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Down with Dry Writing

"Why must dryness be written by us?" Adam Ruben asks in a passive voice in Science Careers this week. As scientists, he actively asks, "why can't we tell our science in interesting, dynamic stories?"

Ruben goes on to discuss the ways in which scientific writing is "just plain different from all other writing." He says that journal articles are "not written in English, per se; they're written in a minimalist English intended merely to convey numbers and graphs." For example, scientists are often taught to avoid writing in the first person. "Science succeeds in spite of human beings, not because of us, so you want to make it look like your results magically discovered themselves," Ruben jokes. Another oddity, he adds, is that many journals prefer manuscripts be written in past tense.

"But there's a reason scientific journal articles tend to be dry, and it's because we're writing them that way," Ruben says. "We hope that the data constitutes an interesting story all by itself, but we all know it usually doesn't. It needs us, the people who understand its depth and charm, to frame it and explain it in interesting ways."

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.