[ASC-list] ASC-list Digest, Vol 99, Issue 36

Rob Morrison rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au
Fri Mar 1 03:17:46 UTC 2013

It probably depends on how many are interested. Those inspired to whinge about punctuation, grammar and pronunciation may be more intense than they are numerous. I thought that this scheme might produce something useful and interesting even if not many became involved but, as you say, it does take time and effort on somebody's part.

Dr Rob Morrison
rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au
Phone: (08) 8339 3790
Fax: (08)8339 6272
From: marinahurley at gmail.com [marinahurley at gmail.com] on behalf of Marina Hurley [info at writingclearscience.com.au]
Sent: Friday, 1 March 2013 2:44 AM
To: Rob Morrison
Cc: asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] ASC-list Digest, Vol 99, Issue 36

Hi Rob,

This is a great idea and I appreciate you putting this all in perspective. As I said previously, I am happy to asssist in the process. However I am not sure what the next step in proceeding with this idea should be - with regard to establishing consensus on setting this up and operating it, and how to establish an online vehicle to receive and display this information from (and to) members.

my regards


On 28 February 2013 11:34, Rob Morrison <rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au<mailto:rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au>> wrote:
I have chopped some of the thread as it was getting longish, but this takes us back a few years. We were then considering various "guides" in ASC that might improve the professioinal lot of science communicators. I did  some guidelines and a protocol for electronic Media Releases, and these were on our ASC website for years, but would need updating or considerable revision now (if they were still worth having).

Julian Cribb also had a good go at a code of ethics, and others were tinkering with similar things. More recently there was an idea to produce a "What is Science" piece for the website, but it fell by the wayside for various reasons.

The style guide was discussed in those earlier years, and several people indicated interest, but one idea was a kind of cumulative guide on the ASC website in which anyone could contribute a view on a particular aspect of science communication (eg punctuation, use of "breakthrough", pronunciation of "kilometre" etc), and these would slowly build into a collection of "guide points" that could be referred to.

This has the merit of not simply reproducing what might already be in other style guides, but providing a bit more of a discussion element to matters of stylistic interest which may change over time or may not even be addressed elsewhere

Of course these entries/propositions would not always meet with unanimous agreement, but they could be helpful if they:

1. were brief (perhaps a max word count);
2; indicated broadly their nature (eg pronunciation, grammar, spelling etc);
3. were entered under a one or two word  heading that made them easy to sort and look up;
4. included the reasoning behind the proposition, and
5. cited the initials or minimal identifier of the proposer.

Other elements might be included, but we could, in this way, compile a collection of pet hates, suggestions, arguments, queries etc relevant to science communication that could be useful (and also interesting) to those who like this sort of thing.

EG (a simple example of how such an entry mighty look)
Kilometre (pronunciation)

Pronounced KILL-o-metre and not kil-OMM-etre.

1. Consistency. Fractions or multiples of a metre are pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable (eg CENT-imetre, MIILL-imetre, DEC-imetre etc.  KIL-ometre deserves the same treatment.
2. Confusion. The emphasis on ...OMETER (note different spelling) is used for scientific instruments of measurement (eg thermOMETER, speedOMETER, barOMETER, pyrOMETER etc).

(entry: RM)

Perhaps with the assistance of a supervising moderating volunteer with some editorial skills, we could start to build on the ASC website a collaborative collection of these things that would serve some role as a guide. It could also prompt queries from communicators who would like more clarification on things that bother them, or questions as to whether one should use or not use endings such as "....ize". That would, of course, sometimes produce different and conflicting advice, but if each was accompanied by a reason, it would be a fruitful and interesting set of observations.

It would also give a bit more form and permanence to these interesting discussions that we have, but which tend to erupt on someone's bad day and then vanish from the field.


Dr Rob Morrison

rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au<mailto:rob.morrison at flinders.edu.au>
Phone: (08) 8339 3790
Fax: (08)8339 6272

Dr Marina Hurley
Lecturer & Consultant
Writing Clear Science
Visiting Fellow, Faculty of Science, UNSW
P.O. Box 2373
Richmond South
Victoria 3121
+61-416-09-7979, Fax +61-3-9421-3472,

info at writingclearscience.com.au<mailto:info at writingclearscience.com.au>
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