the case this time in 
specific terms and suggests a possible approach to adjustment. 

The case of Anna Boone, a little girl of seven, illustrates with great 
clarity how the father's attempt to give his daughter security ended in 
disaster because it robbed his wife of hers. The early history of Anna's 
father was unusually free from serious disturbances. As the youngest 
son of a prosperous business man, Edward's childhood was comfortable 
and pleasant in material ways, and essentially secure emotionally. The 
elder Mr. Boone was very fond of Edward and they were companion- 
able in many ways. In spite of a quick and rather violent temper Mr. 
Boone was lenient with his children and particularly so with this last 
child of his. Though the younger Mr. Boone returned his father's affec- 
tion, he told the Bureau worker that he was fondest of his mother. 
She is described as an intelligent woman, interested in club activities, 
albeit at the same time a devoted mother. 

All of Edward's brothers became successful business or professional 
men. Edward, on the other hand, after finishing the eighth grade, re- 
fused all offers of further schooling and, after a short course in busi- 
ness college, entered his father's office. The entire family, while ex- 
pressing a fondness for and loyalty toward this youngest brother, 
nevertheless look upon his economic status as a mark of failure. Their 
attitudes toward his changing jobs and business reverses have added 
to his feeling of inadequacy. 

Edward remained single until the age of forty. His marriage to a 
girl ten years his junior was a terrific shock to his family, the more 

is Ada Eliot Sheffield, The Social Case History, New York, Russell Sage 
Foundation, 1920, pp. 5-6. 


so as they considered her of inferior stock and unworthy of becoming 
one of them. 

In contrast to the history of satisfying childhood experiences in 
which Edward grew up, the background of his future wife was pre- 
dominantly negative in value. Ruth Morse's father was an undemon- 
strative, nervous but kindly man who played little part in her life. 
Her mother was a delicate woman who died in childbirth when Ruth 
was but five years old. Mr. Morse, finding himself with a small daugh- 
ter to care for, soon remarried. The second Mrs. Morse was a vigorous 
woman of much common sense, but severe and unyielding. She had 
two daughters of her own by Mr. Morse and though she strove for 
impartiality, Ruth says she "always felt a difference." There were never 
any open breaks. Ruth was always on excellent terms with her step- 
mother and half-sisters even after her marriage to Mr. Boone. Never- 
theless, there is ample evidence of her childhood unhappiness. She had 
frequent crying spells, cried much in her sleep, and was looked upon 
as generally "queer." Mrs. Morse did not allow her to play on the 
street but kept her indoors to help with the care of the children. 

Ruth brought to her marriage the full measure of her depriving 
experiences, great insecurity, and a deep-seated need to find a pro- 
tective, understanding "parent-person" in her husband. From the first, 
her immaturity and unreadiness to assume responsibility were appar- 
ent. She had hated housework as a girl and her first reaction after 
marriage was to let down completely and play invalid for three months. 
Her untidiness, poor judgment, and constant complaints were further 
evidences of her childishness. Mr. Boone was able for some time to 
treat her as she wished to be treated. He had a pleasant manner, a self- 
assured air in which she could rest confident, and a flattering repent- 
ance after one of his outbursts of temper. As a young cousin of his 
told the Bureau worker one day, "he would die to protect his wife 
from injury." This devotion of his, given in such a paternal spirit, 
could not but be utterly satisfying to a woman who had had almost 
no demonstration of affection in her entire existence. 

This condition of satisfied self-centeredness could not be permanent 
however much Mrs. Boone wished it. Her pregnancy was an immediate 
threat to her. She felt badly all the time, and though she talked about 
wanting a baby her unconscious resistance came through at night for 
she cried constantly in her sleep. Just as she reacted in former days 
to responsibility thrust upon her by the death of her mother, the ad- 
vent of a stepmother and baby half-sisters, so now she responded to 
the necessity of giving up her dependency upon her husband in order 
to be a parent to their child. 

Anna did not thrive in this over-charged emotional atmosphere. As 


an infant she lost weight, refused to nurse, and cried continually. Her 
aunts say she was "disagreeable from infancy," that this trait was 
apparent when she was only a week old. It is easy, however, to recog- 
nize in the baby's fretf ulness and irritating ways an inevitable response 
to the mother's resentment and the insecurity to which Anna was ex- 
posed in consequence. 

Mr. Boone from the beginning played quite a part in his young 
daughter's life. His security and consequent ability to take the father 
role towards his wife enabled him to assume it with Anna also. Had 
Mrs. Boone been able to accept motherhood, Mr. Boone's attention 
would have been a most satisfying and constructive experience for 
Anna. As it was, it contained little of a satisfying nature because by 
experiencing her father's love she aroused her mother's antagonism. 
Instead of gaining security with both parents as is every child's pre- 
rogative, Anna had none with her mother and was given to feel that 
she had no right to any with her father. 

As Mr. Boone continued to dress the baby, play with her, and be 
demonstrative in his affections, Mrs. Boone found it more and more 
difficult to hide her jealousy. It manifested itself at times more subtly, 
at times quite crudely. She was careless about the child's sleeping 
hours and diet though she exhibited anxiety over Anna's undernourish- 
ment and fatigability. When Anna was difficult to manage, Mrs. Boone 
threw up her hands, said she was impossible, and left the child to her 
own devices. Occasionally Mrs. Boone went so far as to predict that 
she would go insane because of Anna; or to blame her nervousness 
and wrecked spirits on the child's behavior. Her complaints of ill- 
health and bids for sympathy were of course nothing but thinly veiled 
attempts to regain the center of the stage, to rebuild her lost security. 

Since much of the history came from the mother, the record of her 
unwise handling is rather incomplete. On the other hand, not only 
from Mrs. Boone, but from all other adults as well, come full reports 
of Anna's attitude toward her mother, the child's response to the 
deep-lying feeling of rejection. Everyone talked of Anna's "aversion 
to her mother," her hatred of being touched strong evidence that the 
physical contacts of babyhood had been unsatisfying experiences her 
refusal to obey unless the mother couched her requests in certain 
verbal formulae, her tendency to scold Mrs. Boone like a naughty child, 
and then her rare softened moments when she would say, "Call me 
darling and be nice to me and then I'll stop crying." 

It is easy to see that here one is deadlocked the child needs 
security, so does the mother, and the only one who can give it is the 
father. Yet his attention to either one of them threatens the other and 
increases the family problem. One's greatest chance of success lies in 
an outsider, i.e., a social worker or psychiatrist, who may relieve Mrs. 


Boone of some of her emotional burdens, knowing that a degree of 
self-security alone will make possible her adjustment to her daughter. 19 


The book review as it is known in scientific journals is an adapta- 
tion of a well-known literary form to the needs and interests of those 
engaged in scientific work. As a literary form, the present-day book 
review, usually from about four hundred to a thousand words in 
length, is something of a hybrid. On the one side it traces its ancestry 
to the ancient art of literary criticism. On the other, it derives from 
a more recent antecedent modern journalism. The book review, 
according to Joseph Wood Krutch, has three minimum tasks to de- 
scribe the book, to communicate something of its quality, and to 
pass a judgment upon it. 20 As journalism, the book review should 
answer the questions suggested by the five W's of news writing 
Who wrote the book? When? Where? What is it about? Why is it 
significant? "The purpose of the honest reviewer," it has been main- 
tained, "should be to tell the prospective purchaser whether the book 
is, to him, worth what it costs." 21 

A. The Scientific Writer and the Book Review 

Scientists are often by virtue of their special knowledge asked to 
review books on scientific subjects. The concern of the scientific 
writer with the book review is somewhat different from that of either 
the professional reviewer or the literary critic. The scientific writer's 
first concern is naturally with the usefulness, interest, and merit of 
new books in his field, not with the tenets of literary criticism or with 

Conventional book reviews, including practically all of those which 
appear in scientific publications, follow the principle that a composi- 
tion should have a planned beginning, middle, and end. While these 
parts have no formal division in the book review, they provide a 
general description and characterization of the book, a discussion 

19 Porter R. Lee and Marion E. Kenworthy, Mental Hygiene and Social 
Work, New York, The Commonwealth Fund, 1929, pp. 33-37. 

20 Joseph Wood Krutch, "What Is a Good Review?" Nation, 144:438, April 
17, 1937. 

21 E. H. McClelland, "Reviewing of Technical Books the Minimum Require- 
ments," Journal of Chemical Education, 25:380-82, July 1948. 


of particular features, and an evaluation. The text of the review is 
preceded by a formal bibliographical heading which gives the title 
and author of the book and such information as the number of pages, 
the publisher, the place of publication, and the price. 

The opening paragraph or two of the review indicates the category 
to which the book belongs anthology, handbook, biography, field 
manual, or the like. The reviewer may further characterize the book 
by indicating its purpose, scope, and length, and by describing the 
treatment as popular, semitechnical, or technical. He may identify 
the author and point out his particular qualifications or relationship 
to the subject. This opening section of the review may include a pre- 
liminary evaluation of the book, with reference to any notable fea- 
tures such as unusual illustrations. 

Following this initial characterization of the book, the reviewer 
uses the next few paragraphs to discuss those aspects of the book 
which, in his opinion, merit special attention and to offer evidence 
for his evaluation. Quoted phrases may be woven into the review, or 
longer passages may be quoted to give an idea of the author's style, 
treatment, or approach. 

The review ends with an evaluation of the book in terms of its 
purpose. Such an evaluation is most useful when it stresses the book's 
special contribution, mentioning such features as indexes and bibli- 
ographies, and points out any marked limitations. The validity of 
the reviewer's evaluation should be apparent from the evidence which 
he has presented in the review. 

Book reviews may be considered reportorial or critical, according 
to whether the emphasis falls on giving information about the book 
or on evaluating it. The terms critical and criticism are understood, 
of course, to include both favorable and unfavorable judgments. 
Reviews in general periodicals are often more impressionistic in style 
than those in scientific journals. Occasionally a tangential review will 
depart from the subject of the book to discuss a topic which the book 
suggests to the reviewer. 

B. Examples of Book Reviews 

The book reviews which close this chapter illustrate the different 
types of reviews. The first review is predominantly reportorial since 


it gives a great deal of information about the book with a minimum 
of critical comment. 

A HISTORY OF MEDICINE, by Henry E. Sigerist. Vol. I: Primitive 
and Archaic Medicine. Publication No. 27, Historical Library, Yale 
Medical Library (Oxford University Press). 

THE BOOK here reviewed is the first of a projected series of eight 
volumes on the history of medicine which Henry E. Sigerist has retired 
to Switzerland to prepare, on the basis of the studies of a lifetime. 
It is encyclopedic in scope and specialists in particular fields may 
differ with regard to the significance of, say, some special ceremony 
in a particular Indian tribe. On the whole, however, there can be no 
question of the soundness of the conclusions drawn, and each chapter 
is provided with exhaustive references. 

The first two-fifths of the volume is devoted to a broad and illuminat- 
ing discussion of the basic principles involved, of the problems and 
methods of medical history, of the incidence of disease in time and 
space, of primitive medicine, attitudes toward the sick, and the place 
of the "medicine man" in the more primitive civilizations. Sigerist 
demonstrates that "there are no sharp borderlines and that in the 
mind of primitive man, magic, religion, and medicine constitute an 
inseparable whole." He points out that "it is an insult to the medicine 
man to call him the ancestor of the modern physician. He is that, to 
be sure, but he is much more, namely the ancestor of most of our 
professions." And it is fascinating to see how in the primitive arts of 
healing, the application of empirical science often played a part, as 
in the discovery of inoculation against smallpox, introduced with the 
backing of Cotton Mather in Boston in 1716, as a result of information 
received from one of his Negro slaves. 

The last three-fifths of the book is devoted to the development of 
medicine in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Sigerist gives us a brief 
but vivid description of the geographical setting of each of those two 
great civilizations, of their social and economic conditions, their labor 
and recreation. In Egypt the scientific element looms large in the 
empirical-religious-magical art of healing. At the very dawn of history 
we find two theoretical treatises dealing crudely but with considerable 
acumen with the basic principles of physiology and pathology. In 
Mesopotamia, the religious and magical elements were stronger. It is 
understood that the next book will present a somewhat similar contrast- 
ing picture of ancient medical thinking in India and Greece. 

Judged from its first volume, Sigerist's work will interest a circle 
much wider than the medical profession. It is about medicine; but it 


is history. It is a substantial contribution to our knowledge of the 
human mind and the ways in which that mind functions in the creation 
of a social order. 22 

C.-E. A. Winslow 

The second example offers evaluation supported by evidence and 
is thus a critical review. The review follows the not unusual practice 
of treating together two or more books on related subjects. 

From Cave Art to Contemporary Graphic Art 23 

From Cave Painting to Comic Strip. Lancelot Hogben. (288 pp., 211 
illus., 20 color plates. Chanticleer Press, New York, 1949.) 

Profile Art. R. L. Megroz. (xii, 131 pp., 140 illus., 60 plates, Philo- 
sophical Library, New York, 1949.) 

Although very different in purpose, these two books are reviewed 
together because they are largely picture books that cover a similar 
time span, from prehistoric cave art to contemporary graphic art. 
Their greatest, and only real importance for the anthropologist resides 
in their 332 illustrations. In both books are frequent illustrations of 
value that are not often reproduced and are difficult to find. 

For those acquainted with Hogben's Mathematics for the Million 
and Science for the Citizen, it should be said that his present book 
is again a popular exposition, brilliantly written, of a subject of the 
first importance. The sub-title, "A Kaleidoscope of Human Communi- 
cation," makes clear the content of From Cave Painting to Comic Strip. 
Techniques of "human communication" are traced from prehistoric 
cave painting, through the invention of the calendar, alphabet, and 
computation systems, to the development of printing, graphic repre- 
sentation, photography, and, finally, the comic strip, movies, radio and 
television. The major historical facts are usually presented accurately, 
but in most cases without documentation, in keeping with Hogben's 
often declared disdain of "cloistered" scholarship. Throughout this 
book, in fact, there are constantly recurring minor motives made up 
of his favorite convictions, such as the importance of the fight against 
illiteracy and the role standardization should play in it, the necessity 
for world government, so that mankind may survive, and the great 
importance of visual education in bringing about a world where ideas 
can be interchanged understandably. These ideas finally emerge as a 
major theme in the concluding and most important chapter of the 
book. No one can deny the urgency of the ideas that bear upon the 
present state of the world. And no one would deny that popularization 

22 New Republic, 125(13) :19, September 24, 1951. 

28 American Anthropologist, 53(3) :403-04, July-September 1951. 


is important, if rooted in solid scholarship. But the blending of facts, 
hypotheses, and suppositions is dangerous and undesirable, even if in 
support of worthy ideals. 

Profile Art has, perhaps, less to recommend itself to the anthro- 
pologist. It is essentially an art book in which Megroz discusses in an 
interesting but discursive and generalized manner the appearance of 
profiles or silhouettes or outlines in the art of various eras from that 
of the cave dweller to that of contemporary man. There is no clear-cut 
distinction between profile, silhouette, or outline. They are, in fact, 
considered as one and the same thing. There is no real subject-matter, 
aside from a consideration of a selection of examples that are un- 
related in purpose or aesthetic motivation. There is furthermore no 
attempt at a psychological interpretation of the preference in the art 
of certain periods for strongly marked outlines. The book, however, 
does bring together a miscellany of important information on the cut- 
out silhouettes of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In general, 
the text suggests that the various sections of the book were taken from 
a larger historical treatise. For example, the chapter headings list Cave 
Art, Egyptian Silhouettes, Greek Pottery, Ancient and Medieval orna- 
ment, and then vault to eighteenth century shadow painting. The four 
chapters on shadow painting or cut-out silhouettes are certainly the 
most important in the book. But the conclusions drawn do not succeed 
in giving any unity or cohesiveness to the discussions. The book could 
be used effectively, however, for its illustrations and for its discussion 
of eighteenth and nineteenth century cut-out silhouette art. 

Paul S. Wingert 

The third example is also a critical review and shows how the book 
review pattern may be used in reviewing a motion picture. The re- 
viewer has limited himself to four paragraphs, devoting the first to 
a critical characterization of the film, the second to subject matter 
with comments, the third to the usefulness of the film, and the fourth 
to a final evaluation. The form of documentation used in the heading 
for a review of a film should be noted. 

Guard Your Heart 24 

Guard Your Heart. How the heart works in health and in certain 
heart conditions. 16 mm. Black and white. Sound. 27 minutes. Pro- 
duced for the American Heart Association by Bray Studios, 729 Seventh 
Avenue, New York 19, N. Y. . . . 

Like too many "educational" motion pictures, this is an illustrated 

24 American Journal of Public Health, 41 (9): 1143, New York, American Pub- 
lic Health Association, Inc., September 1951. 


lecture. It is a good illustrated lecture, but except for brief sequences 
at the beginning and end, it does not take advantage of the motion 
picture technique. 

In the traditional manner, we find Sam pretentiously doing all the 
wrong things, an understanding wife who sends him to the doctor, and 
a lecture by the doctor on the anatomy and physiology of the heart 
and circulation. Briefly, all too briefly, Sam is seen reforming. The 
actors play their parts well, the photography and sound are good; the 
animation is especially excellent. However, well over half the running 
time is used up in the doctor's talk, apparently on the assumption that 
if people know what a heart looks like, where it is, and how it and its 
related blood vessels operate, they will automatically know what to 
do and what not to do to protect it. Since this is an assumption of 
dubious validity, the full value of the film will be realized only if it is 
used as a basis for discussion. 

For the beginning medical student or nurse or first aid class, this 
lecture is useful as any training film could be. For the layman, there 
is insufficient down-to-earth demonstration of what a person should or 
should not do to guard his heart. Furthermore the lecture is replete 
with medical terms like "arteriosclerosis" and "coronary thrombosis," 
which confuse the layman even though the conditions are beautifully 
illustrated in the animation. 

In a superb and successful effort to convey information, the picture 
fails to convey knowledge, especially knowledge that might affect be- 
havior. Briefly, one is left with a feeling that if one has a pain in the 
chest, he had better see a doctor (which is all to the good) that the 
heart is a complicated organ which we ought to take care of (which 
most people already know) and that we ought not to run for buses 
or eat our lunches at our desks. Also, seeing the doctor seems to 
improve one's golf game. It seemed to this reviewer that these simple 
messages could have been driven home in much less time and that 
more direct stimuli to action might have been included. 

Homer N. Calver 

The reviewer whose approach is more impressionistic than that of 
the writer who adheres closely to conventional patterns exercises con- 
siderable freedom in his choice of words and comparisons. His pur- 
pose is to let the reader share his impression of the book, and he may 
accomplish this end by a variety of means, including even parody, 
satire, hyperbole, or the reductio ad absurdum. A review of this type 
should be unified in tone. A skilled reviewer may maintain the tone 
through a fairly long review, as does Clifton Fadiman in the selec- 
tion included here. 


Easy Lessons in Science Horrors! 25 

Ernest R. Trattner's "Architects of Ideas" aims to recount "the story 
of the great theories of mankind." In its way a creditable job, the book 
would have seemed more original and been more useful about fifteen 
years ago, when H. G. Wells, Will Durant, J. Arthur Thomson, and 
others were leading us, so many innocent Daniels, into the outline's den. 
Since those pleasant days we have absorbed a great deal of superficial 
scientific information about profound scientific truths. A reading body 
that has digested Eddington and Jeans, Hogben, and Bell, Wells and 
Huxley may not be entirely satisfied with Mr. Trattner's rechauffes. 
It may listen with some apathy to his hooray-for-the-scientific-spirit 
cheerleading. I would guess that the furious msh for a book like 
Einstein and Inf eld's "The Evolution of Physics" proves we no longer 
need to have our science cut up for us by Nursie. 

Specifically, Mr. Trattner's chapters on Copernicus, Darwin, Marx, 
Pasteur, Freud, and Einstein have two strikes on them, simply because 
the more basic doctrines of these figures have by this time become 
pretty familiar to those who read at all seriously. But, to be perfectly 
fair to Mr. Trattner, how much do you know about Hutton, who laid 
the foundations of modern geology? How much about Count Rumford, 
that Renaissance personality born out of his time, who demonstrated 
heat to be a mode of motion? How much about Huygens and the 
wave theory of light? How much about Schwann and the other investi- 
gators of the nature of the cell? How much about Chamber lin, who, 
with Moulton, figured out the planetesimal hypothesis accounting for 
the origin of the earth? Caught you there, eh? 

I wish that Mr. Trattner hadn't chosen such a basso-profundo title 
for his book. "Architects of Ideas" makes you expect more than you 
actually get. If he had called it "Simple Summaries of Part of the 
Work of Fifteen Modern Scientists, Their Predecessors, and Their 
Followers," everything would have been fine and dandy. (Also, he 
wouldn't have sold a copy.) The fact is that "Architects of Ideas" has 
only a vague unity. Nor does any principle of selection emerge clearly. 
We get a chapter on Lavoisier, who analyzed the nature of burning 
and respiration, but, for example, none on Newton, an incomparably 
greater "architect of ideas." The chapter on Schwann contains hardly 
more than a brief comment on Thomas Hunt Morgan, whose theory 
of the gene will probably entitle him to rank with Einstein and Freud. 
We get twenty-three pages on the classic theorists of heat without a 
mention of Josiah Willard Gibbs. Sometimes, in his search for great 
theories, Mr. Trattner goes quite haywire. He has a chapter entitled 

2 5 Clifton Fadiman, New Yorker, 14(12) :72, May 7, 1938. Copyright 1938. 
The New Yorker Magazine, Inc. 


"Boas: Theory of Man." What is a theory of man? Franz Boas would 
hardly claim that his refutation of the nonsense of racial dominance 
permits him to set himself up as the author of a "theory of man" in 
the precise sense that Pasteur was the creator of the germ theory of 
disease. It's all very confusing. 

Mr. Trattner can probably answer all these objections easily, but 
the place to do so is his preface, where you will find little but amiable 

Don't run off with the notion, however, that his book is bad. On the 
contrary, it contains much interesting information about many scien- 
tists. It's clearly written and each chapter is reasonably well organized. 
It could, I think, have been a much better book if Mr. Trattner had 
thought more highly of the intelligence of his potential audience. 

The book review may be described as tangential when it departs 
from the book itself to discuss a subject suggested by the book. The 
reviewer should not offer a review of this type unless he is confident 
that it will be acceptable to the publication in which the review is 
to appear. Asher Byrnes' review of George Sarton's The Life of Sci- 
ence is a thoughtful and informed discussion first of Sarton's life 
work and then of a topic it suggests the scientist's relation to soci- 
ety. But one must glance again at the heading to recall that the review 
has anything to do with the 197-page volume which occasioned it. 

Genesis of "Progress" 26 

The Life of Science: Essays in the History of Civilization. By George 
Sarton. New York: Henry Schuman. 1948. 197 pp. 

Reviewed by Asher Byrnes 

George Sarton is one of the few modern scholars of whom it can 
be said that he is not only the biggest man in his field, but that he 
also discovered it in the first place. In 1912 he began the publication 
of Isis, a quarterly journal devoted to the history of science. It is still, 
under his editorship, the principal periodical devoted to the subject. 
Subject? Perhaps one should rather call it a movement. Since 1912 
the numbers of researchers treading on his heels have increased to 
such a pitch that no less than four more special journals are required 
to handle their output. Dr. Sarton also edits Osiris, wherein he prints 
material too lengthy and technical for Isis. Another journal, Annals of 
Science, publishes papers dealing with the modern period alone ; and a 
further specialization is provided for by Ambix, which is devoted to 
alchemy and other early chemistry, and by the Bulletin of the Institute 

The Saturday Review, 32(1) :15, January 1, 1949. 


of the History of Medicine (Johns Hopkins) the title of which is self- 
explanatory. This brief periodical list takes no account of the many 
recent series of books on the history of the sciences, or of separate 
works. Some of these are of encyclopedic dimensions. 

And here again Dr. Sarton shines in the forefront. His "Introduction 
to the History of Science" is the most encyclopedic compendium of all ; 
its scale is so vast that anyone who looks at the volumes which have 
already appeared will wonder what the history itself will be like, if 
they are merely the introduction to it. We are sufficiently familiar 
with cooperative projects that involve hundreds of scholars. This is 
one that could take centuries of time. Dr. Sarton illustrates the scope 
of his conception of the history of science by reminding his readers of 
the "Acta Sanctorum," the first volume of which appeared in 1643 
and which is still in progress; and of the history of French literature, 
which beginning in 1733 and under the Academic des Inscriptions since 
1807, has now reached the fourteenth century. Dr. Sarton's Introduction 
has also just reached the fourteenth century. 

These magnitudes of chronology are more mysterious to the modern 
mind than our statistics of interstellar space. Perhaps Dr. Sarton's 
final achievement will be that of making us aware of the dimensions 
of science itself. In the nature of things it must be greater than the 
enumeration of the phenomena it has enabled us to control. Science 
approaches the problem of the unknown through what is already 
known, and the velocity of its progress is therefore proportionate to 
the knowledge mastered at any given moment. Dr. Sarton summarizes 
the process beautifully. 

However, there is no pressing reason why the scientist should bear 
in mind the genesis of the discoveries which are now the data of his 
field of experiment. His interest in that part of the story is limited 
by the arduous character of the job in hand. An awareness of lines 
of inquiry exhausted by similar workers keeps him from repeating 
their mistakes; a familiarity with inquiries that have partially suc- 
ceeded shows him, more and more accurately, where the truth lies. 
But with all these aids he must in the final analysis do his prospecting 
for himself. When so occupied he stands, from one point of view, upon 
the shoulders of the scientist who preceded him. From another he 
strides at the head of the human procession. The first is the workman- 
like way of looking at scientific activity; the second is the spectator's. 
Why the scientist sometimes steps out of character and, beholding his 
function through both viewpoints simultaneously, fills the air with 
double-talk about everything on earth and in heaven this is the par- 
ticular mystery of the twentieth century. 

We have reached the point where relatively small additions to our 
stock of scientific knowledge may have social effects which are of 
another order of value entirely. The atom bomb was an evolutionary 


development in the laboratories; its social impact was, and continues 
to be, revolutionary outside. Consequently the scientists who partici- 
pated in that achievement are tormented by the contrast between the 
humanistic conservatism of their intentions and the mechanical radi- 
calism of their results. In theory nations which can move or "progress" 
merely by taking thought, merely by peaceful experiment and investi- 
gation, need not shoot one another down to find more room. Neverthe- 
less they shoot or bomb each other with the products of the scientist. 
He is caught in the middle; winners and losers of our horrible modern 
wars show an increasing tendency to blame him equally. 

Apparently the fundamental humanism underlying his effort, together 
with his consequent claim for absolute freedom in which to carry on 
his self-appointed task, has not raised him safely above the political 
struggles of the hour. Whether he likes it or not he is in them, and 
up to his neck. The easy way out of this dilemma is to cut his connec- 
tion with the past of science and with the future projected by it. If he 
is blamed as a partisan he may as well take the wages of partisanship. 
He may as well join the party of mechanical revolutionaries who place 
the highest current value on his research products. Where that party 
is in power he can serve it as a technician. Where it is not he can 
adopt its ideology. 

Against this abandonment of science, Dr. Sarton, who knows more 
about its history than any man alive, has raised a barrier of books. 
The books say that progress in pure science became rapid because the 
value of discoveries was no longer judged by crowds or determined by 
those who led them, but was sifted by scientists themselves, by men 
who, as scientists, were free. By men who were maintained and en- 
couraged in such freedom by the rest of us because we grasped the 
truth which precedes science itself; as men we are less than what we 
contemplate, and we are more than what we understand. Perhaps 
we have to teach this to the scientists again. 

The types of papers discussed in this chapter are, with the excep- 
tion of the book review, among the oldest forms used in scientific 
writing. 27 Some of them long antedate modern science. Directions ap- 
pear in the Bible. Case histories in the writings of Hippocrates, dating 
from the fifth century B.C., describe symptoms recognizable by mod- 
ern physicians and are mentioned in current medical texts. Still more 
ancient accounts of surgical cases are to be found in the Edwin 
Smith Egyptian papyrus, "the earliest known scientific document," 

27 Examples and analyses of engineering papers from ancient times to the 
present are given in Walter J. Miller and L. E. A. Saidla, Engineers as Writers: 
Growth of a Literature, New York, D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1953. 


which dates from the seventeenth century B.C. and is believed to be 
a copy of an even earlier treatise. 28 The Epitome (1543) of Vesalius 
was more popular than the longer work, De Humani Corporis Fab- 
rica, of which it was a condensation. 

These types have not, of course, survived unchanged. Patterns of 
arrangement have tended to become fixed; exact terms and accurate 
measurements have replaced the vaguer expressions of earlier times. 
That these special forms of writing should have survived for so long 
and are today more widely used than ever is a tribute to their utility. 


1. Consult a dictionary for the primary meaning of the word abstract 
(verb). Show how this meaning is retained when the word is used as 
different parts of speech (verb, noun, adjective) and in different con- 
texts (science, law, real estate, art). 

2. Select a scientific article of interest to you, read it carefully, and 
prepare a 300-350 word informative abstract of it, including a head- 
ing in the format used in one of the well-known abstracting journals. 
Prepare a descriptive abstract of the same article. 

3. Explain why it is difficult to abstract articles such as reviews which 
are based on printed sources rather than on experimental study. Find 
an abstract of a review and show how the abstracter has solved the 
problem of abstracting such a paper. 

4. An article expressing the author's view on a controversial subject is 
also difficult to abstract. An informative abstract of such an article 
may, however, be written by using an introductory sentence describ- 
ing or characterizing the article as objectively as possible, then con- 
tinuing with the abstract, using such phrases as "is held to be," "are 
presented," "will, it is believed," to identify the opinions expressed as 
those of the original author. Write the introductory descriptive sen- 
tence for an abstract of a controversial article which you have read 

5. Explain why it is sometimes desirable to give a history of a typical 
case, sometimes of an exceptional case. Find examples of case his- 
tories in as many different fields as possible. What differences do you 
find among them? To what do you attribute these differences? Why 
do you think each case was selected as a subject for a history? 

6. Why do editors object to such expressions as "the case had a fever," 
"the case was operated on," "the case was indifferent to questions"? 

28 The Edivin Smith Surgical Papyrus, published in facsimile and hiero- 
glyphic transliteration with translation and commentary by James Henry 
Breasted, 2 Vols., Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1930. 


7. Write a complete set of directions specific enough for the reader to 
follow, choosing as a subject some relatively simple task, such as re- 
placing an electric light socket, taking an indoor photograph, refinish- 
ing an antique chest, testing a car battery, preparing a special solu- 
tion for laboratory use, using a chemical weed killer. 

8. Write an essay of process, aiming at understanding rather than par- 
ticipation on the reader's part and choosing a topic from a hobby or 
outside interest. The following topics are suggestions: how to use a 
technical dictionary, how to land an airplane, how a color reproduc- 
tion of a painting is made, how to make a linoleum block print, how 
to reduce the size of a drawing, how to prepare and stock a farm fish 
pond, how a panel of jurors is selected, how an index is prepared. 

9. Examine the book reviews in a number of scientific periodicals. How 
closely do you find that they conform to the conventional reportorial 
or critical review as described in the foregoing chapter? What is the 
proportion of reporting to critical comment? Are the criticisms sup- 
ported by adequate evidence? In what form is the evidence pre- 

10. Write a review of a book, exhibit, or lecture which you have recently 
read, seen, or heard. 



I. Preparing the manuscript for publication 
II. Conventional standards of format 

A. Manuscript 

B. Title page 

C. Table of contents 

D. Subheadings 

E. Quotations 

F. Illustrations 

III. The use of documentation 

A. The purpose of documentation 

B. The form of documentation 

IV. Practices and variations in documentation 

A. Humanities publications 

B. Government publications 

C. Scientific and industrial publications 

D. Biology journals 

/ had not time to lick it into form, as a bear doth her 
young ones. ROBERT BURTON, Anatomy of Melan- 


The subject of this chapter begins where the creative side of scien- 
tific work ends. After research has been completed and the paper re- 
porting the results has been written, there remains the task of pre- 
paring the manuscript for publication or for submission to an author- 
ized reader. While this assignment is an exacting one, it has two 
rewards : the satisfaction of seeing one's work properly presented and 
the satisfaction of sharing in a tradition of craftsmanship. 

The work involved in preparing a paper for publication will seem 
less burdensome once the writer accepts the idea that in the editorial 
office the most minute details are important. The sum of consistency 
in these details gives to the better modern journals their attractive 



and distinctive format, and it is the obligation of the contributor 
to do what he can to maintain this standard. The student, even if 
his work does not yet merit publication, will gain in the proportion 
in which he applies professional standards to his own work. 

The exact procedure to be followed in preparing a manuscript for 
publication hinges on two questions. First, what manuscript stand- 
ards apply to this paper? Second, where will guidance in meeting 
these standards be found? If the paper is one of the short, informal 
types, the writer need be concerned only with the usual requirements 
for any manuscript. If the paper is long and formal, like a thesis 
or report, it will require also a title page, table of contents, and sub- 
headings; sources and references must be cited in a prescribed form. 

Guidance in fulfilling these requirements is usually available in 
the directions of the instructor, department, or journal to which the 
paper is to be submitted. Most universities provide direction sheets 
for departmental work, and most publishers issue style sheets or style 
manuals which set forth in detail the manuscript form they find ac- 
ceptable. In the absence of instructions the writer should choose a 
format which is employed or recommended by journals and text- 
books in his field. Copies of comparable theses and journal articles 
are useful as models. 

Style manuals vary in length and coverage. The Style Manual 
of the United States Government Printing Office, 1 which runs 
to 492 pages, contains 25 sections beginning with "Suggestions to 
authors and editors" and ending with "Foreign languages." Simi- 
larly A Manual of Style of the University of Chicago Press, widely 
used in academic and professional publishing, contains 497 pages. 2 
The journal Industrial and Engineering Chemistry provides for con- 
tributors a sheet covering such matters as "Titles," "References," 
"Drawings," and "Manuscript Copy." Other journals, such as the 
British Biological Reviews, place instructions to authors on the inner 
side of one of the covers. One of the most widely known science style 
books is The Wistar Institute Style Brief 3 of the Wistar Institute 

1 Style Manual, rev. ed., Washington, D. C., United States Government Print- 
ing Office, 1953. 

2 A Manual of Style, llth ed., Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 1949. 

3 The Wistar Institute Style Brief, Philadelphia, The Wistar Institute Press, 


Press in Philadelphia, which publishes journals in the biological 

Much unnecessary confusion results from the attempt of inexperi- 
enced writers to find a single rule of thumb which can be applied to 
the preparation of all manuscripts for all occasions. Instead, the re- 
quirements for each manuscript should be determined and the manu- 
script prepared in accordance with these requirements down to the 
last capital and comma. 


For the convenience of the reader, conventional standards of manu- 
script format are summarized here under topical headings. Docu- 
mentation, in which usage is more varied, is treated in separate sec- 
tions of this chapter. 

A. Manuscript 

The mechanics of manuscript preparation are in general the same 
for all types of papers. Copy should be typewritten and should be 
sent flat, addressed to the editor. Some editors require that a carbon 
as well as a first copy be submitted. In sending copy to the typesetter, 
the author's name and an abbreviated form of the title of the paper 
may be given on each page, preceding the page number. The follow- 
ing rules should be observed: 

1. Use 8% x 11 inch white paper. 

2. Use one side of paper only. 

3. Double space except possibly for blocked quotations and foot- 

4. Number pages consecutively with Arabic numerals in the upper 
right-hand corner of each page, except the first page, which is num- 
bered at the bottom. 

5. Allow margins of an inch and a half at the top and left of the 
page and at least an inch at the bottom and right. 

6. If footnotes are used (see Section IV of this chapter), follow 
one of these practices: (a) place footnotes at the bottom of the page, 
separating them from the text by a one-inch horizontal line or by a 
line extending from left to right margin; (b) insert the footnote in 
the manuscript immediately following the passage to which it refers, 


using lines before and after the footnote to separate it from the text; 
(c) place explanatory footnotes at the bottom of the page and all 
others in consecutive order at the end of the chapter or article to 
which they apply. If the appearance of the finished manuscript is 
important, as in typed theses, the first practice is usually considered 
preferable. If the manuscript is to be published, the second practice 
may be preferred since it facilitates the handling of footnotes for 
the typesetter. Sometimes editorial or academic instructions may rec- 
ommend the third practice as being more practical for other purposes. 

B. Title Page 

Most university departments prescribe a form for the title page 
of a thesis. Some journals also have a set form, including such items 
as the academic or professional connections of the author, and per- 
haps requiring that the number of figures or plates in the article be 
stated immediately after the other items in the heading. In the ab- 
sence of special instructions, the title page should include the com- 
plete title of the paper, centered and in capitals; below it the name 
of the author or authors; and at the bottom of the page the institution 
at which the work was done and the date. (See Chapter 12.) 

C. Table of Contents 

Theses, reports, and some research papers have a table of contents 
on a separate page immediately following the title page. If numerous 
illustrations are used, they may be listed in a separate table. If a 
paper has been prepared according to a well-planned analytical out- 
line, the preparation of a table of contents presents no difficulties, 
since the main headings in the outline become the main items in the 
table of contents, and the subheadings in the outline the subordinate 
items. The main headings in the table of contents may be numbered 
with Roman numerals at the left; Arabic numerals on the right indi- 
cate the page numbers. Both the Roman and Arabic numerals are 
aligned on the right-hand side. Subheadings in the table of contents 
are usually indicated merely by indentation, not by letters of the 
alphabet. In typewritten theses the page numbers can be inserted in 
the table of contents as soon as the final copy is typed, but in pub- 
lished work not until the page proof is available. The following ex- 


ample shows an extended table of contents. An example of a short 
table of contents appears in Chapter 12, p. 286. 


Introduction xii 


I. Explorations and Early Settlement, 1803-1865 1 

II. The General Principles of the Territorial and State Poor Laws . 6 

III. Special Legislation under the Poor Law .... 14 

IV. Emergency Legislation for Relief . . 25 
V. Opinions of the Attorney General Regarding the Poor Laws 32 

VI. Creation of a State Department and Laws Relating to Public 

Welfare 40 

Conclusion . . 59 


A. Poor Law Acts ... 60 

1864 Act Relating to the Support of the Poor, February 9, 

1865 . . 61 

1903 Act to Provide Suitable Burial for Deceased Soldiers, 

February 19, 1903 . . 63 

1937 The Public Welfare Act, March 4, 1937 65 

B. Judicial Decisions ... .96 

The Seed Grain Case, State ex rel. Cryderman, Relator v. 

Wienrich et al., Respondents, 54 Montana 390 (1918) 97 

Relief Outside the Almshouse, Jones, Appellant v. Cooney 

et al., Respondents, 81 Montana 340 (1927) 104 

C. Governors' Proclamations and Messages 111 

1915 Need of Destitute Farmers . . . . 112 

1918 A Proclamation 113 

1933 Call for Special Session to Provide Emergency Relief 115 

1933 Governor's Message Asking Relief for Taxpayers . 117 

D. Opinions of the Attorney General 118 

March 18, 1931 Mothers' Pension Poor Fund County 

Budget Election Expenses 119 

August 5, 1931 County Poor Funds and Work on the Roads 121 

December 18, 1931 Poor Tax Refunds 123 

June 29, 1937 Eligibility of Indians for Assistance 125 
August 27, 1937 Qualifications of Local Public Welfare 

Officials 127 

Index 130 

4 Frederic R. Veeder, The Development of the Montana Poor Law, Chicago, 
The University of Chicago Press, 1938. 


D. Subheadings 

If a paper has a table of contents, headings corresponding to those 
in the table of contents appear in the body of the paper. Even if a 
paper has no table of contents, the divisions of a paper of any length 
are usually marked by one and sometimes two or three ranks of 
headings. Headings of the first rank are sometimes in capitals and 
centered. Headings of the second and third ranks are often italicized, 
or underscored, with the first word or the individual words capitalized 
as in a title. The second rank may be centered and the third placed 
at the left either above the succeeding paragraph or "run-in" with 
the first sentence of the paragraph. If no third rank is used, the 
second rank is sometimes placed at the left. In short papers, sections 
may be separated by spaces with no topical headings, but this practice 
is more usual in literary than in scientific or technical work. 

E. Quotations 

Most scientific papers contain very little quoted matter. In reports 
of original research second-hand material is kept to a minimum, 
and since emphasis is on the facts rather than on the wording, such 
material is summarized rather than quoted. Sometimes a portion of 
a sentence may be quoted to show another author's terminology or 
phrasing of a concept. In more general types of scientific papers, 
quotations are used more frequently than in research reports, al- 
though much less frequently than in the humanities. 

The usual double quotation marks are used for short quotations. 
When a quotation of more than a sentence (or as it is sometimes 
put, more than three printed lines) is used, it is blocked rather than 
enclosed in quotation marks. In typed manuscript a blocked quota- 
tion is indicated by single-spacing and indentation of about an inch 
at both margins. In printed matter, smaller type may be used in addi- 
tion to or occasionally in place of the indentation. When a quotation 
is blocked and set off in this way, no quotation marks are used except 
those which appear in the original. The blocked quotation has the 
great advantage that any quotation marks in the original may be 
retained without the awkwardness of alternating single and double 
quotes. Permission must be obtained to use prose quotations of more 
than fifty words or poetry quotations of more than two lines from 
copyrighted material. 


F. Illustrations 

Since illustrations are important in scientific and technical work, 
the style sheets of scientific journals and publishing houses include 
special instructions often elaborate for their preparation. The re- 
production of illustrations is expensive, and changes in the usual 
procedure are not always possible; hence, the writer who plans to 
use illustrations should familiarize himself with the specific require- 
ments of the publisher. (See Chapter 15.) If a drawing or other illus- 
tration is reproduced from any source, permission must be obtained 
and the source acknowledged by a suitable credit line. 


The term documentation refers to the means which authors employ 
to cite their references and sources. While means of documentation 
include the use of appendixes, bibliography, and footnotes, the prin- 
cipal variations of form occur in bibliography and footnotes. 

A. The Purpose of Documentation 

The many variations in the handling of bibliography and footnotes 
among journals and different areas of research should not be allowed 
to obscure the fact that fundamentally the purpose of all documenta- 
tion is the same. In essence the documentation of a paper is the pre- 
senting of the documents in the case. In a court of law "documents" 
in a strict legal sense: letters, statements, affidavits may be pre- 
sented as evidence. In a more general sense "documents" comprise 
all the sources "any writing, book, or other instrument conveying 
information" 5 upon which a writer bases his conclusions or which 
support his position. The very fact that scientific knowledge is cumu- 
lative makes it imperative that the scientific writer in presenting new 
results make clear the basis of his work. He must, through citations 
of any sources used, give due credit to his predecessors. 

The growing recognition of the importance of documentation is 
apparent in the increasing frequency with which the word documenta- 
tion is used in current writing. In a review of the book One Thousand 
Americans, the importance of its documentation is discussed at some 

5 Webster's New International Dictionary. 


The reader is tempted, again and again, to lay the book down to 
dismiss it as just one more violent and sensational assault upon vested 
interests and the status quo except for the documentation! In addition 
to copious source-references in footnotes, there are more than 50 pages 
of statistics at the end of the book, and they are respectable sta- 
tistics. . . . Whatever one may think of Mr. Seldes as a social philos- 
opher, his references cannot be laughed away. . . . We keep asking 
ourselves, "Why doesn't someone sue him for criminal libel?" And 
then we turn again to those references, those footnotes, those 50-odd 
pages of records and we can't help wondering. 6 

Without going into the merits of the question under discussion, one 
must note that this contribution has won a hearing almost entirely 
on the basis of its documentation. 

It is not necessary, however, to provide documentation in writing 
which does not purport to present research or which does not depend 
upon the formal presentation of evidence for its acceptance. Journal- 
istic articles and articles in periodicals of general circulation as well 
as some textbooks are not documented. The scholar may write a 
popular treatment of his subject without documenting it, but when 
he writes for his fellow scholars he supplies the references. This 
distinction is as valid outside the classroom as in it. Only the un- 
informed regard documentation as a fetish of the college professor. 
Briefly, the purpose of documentation in research papers is two-fold: 
(1) to cite authority for initial assumptions or for statements made, 
and (2) to provide the reader with sources for further investigation 
of the background of the subject. 

B. The Form of Documentation 

Although the basic purposes of all documentation are the same, 
the means of attaining these ends have not been entirely standardized. 
There is, however, considerable agreement as to the form and use 
of reference citations in certain fields, such as the humanities, govern- 
ment publications, chemistry, and biology. In the publications of the 
social sciences and in reports in many fields, including engineering, 
footnotes are used for citing references, as is the practice in the 
humanities. Journals in the applied sciences vary in their practice: 
some use footnotes; others follow the documentary practice of gov- 

6 Charles W. Morris, a review of One Thousand Americans by George Seldes, 
The Courier-Journal, Louisville, March 14, 1948. 


eminent publications or that preferred by many of the chemistry 
journals. (See the table below.) While most journals conform to the 

Documenting Research Papers 

Means of accomplishment 



Many Many 
chem istry b iology 
journals journals 

Listing of Bibliography 


References or Literature 

sources at end of 

of footnotes 

literature cited at end of 


and refer- 

cited at end paper 

ences at end 

of paper; 

of paper 

items ar- 

ranged alpha- 

betically and 


Citing of au- Footnotes 


Numerals in Name of author 

thorities or 

numerals re- 

parentheses and date of ar- 

sources in 

ferring to 

on level of tide in paren- 

text of paper 

references at 

the line which theses 

end of paper 

refer to items 

in literature 


Giving addi- Footnotes 


Footnotes Footnotes 

tional infor- 

used spar- 

used spar- used spar- 

mation or ex- 


ingly ingly 


This table sums up what is said in this chapter concerning the common 
purposes of documentation and the variant means of accomplishing these 
purposes in different fields. The humanities system is widely used in the so- 
cial sciences; in journal articles, footnotes are usually used for references, 
and no separate bibliography is given. Practice varies among journals in the 
applied sciences: some such journals use the government system of docu- 
mentation, some the humanities system, and many the system favored by 
chemistry journals. 

practices customary in their fields, the final editorial authority rests 
with the individual journal or press. 

Some of the variations in the form of documentation in different 
fields are undoubtedly due to custom; many such variations, how- 
ever, are functional differences which have come about because of 
special needs. Documentation in the humanities, with its extensive 


footnotes and bibliographies, is well adapted to a field in which a 
long period of time and many variant readings and editions must 
be covered. The system of documentation widely used in government 
publications is serviceable and easily handled but is somewhat less 
flexible. The system favored by many chemistry journals combines 
a maximum of essential information with a minimum expenditure 
of space and time. The system of the biological journals gives a 
characteristic emphasis to the date by placing it in references im- 
mediately after the author's name, an emphasis which serves to recall 
that the date is often the key to the concepts underlying a paper. 

Once a pattern of documentation has been chosen, it must be 
followed consistently. For example, though either a colon or a comma 
following the place of publication in a humanities bibliographical 
entry is correct, it is not permissible to vary the usage in documenting 
a single article. 


Although complete familiarity with prevailing practices in docu- 
mentation can come only through examination of papers and expe- 
rience in preparing them, a description of the predominant varia- 
tions is offered here as a guide to the student's observation and 
practice in documentation. 

A. Humanities Publications 

The system of documentation accepted in the humanities is well 
known through its use in scholarly books and articles and in theses 
in English, foreign languages, philosophy and the arts, and in history 
and the social sciences. This system is characterized by the use of 
footnotes for both citations of sources and explanatory notes, by 
the extensive use of bibliographies, by such abbreviations as ibid. 
and op. cit., and by adherence to traditional practices in punctua- 
tion and capitalization. The items in long bibliographies, especially 
those in theses or books, may be classified as primary or secondary 
sources, or as books, periodicals, newspapers, etc. 

The following examples of entries for a bibliography are typical 
of those used in the humanities. 

ANDREWS, EDMUND, A History of Scientific English. New York, Rich- 
ard R. Smith, 1947. 342 pp. 


Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, 

1951. Washington, D. C., United States Government Printing Office, 

1952. 580 pp. 

KLAPPER, JOSEPH T. and CHARLES Y. CLOCK, "Trial by Newspaper," 

Scientific American, 180:16-21, February 1949. 
New York Times, March 25, 1949. 
SPRY, WILLIAM, "Homestead and Exemption Laws," Encyclopaedia 

Britannica, 14th edition, XI, 704-05. 

These are examples of footnotes: 

1 Edmund Andrews, A History of Scientific English, New York, 
Richard R. Smith, 1947, p. 116. 

2 Ibid., p. 107. 

3 Joseph T. Klapper and Charles Y. Clock, "Trial by Newspaper," 
Scientific American, 180:17, February 1949. 

4 Andrews, op. cit., p. 106. 

5 Loc. cit. 

6 Editorial in the New York Times, March 25, 1949. 

These are points to note: 

1. Hanging indentation is used for the bibliography, paragraph 
indentation for footnotes. 

2. In a bibliographical entry for a book or article by a group of 
authors, the name of the first author is inverted and the others are 
in normal order. The bibliography is arranged in alphabetical order 
according to the authors' last names; if there is no author, the item 
is alphabetized according to the first word of the entry, except for 
a, a/i, or the. In footnotes the names of authors appear in normal 

3. Titles of articles in footnotes and bibliographies are placed in 
quotation marks; titles of books, journals, and newspapers are 
italicized. (In manuscript, italics are shown by underlining.) 

4. In footnotes the abbreviation ibid, (ibidem in the same place) 
is used to refer to another page of the immediately preceding ref- 
erence. After other references have intervened, the abbreviation op. 
cit. (opere citato in the work cited) is used to refer again to an 
author and work already cited. The abbreviation loc. cit. (loco citato 
in the place cited) is used for a second consecutive reference to 
the same author, same work, and same page. 

Although the humanities system of documentation is not common 
in the sciences, a number of scientific publications use variations 


of it. Among these publications are some physics journals which cite 
references entirely through footnotes as the following examples 

1 E. E. Motta and G. E. Boyd, Phys. Rev. 73, 1470 (1948). 

2 D. N. Kundu and M. L. Pool, Phys. Rev. 74, 1775 (1948). 

3 Medicus, Preiswerk, and Scherrer, Helv. Phys. Acta. 23, 299 

4 E. Fermi, Nuclear Physics (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 
1950), p. 7. 

5 L. G. Mann and P. Axel, Phys. Rev. 80, 759 (1950). 

6 Rose, Goertzel, and Perry, Oak Ridge National Laboratory Report 
1023 (unpublished). 

7 M. Goldhaber and A. W. Sunyar, Phys. Rev. 83, 906 (1951). 

(From Harry T. Easterday and Heinrich A. Medicus, "Isomeric Transi- 
tions in Tc 93 and Tc 96 ," Physical Review, 89(4):752-753, February 15, 

B. Government Publications 

In a system of documentation much used in government publica- 
tions and in journals of the applied sciences, all citations of sources 
are combined in "References" at the end of the article and cited in 
the text by superscript numerals (numerals placed above the line 
of type). The references appear in the order in which they are cited, 
not alphabetically; in this respect they resemble footnotes although 
they serve as a bibliography as well. In this system, as in most 
scientific documentation, footnotes are given at the bottom of the 
page only as explanatory notes, not for citation of sources. If the 
same reference is cited more than once in the text of a paper, the 
numeral first used is repeated for all citations of this reference, and 
the reference is listed only once at the end of the paper. Thus the 
citations refer to articles as a whole, not to specific pages. In this 
system capitalization and punctuation are reduced to a minimum; 
in titles of articles only the first word and proper nouns and ad- 
jectives are capitalized. Italics and quotation marks are not used for 
titles. The points will be observed in the following example: 


(I) Altenderfer, Marion E.: Relationship between per capita income 
and mortality, in the cities of 100,000 or more population. Pub. 
Health Rep. 62:1681-1691 (1947). 


(2) Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census: Sixteenth Cen- 

sus of the United States: 1940, Population, Vol. II. U. S. Govern- 
ment Printing Office, Washington, 1943. 

(3) Survey of buying power, 1940. Sales Management 48:84-283 


(4) Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census: Sixteenth Cen- 

sus of the United States: 1940, Population, Vol. I. U. S. Govern- 
ment Printing Office, Washington, 1942. 

(5) Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census: Vital Statistics 

of the United States: 1940, Part II. U. S. Government Printing 
Office, Washington, 1943. 

(6) Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census: Vital Statistics 

of the United States, Supplement 1939-1940, Part III. U. S. 
Government Printing Office, Washington, 1943. 

(From Marion E. Altenderfer and Beatrice Crowther, "Relationship 
between Infant Mortality and Socioeconomic Factors in Urban Areas," 
Public Health Reports, 64:331-337, March 18, 1949.) 

C. Scientific and Industrial Publications 

The system of documentation favored by many chemistry, scien- 
tific, and industrial journals uses numerals in the text of the paper 
to refer to a list of references at the end. However, in journals using 
this system, references are arranged in alphabetical order by the 
last name of the author; the items in this list are then numbered 
consecutively. These numerals are inserted in parentheses in the text 
of the paper to cite the references which they identify. Obviously the 
numerals in the text will not be in consecutive order, since the number 
of each article referred to is determined by the author's place in the 
alphabetical list. When several authorities are cited for a single 
statement, the designative numerals are in the same parentheses, for 
example (7, 3, 2, 5). Exact page references are seldom given in these 
parenthetical citations since the sources listed at the end of the article 
are usually short. 

Though details of documentation differ among chemistry journals, 
in general certain practices are characteristic. In the list of references, 
journals are designated by the abbreviations given them in the 
Decennial Index of Chemical Abstracts and their titles are italicized. 
Titles of articles are usually not included, but when given they are 
placed in quotation marks, as are the titles of books. Reference to 


journal articles is by volume (in boldface type) and page, with a 
comma between the two; the year follows in parentheses. 
The following examples illustrate these points: 

(1) Grosse, A. V., Hindin, S. G. and Kirshenbaum, A. D., /. Am. Chem. 

Soc. 9 68, 2119 (1946). 

(2) Grosse, A. V., Kirshenbaum, A. D. and Hindin, S. G., Science, 

105, 101 (1947). 

(3) Hevesy, G. V., and Paneth, F., "Lehrbuch der Radioaktivitat," 

2nd ed., Chap. 17, pp. 164-73, Leipzig, Germany, 1931. 
(7) Rev. Sci. Instruments, 19, 124 (1948). 

(From Analytical Chemistry, 21:390, March 1949. Copyright, American 
Chemical Society.) 

(1) Barren, H., British Plastics, 11, 467 (1940). 

(2) Bennett, H., ed., "Emulsion Technology," Brooklyn, Chemical 

Publishing Co., 1946. 

(6) Cupples, H. L., U. S. Dept. Agriculture, Bureau of Entomology 
and Plant Quarantine, E-607 (1943). 

(From Industrial and Engineering Chemistry, 41:796, April 1949. Re- 
printed by permission.) 

D. Biology Journals 

Among biology journals the prevailing style of documentation is 
the one described in the style brief of the Wistar Institute Press. 
Sources are listed in the Literature Cited or References at the end 
of the article. The items are arranged alphabetically by the last names 
of the authors, with the year of publication next, followed by the 
article title, and other publication data. If an article has more than 
one author, the name of only the first author is inverted, the others 
appearing in normal order. Only the first word of article titles is 
capitalized, and titles are not put in quotation marks. Titles of 
journals are abbreviated in accordance with standard abbreviations 
given in the Wistar Institute Style Brief, the catalogue of the Army 
Medical (Surgeon-General's) Library, Washington, D. C., the Quar- 
terly Cumulative Index Medicus, and the World List of Scientific 


ADLER, A. 1939 Melanin pigment in the central nervous system of ver- 
tebrates. J. Comp. Neur., 70: 315-329. 


BARDEN, R. B. 1942 The origin and development of the chromatophores 
of the amphibian eye. J. Exp. Zool., 90: 479-519. 

BISHOP, S. C. 1943 Handbook of salamanders. Comstock Publishing 
Company, Ithaca. 

DETWILER, S. R. 1917 On the use of Nile Blue Sulphate in embryonic 
tissue transplantation. J. Exp. Zool., 13: 493-497. 

1937 Observations upon the migration of neural crest cells, 

and upon the development of the spinal ganglia and verte- 
bral arches in Amblystoma. Am. J. Anat., 67:63-94. 

DETWILER, S. R., AND K. KEHOE 1939 Further observations on the ori- 
gin of the sheath cells of Schwann. J. Exp. Zool., 81 : 415- 

DuSHANE, G. P. 1938 Neural fold derivatives in the Amphibia. Pigment 
cells, spinal ganglia and Rohon-Beard cells. J. Exp. Zool., 
78: 485-503. 

1943 The embryology of vertebrate pigment cells. Part I. 

Amphibia. Quart. Rev. Biol., 18: 109-127. 

FARIS, H. S. 1924 A study of pigment in embryos of Amblystoma. Anat. 
Rec., 27: 63-76. 

(From Jean Piatt, "Transplantation Experiments between Pigmentless 
and Pigmented Eggs of Amblystoma punctatum," Journal of Experi- 
mental Zoology, 118: 126, October 1951.) 

In citing sources in the text of the paper, the last name of the 
author and the date of the article are given in parentheses when the 
work is first referred to, for example, (Brown, '47). If the author's 
name has already been mentioned in the text, only the date is in 
parentheses, for example, according to Brown ('47). When additional 
articles by the same author in the same year are cited, they are 
distinguished by small letters, a, b, etc., for example, '47a, '47b. 
Though page references are seldom necessary in textual citations, 
they may be given either following the date (Brown, '47, p. 119) or 
in separate parentheses, as in one of the examples given later. 
References in the text and the Literature Cited should correspond; 
no article is referred to in the text which is not listed at the close 
of the paper, and no article is listed which has not been referred to. 

The following examples of textual citations illustrate the practices 
which have been described. 

. . . Weed ('32, p. 625, and earlier papers) presents evidence . . . 
. . . described by Gushing and Weed ('15) . . . 


... by Globus ('37). ... He includes (p. 243) . . . 
... by Globus ('37, fig. 95A) is similar . . . 

(From William M. Shanklin, "The Development and Histology of Pi- 
tuitary Concretions in Man," Anatomical Record, 94:598, 606, April 

The following examples of footnotes show how such notes, though 
not used for citing sources in scientific documentation, are used for 
necessary explanation. 

1 This investigation has been aided by grants from the Rockefeller 
Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation and the Carnegie Institution of 
Washington, in the last named of which the author has enjoyed the 
status of Research Associate. 

10 The terms ventricular and non-ventricular have been chosen rather 
than ependymal and non-ependymal since it leaves open the question of 
what becomes of the cells located next to the ventricular cavity which 
His termed "Keimzellen" and which may give rise to neuroblasts as 
well as ependyma. 

(From Ross G. Harrison, "Wound Healing and Reconstitution of the 
Central Nervous System of the Amphibian Embryo after Removal of 
Parts of the Neural Plate," Journal of Experimental Zoology, 106:27, 
67, October 1947.) 

Since form in scientific articles is almost entirely functional, it is 
subject to change as new needs arise. For this reason the writer 
should never become so fixed in the use of one form that he is unable 
to adapt himself to another. The advantages of some degree of stand- 
ardization in documentation are obvious, and the further standardiza- 
tion of literature citations is among the editorial problems given 
consideration at recent scientific meetings. 7 However, since some of 
the differences in the form of documentation in different fields have 
remained because the documentary needs of those fields differ, com- 
plete standardization is unlikely. 

In conclusion, it must be emphasized that this review of docu- 
mentary practice is by no means intended as a substitute for the study 
of the journals and their style sheets. Rather it is intended to give 
the student an idea of what to look for and to sharpen his observation. 
A trained eye is instantly aware of punctuation and capitals, of 

7 Science, 119:529, April 23, 1954. 


sequence, of whether hanging or paragraph indentation is used. When 
the student attains this proficiency, format need no longer be confus- 
ing to him and can be kept in its rightful place as secondary to 


1. According to Soule's Library Guide for the Chemist (pp. 40-41), "All 
references should invariably answer three questions: Who did the 
work? When was it published? Where can it be found?" Show how 
the different systems of documentation fulfill this requirement. 

2. Examine the documentation in a representative group of scientific 
periodicals. How much variation do you find among periodicals in the 
same field? In different fields? Are the variations in details of punctu- 
ation and capitalization or in content and arrangement? 

3. Explain why no one type of documentation is suitable for all purposes. 
In your opinion would it be possible to reduce the variations among 
different forms of documentation without impairing their usefulness? 

4. Conway Zirkle in Science, 120:189-90, July 30, 1954, points out several 
instances in which fraudulent data have been cited successively in 
different articles. How do such accumulations of eiror come about? 
How can they be avoided? 

5. When should documentary sources be included verbatim in an ap- 
pendix and when is it sufficient to cite them in footnotes or other 

6. Arrange the following items as a correct bibliography or list of ref- 
erences for each of the four principal types of documentation de- 
scribed in this chapter, assuming that the order given here represents 
the order in which the sources were referred to in the paper to be 

Author Willard C. Brinton; Title Graphic Methods for Present- 
ing Facts; Place of publication New York, The Engineering Maga- 
zine Company; Date of publication 1919. 

Author None indicated; Title Telling lines some notes on 
graphs; Place of publication Scope, Volume 3, No. 11, pages 7-11; 
Date of publication Spring 1953. 

Author C. C. Wylie; Title Astronomy, Maps and Weather; Place 
of publication New York, Harper & Brothers; Date of publication 

Author Ruth C. Christman ; Title Illustrations for scientific publi- 
cations; Place of publication Science, Volume 119, pages 534-538; 
Date of publication April 23, 1954. 


Author David Diringer; Title The Hand-Produced Book; Place 
of publication New York, Philosophical Library; Date of publication 

Author Don Livingston; Title Film and the Director; Place of 
publication New York, The Macmillan Company; Date of publica- 
tion 1953. 



I. Nonverbal illustration 
II. Types of illustrations 

A. Drawings 

B. Diagrams, maps, and charts 

C. Tables 

D. Graphs 

E. Photographs 

III. Handling of illustrations 

A. Treatment as evidence 

B. Preparation for publication 

And ye who wish to represent by words the form of 
man and all the aspects of his rnernbrification, get 
away from that idea. For the more minutely you de- 
scribe, the more you will confuse the mind of the 
reader and the more you will prevent him from a 
knowledge of the thing described. And so it is neces- 
sary to draw and describe. LEONARDO DA VINCI, Note- 
books, translation by J. PLAYFAIR McMuRRiCH. 


From the time of the earliest drawings which recorded the knowl- 
edge of primitive peoples, illustration has shared with words the task 
of factual communication. Illustration, to readers generally, implies 
embellishment or adornment. While the aesthetic value and pictorial 
interest of scientific illustrations are at times notable, their established 
place in scientific writing is due to the clarity they contribute, the 
recorded evidence of observations which they sometimes afford, and 
the conciseness and efficiency with which they may express compli- 
cated data. 

It is axiomatic that an illustration may contribute more to clarity 
than hundreds of words of description or explanation. Photographs 
taken directly or with the aid of the microscope or telescope may 
offer evidence of the geological fault, of abnormal cell structure, of 



the effects of erosion, and of the eclipse. Through the use of tables 
and graphs the scientific writer can bring out a meaning which would 
otherwise be lost in a maze of figures. 

The growing use of visual means of expression is due in part to 
modern technical developments. The present-day writer has at his 
command techniques far beyond those of the comparatively simple 
wood cuts and drawings to which the very early writer was largely 
limited. The relatively new field of photography has expanded to 
include at one extreme the electron micrograph with a magnification 
of more than 100,000 times and at the other the photographs of stars 
millions of light years away. The slow-motion picture, the X-ray, 
and the devices for photographing interior surfaces of the body have 
all extended the range of man's visual observations. 

Graphic devices linear, geometrical, and symbolic for express- 
ing data have similarly undergone a long and recently rapid develop- 
ment. While some of these graphic devices are intelligible only to 
the person with advanced mathematical training, others are used 
in writing intended for the general reader. 


Among the types of scientific illustrations the scientific writer may 
choose those best suited to his needs: "Photographs and drawings 
are especially important in the descriptive phases of science. Diagrams 
of apparatus and graphs of data are mainly required in the experi- 
mental and quantitative phases." * The illustrations discussed in the 
present sections have been classified somewhat informally according 
to function and usage rather than according to methods of reproduc- 
tion, which are discussed in Section III of this chapter. 

A. Drawings 

Of the many types of illustrations both graphic and pictorial 
drawings are incomparably the oldest. Picture writing, from which 
the pictograph, or picture writing, as used in modern advertising is 
descended, is in fact the most primitive form of writing. 

The ideas of writing and drawing were identical in prehistoric Egypt 
and in early Greece, as it is shown by the Egyptian word s-sh and by 

1 Sam F. Trelease, The Scientific Paper, 2nd ed., Baltimore, The Williams 
and Wilkins Company, 1951, p. 112. 

TYPES 357 

the Greek graphein, which mean both "writing" and "drawing." The 
word graphein gave us the main component of many words connected 
with writing, such as pictography, calligraphy, stenography, iconog- 
raphy, and so forth. 2 

Though drawing as a method is used in preparing many types of 
illustrations, it is convenient when thinking in terms of function and 
purpose to restrict the term drawings to those figures done with pencil, 



7 \ 

Carl B Bover, "The Invention of Analytic Gk'onu-tiy," Scientific American 180(1) :45, 
Januaiy 1949. 

This tenth-century graph charts by co-ordinates the paths of the sun, 
moon, and known planets, shown by symbols at the left. 

pen, crayon, or brush which represent fairly closely the outward 
appearance of the object or structure depicted. Because of their many 
advantages drawings remain today one of the most useful types of 
scientific illustrations. 

The art of drawing is supremely adaptable. Crude sketches are 
often resorted to even in conversation when words are inadequate 
to explain or describe fully the subject of discussion. Yet the line 
drawing so much used in the biological sciences is capable of convey- 
ing delicate detail which is lost in the photograph, and it often has 
high analytical as well as pictorial value. The drawing may be done 
from direct observation with or without the use of the microscope, 
or, when necessary, from documentary evidence or museum recon- 

2 David Diringer, The Alphabet, New York, Philosophical Library, 1948, p. 25. 


structions. Finally, drawings may be entirely freehand or may be 
done according to rigid specifications with the aid of measurements 
and instruments, as in mechanical drawing. Successful scientific illus- 
trating involves not only drawing skill but the ability to handle 
instruments and materials, to letter, and to represent shape and size 

The professional artist in the sciences may have standards of objec- 
tivity and exactitude comparable to those of the scientist himself. 
The late Max Brodel, Professor of Art as Applied to Medicine in The 
Johns Hopkins University, exemplified the scientific attitude at its 

The essential point, aside from his technical skill as an artist, was 
his refusal to accept anybody else's words, drawings or impressions, 
unpublished or published, as authoritative. He insisted, instead, on see- 
ing for himself the structures to be portrayed. He believed, and on 
numerous occasions propounded the thesis with vigor, that the advance 
of knowledge in many fields has been seriously retarded by copying 
from others. One of his favorite expressions was "the perpetuation of 
errors." 3 

The visual appeal as well as the instructional and informative value 
of drawings leads to their widespread use in a great variety of 

B. Diagrams, Maps, and Charts 

Technically, diagrams are drawings; nevertheless there is a valid 
functional distinction between the two. The diagram is relatively a 
more abstract representation of reality, and considerable freedom is 
exercised in selecting and arranging its parts to suit the purpose of 
the writer. Features not central to the immediate purpose are ignored, 
and devices to show time, space, and other relationships are freely 
used. Schematic representation, schematic drawing, and symbolic 
representation are other terms sometimes used to denote abstract as 
opposed to realistic representations. 

Maps are likewise conventionalized representations of reality, but 
their function is to represent areas of land, sea, or sky. Numerous 
types of maps are used in factual and technical writing, among them 

8 Three Unpublished Drawings of the Anatomy of the Human Ear, Philadel- 
phia, W. B. Saunders Company, 1946. 



0. T. Bonnett, "The Infloiescences of Maize," Science, 120 78, July 16, 1954. 

The diagrammatic sketches at the right show the structural details of the 
plant drawings on the left. 


contour, profile, historical, linguistic, political, route, and weather 
maps. The informative value and pictorial appeal of maps may be 
enhanced by the use of color or shading, by the addition of pictures, 

uncoiled threads 
of chromosomes 

resting stage 

late prophase 

early prophase 


E. T. Smith, Exploring Biology, 4th ed., Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1953. 

A complex process can be demonstrated by diagrammatic drawings. This 
series illustrates the stages of mitosis in the fertilized egg. 

lines, or figures, or by superimposing one map on another to show 
area relationships. A map should have a title indicating its subject 
and the area covered. A key or legend should give explanations of 
symbols or lines to enable the reader to interpret the map. The scale 
to which the map is drawn should accompany it. 

F. E. Giesecke, A Mitchell, and H. C. Spencer, Technical Drawing, The Macnnllan Com- 
pany, 1949, by permission of the publisher. 

By means of a diagrammatic drawing, three sides of a rectangular cube 
and their relationships can be represented on a two-dimensional plane. 

1 1/5" 9|0 /\5 


:\,rr*VA*i . 

Under 40 40-80 80-120 120-160 Qverl60 

This map demonstrates a scientific fact of weather observation. The aver- 
age number of cloudy days per year is indicated by the different shading. 


The term chart is sometimes used interchangeably with map or 
graph. However, the word chart may be reserved for presentations 
designed to show procedure or process, such as flow charts, or to 
show organization. 

Huclilis and Lemon, Kxploriny Physics. Harcourt, Brace and Company, 19. r )2. 

This example of a flow chart shows a sectional view of a jet engine. The 
reaction of hot expanding gases rushing out the nozzle kicks the engine- 

A. E. Burns, A. C. Neal, and D. S. Watson, Modern Economics, 2nd ed., Harcourt, Brace 
and Company, 1953. 

A flow chart often shows a complete cycle in this instance, the circular 
floiv of national output and income in billions of dollars. The complexity 
of the material charted here reveals the possibilities of this type of illus- 

TYPES 363 

C. Tables 

A table is a means of arranging data in columns, usually three or 
more, so that it may be easily read and comprehended. Tables may 
be used to present either observed data which record the immediate 
results of experiment or observation, or derived data obtained from 
the original data by calculation. Tables in which the data are arranged 
to bring out certain trends or correlations are sometimes called 
special-purpose tables. In tables of this type the figures may be 
rounded off, but observed data should be recorded exactly. 4 

Each table should have a number and a title which answers the 
questions what, where, when, for example, Coal Production in West 
Virginia, 1940-50. The title should be clear, concise, and direct. 
The second of the following titles 5 is better than the first. 

Table 8. Total amount of lumber in board feet consumed in all mines 
in the United States in the 5-year period 1940 to 1944, inclusive 

Table 8. Lumber used by mines in the United States, 1940-44 

The stub in a table is the first column at the left, which identifies the 
horizontal lines of figures. The boxhead, at the top of the table above 
the columns, provides space for the column headings. Sometimes a 
second tier of boxes is used to present a subclassification. The unit of 
measurement and the source of the data should be given. The classifi- 
cation, which of course varies with the purpose of the table, may be 
chronological, geographical, or categorical. 

The arrangement of the table should be as clear and uncluttered 
as possible. Footnotes should be used for necessary explanation to 
avoid complicating the title or mixing words and figures in the table 
itself. It may be desirable to use symbols such as asterisks and 
daggers to indicate footnotes since numerals used for this purpose 
may be confused with tabular data. Double lines or heavier lines may 
be used to indicate divisions within the table. Totals may be placed 
at the bottom and right or at the top and left. Proper organization 
of tabular material to present information in the clearest manner 

4 Herbert Arkin and Raymond R. Colton, Graphs: How to Make and Use 
Them, New York, Harper & Brothers, 1940, p. 224. 

6 E. vH. Larson, Tables for Technical Writers, United States Department of 
Agriculture Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station, Station 
Paper No. 3, May 1947. 


possible is not an easy task. Visual and logical organization must be 
undertaken by the author and not left to the ordinary printer. An 
experienced publisher, on the other hand, is usually able to carry 
the author's intentions one step further through his experience with 
visual techniques. 


Estimated Research and Development Expenditures 
in the United States, 1 94 1 -52 

[In millions of dollars] 

Source of funds Use of fund by type of institution 




























































































Source: Research and Development Board, Department of Defense. 

D. Graphs 

The term graph is sometimes extended to include a variety of 
symbolic representations, but the usage followed here is the stricter 
one of applying the term graph only to visual presentations of 
numerical data. Since graphs are not intended to show details, they 
are often accompanied by tables presenting numerical data on which 
the graphs are based. According to Worthing and Geffner : 

6 The First Annual Report of the National Science Foundation, 1950-51, 
Washington, D. C., United States Government Printing Office. 

Finances and fatherhood 


less than $3.000 

E. Havemann and P. S. West, They Went to College, Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1952. 

A bar graph shows relationships. Here, three elements represented by 
degrees of shading are compared. This type of graphic presentation will 
be readily understood by the general reader. 

The graphical method of presenting data is an adaptation of the 
principles of Descartes' analytic geometry, whereby numerical values 
are represented in geometrical form by the length of a line, the area 
of a surface, the volume of a solid, or the rotation described by an 
angle. The fact that all measurable quantities may be given such rep- 
resentation does not mean that all data should be plotted. For certain 
data a graph means little more than wasted time and labor. For other 


data, failure to graph results not only in a loss of time and energy, 
but also in a failure to perceive significant relations. A decision as to 
whether or not to plot must be trusted to one's common sense. 7 

Graphs are used in scientific work for two purposes: (1) as a 
means of presenting data and indicating trends, and (2) as a tool in 
making computations. 8 While the same graph may serve both pur- 
poses, one purpose usually predominates. 



100 1000 10000 


.0002 fc 


H. F. Olson, Musical Engineering, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc , 1952, by pei mission 
of the publisher. 

This variation of the simple line graph projects frequency and volume 
ranges of speech and music against a two-dimensional grid. The nature 
of the material necessitates mapping out the curves and showing the 
areas included within their bounds. The solid line encloses the area of 
normal hearing. 

Among the types of graphs in general use for the presentation of 
data are the bar graph, the line graph, the pie graph, and the picture 
graph with their numerous adaptations and variations. 

The bar graph is extensively used to show relative quantities or 
amounts with no implication of causal relationship. 

The line graph is to be preferred when the purpose is to show 
comparative trends or values over a long period of time. In a line 
graph a vertical axis (the ordinate) and a horizontal axis (the 
abscissa) are used to represent the two variables to be plotted. When 

7 Archie G. Worthing and Joseph Geffner, Treatment of Experimental Data, 
New York, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1943, p. 29. Reprinted with permission. 

8 For extended discussions of the types of graphs used for computations see 
Ibid., pp. 36-55, and Arkin and Colton, op. cit., pp. 173-96. 

TYPES 367 

one of the variables is time, it should be represented by the horizontal 
axis. The background on which the lines are drawn is known as the 

The pie or circle graph is an excellent device to represent partition 
or classification. One merit of the well-done picture graph is its eye 


Range of Expected Receipts 


P Ranges of 
' \ Expected 
B' Profits 


Range of Expected 
Costs or Outlays 

2 3 

Years in Fufure 




Range of Expected 

Range of Expected 
Costs or Outlays 


Ranges of 
A Expected 



Years m Future 

A E Bums, A. C Neal and D. S. Watson, Modern Economics, 2nd ed., Hai court, Brace 
and Company, 1953. 

These two line graphs show long-term business expectations for two dif- 
ferent firms over a period of five years the top a rise in receipts, the 
bottom a decline in receipts. The letters in the graph indicate only relative 
numerical values. Note that the time variables are represented on the 
horizontal axes. 

R. C. Moore, C. G. Lahcker, A. G. Fischer, Invertebrate Fossils, McGraw-Hill Book 
Company, Inc., 1952, by permission of the publisher. 

This is a three-dimensional line graph time, frequency, and structure 
that makes a statistical comparison of an evolving strain in successive 
populations. Populations are represented by the frequency curves, which 
show the structural overlap pings and variations. 

Forestry and Paper, 2nd ed., P H. Glatfelter 
Company, Spring Grove, Pennsylvania. 

This pie, or circle, graph is composed of 
three individual pie graphs each of which 
represents a tree diameter in inches. As 
the graph reveals, a higher percentage Q/ 
profit is realized as the size of the tree 

Foreign Trade in Europe 

imports from 

extra - eoropean countries 

trad* within Europe 

exports to 

extra - europeon countries 


imports from 

extra european countries 

trade within Europe 

exports to 

extra - european countries 


Each line represents 1000 million dollars of 1929 ISOTYPE* 

O. Neurath, Modern Man in the Making, Alfred A. Knopf, 1939, by permission of the 

Abstract symbols, rather than representational pictures, can be effectively 
used in a picture graph. 


o 1200 
Z 400- 


3 1910 1929 1936 1944 

"The Nation's Wood Supply," American Forest Pioducts Industries, Inc., 1319 Eighteenth 
Street, Northwest, Washington 6, D C. 

The picture graph is a dramatic means of statistical representation and 
facilitates comprehension. 



appeal. It is, therefore, much used in journalistic, social science, and 
business writing. Where a direct visual connection can be set up 
between the measure and the thing measured, speed of comprehension 
and memory are often greatly aided. When the help of specialists in 
visual presentation is available, it can often greatly enhance the com- 
prehension of material that is otherwise difficult to present. For 
example, several medical house organs have in recent years taken 
advantage of newer visual techniques in the presentation of difficult 

Graphs, like other illustrations, may be misleading if not offered 
in good faith and in accordance with accepted procedure. 9 The writer 
should guard against practices which lead to errors in interpretation. 
A partial listing of such possible sources of error follows: 

1. Omission of essential facts. Each graph should have a title 
stating the subject, time, and place covered. Whether graphs are used 
in place of or as a supplement to tables showing the same data 
depends on the nature of the material, the purpose of the presentation, 
and editorial preference. In either case such pertinent facts as dates 
and sources of information should be included. 

2. Omission of the zero base line. In a line graph showing com- 
parison it may be desirable or even necessary to omit the zero base 
line in order to avoid an excess of waste space at the bottom of the 
graph. If such an omission must be made, the numerical point at 
which the base of the graph begins should be made perfectly clear. 

3. Misleading proportions. In line graphs a reasonable proportion 
should be maintained between horizontal and vertical dimensions. 
An extreme extension in either direction may give a false picture. 
For example, if the points on the horizontal axis representing time 
are spaced far apart in relation to the points on the vertical axis 
representing the second value, the fluctuation will appear to be re- 
duced. If the points on the vertical axis are far apart, the fluctuation 
will appear to be increased. 

4. It may be necessary to indicate amounts on the vertical axis 
of a line graph in thousands or millions. This value should be indi- 
cated clearly in the scale caption which is printed at the top or side 

9 The manual of the American Standards Association, Engineering and 
Scientific Graphs for Publication, Z 15.3-1943, is a valuable reference in this 
connection and may be obtained at small cost from the Association, 70 East 
Forty-fifth Street, New York 17, N. Y. 

TYPES 371 

to indicate what the values represent, for example, thousands of tons 
of coal, millions of kilowatt hours. 

E. Photographs 

The ordinary photographic print has long been useful in scientific 
writing. Later technical developments such as the motion picture, 
the X-ray photograph, the color photograph, and the aerial photo- 
graph, as well as the photograph taken through the telescope, the 
photomicrograph, and the electron micrograph, have amply proved 
their value in scientific and technical fields. Even the long-known 
principle of the stereoscope has recently been utilized in scientific 
illustrations to produce three-dimensional effects. Indeed, so conse- 
quential is photography in science that some knowledge of photo- 
graphic technique is virtually a prerequisite for work in many scien- 
tific fields. 10 


Accuracy and objectivity are as imperative in handling illustrations 
as in any other phase of scientific writing. When relied on as sources 
of information they must be examined critically. When the writer 
prepares such graphic and pictorial materials for his paper, he must 
be schooled in the principles and techniques involved. 

A. Treatment as Evidence 

Illustrations may be misleading if precautions are not observed in 
offering and interpreting them. The apparent resemblance between a 
close-range photograph of a drop of milk falling into a saucer and 
a photograph of an atomic explosion taken at a distance shows, 
for example, that one cannot always believe one's own eyes. Photo- 
graphs and other illustrations have on occasion been faked or forged, 
and visual media are well known to the propagandist. 

Graphs, tables, and charts can be no more accurate than the data 
which they depict. An imposing and elaborate illustration offers in 
itself no assurance that the information upon which it is based is 
up-to-date, authoritative, and unbiased. The writer is obligated to 
supply the reader with details, when applicable, as to the sources 

10 Numerous useful suggestions concerning photography in connection with 
scientific writing are given in Trelease, op. cit., pp. 123-43. 


of the statistics or measurements on which graphs, drawings, or 
models are based, the conditions under which photographs were 
taken, and the extent of reduction, enlargement, or magnification, 
if any. 

B. Preparation for Publication 

The importance of illustrations in scientific writing is affirmed by 
the careful directions which editors usually give for their preparation. 
The scientific writer, therefore, should keep editorial requirements 
in mind when planning and preparing illustrations. No final drawing 
or labeling should be undertaken without first consulting the pub- 

Clearness and cost are the controlling factors for consideration in 
preparing illustrations for publication. Before preparing original 
drawings or photographs, the method by which they are to be repro- 
duced should be carefully determined. Unsatisfactory reproductions 
are frequently attributed to lack of ability on the part of the engraver, 
when the cause is due chiefly to copy. 11 

Whatever categories may be used to group illustrations according 
to function and purpose, as in Section II of this chapter, the originals 
from which illustrations are made are usually classified, from an 
editorial viewpoint, as drawings or photographic prints. Line draw- 
ings are the least expensive to reproduce. Wash drawings 32 and 
photographs must be reproduced by halftone engraving processes. 
The use of the more expensive color processes is limited by their 
greater cost, but when available, color processes have great analytical, 
as well as aesthetic, possibilities. 

The following quotation from a style sheet issued by the editors 
of Industrial and Engineering Chemistry is a useful statement of 
points they consider important in preparing illustrations for pub- 

Illustrations. Submit original drawings (or sharp prints) of graphs 
and diagrams and clear glossy photographs. Prepare original drawings 
on tracing cloth or high quality paper; use black India ink and a 
lettering set. Choose graph papers with blue cross-sectional lines ; other 

11 The Wistar Institute Style Brief, Philadelphia, The Wistar Institute Press, 
1934, p. 44. 

12 A wash drawing is a line drawing with tones of gray added and hence 
must be reproduced by halftone processes. 


colors interfere with good reproduction. Label ordinates and abscissae 
of graphs along the axes and outside the graph proper. Figure captions 
and legends are set in type and need not be lettered on the drawing. 

Number all illustrations consecutively. Supply typed captions and 
legends (plus courtesy lines for photos) on a separate page. 13 

In the publishing processes, illustrations are handled separately 
from the text; for this reason they should always be on separate 
sheets of paper. Most illustrations are accompanied by explanatory 
captions. According to editorial preference, these captions may be 
(1) typed individually on small sheets of paper and attached to 
illustrations, (2) typed on separate sheets of paper and numbered 
to correspond to the illustrations, (3) typed in numerical order on 
a separate sheet headed Explanation of Figures. 

If a drawing or other illustration is reproduced from any source, 
the same obligations must be recognized as in reproducing printed 
matter. Permission must be obtained and the source acknowledged. 
If an illustration is altered in any way, it should be designated as 
"adapted from . . . ," "redrawn from . . . ," or "after . . . ," with 
the original source indicated. 

Figures and tables are usually numbered separately. Their place 
in copy is indicated by a citation in parentheses giving the figure 
or table number. 

In concluding this discussion of graphic and pictorial illustration 
in scientific writing, four points should be stressed. 

1. Some of the most promising possibilities in illustration lie in 
new combinations and adaptations of the basic types discussed in 
this chapter. 

2. While the amateur can appreciate and within limits utilize 
graphic and pictorial illustration, professional scientific illustration 
is developing rapidly as a specialty for which extended training is 

3. Visual illustrations, despite their unquestioned value, have cer- 
tain limitations. Since the particulars to be represented are selected 
by the writer, illustrations cannot be completely objective. Moreover, 
illustrations often do not have the precision of complete verbal 
descriptions and are not to be thought of as a replacement for verbal 

13 "Guide for Authors," following the Index, Industrial and Engineering 
Chemistry, December 1953. Reprinted by permission. 


4. A consideration of the relation of visual expression to scientific 
writing must necessarily be incomplete. The study of this chapter 
should be supplemented by continued critical observation of the 
multiple uses of graphic and pictorial illustration. 


1. One advantage of the photographic record, either still or moving, is 
that it catches details which may escape the observer while his atten- 
tention is directed elsewhere. Cite situations in which this advantage 
is particularly important. 

2. Prepare a table to present data which you have accumulated in the 
course of a research project. If you have no numerical data available, 
find a report or newspaper article which includes information which 
could in your opinion be advantageously presented in a table and pre- 
pare a table to present these data. 

3. Study the tables in a number of representative scientific textbooks 
or factual articles. Do you find that the titles and arrangement are in 
conformity with the practices recommended in the foregoing chapter? 

4. Prepare an appropriate graph for each of the groups of data given 

Sources of the income of University A: Endowment 40%; Tuition 
30%; Tax support 20%; Special gifts 5%; Miscellaneous re- 
ceipts 5%. 

Changes in the enrollment of University B from 1945-54: 1945 
1,000; 19461,500; 19472,100; 19482,750; 19492,500; 1950 
2,250; 19512,000; 19522,000; 19532,200; 19542,300. 

5. Examine the illustrations in a group of representative periodicals. 
What relationships do you find between the subject matter and the 
types of illustrations? Do you find any illustrations which represent 
new or unusual combinations of types? 

6. A common fault in illustrations, particularly graphs and tables, is 
that the person preparing the illustration attempts to include too 
much in a single illustration. Find in a report or other publication an 
illustration which suffers from this fault. Suggest means of simplifying 
the illustration or of dividing the subject matter between two or more 

7. Suggest means of using picture graphs for presenting data on the 
following subjects: imports of tea, 1945-55; consumption of tea, 1945- 
55; housing projects in a given area; automobile production 1950-55; 
circulation of library books during the twelve months of 1954; bank 
deposits in savings and checking accounts on the first day of each of 
the past five years. 


The selections which make up this Appendix afford oppor- 
tunity for additional reading and study in the theory, prac- 
tices, and types of scientific writing. In content the readings 
range from the individual scientist's somewhat subjective 
comments on his work to the altogether impersonal report of 
a research agency. It is hoped that the selections in the Ap- 
pendix will stimulate the student to read further in the litera- 
ture of technology and the sciences. 

The selections appear in the order in which the text refers 
to them. The relevant chapter numbers and titles are indi- 
cated at the beginning of each group of selections. 

Chapter 2 The Problem Concept 


Claude Bernard, An Introduction to the Study of Experimental 

Medicine, translated by Henry Copley Greene, New York, 

Abelard-Schuman, Inc., 1949, pp. 159-62 

About 1846, I wished to make experiments on the cause of poisoning 
with carbon monoxide. I knew that this gas had been described as toxic, 
but I knew literally nothing about the mechanism of its poisoning; I 
therefore could not have a preconceived opinion. What, then, was to be 
done? I must bring to birth an idea by making a fact appear, i.e., make 
another experiment to see. In fact I poisoned a dog by making him 
breathe carbon monoxide and after death I at once opened his body. 
I looked at the state of the organs and fluids. What caught my attention 
at once was that its blood was scarlet in all the vessels, in the veins as 
well as the arteries, in the right heart as well as in the left. I repeated 
the experiment on rabbits, birds and frogs, and everywhere I found the 
same scarlet coloring of the blood. But I was diverted from continuing 
this investigation, and I kept this observation a long time unused except 
for quoting it in my course a propos of the coloring of blood. 

In 1856, no one had carried the experimental question further, and 
in my course at the College de France on toxic and medicinal substances, 
I again took up the study of poisoning by carbon monoxide which I had 
begun in 1846. I found myself then in a confused situation, for at this 
time I already knew that poisoning with carbon monoxide makes the 
blood scarlet in the whole circulatory system. I had to make hypotheses, 
and establish a preconceived idea about my first observation so as to go 
ahead. Now, reflecting on the fact of scarlet blood, I tried to interpret 
it by my earlier knowledge as to the cause of the color of blood. Where- 
upon all the following reflections presented themselves to my mind. The 
scarlet color, said I, is peculiar to arterial blood and connected with the 
presence of a large proportion of oxygen, while dark coloring belongs 
with absence of oxygen and presence of a larger proportion of carbonic 
acid; so the idea occurred to me that carbon monoxide, by keeping 
venous blood scarlet, might perhaps have prevented the oxygen from 
changing into carbonic acid in the capillaries. Yet it seemed hard to 
understand how that could be the cause of death. But still keeping on 
with my inner preconceived reasoning, I added: If that is true, blood 
taken from the veins of animals poisoned with carbon monoxide should 


be like arterial blood in containing oxygen; we must see if that is the 

Following this reasoning, based on interpretation of my observation, 
I tried an experiment to verify my hypothesis as to the persistence of 
oxygen in the venous blood. I passed a current of hydrogen through scar- 
let venous blood taken frem an animal poisoned with carbon monoxide, 
but I could not liberate the oxygen as usual. I tried to do the same with 
arterial blood; I had no greater success. My preconceived idea was 
therefore false. But the impossibility of getting oxygen from the blood 
of a dog poisoned with carbon monoxide was a second observation which 
suggested a fresh hypothesis. What could have become of the oxygen in 
the blood? It had not changed into carbonic acid, because I had not set 
free large quantities of that gas in passing a current of hydrogen through 
the blood of the poisoned animals. Moreover, that hypothesis was contrary 
to the color of the blood. I exhausted myself in conjectures about how 
carbon monoxide could cause the oxygen to disappear from the blood; 
and as gases displace one another I naturally thought that the carbon 
monoxide might have displaced the oxygen and driven it out of the 
blood. To learn this, I decided to vary my experimentation by putting 
the blood in artificial conditions that would allow me to recover the 
displaced oxygen. So I studied the action of carbon monoxide on blood 
experimentally. For this purpose I took a certain amount of arterial 
blood from a healthy animal; I put this blood on the mercury in an 
inverted test tube containing carbon monoxide; I then shook the whole 
thing so as to poison the blood sheltered from contact with the outer air. 
Then, after an interval, I examined whether the air in the test-tube in 
contact with the poisoned blood had been changed, and I noted that the 
air thus in contact with the blood had been remarkably enriched with 
oxygen, while the proportion of carbon monoxide was lessened. Repeated 
in the same conditions, these experiments taught me that what had oc- 
curred was an exchange, volume by volume, between the carbon monoxide 
and the oxygen of the blood. But the carbon monoxide, in displacing the 
oxygen that it had expelled from the blood, remained chemically com- 
bined in the blood and could no longer be displaced either by oxygen or 
by other gases. So that death came through death of the molecules of 
blood, or in other words by stopping their exercise of a physiological 
property essential to life. 

This last example, which I have very briefly described, is complete; 
it shows from one end to the other, how we proceed with the experi- 
mental method and succeeded in learning the immediate cause of phe- 
nomena. To begin with I knew literally nothing about the mechanism of 
the phenomenon of poisoning with carbon monoxide. I undertook an 
experiment to see, i.e., to observe. I made a preliminary observation of 
a special change in the coloring of blood. I interpreted this observation, 
and I made an hypothesis which proved false. But the experiment pro- 


vided me with a second observation about which I reasoned anew, using 
it as a starting point for making a new hypothesis as to the mechanism, 
by which the oxygen in the blood was removed. By building up hy- 
potheses, one by one, about the facts as I observed them, I finally suc- 
ceeded in showing that carbon monoxide replaces oxygen in a molecule 
of blood, by combining with the substance of tke molecule. Experimental 
analysis, here, has reached its goal. This is one of the cases, rare in 
physiology, which I am happy to be able to quote. Here the immediate 
cause of the phenomenon of poisoning is found and is translated into a 
theory which accounts for all the facts and at the same time includes 
all the observations and experiments. Formulated as follows, the theory 
posits the main facts from which all the rest are deduced: Carbon monox- 
ide combines more intimately than oxygen with the hemoglobin in a 
molecule of blood. It has quite recently been proved that carbon monox- 
ide forms a definite combination with hemoglobin. So that the molecule 
of blood, as if petrified by the stability of the combination, loses its vital 
properties. Hence everything is logically deduced: because of its property 
of more intimate combination, carbon monoxide drives out of the blood 
the oxygen essential to life; the molecules of blood become inert, and the 
animal dies, with symptoms of hemorrhage, from true paralysis of the 

But when a theory is sound and indeed shows the real and definite 
physico-chemical cause of phenomena, it not only includes the observed 
facts but predicts others and leads to rational applications that are 
logical consequences of the theory. Here again we meet this criterion. 
In fact, if carbon monoxide has the property of driving out oxygen by 
taking its place in combining with a molecule of blood, we should be 
able to use the gas to analyze the gases in blood, and especially for de- 
termining oxygen. From my experiments I deduced this application which 
has been generally adopted to-day. Applications of this property of car- 
bon monoxide have been made in legal medicine for finding the coloring 
matter of blood; and from the physiological facts described above we 
may also already deduce results connected with hygiene, experimental 
pathology, and notably with the mechanism of certain forms of anemia. 

As in every other case, all the deductions from the theory doubtless 
still require experimental verification; and logic does not suffice. But 
this is because the conditions in which carbon monoxide acts on the 
blood may present other complex circumstances and any number of de- 
tails which the theory cannot yet predict. Otherwise, as we have often 
said, we could reach conclusions by logic alone, without any need of 
experimental verifications. Because of possible unforeseen and variable 
new elements in the conditions of a phenomenon, logic alone can in ex- 
perimental science never suffice. Even when we have a theory that seems 
sound, it is never more than relatively sound, and it always includes a 
certain proportion of the unknown. 



Abraham Flexner, "The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge," 
Harper's Magazine, 179:544-50, October 1939 

Is it not a curious fact that in a world steeped in irrational hatreds 
which threaten civilization itself, men and women old and young 
detach themselves wholly or partly from the angry current of daily life 
to devote themselves to the cultivation of beauty, to the extension of 
knowledge, to the cure of disease, to the amelioration of suffering, just 
as though fanatics were not simultaneously engaged in spreading pain, 
ugliness, and suffering? The world has always been a sorry and con- 
fused sort of place yet poets and artists and scientists have ignored the 
factors that would, if attended to, paralyze them. From a practical point 
of view, intellectual and spiritual life is, on the surface, a useless form 
of activity, in which men indulge because they procure for themselves 
greater satisfactions than are otherwise obtainable. In this paper I shall 
concern myself with the question of the extent to which the pursuit of 
these useless satisfactions proves unexpectedly the source from which 
undreamed-of utility is derived. 

We hear it said with tiresome iteration that ours is a materialistic age, 
the main concern of which should be the wider distribution of material 
goods and worldly opportunities. The justified outcry of those who 
through no fault of their own are deprived of opportunity and a fair 
share of worldly goods therefore diverts an increasing number of stu- 
dents from the studies which their fathers pursued to the equally impor- 
tant and no less urgent study of social, economic, and governmental 
problems. I have no quarrel with this tendency. The world in which we 
live is the only world about which our senses can testify. Unless it is 
made a better world, a fairer world, millions will continue to go to their 
graves silent, saddened, and embittered. I have myself spent many years 
pleading that our schools should become more acutely aware of the 
world in which their pupils and students are destined to pass their lives. 
Now I sometimes wonder whether that current has not become too strong 
and whether there would be sufficient opportunity for a full life if the 
world were emptied of some of the useless things that give it spiritual 
significance; in other words, whether our conception of what is useful 
may not have become too narrow to be adequate to the roaming and 
capricious possibilities of the human spirit. 

We may look at this question from two points of view: the scientific 
and the humanistic or spiritual. Let us take the scientific first. I recall 
a conversation which I had some years ago with Mr. George Eastman 
on the subject of use. Mr. Eastman, a wise and gentle farseeing man. 


gifted with taste in music and art, had been saying to me that he meant 
to devote his vast fortune to the promotion of education in useful subjects. 
I ventured to ask him whom he regarded as the most useful worker in 
science in the world. He replied instantaneously: "Marconi." I surprised 
him by saying, "Whatever pleasure we derive from the radio or however 
wireless and the radio may have added to human life, Marconi's share 
was practically negligible." 

I shall not forget his astonishment on this occasion. He asked me to 
explain. I replied to him somewhat as follows: 

"Mr. Eastman, Marconi was inevitable. The real credit for everything 
that has been done in the field of wireless belongs, as far as such funda- 
mental credit can be definitely assigned to anyone, to Professor Clerk 
Maxwell, who in 1865 carried out certain abstruse and remote calcula- 
tions in the field of magnetism and electricity. Maxwell reproduced his 
abstract equations in a treatise published in 1873. At the next meeting 
of the British Association Professor H. J. S. Smith of Oxford declared 
that 'no mathematician can turn over the pages of these volumes without 
realizing that they contain a theory which has already added largely 
to the methods and resources of pure mathematics.' Other discoveries 
supplemented Maxwell's theoretical work during the next fifteen years. 
Finally in 1887 and 1888 the scientific problem still remaining the de- 
tection and demonstration of the electromagnetic waves which are the 
carriers of wireless signals was solved by Heinrich Hertz, a worker in 
Helmholtz's laboratory in Berlin. Neither Maxwell nor Hertz had any 
concern about the utility of their work; no such thought ever entered 
their minds. They had no practical objective. The inventor in the legal 
sense was of course Marconi, but what did Marconi invent? Merely the 
last technical detail, mainly the now obsolete receiving device called 
coherer, almost universally discarded." 

Hertz and Maxwell could invent nothing, but it was their useless 
theoretical work which was seized upon by a clever technician and which 
has created new means for communication, utility, and amusement by 
which men whose merits are relatively slight have obtained fame and 
earned millions. Who were the useful men? Not Marconi, but Clerk 
Maxwell and Heinrich Hertz. Hertz and Maxwell were geniuses without 
thought of use. Marconi was a clever inventor with no thought but use. 

The mention of Hertz's name recalled to Mr. Eastman the Hertzian 
waves, and I suggested that he might ask the physicists of the University 
of Rochester precisely what Hertz and Maxwell had done; but one thing 
I said he could be sure of, namely, that they had done their work with- 
out thought of use and that throughout the whole history of science most 
of the really great discoveries which had ultimately proved to be bene- 
ficial to mankind had been made by men and women who were driven 
not by the desire to be useful but merely the desire to satisfy their 


"Curiosity?" asked Mr. Eastman. 

"Yes," I replied, "curiosity, which may or may not eventuate in some- 
thing useful, is probably the outstanding characteristic of modern think- 
ing. It is not new. It goes back to Galileo, Bacon, and to Sir Isaac Newton, 
and it must be absolutely unhampered. Institutions of learning should 
be devoted to the cultivation of curiosity and the less they are deflected 
by considerations of immediacy of application, the more likely they are 
to contribute not only to human welfare but to the equally important 
satisfaction of intellectual interest which may indeed be said to have 
become the ruling passion of intellectual life in modern times." 


What is true of Heinrich Hertz working quietly and unnoticed in a 
corner of Helmholtz's laboratory in the later years of the nineteenth cen- 
tury may be said of scientists and mathematicians the world over for 
several centuries past. We live in a world that would be helpless without 
electricity. Called upon to mention a discovery of the most immediate 
and far-reaching practical use we might well agree upon electricity. But 
who made the fundamental discoveries out of which the entire electrical 
development of more than one hundred years has come? 

The answer is interesting. Michael Faraday's father was a blacksmith; 
Michael himself was apprenticed to a bookbinder. In 1812, when he was 
already twenty-one years of age, a friend took him to the Royal Institu- 
tion where he heard Sir Humphry Davy deliver four lectures on chemical 
subjects. He kept notes and sent a copy of them to Davy. The very next 
year, 1813, he became an assistant in Davy's laboratory, working on 
chemical problems. Two years later he accompanied Davy on a trip to 
the Continent. In 1825, when he was thirty-four years of age, he became 
Director of the Laboratory of the Royal Institution where he spent fifty- 
four years of his life. 

Faraday's interest soon shifted from chemistry to electricity and mag- 
netism, to which he devoted the rest of his active life. Important but 
puzzling work in this field had been previously accomplished by Oersted, 
Ampere, and Wollaston. Faraday cleared away the difficulties which 
they had left unsolved and by 1841 had succeeded in the task of induc- 
tion of the electric current. Four years later a second and equally bril- 
liant epoch in his career opened when he discovered the effect of mag- 
netism on polarized light. His earlier discoveries have led to the infinite 
number of practical applications by means of which electricity has 
lightened the burdens and increased the opportunities of modern life. 
His later discoveries have thus far been less prolific of practical results. 
What difference did this make to Faraday? Not the least. At no period of 
his unmatched career was he interested in utility. He was absorbed in 
disentangling the riddles of the universe, at first chemical riddles, in 


later periods, physical riddles. As far as he cared, the question of utility 
was never raised. Any suspicion of utility would have restricted his rest- 
less curiosity. In the end, utility resulted, but it was never a criterion to 
which his ceaseless experimentation could be subjected. 

In the atmosphere which envelops the world to-day it is perhaps 
timely to emphasize the fact that the part played by science in making 
war more destructive and more horrible was an unconscious and un- 
intended by-product of scientific activity. Lord Rayleigh, president of the 
British Association for the Advancement of Science, in a recent address 
points out in detail how the folly of man, not the intention of the scien- 
tists, is responsible for the destructive use of the agents employed in 
modern warfare. The innocent study of the chemistry of carbon com- 
pounds, which has led to infinite beneficial results, showed that the action 
of nitric acid on substances like benzene, glycerine, cellulose, etc., re- 
sulted not only in the beneficent aniline dye industry but in the creation 
of nitroglycerine, which has uses good and bad. Somewhat later Alfred 
Nobel, turning to the same subject, showed that by mixing nitroglycerine 
with other substances, solid explosives which could be safely handled 
could be produced among others, dynamite. It is to dynamite that we 
owe our progress in mining, in the making of such railroad tunnels as 
those which now pierce the Alps and other mountain ranges; but of 
course dynamite has been abused by politicians and soldiers. Scientists 
are, however, no more to blame than they are to blame for an earth- 
quake or a flood. The same thing can be said of poison gas. Pliny was 
killed by breathing sulphur dioxide in the eruption of Vesuvius almost 
two thousand years ago. Chlorine was not isolated by scientists for war- 
like purposes, and the same is true of mustard gas. These substances 
could be limited to beneficent use, but when the airplane was perfected, 
men whose hearts were poisoned and whose brains were addled perceived 
that the airplane, an innocent invention, the result of long disinterested 
and scientific effort, could be made an instrument of destruction, of which 
no one had ever dreamed and at which no one had ever deliberately 

In the domain of higher mathematics almost innumerable instances can 
be cited. For example, the most abstruse mathematical work of the 
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was the "Non-Euclidian Geometry." 
Its inventor, Gauss, though recognized by his contemporaries as a dis- 
tinguished mathematician, did not dare to publish his work on "Non- 
Euclidian Geometry" for a quarter of a century. As a matter of fact, the 
theory of relativity itself with all its infinite practical bearings would 
have been utterly impossible without the work which Gauss did at 

Again, what is known now as "group theory" was an abstract and in- 
applicable mathematical theory. It was developed by men who were 
curious and whose curiosity and puttering led them into strange paths; 


but "group theory" is to-day the basis of the quantum theory of spectros- 
copy, which is in daily use by people who have no idea as to how it 
came about. 

The whole calculus of probability was discovered by mathematicians 
whose real interest was the rationalization of gambling. It has failed of 
the practical purpose at which they aimed, but it has furnished a scien- 
tific basis for all types of insurance, and vast stretches of nineteenth 
century physics are based upon it. ... 

Let us look in another direction. In the domain of medicine and public 
health the science of bacteriology has played for half a century the 
leading role. What is its story? Following the Franco-Prussian War of 
1870, the German Government founded the great University of Stras- 
bourg. Its first professor of anatomy was Wilhelm von Waldeyer, subse- 
quently professor of anatomy in Berlin. In his Reminiscences he relates 
that among the students who went with him to Strasbourg during his 
first semester there was a small, inconspicuous, self-contained youngster 
of seventeen by name Paul Ehrlich. The usual course in anatomy then 
consisted of dissection and microscopic examination of tissues. Ehrlich 
paid little or no attention to dissection, but, as Waldeyer remarks in his 
Reminiscences : 

"I noticed quite early that Ehrlich would work long hours at his desk, 
completely absorbed in microscopic observation. Moreover, his desk grad- 
ually became covered with colored spots of every description. As I saw 
him sitting at work one day, I went up to him and asked what he was 
doing with all his rainbow array of colors on his table. Thereupon this 
young student in his first semester supposedly pursuing the regular course 
in anatomy looked up at me and blandly remarked, 'Ich probiereJ This 
might be freely translated, 'I am trying' or 'I am just fooling.' I replied 
to him, 'Very well. Go on with your fooling.' Soon I saw that without 
any teaching or direction whatsoever on my part I possessed in Ehrlich 
a student of unusual quality." 

Waldeyer wisely left him alone. Ehrlich made his way precariously 
through the medical curriculum and ultimately procured his degree 
mainly because it was obvious to his teachers that he had no intention of 
ever putting his medical degree to practical use. He went subsequently 
to Breslau where he worked under Professor Cohnheim, the teacher of 
our own Dr. Welch, founder and maker of the Johns Hopkins MedicaJ 
School. I do not suppose that the idea of use ever crossed Ehrlich's mind. 
He was interested. He was curious; he kept on fooling. Of course his 
fooling was guided by a deep instinct, but it was a purely scientific, not 
an utilitarian motivation. What resulted? Koch and his associates estab- 
lished a new science, the science of bacteriology. Ehrlich's experiments 
were now applied by a fellow student, Weigert, to staining bacteria and 
thereby assisting in their differentiation. Ehrlich himself developed the 


staining of the blood film with the dyes on which our modern knowledge 
of the morphology of the blood corpuscles, red and white, is based. Not 
a. day passes but that in thousands of hospitals the world over Ehrlich's 
technic is employed in the examination of the blood. Thus the appar- 
ently aimless fooling in Waldeyer's dissecting room in Strasbourg has 
become a main factor in the daily practice of medicine. 

I shall give one example from industry, one selected at random; for 
there are scores besides. Professor Berl, of the Carnegie Institute of 
Technology (Pittsburgh) writes as follows: 

"The founder of the modern rayon industry was the French Count 
Chardonnet. It is known that he used a solution of nitro cotton in ether- 
alcohol, and that he pressed this viscous solution through capillaries into 
water which served to coagulate the cellulose nitrate filament. After the 
coagulation, this filament entered the air and was wound up on bobbins. 
One day Chardonnet inspected his French factory at Besangon. By an 
accident the water which should coagulate the cellulose nitrate filament 
was stopped. The workmen found that the spinning operation went much 
better without water than with water. This was the birthday of the very 
important process of dry spinning, which is actually carried out on the 
greatest scale." 


I am not for a moment suggesting that everything that goes on in 
laboratories will ultimately turn to some unexpected practical use or that 
an ultimate practical use is its actual justification. Much more am I 
pleading for the abolition of the word "use," and for the freeing of the 
human spirit. To be sure, we shall thus free some harmless cranks. To be 
sure, we shall thus waste some precious dollars. But what is infinitely 
more important is that we shall be striking the shackles off the human 
mind and setting it free for the adventures which in our own day have, on 
the one hand, taken Hale and Rutherford and Einstein and their peers 
millions upon millions of miles into the uttermost realms of space and, on 
the other, loosed the boundless energy imprisoned in the atom. What 
Rutherford and others like Bohr and Millikan have done out of sheer 
curiosity in the effort to understand the construction of the atom has re- 
leased forces which may transform human life; but this ultimate and un- 
foreseen and unpredictable practical result is not offered as a justification 
for Rutherford or Einstein or Millikan or Bohr or any of their peers. Let 
them alone. No educational administrator can possibly direct the channels 
in which these or other men shall work. The waste, I admit again, looks 
prodigious. It is not really so. All the waste that could be summed up in 
developing the science of bacteriology is as nothing compared to the ad- 
vantages which have accrued from the discoveries of Pasteur, Koch, Ehr- 
lich, Theobald Smith, and scores of others advantages that could never 


have accrued if the idea of possible use had permeated their minds. 
These great artists for such are scientists and bacteriologists dissemi- 
nated the spirit which prevailed in laboratories in which they were simply 
following the line of their own natural curiosity. 

I am not criticising institutions like schools of engineering or law in 
which the usefulness motive necessarily predominates. Not infrequently 
the tables are turned, and practical difficulties encountered in industry 
or in laboratories stimulate theoretical inquiries which may or may not 
solve the problems by which they were suggested, but may also open 
up new vistas, useless at the moment, but pregnant with future achieve- 
ments, practical and theoretical. 

With the rapid accumulation of "useless" or theoretic knowledge a 
situation has been created in which it has become increasingly possible 
to attack practical problems in a scientific spirit. Not only inventors, but 
"pure" scientists have indulged in this sport. I have mentioned Marconi, 
an inventor, who, while a benefactor to the human race, as a matter of 
fact merely "picked other men's brains." Edison belongs to the same 
category. Pasteur was different. He was a great scientist; but he was not 
averse to attacking practical problems such as the condition of French 
grapevines or the problems of beer-brewing and not only solving the 
immediate difficulty, but also wresting from the practical problem some 
far-reaching theoretic conclusion, "useless" at the moment, but likely in 
some unforeseen manner to be "useful" later. Ehrlich, fundamentally 
speculative in his curiosity, turned fiercely upon the problem of syphilis 
and doggedly pursued it until a solution of immediate practical use 
the discovery of salvarsan was found. The discoveries of insulin by 
Banting for use in diabetes and of liver extract by Minot and Whipple 
for use in pernicious anemia belong in the same category: both were 
made by thoroughly scientific men, who realized that much "useless" 
knowledge had been piled up by men unconcerned with its practical 
bearings, but that the time was now ripe to raise practical questions in a 
scientific manner. 

Thus it becomes obvious that one must be wary in attributing scien- 
tific discovery wholly to any one person. Almost every discovery has a 
long and precarious history. Someone finds a bit here, another a bit 
there. A third step succeeds later and thus onward till a genius pieces 
the bits together and makes the decisive contribution. Science, like the 
Mississippi, begins in a tiny rivulet in the distant forest. Gradually other 
streams swell its volume. And the roaring river that bursts the dikes is 
formed from countless sources. 

I cannot deal with this aspect exhaustively, but I may in passing say 
this: over a period of one or two hundred years the contributions of pro- 
fessional schools to their respective activities will probably be found to 
lie, not so much in the training of men who may to-morrow become prac- 
tical engineers or practical lawyers or practical doctors, but rather in 


the fact that even in the pursuit of strictly practical aims an enormous 
amount of apparently useless activity goes on. Out of this useless activity 
there come discoveries which may well prove of infinitely more impor- 
tance to the human mind and to the human spirit than the accomplish- 
ment of the useful ends for which the schools were founded. 

The considerations upon which I have touched emphasize if emphasis 
were needed the overwhelming importance of spiritual and intellectual 
freedom. I have spoken of experimental science; I have spoken of mathe- 
matics; but what I say is equally true of music and art and of every 
other expression of the untrammeled human spirit. The mere fact that 
they bring satisfaction to an individual soul bent upon its own purifica- 
tion and elevation is all the justification that they need. And in justify- 
ing these without any reference whatsoever, implied or actual, to useful- 
ness we justify colleges, universities, and institutes of research. An insti- 
tution which sets free successive generations of human souls is amply 
justified whether or not this graduate or that makes a so-called useful 
contribution to human knowledge. A poem, a symphony, a painting, a 
mathematical truth, a new scientific fact, all bear in themselves all the 
justification that universities, colleges, and institutes of research need or 

The subject which I am discussing has at this moment a peculiar 
poignancy. In certain large areas Germany and Italy especially the 
effort is now being made to clamp down the freedom of the human spirit. 
Universities have been so reorganized that they have become tools of 
those who believe in a special political, economic, or racial creed. Now 
and then a thoughtless individual in one of the few democracies left in 
this world will even question the fundamental importance of absolutely 
untrammeled academic freedom. The real enemy of the human race is 
not the fearless and irresponsible thinker, be he right or wrong. The 
real enemy is the man who tries to mold the human spirit so that it will 
not dare to spread its wings, as its wings were once spread in Italy and 
Germany, as well as in Great Britain and the United States. 

This is not a new idea. It was the idea which animated von Humboldt 
when, in the hour of Germany's conquest by Napoleon, he conceived and 
founded the University of Berlin. It is the idea which animated President 
Gilman in the founding of the Johns Hopkins University, after which 
every university in this country has sought in greater or less degree to 
remake itself. It is the idea to which every individual who values his 
immortal soul will be true whatever the personal consequences to him- 
self. Justification of spiritual freedom goes, however, much farther than 
originality whether in the realm of science or humanism, for it implies 
tolerance throughout the range of human dissimilarities. In the face of 
the history of the human race what can be more silly or ridiculous than 
likes or dislikes founded upon race or religion? Does humanity want 
symphonies and paintings and profound scientific truth, or does it want 


Christian symphonies, Christian paintings, Christian science, or Jewish 
symphonies, Jewish paintings, Jewish science, or Mohammedan or Egyp- 
tian or Japanese or Chinese or American or German or Russian or Com- 
munist or Conservative contributions to and expressions of the infinite 
richness of the human soul? 


Santiago Ramon y Cajal, Recollections of My Life, 

translated by E. Home Craigie, 
Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society, 
Vol. VIII, Philadelphia, 1937, Part II, pp. 526-27 

It is a commonplace fact that scientific discoveries are a function of 
the methods used. A strictly differential technique having appeared, there 
follow immediately, in a logical series and in an almost automatic fashion, 
unlooked for clarifications of problems formerly insoluble or incompletely 
settled. And if this is true in respect of all the natural sciences, it is so 
most conspicuously in the realms of histology. For the histologist, every 
advance in staining technique is something like the acquisition of a new 
sense directed towards the unknown. As if nature had determined to hide 
from our eyes the marvellous structure of its organization, the cell, the 
mysterious protagonist of life, is hidden obstinately in the double in- 
visibility of smallness and homogeneity. Structures of formidable com- 
plexity appear under the microscope with the colourlessness, the uniform- 
ity of refractive index, and the simplicity of architecture of a mass of 
jelly. The other natural sciences are more fortunate in that they work 
with objects of study which are directly accessible to the senses. Only 
histology and bacteriology are obliged to fulfil the preliminary and diffi- 
cult task of making visible their special objects of study before they can 
commence the work of analysis. And in such a severe campaign they 
have to struggle, as I have already said, with two adversaries; smallness 
and transparency. The histologist can advance in the knowledge of the 
tissues only by impregnating or tinting them selectively with various hues 
which are capable of making the cells stand out energetically from an 
uncoloured background. In this way, the bee-hive of the cells is revealed 
to us unveiled; it might be said that the swarm of transparent and in- 
visible infusorians is transformed into a flock of painted butterflies. 


Chapter 3 Definition and Terminology 

1. Prefixes of Greek and Latin Origin 

A prefix is one or more syllables, usually an adverb or a preposition, 
placed before a word or root to modify its meaning. Adding the prefix 
may result in a different spelling of the prefix or of the root or stem be- 
cause of the demands of euphony. For example, addict, affix, and assimi- 
late all come from Latin words originally formed by use of the prefix ad. 





a, ab 


away, from 






to, toward 









a, an 


not, without 







back, up, apart 







anterior (comparative) 

am phi 


around, both 





two, twice 




cata, cath, cat 


down, in accordance with 













cum, co, cog, col, 


with, together 


com, con, cor 












down, from, away 





di, dis 








through, across 







bad, hard, ill 


e, ef, ex 


out of, away from 





ec, ex 


out of 





outside, without 










well, good 






beyond, outside of 



















in, into 
















intra, intro 







equal, same 




















after, beyond, with 











beside, against 






through (intensive) 


















posterior (comparative) 

















again, back 






behind, backward 



retrospective f 









super, supra 


over, above 







above, over 






across, through 







beyond, excessively 


2. Prefixes Indicating Number 






semi (semicircle) 

hemi (hemisphere) 


uni (unilateral) 

mono (monopoly) 


bi (bisect) 

di (dioxide) 


tri (triangle) 

tri (tricycle) 


quadr (quadrangle) 

tetra (tetrachloride) 


penta (pentameter) 

penta (pentagon) 


sex (sexpartite) 

hexa (hexagon) 


sept (septuplet) 

hept (heptagon) 


oct (octave) 

oct (octagon) 


nona (nonary) 

ennea (ennead) 


dec (decennial) 

dec (decalogue) 

one hundred 

centi (centimeter) 

hecto (hectogram) 


rnilli (millimeter) 

kilo (kilogram) 

3. Suffixes of Greek and Latin Origin 

A suffix is one or more syllables added after a word or root to modify 
its meaning. 


From Meaning 


ant, ent 

L. in adjectives, with the force of the pres- 


ent participle; in nouns, one who or 


that which 







L. place for 




L. from past participle of first Latin con- 


jugation; used in forming adjectives, 


nouns, and causative verbs 




ation, tion 

L. act, state, or quality of; that which 





cle, cule 

L. small 





esce, escent 

L. becoming 











cutting out 











noun ending 





of the nature of, pertaining to 





pertaining to 






act, condition, characteristic or doc- 


trine of 





one who 






inflammation of 





make like, subject to 





like, in the form of 





theory or science of 








state or quality of, one who, that which 








condition or process; medical, often ab- 





4. Combining Forms 

A combining form is a word or word element (root or stem) used with 
one or more other words or elements to form a compound. Unlike prefixes 
and suffixes, combining forms are not restricted to the beginning or the 
end of the completed word. They are usually nouns or adjectives, and 
each one contributes a concrete or specific idea to the compound. For 
example, autohemotherapy is made up of three elements auto, self; 
hemo, blood; therapy, treatment; the term means treatment by the injec- 
tion of the patient's own blood. 



From Meaning 

Examples of Use 




































shoot, germ 






















h y drocephalic 

























originally hollow 



jar, urn; cell 
































birth, descent 



(cf. Parthenon) 








(through Latin, 

glossa a diffi- 

cult word) 






















the same 



(cf. hetero) 













healing, medical 






From Meaning 

Examples of Use 



one's own, 
























death, dead 

































correct, straight 











suffering, disease 









(pes, pedis 







(pais child) 








fear, often im- 


plying dislike 

or aversion 



sound, voice 









pneu (pnea) 





































cut (ectomy 



cutting out) 





5. Plural Forms 

A number of English words borrowed from Greek and Latin retain the 
plural forms of their original declensions. Writers of science have been 
somewhat more conservative than writers in general about adopting Eng- 


lish plurals even when they are acceptable. Usage varies in different 
fields, but the writer should know the plural forms commonly used. This 
list of plurals is not intended to be inclusive but represents a number of 
Greek and Latin declensions. 
































apparatus, apparatuses 

appendixes, appendices 

automatons, automata 





focuses, foci 
indexes, indices 

radii, radiuses 

stigmata, stigmas 




vortexes, vortices 

6. Words and Terms Derived from Greek and latin 
Proper Names 

A number of scientific terms and words frequently used in scientific 
writing are derived from the names of characters in Greek and Latin 
myths. Most of these words have come down to us from the days when 
every scientist was learned in the classics. 













Chronos (Cronus) 




































the narcissus complex 




the Oedipus complex 























Chapter 4 Collecting Data 


The American Institute of Biological Sciences, 
The A.I.B.S. Bulletin, 1(5) :21, October 1951 

Most biologists agree that uniformity in citations is preferable to the 
great variations now encountered from one publication to another. Based 
on the short vote taken in connection with the A.I.B.S. Columbus meet- 
ing of last year, and a more recent sample vote among certain editors 
and librarians, the A.I.B.S. Publications Committee is preparing a guide 
for literature citations. To approach more nearly what readers desire, 
the Committee is sending out this ballot to secure a vote on the more 
critical items. 

Probably no one system will meet the needs of all groups. The results 
of this vote, however, will indicate how most people feel about certain 
critical points. 

Will you please help by marking the appropriate places to indicate 
your preferences. 

I. In which sequence do you prefer citations to literature? [Please 
check preferences] 

A. Alphabetical order according to authorship 

B. Numbered in the order of appearance in text 

II. Authorship 

A. Do you like the initials of second and subsequent au- 
thors to be reversed or in natural order? Examples: 

Smith, R. E., Jones, A. J., and 'Brown, E. F. 

Smith, R. E., A. J. Jones, and E. F. Brown 

B. Do you prefer "and" or "&"? Examples: 

Smith, R. E., and A. J. Jones 

Smith, R. E., & A. J. Jones 

C. Do you prefer a woman's name spelled out or merely 
with an initial? Examples: 

Johnson, Barbara 

Johnson, B. ___ 

D. Shall names appear exactly as on the publication or be 
abbreviated to initials? Examples: 


Moore, George W., and Howard L. Hansen 
Moore, G. W., and H. L. Hansen 

E. With more than two names, should all be given or only 
the first name followed by et at.? Examples: 
Smith, R. E,, A. J. Jones, and E. F. Brown 
Smith, R. E., et al. 

III. Titles of articles or books 

A. Do you want titles included? Yes No_ 

B. If you mark A "y es >" should long titles be 

shortened? Yes No_ 

IV. Abbreviations of journals 

Which list of abbreviations do you prefer? 

A. Chemical Abstracts 

B. Index of American Botanical Literature 

C. International Catalog 

D. U. S. Department of Agriculture 

E. World List 

F. Other List (please name it) 
V. Position of date 

Where should the date appear? 

A. At the end. Example: 

Cook, M. T. The diseases of tropical plants. 317 p. 
London, 1913 

B. Following the authorship. Example: 

Cook, M. T. 1913. The diseases of tropical plants. 

317 p. London 
VI. Illustrations 

Shall the illustrations be indicated? 

A. No mention of illustrations 

B. The simple abbreviation "illus." 

C. Details, such as "2 pi., 5 figs." 
VII. Publisher of a book and his location 

Shall the publisher be included as well as the place of pub- 
lication? Examples: 

A. McGraw-Hill, New York 

B. New York 

Please indicate any special interest you may have in these questions, 
and add your further comments. 

Please tear out this ballot and mail before November 15 to A. J. 
Riker, Chairman, A.I.B.S. Publications Committee, Dept. Plant 
Pathology, University of Wisconsin, Madison 6, Wisconsin. 



Marchette Chute, "Getting at the Truth," 
The Saturday Review, 36(38) :1M2, September 19, 1953 

This is a rather presumptuous title for a biographer to use, since truth 
is a very large word. In the sense that it means the reality about a human 
being it is probably impossible for a biographer to achieve. In the sense 
that it means a reasonable presentation of all the available facts it is 
more nearly possible, but even this limited goal is harder to reach than 
it appears to be. A biographer needs to be both humble and cautious 
when he remembers the nature of the material he is working with, for a 
historical fact is rather like the flamingo that Alice in Wonderland tried 
to use as a croquet mallet. As soon as she got its neck nicely straightened 
out and was ready to hit the ball, it would turn and look at her with a 
puzzled expression, and any biographer knows that what is called a "fact" 
has a way of doing the same. 

Here is a small example. When I was writing my forthcoming biog- 
raphy, "Ben Jonson of Westminster," I wanted to give a paragraph or two 
to Sir Philip Sidney, who had a great influence on Jonson. No one thinks 
of Sidney without thinking of chivalry, and to underline the point I in- 
tended to use a story that Sir Fulke Greville told of him. Sidney died of 
gangrene, from a musket shot that shattered his thigh, and Greville says 
that Sidney failed to put on his leg armor while preparing for battle be- 
cause the marshal of the camp was not wearing leg armor and Sidney 
was unwilling to do anything that would give him a special advantage. 

The story is so characteristic both of Sidney himself and of the mis- 
placed high-mindedness of late Renaissance chivalry that I wanted to use 
it, and since Sir Fulke Greville was one of Sidney's closest friends the 
information seemed to be reliable enough. But it is always well to check 
each piece of information as thoroughly as possible and so I consulted 
another account of Sidney written by a contemporary, this time a doctor 
who knew the family fairly well. The doctor, Thomas Moffet, mentioned 
the episode but he said that Sidney left off his leg armor because he was 
in a hurry. 

The information was beginning to twist in my hand and could no 
longer be trusted. So I consulted still another contemporary who had 
mentioned the episode, to see which of the two he agreed with. This was 
Sir John Smythe, a military expert who brought out his book a few 
years after Sidney's death. Sir John was an old-fashioned conservative 
who advocated the use of heavy armor even on horseback, and he de- 
plored the current craze for leaving off leg protection, "the imitating of 


which . . . cost that noble and worthy gentleman Sir Philip Sidney his 

So here I was with three entirely different reasons why Sidney left off 
his leg armor, all advanced by careful writers who were contemporaries 
of his. The flamingo had a legitimate reason for looking around with a 
puzzled expression. 

The only thing to do in a case like this is to examine the point of view 
of the three men who are supplying the conflicting evidence. Sir Fulke 
Greville was trying to prove a thesis: that his beloved friend had an ex- 
tremely chivalric nature. Sir John Smythe also was trying to prove a 
thesis: that the advocates of light arming followed a theory that could 
lead to disaster. Only the doctor, Thomas Moffet, was not trying to prove 
a thesis. He was not using his own explanation to reinforce some point 
he wanted to make. He did not want anything except to set down on 
paper what he believed to be the facts ; and since we do not have Sidney's 
own explanation of why he 'did not put on leg armor, the chances are 
that Dr. Moffet is the safest man to trust. 

For Moffet was without desire. Nothing can so quickly blur and dis- 
tort the facts as desire the wish to use the facts for some purpose of 
your own and nothing can so surely destroy the truth. As soon as the 
witness wants to prove something he is no longer impartial and his evi- 
dence is no longer to be trusted. 

Chapter 5 Analysis: Methods and Applications 

Reprinted by permission of the publishers from 

George Howard Parker, The World Expands, pp. 34-37, 

Cambridge, Harvard University Press. Copyright 1946, 

by the President and Fellows of Harvard College 

Thus I became a part of the family at the Academy of Natural Sci- 
ences. My duties were to clean, order, and arrange the collection of 
butterflies, not a very large one, belonging to the institution and to help 
any visitor who might wish special information about insects. . . . 

As a member of the Academy's family, I was thrown with an interesting 
group of men. I was by far the youngest of them all, but I was invariably 
treated most kindly. . . . The younger members of this group commonly 
brought their luncheons with them to the Academy. At the midday hour 
we retired to a basement room where we ate our repast around a table 
which served in several ways as our center of interest. At about this 


period two books had appeared that made a special appeal to young 
zoologists. One of these was Mivart's Cat, and the other was Flower's 
Osteology of the Mammalia. These books were eagerly read by us and 
kept within easy reach for reference. As a result of studying them we 
had all indulged freely in making skeletons cats, turtles, dogs, birds, 
snakes, frogs, and even fishes, in part or as wholes fell into the boiling 
pot and came out clean bones. Many of these thus prepared, mostly as 
separate specimens, found their way into a large wooden box that stood 
by our lunch table. During the time of our repast it was usual for one 
of us to reach a hand into the bone-box, bring out as chance would have 
it a single bone and put it in the middle of the table for identification. 
Was it from a bird or from a mammal or from some other creature? If 
a vertebra, which face was front, which back, which above and which 
below? Woe be to him who did not know the law of the zygapophyses ! 
Do prezygapophyses face upward or down? And so on through the 
luncheon which thus became food for the soul as well as for the body. 
The end of the meal was usually followed by a brief trip to the hall of 
the museum where a disputed point could be settled by reference to a 
mounted skeleton. By this kind of exercise we came to know bones as 
we did our alphabet. 

When I went to Harvard I took a course in my second year on cat 
anatomy under Dr. Walter Faxon and in a joking way our instructor put 
a cat bone on a laboratory table, around which half a dozen of us had 
gathered, and asked what bone it was. The query was put to us in a chal- 
lenging spirit. Most of the group gave up, but by the mere accident of 
my early training I felt at home with such a question. When the query 
was put to me I declared for the left navicular of the cat. We took the 
loose bone for final identification to a mounted cat skeleton and there 
the bone was in the cat's instep on the left side. Dr. Faxon looked at me 
in surprise, in fact he seemed almost appalled, till I told him of the 
training that I had been through. He then quickly saw that my kind of 
genius was all perspiration and no inspiration. Nevertheless, he was 
always thereafter more considerate of me and took a special interest in 
showing me the historical New England countryside in the neighborhood 
of Cambridge and Boston, for he was a born antiquarian. 

Beside the younger men in the Academy's family, there were also 
scientific worthies of greater maturity but no less friendliness. The old- 
est of these was Titian Peale, whose artistic instincts led him to prepare 
beautiful illustrations of the American butterflies and moths which un- 
fortunately never saw the light. Then there was the anatomist, Dr. Harri- 
son Allen, a student of bats, who gave me my first lesson in anatomy 
by showing me how to dissect a snapping turtle. Of equal interest were 
the two notable students of American beetles, Dr. G. H. Horn and Dr. 
John L. LeConte, both much concerned with the collections of the Ameri- 


can Entomological Society then stored in rooms at the Academy. We saw 
every week or so the Reverend H. C. McCook, who was at that time in 
the midst of his studies on the habits of American ants; and George W. 
Tryon, Jr., the curator of the Academy's collection of shells, was well 
started at this period on his colossal monograph of the shells of the 
world. These men and many others were among those who might be 
called the zoologically inclined members of the Academy's household, 
but beside them this institution found place for numerous botanists, 
geologists, mineralogists, and other natural historians whose total inter- 
ests seemed to cover every aspect of Nature. 

Perhaps possessed of wider interests than any of those already men- 
tioned, and certainly most widely known of all in the world of Science, 
was Dr. Joseph Leidy. When I first came to the Academy, he was chair- 
man of its board of curators and before I left that institution he had 
become its revered president. As Jessup students we came directly under 
Dr. Leidy's supervision. It was his habit to come to the Academy about 
once a week during daytime hours, and at such times we were always 
free to bring to him any difficulties that had arisen in our work. These 
matters he talked over with us with kindly consideration and interest. 
He knew us well enough to call us by our given names, which empha- 
sized our apprentice to master relationship. 

As I look back on those brief but not infrequent meetings with Dr. 
Leidy, I am impressed with what they really meant for me. Though a 
most distinguished scholar in the broad field of natural history, his re- 
marks on any subject were in language so simple that anyone could 
understand, and though he often used technical terms he used them with 
a word of explanation which made them at once plain and clear. I have 
elsewhere described how he once spoke to a group of schoolchildren, on 
the form of the human skull; a strange subject to introduce to children, 
and yet he did it in such a direct and simple manner that in a few min- 
utes he had all the youngsters fully aroused and eager to grasp all that 
he described to them. His talk was especially instructive to me, as I 
listened from the outskirts of the group, to see how he used technical 
terms. He remarked when he came to the foramen magnum that this was 
the largest opening in the skull and that it was the aperture for the con- 
nection between the brain and the spinal cord. He then went on to say 
that to call it by its technical name seemed very learned, but to a Roman 
the words foramen magnum meant merely a big hole. Pedantry never 
found a place with Dr. Leidy. 


Warren Weaver, "Science and Complexity," 
American Scientist, 36:537-38, October 1948 

Subsequent to 1900 and actually earlier, if one includes heroic pioneers 
such as Josiah Willard Gibbs, the physical sciences developed an attack 
on nature of an essentially and dramatically new kind. Rather than study 
problems which involved two variables or at most three or four, some 
imaginative minds went to the other extreme, and said: "Let us develop 
analytical methods which can deal with two billion variables." That is 
to say, the physical scientist, with the mathematicians often in the van- 
guard, developed powerful techniques of probability theory and of statis- 
tical mechanics to deal with what may be called problems of disorganized 

This last phrase calls for explanation. Consider first a simple illustra- 
tion in order to get the flavor of the idea. The classical dynamics of the 
nineteenth century was well suited for analyzing and predicting the 
motion of a single ivory ball as it moves about on a billiard table. In fact, 
the relationship between positions of the ball and the times at which it 
reaches these positions forms a typical nineteenth-century problem of 
simplicity. One can, but with a surprising increase in difficulty, analyze 
the motion of two or even of three balls on a billiard table. There has 
been, in fact, considerable study of the mechanics of the standard game 
of billiards. But, as soon as one tries to analyze the motion of ten or 
fifteen balls on the table at once, as in pool, the problem becomes un- 
manageable, not because there is any theoretical difficulty, but just be- 
cause the actual labor of dealing in specific detail with so many variables 
turns out to be impractical. 

Imagine, however, a large billiard table with millions of balls rolling 
over its surface, colliding with one another and with the side rails. The 
great surprise is that the problem now becomes easier, for the methods 
of statistical mechanics are applicable. To be sure the detailed history of 
one special ball can not be traced, but certain important questions can 
be answered with useful precision, such as: On the average how many 
balls per second hit a given stretch of rail? On the average how far does 
a ball move before it is hit by some other ball? On the average how 
many impacts per second does a ball experience? 

Earlier it was stated that the new statistical methods were applicable 
to problems of disorganized complexity. How does the word "disorgan- 
ized" apply to the large billiard table with the many balls? It applies 
because the methods of statistical mechanics are valid only when the balls 
are distributed, in their positions and motions, in a helter-skelter, that is 
to say a disorganized, way. For example, the statistical methods would 


not apply if someone were to arrange the balls in a row parallel to one 
side rail of the table, and then start them all moving in precisely parallel 
paths perpendicular to the two in which they stand. Then the balls would 
never collide with each other nor with two of the rails, and one would not 
have a situation of disorganized complexity. 

From this illustration it is clear what is meant by a problem of dis- 
organized complexity. It is a problem in which the number of variables 
is very large, and one in which each of the many variables has a behavior 
which is individually erratic, or perhaps totally unknown. However, in 
spite of this helter-skelter, or unknown, behavior of all the individual 
variables, the system as a whole possesses certain orderly and analyzable 
average properties. 

A wide range of experience comes under the label of disorganized 
complexity. The method applies with increasing precision when the num- 
ber of variables increases. It applies with entirely useful precision to the 
experience of a large telephone exchange, in predicting the average fre- 
quency of calls, the probability of overlapping calls of the same number, 
etc. It makes possible the financial stability of a life insurance company. 
Although the company can have no knowledge whatsoever concerning the 
approaching death of any one individual, it has dependable knowledge 
of the average frequency with which deaths will occur. 

This last point is interesting and important. Statistical techniques are 
not restricted to situations where the scientific theory of the individual 
events is very well known, as in the billiard example where there is a 
beautifully precise theory for the impact of one ball on another. This 
technique can also be applied to situations, like the insurance example, 
where the individual event is as shrouded in mystery as is the chain of 
complicated and unpredictable events associated with the accidental 
death of a healthy man. 

The examples of the telephone and insurance companies suggest a 
whole array of practical applications of statistical techniques based on 
disorganized complexity. In a sense they are unfortunate examples, for 
they tend to draw attention away from the more fundamental use which 
science makes of these new techniques. The motions of the atoms which 
form all matter, as well as the motions of the stars which form the uni- 
verse, come under the range of these new techniques. The fundamental 
laws of heredity are analyzed by them. The laws of thermodynamics, 
which describe basic and inevitable tendencies of all physical systems, 
are derived from statistical considerations. The entire structure of modern 
physics, our present concept of the nature of the physical universe, and 
of the accessible experimental facts concerning it rest on these statistical 
concepts. Indeed, the whole question of evidence and the way in which 
knowledge can be inferred from evidence are now recognized to depend 
on these same statistical ideas, so that probability notions are essential 
to any theory of knowledge itself. 


Chapter 6 Interpretation: Applying the Principles of Logic 

Francis Darwin, editor, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, 
New York, D. Appleton and Company, 1925, Vol. I, pp. 67-68 

From September 1854 I devoted my whole time to arranging my huge 
pile of notes, to observing, and to experimenting in relation to the trans- 
mutation of species. During the voyage of the Beagle I had been deeply 
impressed by discovering in the Pampean formation great fossil animals 
covered with armour like that on the existing armadillos; secondly, by 
the manner in which closely allied animals replace one another in pro- 
ceeding southwards over the Continent; and thirdly, by the South Ameri- 
can character of most of the productions of the Galapagos archipelago, 
and more especially by the manner in which they differ slightly on each 
island of the group ; none of the islands appearing to be very ancient in a 
geological sense. 

It was evident that such facts as these, as well as many others, could 
only be explained on the supposition that species gradually become modi- 
fied; and the subject haunted me. But it was equally evident that neither 
the action of the surrounding conditions, nor the will of the organisms 
(especially in the case of plants) could account for the innumerable 
cases in which organisms of every kind are beautifully adapted to their 
habits of life for instance, a woodpecker or a tree-frog to climb trees, 
or a seed for dispersal by hooks or plumes. I had always been much 
struck by such adaptations, and until these could be explained it seemed 
to me almost useless to endeavour to prove by indirect evidence that 
species have been modified. 

After my return to England it appeared to me that by following the 
example of Lyell in Geology, and by collecting all facts which bore in 
any way on the variation of animals and plants under domestication and 
nature, some light might perhaps be thrown on the whole subject. My 
first note-book was opened in July 1837. I worked on true Baconian prin- 
ciples, and without any theory collected facts on a wholesale scale, more 
especially with respect to domesticated productions, by printed enquiries, 
by conversation with skilful breeders and gardeners, and by extensive 
reading. When I see the list of books of all kinds which I read and ab- 
stracted, including whole series of Journals and Transactions, I am sur- 
prised at my industry. I soon perceived that selection was the keystone 
of man's success in making useful races of animals and plants. But how 
selection could be applied to organisms living in a state of nature re- 
mained for some time a mystery to me. 


Julian S. Huxley, Evolution: The Modern Synthesis, New York, 

Harper & Brothers, 1942, pp. 13-14. Copyright 1942 

by Julian S. Huxley 

Biology at the present time is embarking upon a phase of synthesis 
after a period in which new disciplines were taken up in turn and worked 
out in comparative isolation. Nowhere is this movement towards unifica- 
tion more likely to be valuable than in this many-sided topic of evolution ; 
and already we are seeing the first-fruits in the re-animation of Dar- 

By Darwinism I imply that blend of induction and deduction which 
Darwin was the first to apply to the study of evolution. He was concerned 
both to establish the fact of evolution and to discover the mechanism by 
which it operated; and it was precisely because he attacked both aspects 
of the problem simultaneously, that he was so successful. On the one 
hand he amassed enormous quantities of facts from which inductions 
concerning the evolutionary process could be drawn; and on the other, 
starting from a few general principles, he deduced the further principle 
of natural selection. 

It is as well to remember the strong deductive element in Darwinism. 
Darwin based his theory of natural selection on three observable facts of 
nature and two deductions from them. The first fact is the tendency of 
all organisms to increase in a geometrical ratio. The tendency of all 
organisms to increase is due to the fact that offspring, in the early stages 
of their existence, are always more numerous than their parents; this 
holds good whether reproduction is sexual or asexual, by fission or by 
budding, by means of seeds, spores, or eggs.* The second fact is that, 
in spite of this tendency to progressive increase, the numbers of a given 
species actually remain more or less constant. 

The first deduction follows. From these two facts he deduced the 
struggle for existence. For since more young are produced than can 
survive, there must be competition for survival. In amplifying his theory, 
he extended the concept of the struggle for existence to cover reproduc- 
tion. The struggle is in point of fact for survival of the stock; if its sur- 
vival is aided by greater fertility, an earlier breeding season, or other 
reproductive function, these should be included under the same head. 

Darwin's third fact of nature was variation: all organisms vary ap- 
preciably. And the second and final deduction, which he deduced from 
the first deduction and the third fact, was Natural Selection. Since there 
is a struggle for existence among individuals, and since these individuals 

* The only exception, so far as I am aware, is to be found in certain human 
populations which fall far short of replacing themselves. 


are not all alike, some of the variations among them will be advantageous 
in the struggle for survival, others unfavourable. Consequently, a higher 
proportion of individuals with favourable variations will on the average 
survive, a higher proportion of those with unfavourable variations will 
die or fail to reproduce themselves. And since a great deal of variation 
is transmitted by heredity, these effects of differential survival will in 
large measure accumulate from generation to generation. Thus natural 
selection will act constantly to improve and to maintain the adjustment 
of animals and plants to their surroundings and their way of life. 


Margaret Knight, "Figures Can Lie," 

Science Digest, 30(3) :52-53, September 1951. 

As condensed by Science Digest from The Listener, London 

When a statistician says that there is a correlation between two things, 
what he means is simply that the two things tend to go together, or to 
vary together. For example, there is a correlation between the age of 
children and their height. If you take a hundred children and arrange 
them in order of age, and then arrange them again in order of height, you 
will find that the two orders are not so very different. Again, there is a 
correlation between the intelligence of children and their progress in 
school; between income and the amount spent on food and so on. 

When two things are correlated in this way, it often is the case that the 
variations in one directly cause the variations in the other. For example, 
if, in an agricultural research station, there was found to be a correlation 
between the amount of cod-liver oil given to young pigs and the rate at 
which they grow, then if other conditions had been kept the same it 
would be a pretty safe assumption that it was the extra cod-liver oil that 
had caused some of the pigs to grow faster than others. 

But not every correlation implies a direct causal relation of this type. 
Here is an example: In any large school, one would certainly find a cor- 
relation between the size of the pupils' feet and the speed of their hand- 

This is a typical case where two things are related through a common 
third factor, and the third factor in this case is obviously age. It is the 
oldest children who have the biggest feet, and the oldest children who 
are the quickest writers. 

That sort of mistake, in a less obvious form, is very easy to make. 
For example, it was shown some time ago that there is a correlation be- 
tween the intelligence of children and the age of their fathers when the 
children were born. In other words, middle-aged and elderly men tend 


to produce children who are more intelligent than the children of younger 

It looked at first sight as though some new, and very unexpected, bio- 
logical principle had been found. 

But here again we are not dealing with a direct cause-and-effect rela- 
tionship. This odd fact, that older fathers tend to have more intelligent 
children, depends for its explanation on three other facts. These facts 
are, first, that intelligence is strongly hereditary ; secondly, that the most 
intelligent class in the community, by and large, is the professional class ; 
and thirdly, that (by and large again) it is the professional class who 
are least given to early marriages. 

Later marriages mean older fathers, so the fact that older fathers tend 
to have more intelligent children is just a by-product, so to speak, of the 
fact that older fathers are more often members of the professions. 

The same sort of mistake is liable to be made with many other types 
of statistical data. The death-rate from cancer provides a good example. 
Statisticians tell us that for many years the death-rate from cancer has 
been slowly but steadily rising: and not unnaturally, many people con- 
clude from this that for some reason or other we are becoming more 
susceptible to cancer. 

Actually, that conclusion does not follow at all. The rise in the cancer 
death-rate is probably due entirely to the fact that other causes of death 
have been reduced. Numbers of people who, if they had been born a 
century earlier, would have died in their twenties of typhoid or smallpox, 
say, are now living on into their seventies and dying of cancer. 

In a Dublin hospital, many years ago, it was noticed that the death-rate 
was markedly higher in the ground-floor wards than it was in the wards 
upstairs. This fact was commented on in an official report, and marked 
down as requiring investigation. Then it was discovered that, when new 
patients came in, the porter of the hospital was in the habit of putting 
them upstairs if they could walk by themselves, and downstairs if they 
could not. 


Chapter 7 Directing the Paper to the Reader 

Reprinted from Gods, Graves, and Scholars 

by C. W. Ceram, translated from the German by E. B. Garside, 

pp. 177-84, by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 

Copyright 1951 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 

Carnarvon and Carter looked down upon the Valley of the Kings. 
Dozens of others had dug there before them, but not one of these many 
predecessors had left behind any exact drawings or even rough plans 
for the guidance of future explorers. Great heaps of rubble towered on 
all sides, giving the valley floor a lunar aspect. Among the heaps, like 
pit-heads, were the entrances to already exploited tombs. The only pos- 
sible mode of attack was to dig systematically down to the rocky floor. 
Carter proposed to excavate in a triangular area bounded by the tombs 
of Ramses II, Merneptah, and Ramses VI. "At the risk of being accused 
of post actum prescience," he says, "I will state that we had definite hopes 
of finding the tomb of one particular king, and that king Tut.ank.- 
Amen." . . . 

Once Carnarvon and Carter had begun the actual digging, in one 
winter's work they cleared away from within their triangular area of 
operation a large part of the upper layers of piled rubble and reached 
the foot of the tomb of Ramses VI. "Here we came on a series of work- 
men's huts, built over masses of flint boulders, the latter usually indi- 
cating in The Valley the near proximity of a tomb." 

What now unfolded was extremely exciting, viewed within the context 
of the whole Tutankhamen drama. Since further attempts to enlarge 
the excavation in the projected direction would have blocked off the 
entrance to the tomb of Ramses, a very popular site with tourists, work 
was stopped until the work could proceed unhampered. Excavation was 
resumed in the winter of 1919-20, and at the entrance to the tomb of 
Ramses VI a small, but archaeologically important deposit of funerary 
materials was unearthed. "This was the nearest approach to a real find 
that we had yet made in The Valley," Carter remarks. . . . 

On November 3, 1922 Lord Carnarvon was away in England at the 
time Carter began to tear down the workmen's huts. The next morning 
a stone step cut into the rock was discovered beneath the first hut. By 
the afternoon of November 5 enough rubbish had been cleared away to 


establish beyond doubt the fact that the entrance to the tomb had indeed 
been found. 

But it might very well have been an unfinished tomb, one that, perhaps, 
had never been used. And if the tomb did contain a mummy, it might, 
like so many others, have already been plundered. And perhaps, to com- 
plete the list of pessimistic possibilities, the mummy was there, but might 
be nothing but that of some high official or of a priest. 

The work was pressed feverishly, Carter's excitement mounting as the 
day wore on. Step after step appeared out of the rubble, and as the 
sudden Egyptian night closed in, the level of the twelfth step came to 
light, disclosing "The upper part of a doorway, blocked, plastered, and 
sealed. A sealed doorway it was actually true, then! ... It was a 
thrilling moment for an excavator." 

Carter examined the seal and found it to be that of the royal necropolis. 
A royal seal was clear proof that a person of very high standing was 
interred within. Since the workmen's huts had lain directly above the 
opening, it was obvious that at least since the Twentieth Dynasty the 
tomb had never been plundered. And when Carter, shaking with agitation, 
bored a peephole in the door "just large enough to insert an electric 
torch," he discovered that the corridor behind the door was filled to the 
brim with stones and rubble further reassurance that elaborate protec- 
tive measures had been taken with the tomb. 

On the morning of November 6 Carter sent the following telegram to 
Lord Carnarvon: "At last have made wonderful discovery in valley; a 
magnificent tomb with seals intact; re-covered same for your arrival; 
congratulations." On November 8 two replies from Carnarvon were re- 
ceived: "Possibly come soon"; and "Propose arrive Alexandria 20th." 

On November 23 Lord Carnarvon, accompanied by his daughter, ar- 
rived in Luxor. For more than two weeks Carter had been waiting, 
consumed by impatience, on guard at the carefully covered tomb en- 
trance. Two days after the discovery of the steps he had been flooded 
with messages of congratulation. But congratulations for exactly what? 
What was in the tomb? At this time Carter could not have said. Had he 
dug only a few inches lower down, he would have come upon the un- 
mistakable seal of Tutankhamen himself. "Had I but known ... I 
would have cleared on," says Carter, "and had a much better night's rest 
in consequence, and saved myself nearly three weeks of uncertainty." 

On the afternoon of November 24 the workers shoveled the last of the 
flight of steps free of rubbish. Carter went down the sixteen steps and 
stood before the sealed door. Now he could get a clear impression of the 
seal of Tutankhamen. And now, too, he became aware the Egyptologist's 
typical experience that others had been there before him. Here, too, 
robbers had done their work. 

"Now that the whole door was exposed to light," Carter says, "it was 
possible to discern a fact that had hitherto escaped notice that there 


had been two successive openings and re-closings of a part of its surface: 
furthermore, that the sealing originally discovered, the jackal and nine 
captives (the necropolis seal), had been applied to the reclosed portions, 
whereas the sealings of Tut.ankh.Amen covered the untouched part of 
the doorway, and were therefore those with which the tomb had been 
originally secured. The tomb then was not absolutely intact, as we had 
hoped. Plunderers had entered it, and entered it more than once from 
the evidence of the huts above, plunderers of a date not later than the 
reign of Rameses IV but that they had not rifled it completely was evi- 
dent from the fact that it had been re-sealed." 

But more revelations were in store for Carter. His confusion and un- 
certainty increased. When he had had the last of the rubbish blocking 
the stairs shoveled away, he found potsherds and boxes, the latter with 
the names of Ikhnaton, Sakeres, and Tutankhamen on them, also a scarab 
belonging to Thotmes III, and a piece of another, this one with the name 
of Amenophis III inscribed on it. Could all these names mean, against 
all expectation, a jointly shared rather than a single tomb? 

Certainty could be achieved only by opening the door of the tomb. 
The next days were spent preparing for this move. Carter had seen the 
first time he looked through the peephole that the interior passage was 
clogged with rubble. This filling consisted of two clearly distinguishable 
kinds of stone. The shoulder-wide entrance cut by the robbers had itself 
been replugged with a kind of dark flint. 

After several days of hard work the excavators, having penetrated 
thirty-two feet into the passage, found themselves hard up against a 
second door. The impressions of the royal seal of Tutankhamen and of 
the necropolis seal were also on this door, but there were signs, too, 
that intruders must have broken past this second obstruction. 

Basing their reasoning on the resemblance of the whole layout to a 
cache of Ikhnaton that had been found near by, at this state Carnarvon 
and Carter, with good reason, were tempted to believe that they were 
dealing with a common tomb, and not the original grave of an Egyptian 
king. And was there much to expect in a cache, especially one that had 
already been visited by robbers? 

Their hopes, in short, for a time were dashed. The tension increased 
once more, however, when rubble was taken away from the second door. 
"The decisive moment had arrived," Carter says. "With trembling hands 
I made a tiny breach in the upper left hand corner." 

Taking an iron testing-rod, Carter poked it through the door and 
found an emptiness on the other side. He lit candles to ensure against 
poisonous gases. Then the hole was enlarged. 

Everyone interested in the project now crowded about. Lord Car- 
narvon, his daughter, Lady Evelyn, and Callender, the Egyptologist, who 
had rushed to offer his help upon first receiving news of the find all 
looked on. Nervously Carter lit a match, touched it to the candle, and 


held it toward the hole. As his head neared the opening he was literally 
trembling with expectation and curiosity the warm air escaping from 
the chamber beyond the door made the candle flare up. For a moment 
Carter, his eye fixed to the hole and the candle burning within, could 
make out nothing. Then, as his eyes became gradually accustomed to the 
flickering light, he distinguished shapes, then their shadows, then the first 
colors. Not a sound escaped his lips; he had been stricken dumb. The 
others waited for what seemed to them like an eternity. Finally Carnarvon 
could no longer contain his impatience. "Can you see anything?" he 

Carter, slowly turning his head, said shakily: "Yes, wonderful things." 


H. J. Muller, Out of the Night, 
New York, The Vanguard Press, Inc., 1935, pp. 24-28 

Now this peculiar creature, man, has as yet had only a very short 
probationary period. Recent findings in radioactive rocks have given 
testimony that the entire process of organic evolution on the earth has 
taken something like a thousand million years, at least possibly even 
several times as long. Only by comparisons can we grasp such immensi- 
ties, so let us imagine this period symbolized by a distance along a cord, 
each yard of which stands for 10,000 years, and which ends, in the pres- 
ent time, at some established point of reference say the center of the 
private desk of J. P. Morgan in his office in Wall Street, New York City. 
To represent the beginning of organic evolution we should have to start 
the string many miles away probably at least as far off as New Haven, 
possibly as far as Boston. 

It is of interest to note that, on this scale, a human generation (from 
one birth to the next) would occupy somewhat less than an eighth of 
an inch, and that, if our symbolic cord were taken as about three-eighths 
of an inch wide (a small rope), the portion included within one genera- 
tion would then be a disc-shaped cross-section having the approximate 
dimensions of an ordinary aspirin tablet. Now this is just equal to the 
volume of hereditary material which actually is contained in one gen- 
eration of mankind, and which is to be passed on to the next generation. 
Hence our cord now acquires a further symbolic significance, in that it 
may be taken as representing in a certain real physical sense the evolving 
germ plasm of ourselves and our ancestors though it would not every- 
where be of equal width, as the numbers of the population change. Within 
this cord the fine fibers represent the chromosomes themselves, which are 
in fact filamentous bodies that intertwine, separate, and reunite in diverse 


ways as they pass along from generation to generation in the varying 
combinations resulting from sexual reproduction. In this cord, then, there 
would be material which, from the beginning, has continued to make 
generation after generation of progressing forms. Their bodies (or soma), 
which constituted a vastly greater volume, may be considered as a series 
of excrescences about the cord, formed under the influences emanating 
from the by-products of the cord's chemical activity. The evolutionary 
changes manifested in their multitudinous characteristics are but re- 
flections of primary changes occurring within the potent particles (genes) 
composing the tiny filaments of the cord itself. While the cord in question 
shows our particular line of ancestry, the lines of the millions of other 
living species would be shown by other, parallel cords some thin, some 
thick, some branching as time goes on and as species diverge from one 
another, and many coming to an early end as species become extinct; 
but practically all the "higher" forms, at any rate, tracing back their 
origin to one original cord in the beginning. At any given place there 
is but a single one, out of all the mass of cords, which has led on so as 
finally to issue in our branch ; this may be distinguished, in our figurative 
representation, by giving it a red color. It is this red cord which may be 
regarded as the red "thread of destiny," in a rather literal sense. Its free 
end is even now being spun further, being transfigured by mutation, being 
twined and interwoven, to give a new sort of living world, dependent on 
its new properties. 

Let us now start at the beginning of the mass of life cords say at 
New Haven and follow along them on their long way towards their 
present destination in New York City, observing what forms are assumed 
by their bodily outgrowths (soma) as we travel forward. Except to the 
trained biologist, it will prove a dreary trip for much the greater part 
of the distance. For in this whole journey there will be no actual "beasts" 
as we ordinarily think of them (four-footed land animals) until we are 
well within the limits of New York City. Not until we are passing through 
Harlem shall we see any creatures with fur or feathers i.e., mammals 
or birds. And note that even at that stage in our journey tremendous 
reptiles dinosaurs are still crashing over the earth; they long remain 
dominant over the few little warm-blooded pioneers, and they do not 
disappear until after we cross Forty-second Street. Not far below that 
point monkeys make their first appearance; but from that point south- 
ward the records show nothing higher than an ape until, having turned 
the corner of Wall Street, we actually confront our terminal building. 
There, about 100 feet from the end of the cord, are found the relics of 
the famous "missing link" Pithecanthropus not yet a man, but passed 
beyond the ape. Well within the building, and only about 15 feet from 
the desk in question, stands that stoop-shouldered lowbrow, the Neander- 
thal man, whom we do not dignify by classification in our species the 
species self-styled Homo sapiens, "man the wise." 


Our own Homo sapiens leaves his first known remains within the private 
office, only seven and a half feet from the desk. The earliest known 
"civilization" (not over 14,000 years ago, according to maximum esti- 
mates) leaves its crockery a yard and a half from the desk. On the 
desk, one foot from the center, stands old King Tut. Five and a half 
inches from the center we mark the Fall of Rome and the beginning of 
the Dark Ages. Only one and a half inches from the present end of the 
cord come the discovery of America and the promulgation of the Coperni- 
can theory through which man opens his eyes for the first time to the 
vastness of the world in which he lives and to his own relative insig- 
nificance. Half an inch from the end of the cord there start the first faint 
reverberations of the Industrial Revolution, which set this desk here and 
which is now completely transforming man's mode of existence. A quarter 
of an inch from the end Darwin speaks, and man awakes to the transitory 
character of his shape and his institutions. 

Chapter 8 Scientific Style 

Alfred North Whitehead, 

The Aims of Education and Other Essays, 

New York, The Macmillan Company, 1929, pp. 19-20. 

Used with permission of The Macmillan Company 

Finally, there should grow the most austere of all mental qualities; I 
mean the sense for style. It is an aesthetic sense, based on admiration for 
the direct attainment of a foreseen end, simply and without waste. Style 
in art, style in literature, style in science, style in logic, style in practical 
execution have fundamentally the same aesthetic qualities, namely, attain- 
ment and restraint. The love of a subject in itself and for itself, where 
it is not the sleepy pleasure of pacing a mental quarter-deck, is the love 
of style as manifested in that study. 

Here we are brought back to the position from which we started, the 
utility of education. Style, in its finest sense, is the last acquirement of 
the educated mind; it is also the most useful. It pervades the whole 
being. The administrator with a sense for style hates waste; the engineer 
with a sense for style economises his material; the artisan with a sense 
for style prefers good work. Style is the ultimate morality of mind. 

But above style, and above knowledge, there is something, a vague 
shape like fate above the Greek gods. That something is Power. Style 
is the fashioning of power, the restraining of power. But, after all, the 
power of attainment of the desired end is fundamental. The first thing 


is to get there. Do not bother about your style, but solve your problem, 
justify the ways of God to man, administer your province, or do what- 
ever else is set before you. 

Where, then, does style help? In this, with style the end is attained 
without side issues, without raising undesirable inflammations. With style 
you attain your end and nothing but your end. With style the effect of 
your activity is calculable, and foresight is the last gift of gods to men. 
With style your power is increased, for your mind is not distracted with 
irrelevances, and you are more likely to attain your object. Now style is 
the exclusive privilege of the expert. Whoever heard of the style of an 
amateur painter, of the style of an amateur poet? Style is always the 
product of specialist study, the peculiar contribution of specialism to 

Words Frequently Misspelled by Students of Science 






































































































Stephen E. Fitzgerald, "Literature by Slide Rule," 
The Saturday Review, 36(7) :15 if., February 14, 1953 

Anyone who writes for a living these days can hardly escape the read- 
ability boys and their word-counting machines. They remind us from 
every rostrum that our prose especially our business prose fails to 


communicate. Something must be done to "clear away the roadblocks 
from our channels of mutual understanding." Only yesterday the read- 
ability movement was hardly more than an art; today it is an industry. 
Dozens of corporations retain readability experts to tell their executives 
how to write memoranda to each other; there is a spate of books on the 
capacity of words to get themselves understood; public relations coun- 
sellors who found themselves caught short a few years ago by the rise of 
so dramatic and salable a specialty are now equipped to discuss the 
problem learnedly with their clients. Readability science, art, or in- 
dustry has arrived. 

As one who must produce some form of business prose almost every 
day, I rise to protest : the movement has gone too far. No one familiar with 
the problem would deny that the readability proponents have a point; a 
lot of our workaday prose is dreadful. But is the alternative to bad writ- 
ing a retreat to the style of a mail-order catalogue clear but dull? Must 
our sentences always be short and staccato because we lack the skill or 
patience to write longer, better ones? Must we distribute punctuation 
marks in accordance with a formula, instead of according to rhythm and 
style? Must we always abandon the colorful, complex word in favor of 
a shorter, plainer one? Must we be mechanical in order to be clear? 

I can already hear the shouts of anguish from some of my colleagues: 
I am overstating the case. But I venture to doubt it. For years I have 
believed in the principles of readability and, within reason, have tried 
to practise it. I have even been so rash as to write about it with some 
enthusiasm. And why not? Surely the virtues of clarity are obvious. No 
one argues with Elton Mayo's comment that "social study should begin 
with careful observation of what may be described as communication; 
that is, the capacity of groups to communicate effectively and intimately 
with each other." And yet, Mayo or no Mayo, I still think the read- 
ability boys are going too far. They threaten to put our words into a 
literary strait jacket, leaving us only the solace of an illusion that, by 
shortening our sentences, we have somehow clarified our thought. Let 
me try to demonstrate. 

One of our first lessons is to avoid the long sentence, to chop our 
thoughts up into less ponderous sections. This leads in practice if not 
in theory to an especially bumpy kind of short-winded prose, empha- 
sizing unduly the importance of the period key on the typewriter. No 
first-rate writer has ever neglected the short sentence, and even the read- 
ability advocates are at some pains to point out that some interlarding 
of short and long sentences makes for variety. But one can hardly expect 
the tycoon to be also a stylist; and it is brevity as such brevity as a 
formula which has caught the businessman's imagination and encour- 
ages so Spartan a corporate style. 

In their zeal for brevity of form in the sentence, the clause, the 
word the readability disciples are sometimes likely to forget that brevity 


does not necessarily equate with clarity. In fact, one often encounters 
the implication that brevity does make for clarity. We are constantly 
reminded, for example, that important business executives like to have 
even the most complex and lengthy reports reduced to no more than 
one page for their use. This alleged attribute of executive skill has been 
laid to men so diverse as Winston Churchill, the late William Knudsen, 
and the late E. R. Stettinius, Jr. I happen to have known and worked 
with Knudsen and Stettinius, and I can report that both of them, like 
dozens of other industrialists I know, were quite capable of dealing with 
ideas which took more than one page to express. As for Mr. Churchill, 
his own prose is everywhere a vivid demonstration of disdain for brevity. 

I would like to suggest the following twin thesis: a clear idea may be 
expressed in a rather long form; a thought capable of brief expression 
may yet be (a) unclear and (b) incorrect. As someone else has said, a 
short word can be as vague as a long one, and a short sentence more 
misleading than a book. 

A close second to the insistence on brief sentences is the plea for 
colloquialism. Just "talk as you write." When we talk among ourselves, 
we are advised, we talk naturally and in short bursts. But when we 
write, especially if we are not writers, we tend to tighten up, to indulge 
in circumlocutions. So the solution is to "write naturally," informally, 
in a shirt-sleeves kind of prose. 

This comes very close to the edge of nonsense. Talking and writing 
are quite different forms of communication, and the fact that both em- 
ploy words is as irrelevant as the fact that brain surgeons and butchers 
both employ knives. The reason we communicate effectively while talk- 
ing to one another is because we use a lot of tools besides words. We 
use our eyes and our hands and gestures to supplement the words; we 
veer and tack and change course in accordance with the immediate re- 
actions of the audience; we inject footnotes and oral parentheses as we 
go along. These are a few of the reasons why the psychologists all agree 
that face-to-face speech is still the most effective single means of com- 
munication we have. But it is a total non sequitur to assume that the 
same words, shorn of their physical, face-to-face orientation, can com- 
municate as well from the printed page. 

I have had a good deal of personal and painful experience with the 
so-called advantages of colloquial, "natural" talk. An example which 
conies to mind is the vocal style of Mr. Knudsen, the production genius 
who headed the Office of Production Management during the early days 
of World War II, when I was an information officer for that agency. 
During his press conferences, which I had to attend as a matter of duty, 
Knudsen got his general ideas across very well. He was not a facile 
speaker, and he was often hampered by his accent. But the reporters 
who were there during the whole performance usually left with the idea 
that they had got his drift. Quite the opposite was the case with those 


journalists who had to depend on the transcript. For Knudsen's tran- 
scripts were often unintelligible, largely made up of incoherent sentences 
without beginnings, middles, or ends. Heavy editing was essential. The 
travail involved formed in me an unquenchable conviction that to write 
as you talk is to ignore this major fact: an advantage of formal prose 
is that it permits us to write better than we talk. 

We are also advised to take a dim view of foreign and complex words. 
We should prefer the Anglo-Saxon monosyllable. It is easy to be per- 
suasive with this argument: one can always cite some example of Gov- 
ernment "bafflegab" "increasing disutility" for example. But when such 
advice is taken literally, and businessmen are often quite literal, it can 
lead to some absurd results. Labor and management negotiators should 
presumably forego such words as "negotiations" and report to their prin- 
cipals that they are engaged in "treating with one another with a view 
to coming to terms." A word like "bonus" is obviously out of order 
(though I suspect that most employes understand it), and the word 
"vacation" is similarly inept. If the corporate president gives a speech, 
let him not say anything about "patriotism": it would be better to say 
"love of country." 

Again I can hear the wails: this is carrying things close to the point of 
absurdity. Well, I knew someone was being absurd, but I thought it was 
the readability boys with their counting machines. If we are to avoid 
long words, foreign words, and complex words, then I can only assume 
that we are to avoid them and thus avoid some of the best known words 
in the language. Of course, says the readability man (a little testily), we 
should use some common sense. But does this mean that we must abandon 
the formulas and the word counts? Since we are advised to avoid words 
with prefixes, affixes, and suffixes, this means that we should avoid such 
words as "prefix," "affix," and "suffix." And it means as well that such 
common words as "postpone," "prearrange," and "improbable" should 
be eschewed (so, for that matter, should be the word "eschewed"), 
because they do not test out well on the counting machine. 

I for one have no confidence in formulas that have to be modified at 
every turn by common sense: that is a negation of the meaning of the 
word formula. On the other hand, if common sense is to have the upper 
hand, then what is all this talk about formulas for? Salesmanship? 

The readability men seem to forget that foreign and complex words 
yes, even long words can have qualities of zest and color and impact 
totally lacking in their plainer equivalents. Lincoln, for example, might 
have said: "Eighty-seven years ago, the people who were here before we 
were started a new country. They had two main ideas. One of these was 
the idea that it is good to be free. The other idea was that everybody 
ought to be thought of as being just as good as everybody else." This may 
or may not be clearer than Lincoln's original very conceptual language 
clearer, perhaps, to a readability expert but I doubt that we would have 
remembered it so well. Another example: a man who says "good clear 


writing is better than unclear writing" does not appear to be saying much 
that has not already been said for a good many centuries; but a man 
who says "I am a readability expert" has got something he can sell. 

Perhaps you think I exaggerate this preoccupation of the readability 
boys with numbers, formulas, and yardsticks. Well, hear this: while con- 
sulting one recent and well-known volume on the subject, I found that if 
I wanted to test my own prose I would have to obtain a straight-edge so 
that, after making a detailed count of such things as personal words and 
personal sentences, and words per sentence, and syllables per 100 words, 
I could then, with the straight-edge, connect four columns of "counting" 
figures with two columns of "scoring" figures, and thus discover both how 
"interesting" and how "easy" my prose was. My own judgment and 
even that of my reader does not have a place in the formula. In still 
another test, I am advised to make sure that my copy does not have too 
high a "fog index." How is "fog index" by way of a cloudy phrase? If 
I may be permitted a short comment, free of long words and with pre- 
sumably a low fog index, I would like to say: all this strikes me as being 
very silly. 

In their very vocal support for their counting machines, the readability 
scholars have been curiously silent about three communication facts 
which seem to me relevant. 

1.) Why has some of the most efficient and communicative language in 
the world in terms of its impact been so complex according to the 
scales, while some of the simplest possible prose in terms of its word 
counts and sentence lengths fails so miserably? Any standard list of 
"most influential books" confronts the reader with an array of authors 
whose fog index was undeniably high, and whose readability scores are 
low, such men as Hobbes, Milton, Locke, Adam Smith, Malthus, J. S. 
Mill, Darwin, Freud, Veblen, Dewey, and all the rest of them. But they 
managed to communicate, and they continue to do so. Could it be because 
they had something to say? I think so. And I am afraid that as much 
cannot be said for some of the millions of propaganda pieces now being 
written in a kind of Pidgin English in an effort to entrap one more 
reader into more clearly comprehending an idea which is not necessarily 
either interesting or true to start with. 

2.) Writing is essentially a two-way proposition. The existence of 
writers implies the existence of readers, and both readers and writers 
must make some effort. Mortimer Adler, for instance, has advised us 
that we must read a book three times, or at least from three different 
points of view, if we expect to extract its full content. It was Adler who 
also remarked that in the writing-reading relationship, as in baseball, 
catching the ball is just as important as hitting it. The readability advo- 
cates will retort that we should not ignore a reader simply because he 
has no reading skills ; there are, after all, a great many unwilling readers 
whom "we" wish to reach. This seems to me irrelevant. There are a great 
many ways to communicate with people who cannot or will not read 


pictures, movies, meetings, comic books, perhaps even a little more pay 
in the old envelope. Simply because these problems exist we need not 
reduce all our daily prose to a see-the-man-what-is-the-man-doing level. 
Writing is not the only method of human communication. To insist on 
stripping it down to the lowest levels of understanding is as though we 
were to insist on reducing all music to the primitive rhythm of a jungle 
beat, thus hoping to widen our audience. 

3.) At times one gets the impression (though this is not entirely so) 
that the readability boys have ignored the difference between words and 
ideas that, in effect, they assume that words alone can do the job. All 
recent psychological experiments in communications indicate, if they do 
not prove, that people's receptivity to communications symbols and sig- 
nals depends on a very wide variety of stimuli: the personal interest they 
may have in the fact or idea; their preconceptions about it; whether 
they think the thought is significant or noteworthy; whether it is pre- 
sented with authority; whether it affects their immediate welfare. In 
short, the research would imply that it is usually more important to 
sharpen the ideas than to sharpen the words. The readability boys, of 
course, can retort that they cannot do everything: they must take the 
ideas as they find them and try to express them more simply. My coun- 
ter retort is that this often does not help: reliance on four-letter words 
can lead to a quite false impression that something good has been ac- 
complished when, in fact, no such attainment has been reached. 

Let me repeat my belief in the basic theory of readability. These days 
all of us must write to some extent, and as the world grows more com- 
plex the number of people who must write in order to communicate 
grows larger. Anybody who knows how to improve that process gets my 
vote. What I am complaining about is that the readability concept, bas- 
ically sound, has somehow got off the track. That deviation can perhaps 
be traced to the possibility that the disciples have studied at two fonts of 
wisdom and have misunderstood both of them. One of these sources of 
inspiration is that of Ogden and Richards, whose investigations led to 
what we now know as "Basic English." The other source was without 
much question the pioneer work of the late Count Korzybski, who was 
more than anyone else responsible for the theories of general semantics. 
It is a sad fact that neither Ogden and Richards nor Korzybski were 
primarily interested in what most people today believe they were. 

Ogden and Richards, for example, never thought of Basic English as 
a substitute for everyday English. They were more interested in the pos- 
sibility of inventing a new international tongue, more acceptable and 
more realistic than such novelties as Esperanto. They were more inter- 
ested in the idea that, in English-speaking countries, Basic might become 
a great teaching aid for foreigners. This idea of Basic with only sixteen 
verbs and about 850 words altogether, in which you can describe any- 
thing arose from a rather philosophical investigation into the relation- 
ship between things and the words we must use to describe things. 


Ogden and Richards were primarily interested in language forms, and 
in the possibility of inventing a simplified form of English for very spe- 
cial use. Basic was always intended as an auxiliary for ordinary literary 
English, not as a substitute. Richards, who has written widely on the 
subject, has been at great pains to make this point. Anyone who thinks 
that Ogden and Richards felt that Pidgin English is the answer to our 
problems should consult their monumental work "The Meaning of Mean- 
ing," which contains some of the toughest literary going on record. 

The confusion over the work of Korzybski is even more general. The 
word "semantics" is tossed about these days in any learned barroom con- 
versation as though it concerned only the ease with which language can 
be understood. But Korzybski, as anyone can see who troubles to read his 
works, was only incidentally interested in the simplicity of language. 
You can write in one-syllable words and still, according to Korzybski, be 
as opaque as ever. Korzybski gets into such areas as anthropology, 
biology, botany, conditioned reflexes, education, entomology, genetics, 
mathematics, logic, mathematical physics, neurology, ophthalmology, 
physics, physiology, and psychiatry. Korzybski was concerned not so 
much with the complexity of individual words but rather with the inter- 
relationship between words and things they represent or seem to repre- 
sent. Korzybski was not primarily concerned with whether a word was 
long or short, foreign or domestic, complex or simple: he was much more 
concerned with whether it had any meaning in the context in which it 
was used. The writers of annual reports could learn much from Korzyb- 
ski. Does the writer say: "We made a great deal of progress during the 
year?" This might be clear to the readability boys. Short, simple. But 
Korzybski would ask: "What do you mean by 'We'? What do you mean 
by 'made'? What do you mean by 'progress'?" 

In the great mainstream of people's efforts to communicate with one 
another there are dozens of currents and eddies. The mechanical tools 
represented by what we call readability techniques useful as they are 
represent and can represent only a very small part of the equipment we 
need. At the same time, the fact that these techniques are mechanical, 
and therefore capable of being readily grasped, tends to give them a 
popularity out of proportion to their net worth, just as their use will 
surely tend to create an often false sense of accomplishment. On this 
general subject, Lord Dunsany had something appropriate to say: "There 
is a great tendency nowadays to place technique above inspiration, and, 
if the notion spreads, we shall have the diamond cutters valuing their 
tools more highly than the diamonds, with the result that, as long as they 
cut them in accordance with the rules of the craft, they will cease to care 
whether they cut diamonds or glass, and then will cease to know." 

This is a sentence of sixty-five words, complex in form, containing 
foreign words, long words. Anybody who does not understand, raise his 


Chapter 12- The Report, Continued 

Report on Site for Plant No. 3 for Tampa Electric Company, 
Tampa, Florida, Stone & Webster Engineering Corporation 





Stone & Webster Engineering Corporation 


October 11, 1951 
Mr. F. J. Gannon, 

Tampa Electric Company, 
P. 0. Box 111, 
Tampa 1, Florida. 

Dear Sir: 

In accordance with your authorization, we have made a 
survey of available sites for additional power generating 
facilities to supply the Tampa Electric Company system. 
Our study included consideration of future developments 
on present sites as a result of which we recommend that 
no part of the present Hookers Point site should be sold, 
if sale can be avoided. Should it prove necessary to 
give up any part of the present holdings, every effort 
should be made to retain sufficient land for the installa- 
tion of a fifth generating unit on this site, and to 
receive water-borne coal in the future. 

We recommend early acquisition of a site on the east 
shore of Hillsborough Bay, south of Delaney Creek, desig- 
nated Site C. The area and location of the property 
recommended for purchase are described in detail in the 
following pages of this report. 

For long range planning, a site adjacent to Port 
Tampa should be considered, but present indications are 
that the fourth generating plant on the system should be 
constructed at an inland site where ample water is avail- 
able, at least for cooling tower make-up. This plant 
could be supplied with oil fuel delivered at the recom- 
mended site south of Delaney Creek, and pumped to the 
inland station. 

For further details, we refer you to the following 

Yours very truly, 

W. F. Ryan, 
Engineering Manager. 











Description 7 

Foundation Conditions 9 

Development of Site for Power Generation 10 

SITE D 13 



(3 sheets) 



Sheet 1 V 

Sheet 2 VI 

* The page numbers, table numbers, and plate numbers are reproduced here 
as they appeared in the original report and therefore do not correspond to those 
of this book. 



Growth of the demand for electric power on the Tampa 
Electric Company system indicates the need for additional 
generating facilities. Limitations on the sites now 
occupied by generating plant dictate the desirability of 
obtaining additional property for this purpose. While 
existing sites may take care of the load growth for a 
limited period, an additional site or additional sites 
will be required at an early date. 


The combined noncoincident demand on the principal 
system load centers in January, 1951 was 157,000 kw. 
Estimates made by the engineers of Tampa Electric Company 
indicate a demand of 285,000 kw during the winter of 
1955-56. Allowing for diversity and losses, these demands 
would require a net generating capacity of 148,000 kw and 
268,000 kw, respectively. Table 1, attached, shows a 
breakdown of the existing demand by districts and the 
expected demand in 1955-56 for the same areas. No effort 
has been made to estimate demands beyond the winter of 
1955-56 but, as indicated by Table 2, it is unlikely that 
the net generating capacity required in the winter of 
1960-61 will be less than about 400,000 kw, and it might 
exceed 500,000 kw. 

The breakdown of load by districts shows that the 
present load and the expected load growth are more pro- 
nounced east of the present generating stations and that, 
while future load growth will be considerable in the City 
of Tampa itself and in the area to the north and west, 
the greater demand is to the east. Plate I shows the 
1950-51, 1955-56, and 1960-61 loads by areas with respect 
to the power stations. 


The present net generating capability of the system 
is 175,000 kw, of which 65,000 kw is installed at the 
Peter 0. Knight Station on the west side of Seddon 
Channel, and 110,000 kw in the Hookers Point Station on 
the east side of Sparkman Channel. No material expansion 
of capacity would be economical at the Peter 0. Knight 
Station. An additional unit is now being installed at 
the Hookers Point Station with an estimated net capability 
of about 46,000 kw. If Tampa Electric Company retains 
ownership of all land now owned at this site, two addi- 
tional units of like capability could be installed, rais- 


ing the net generating capability of the station to 
248,000 kw, and the net generating capability of the 
system to 313,000 kw. This is a winter time capability, 
when the peak occurs, with all units available and in 
prime operating condition. With the largest unit out, 
the net generating capability would be approximately 
267,000 kw. 

While the feasible developments at Hookers Point will 
provide sufficient capacity for the expected load in the 
winter of 1955-56, provided no substantial part of the 
land now owned is sold, adequate provision for subsequent 
growth requires installation of facilities on another 


The present Hookers Point plant contains three 30,000 kw 
generating units. The fourth unit, now being installed, 
has a name plate rating of 40,000 kw. The land now owned 
by Tampa Electric Company, shown on Plate II, is adequate 
for the future installation of two additional 40,000 kw 
units which would provide an ultimate plant with six units 
having a total name plate rating of 210,000-231,000 kw 
and a net capability of 248,000 kw. 

In the past, a part of this site, including the south 
half of the slip, has been leased for shipbuilding opera- 
tions. It is understood that the United States Navy 
wishes to acquire this part of the site by outright pur- 
chase. The rapidly growing load on the Tampa Electric 
Company system indicates that no part of this site should 
be sold, unless government pressure or demonstrated need 
for the property for national defense makes the sale ad- 
visable as a matter of policy. If it becomes necessary in 
the future to utilize coal received by water, the coal 
should be unloaded from the south side of the slip. While 
equipment could be installed to unload at the harbor line 
and convey the coal to storage in the rear of the station, 
such equipment would be awkward, unsightly, and expensive, 
and would create a cleanliness problem throughout the 
plant. Coal dust would be particularly objectionable with 
so much equipment installed out of doors on the harbor 
side of the plant. 

Should it become necessary to dispose of part of the 
land, then every effort should be made to retain the 
entire harbor frontage, and also at least 320 ft of slip 
frontage, to permit the installation of six units and 
reasonable facilities for future delivery of *coal by 
water, if the use of coal should ever become economical. 
An easement must be retained to permit discharge of cir- 
culating water to the slip. 


Plate II shows what is considered the minimum area 
which should be retained, if it becomes necessary to sell 
any part of the present site. 


Three sites were examined on Tampa Bay, designated as 
Site A, Site B and Site C on Plate III, attached. A 
survey of the entire waterfront indicated no other areas 
of much promise, but consideration has been given to an 
inland site which may be developed at some future time. 
Such an inland site would be located strategically with 
respect to water supply and load center, but no par- 
ticular place is suggested at this time. For purposes of 
discussion, however, the inland site is designated as 
Site D. 


There is an adequate area of land which the U. S. 
Phosphoric Company is willing to sell on the south bank 
of the mouth of the Alafia River. The land is low and 
swampy, there is no present railroad access; a railroad 
siding would require bridging the Alafia River. Highway 
access, at present, is poor and the site is remote from 
the deep ship channel. The existing channel, originally 
17 ft deep, would require extensive dredging to permit 
access by ocean going tankers. Circulating water may be 
contaminated by the adjacent chemical plant. This site 
has so little to commend it that it is given no further 
consideration in this report. 


A site could be developed adjacent to the ship channel 
at Point Tampa if authorization could be obtained to fill 
land south of the peninsula on which Port Tampa is located 
and embracing a small island, which at present appears to 
be unoccupied. This site would have the advantage of 
location on deep water for circulating water purposes 
and for fuel oil deliveries. Fuel oil, moreover, might 
be obtained from a supplier who would supply storage in 
a tank farm at the Port receiving a supply at the ship 
channel, and making deliveries as required to service 
tanks on the power station site. This site is not favor- 
able with respect to the load under present conditions, 
since practically all of the capacity generated there 
would have to be transmitted to the north and east. For 
future load growth, a development at this site might con- 
ceivably take care of the load within the city and to the 
north and west of the present generating stations; the 
total demand in these areas may exceed 150,000 kw by the 


winter of 1960-61. In view of the necessity of making 
land at this point, the possible delay in obtaining 
authorization for the same, and the distribution of the 
load, this site is not regarded as desirable for immedi- 
ate use, but only as a long range possibility. 


Site C is a peninsula of filled land on the east side 
of Hillsborough Bay, an arm of Tampa Bay, immediately 
south of Delaney Creek. This site has the advantages of 
adequate area, reasonable proximity to deep water for cir- 
culating water purposes and for delivery of fuel, rela- 
tively high ground level, reasonable subsoil conditions, 
and strategic location with respect to future load growth 
and existing transmission systems. This site would also 
provide an excellent receiving point for oil fuel, if an 
inland site should be developed later. In view of all 
these factors, this area is considered the most desirable 
site for a power generating plant in the Tampa area. 


Site C consists of the northerly halves of sections 
4 and 5, and a portion of the northerly half of section 6, 
Township 30-S, Range 19E. The location and extent of the 
property are shown on Plate IV. Highway access to the 
site is by way of Highway US 541 which abuts the property 
on the east. The distance by road from the City of Tampa 
is approximately 5 miles. Railroad connections to the 
site may be made with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, 
which runs southward from Tampa and is located 1/4 mile 
east of the property, or with the Seaboard Airline Rail- 
road which runs eastward from Tampa and is located about 
3 1/2 miles north of the property. 

An existing ship approach channel about 220 ft wide, 
which was originally dredged in 1929 to a depth of 27 ft 
below mean low tide, extends about 3,500 ft from the main 
Government ship channel to a bulkhead at the outer end 
of a point of land on the property. No recent soundings 
have been made in this channel, but redredging would prob- 
ably be necessary to restore the original depth. By addi- 
tional dredging to 32 ft below mean low water, an approach 
channel as deep as the main ship channel could be pro- 

The bulkhead was constructed in 1929 of steel sheet 
piling and hydraulic fill. Study of the design shown on 
the drawings from which the bulkhead was presumably con- 
structed indicates that the original design contemplated 
a water depth of 27 ft below mean low tide. The design 
is not considered adequate for greater water depths at the 
bulkhead. At the present time, the steel sheeting is cor- 


roded above the mean water level to such an extent that 
this portion of the bulkhead has no appreciable remaining 
strength and would require replacement with some form of 
new construction. The condition of the portion of the 
bulkhead below mean water level, which includes the sheet 
piling below this level, and the tie-back and anchor 
system will require complete inspection of its condition 
and investigation of its remaining strength before being 
used for its intended purpose. Pending results of the 
complete inspection, the existing construction must be 
considered as having doubtful value. 

The hydraulic fill in the point of land extending from 
shore to the dock has been subjected to considerable 
erosion since it was placed in 1929. A large area, ade- 
quate for the initial power station facilities, on the 
outer end of the point is approximately 9 ft above mean 
low water, but a section of the causeway connecting this 
area to the shore is only a few feet above mean low water 
and would require filling for road and rail access. 

The mainland portion of the site rises from less than 
2 ft above mean low water at the shore line to about 5 ft 
above mean water level along Highway US 541. The higher 
portions of the site are covered with vegetation con- 
sisting principally of palmetto, with a few palm and 
pine trees. The lower portions are sandy areas with man- 
grove swamps and are submerged to a depth of approxi- 
mately 1 ft at high tides. 

The total area of the site within the property lines 
is 717.38 acres. Of this amount, approximately 260 acres 
are natural ground above high tide between the shore line 
and Highway US 541, less than 94 acres are above mean 
low water on the point, and more than 363 acres between 
the Government channel and the shore line are below mean 
low water. 

Foundation Conditions 

To determine the depth to rock and the character of the 
soils underlying the site, 24 soil borings were made to 
Stone & Webster Engineering Corporation specifications by 
Raymond Concrete Pile Company. All borings were driven to 
rock and alternate borings were cored at least 10 ft into 
rock to determine the continuity of the rock formation. 
Location of the borings and the classification of the 
materials by the driller and also by Stone & Webster Soils 
Laboratory are shown on Plates V and VI. 

The depth to the rock surface varies from about 22 ft 
to about 35 ft below mean low water over all of the site 
except the 1,500 ft at the outer end of the point where 
the depth to rock surface increases rapidly to about 
55 ft below mean low water. The soil underlying the site 


consists principally of sand, silt and clay strata of 
varying firmness. 

Foundations for all heavy or important structures 
would require the use of piles to rock. For lighter and 
unimportant structures located in the area between the 
shore line and Highway US 541 which would not be damaged 
by some settlement, soil bearing foundations could be 

Development of Site for Power Generation 

Tho arrangement of facilities for generation of power 
has been studied on the basis of installing one 60,000- 
66,000 kw unit initially, as shown on Plate IV, and the 
subsequent addition of five similar units providing a 
name plate capacity of 360,000-396,000 kw. The future 
capacity, however, is not limited to this figure by the 
physical characteristics of the site, but will be deter- 
mined by future load demands. 

Suggested boundaries of the land considered desirable 
for the power plant have been shown on Plate IV. These 
include approximately 128 acres, partially submerged, 
east of the existing bulkhead and 93 acres submerged 
between the bulkhead and the main ship channel. 

The existing point of land has been selected as most 
suitable for the location of power generating facilities 
because of its proximity to deep water for fuel deliveries 
and condensing water supply. The existing land area of 
the point would provide sufficient space for initial 
development of the power plant at a minimum expenditure 
for land development. Strengthening the major portion of 
length of the existing bulkhead would be required for the 
initial development. Some erosion of the shore has taken 
place since 1929 when the point was filled. However, it 
is believed that no substantial investment in shore pro- 
tection would be required for the initial power station 
development although some occasional expense for main- 
tenance should be expected. For the future development, 
additional fill and some shore protection would be re- 
quired. A proposed arrangement for the initial develop- 
ment and its relationship to the existing land area is 
shown on Plate IV. 

The location of the power house on the point was deter- 
mined by foundation conditions revealed by the test bor- 
ings. Shorter piles could be used at this location with 
consequent lower foundation costs than at any point 
nearer to the present bulkhead. The lower foundation cost 
and shorter transmission lines would more than offset the 
extra cost of the longer condensing water supply piping 
requi red . 

The circulating water intakes are shown located in 


the reentrant corner formed by the existing sheet pile 
bulkhead in order to permit inflow of cooler condensing 
water from the deeper channel level and also to provide 
protection from shipping. It is contemplated that the 
intake pipes from the screen well to the power station 
could be aboveground most of the way. The condensing 
water discharge could flow from pipes into an open ditch 
or flume discharging into the bay until such time as 
future construction on the adjacent property might require 
extending the discharge to the west end of the point. 

Space between the end of the point and the power station 
would provide for future coal storage and the fuel oil 
tanks could be located initially in this space. In the 
event of future conversion to coal, the oil tanks could 
be relocated east of the power station. Provision could 
be made to unload either oil or coal from ships at the 
end of the bulkhead initially as shown on Plate IV, or 
from a position at a slip to be constructed at a later 

A 400 ft wide strip of land for transmission lines has 
been indicated along the north property line to permit 
transporting power away from the site. This location 
would be advantageous for the transmission lines and 
would also provide maximum use of the remaining portion 
of the site for industrial facilities. A 400 ft wide 
right-of-way for transmission lines extending south has 
been indicated adjacent to Highway US 541. 


If no waterfront site were available, it would be 
feasible to build an inland station to which fuel oil 
would be delivered by pipe line from a receiving and 
storage station on Tampa Bay. As previously stated, 
Site C would make an excellent location for such an 
operation. Under present conditions, the probable cost 
of power generation for Site D, including capital cost 
and operating expense, would be about the same as for a 
site on salt water. Since there are many suitable inland 
sites available, no action is necessary at this time, but 
the economics of this possibility make it possible to 
provide for future demands of any foreseeable magnitude. 

For a future plant containing six 60,000-66,000 kw 
turbine generators, the comparative costs for an inland 
site and a deep water site are summarized as follows: 


Additional First Cost and Power Cost of 

Inland Station over Tampa Bay Station 

(Basis of Six 60,000 Kw Units) 

First Costs 

Additional first cost fuel oil 
system $2,500,000 

Additional first cost cooling 
tower system 3,300,000 

Credit for circulating water in- 
take structures 2,000,000 

Credit for electrical transmis- 
sion line 4,500,000 

Net credit first cost of inland 
station $700,000 

Capacity Charges 

Additional capacity charge for 

auxiliaries at $150 per kw 900,000 
Credit for capacity charge for 

transmission line at $150 per kw 1,200,000 
Net capacity credit 300,000 

Net capital credit 1,000,000 

Power Costs 

Additional power required by 
auxiliaries by inland station at 
$.004 per kwhr 190,000 

Credit for power loss in trans- 
mission line 45,000 

Net annual power cost $145,000 

Net annual power cost capitalized 
at 15% 965,000 

Total capital difference in favor 
of inland plant $35,000 

While one or more units might be operated at some 
inland sites without a cooling tower, it is considered 
conservative to assume a limited supply of cooling water 
for this preliminary comparison. Considering the inade- 
quate data for the estimates, the indicated advantage of 
$35,000 for an inland plant, on a total plant cost in 
excess of $50,000,000, is of no significance. More de- 
tailed estimates would be required to determine whether 
there is any decisive advantage for either location. 



The most suitable site for immediate acquisition is 
Site C, south of Delaney Creek. Early acquisition of this 
site is recommended, particularly if there is any doubt 
about retaining all of the land now owned at Hookers 
Point. More detailed studies and estimates might reveal 
a slight advantage for an inland site but, in view of the 
fact that there are many inland sites available, and only 
one or two on the waterfront, it is recommended that the 
Site C should be secured now, as none may be available 

Assuming a future net demand in excess of 700,000 kw, 
which may be experienced in 12 to 15 years, the load may 
be carried by generating capacity of 65,000 kw net capa- 
bility at Peter 0. Knight Station, 248,000 kw at Hookers 
Point Station, 350,000 kw (net capability with largest 
unit out) at a new station at Site C, with the excess 
being carried at an inland station, on a site to be 
selected later. As a matter of convenience in construc- 
tion and operation of the transmission and distribution 
systems, the inland generating plant may be desirable 
some years before Site C is fully developed and the latter 
might be started before a sixth unit is installed at 
Hookers Point. 

It is understood that a sufficient area with right-of- 
way for transmission lines may be secured from the present 
owners of Site C, but that the owners do not wish to dis- 
pose of the entire tract for power generation and have 
requested a study of the possible development of their 
holdings for the use of other industries. This possi- 
bility has been covered in a separate report. Such a 
project is found to be feasible, and might result in 
attracting important power customers to the Tampa area. 

Retention of the entire site at Hookers Point is 
strongly recommended. Should it be necessary to sell any 
part of it, every effort should be made to retain suffi- 
cient waterfront to provide for the installation of at 
least one unit in addition to the one now under construc- 
tion, and to permit the future handling of water-borne 




1 - Northwest 

Turner's Dairy 
Lake Fern 
Pinellas Water Co. 
Oldsmar Race Track 

2 - West Central 

Hyde Park 
Plant Field 
Gray Street 
Drew Field 

5 - Interbay 



West Shore 

Port Tampa 



Bay Court 


Jan. 1955-56 
Present 1951 Estimated 

Kva Demand, Demand, 
Capacity Kw Kw 






















Est. 50 















































*By Engineering Department of Tampa Electric Company. 



Jan. 1955-56 
Present 1951 Estimated 

Kva Demand, Demand. 
Capacity Kw Kw 

4 - Tampa City East of River 



14th Street 

2nd Avenue 



Florida Portland Cement 

American Can 

Gulf Florida Terminal 

Davis Islands 


Tampa Shipbuilding 

Curtis & Nebraska (1951) 

5 - East Central 


Temple Terrace 

Temple Terrace Junction 


Water Works 

Belmont Heights 

Diana (1951) 

49th Street 

Lykes Packing 

Causeway Boulevard 

Alafia River 


Orient Park 


U. S. Phosphoric 

6 - Plant City Division 




Plant City 

West Plant City (1951) 

Hampton - 8 Kv 






















































































































Jan. 1955-56 
Present 1951 Estimated 

Kva Demand, Demand, 
Capacity Kw Kw 

7 - Phosphate 





Saddle Creek 

Oak Ridge Sand Pits 

A. A. C. -Pierce 

Mulberry Town 


New Pauway No. 4 

Pauway No. 4 

Clarke-James (New) 


I. M. & C. (New) 


8 - Winter Haven 

Eagle Lake 
Winter Haven 
Florence Villa 

Lake Alfred 
East Lake Alfred 
Continental Can 
Polk Packing 










































































14, 164 


Note: C.O. denotes Customer Owned. 





Demand at Load Centers, 

West of Peter 0. 

Knight Station 
Inside City Limits, 

East of Hillsborough 

East of Hookers Point 


Allowance for Losses 

and Diversity 
Required Capability 



35,000 73,000 111,000 153,000 

40,000 70,000 100,000 123,000 
82,000 142,000 202,000 246,000 

157,000 285,000 413,000 522,000 
9,000 17,000 25,000 31,000 

Present Net Generating 

Capability 175,000 
Net Generating 

Capability with: 
One Additional Unit at 

Hookers Point 
Two Additional Units 

at Hookers Point 
Three Additional Units 

at Hookers Point - 
Present Generating 
Capability, Largest 
Unit Out 138,000 

Deficiency - Largest 

Unit Out 

No Additional Units 10,000 
One Additional Unit 
Two Additional Units - 
Three Additional Units - 

268,000 388,000 491,000 

221,000 221,000 221,000 
267,000 267,000 267,000 
313,000 313,000 313,000 


47,000 167,000 270,000 
1,000 121,000 224,000 

Specific future dates are used only for con- 
venience. The figures listed for 1955-56 and 
1960-61 should be interpreted to mean loads 
expected after the passage of 5 and 10 reason- 
ably normal years, free from extraordinary 
government restrictions or business recessions. 

* Engineering Department - Tampa Electric Company 

(a) Same total increase from 1955 to 1960 as from 

1950 to 1955 

(b) Same percentage increase from 1955 to 1960 as 

from 1950 to 1955 

Ofl-ffcOOO O HI IU.OOO O44M 

I I I I 














The various forms of the report the outline, memorandum, 
letter, short-form and long-form report have been treated in 
Chapters 11 and 12. The more important types of letters used 
in industrial and scientific organizations and in educational 
and scientific institutions will be discussed and illustrated by 
examples in this appendix. These types are inquiries and re- 
plies, letters of application, informative and explanatory let- 
ters, and letters designed to further good public relations. 

Good Business Letter Writing 

Many people have the mistaken idea that business English is a highly 
specialized kind of English. Actually good business writing represents the 
effective application of the basic principles of composition to the trans- 
action of business. Before beginning any business letter, the writer should 
consider the purpose of the letter and the person or persons to whom it 
is addressed, and then formulate a plan to achieve that purpose. Form 
letters, reproduced by a mimeographing or multilithing process, although 
usually impersonal in style, should not be permitted to become perfunc- 
tory or stereotyped. 

The individual paragraphs are the building blocks of the business 
letter. The opening and closing paragraphs, as in other written composi- 
tions, are in the key positions. The first paragraph may either take up 
the essential business of the letter or establish pleasant relations with 
the reader before going on to that business. While the ending should 
round out the letter pleasantly, it should not be wasted on inconsequential 
matters. If some action or reply is desired from the reader, it should be 
stressed at the close of the letter. Intervening paragraphs present details, 
develop points, and offer subsidiary explanations. Except for very routine 
matters, such as making travel or hotel reservations, letters of less than 
two paragraphs are unusual. 

The form of the business letter has become well established. Except 
for a few specialized types of letters, the following parts are standard: 
(1) the heading, which includes the letterhead or the sender's address 
and the date, (2) the inside address of the recipient, (3) the salutation, 
(4) the body of the letter, (5) the complimentary close, (6) the signa- 
ture, which includes always the written signature and usually a type- 
written signature beneath it, (7) the reference line, which gives the 
initials of the person dictating the letter followed by a colon or bar and 
those of the person typing it. When a letterhead is used, the date may be 
centered below it or placed at the right, whichever position gives the 
more balanced effect. 

Since the letter represents the sender, appearance is important. The 
letter should be attractively framed on the page, with the side and bottom 
margins approximately equal. In a letter requiring more than one page, 
the second and later pages begin one to two inches from the top of the 
sheet, with the same side margins as on the first page. The second and 
later pages are, of course, numbered consecutively at the top, and the 
name of the addressee is often placed in the upper left-hand corner fol- 
lowed by the page number, as illustrated in the example on page 450. 
Most letters are single spaced with double spacing between paragraphs. 
The letter styles most favored for general, moderately conservative cor- 
respondence are the block style, in which all lines except the date, com- 



plimentary close, and the signature are flush with the left margin, and 
the modified block style, which differs only in that the first line of each 
paragraph is indented. 1 

An important consideration in effective correspondence is tone, that is, 
the impact of the writer's underlying attitudes on the reader, the im- 
pression the reader receives from the letter. A letter may "sound'* cordial, 
friendly, cold, peremptory, distant, or even captious or contentious. The 
practiced letter writer achieves a desirable tone by understanding the 
reader's point of view, by anticipating his reactions, and by choosing 
words and phrases wisely. Trite expressions, business jargon, unneces- 
sarily negative phrases, misplaced slang or colloquialisms all mar the 
tone of a letter because they convey the impression that the writer is in- 
different to the reader or lacking in taste. While the language of a letter 
should not be stuffy or pretentious, letters dealing with matters of conse- 
quence should be dignified in tone. In general, however, the style of the 
business letter should be natural, simple, and direct. 

Inquiries and Replies 

A good letter of inquiry clearly, explicitly, and courteously requests the 
information desired. The letter on page 446 and the accompanying reply 
have the short paragraphs characteristic of business letters which deal 
with scattered details rather than with points requiring elaboration. It 
should be noted that the inquiry follows the modified block style with the 
date to the right, while the reply is the block style with the date centered. 

A letter making a more technical inquiry would