FWD: How might I learn scientific writing?

Subject: FWD: How might I learn scientific writing?
From: anonfwd -at- raycomm -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 00:19:17 -0700 (MST)


I hope you'll help me learn how I might make a shift within my career as a
professional technical communicator. Most of my experience has been in
writing software user's manuals, program on-line help systems, and some
embedded training, but I'm interested in learning scientific writing. I
have no experience in science or _scientific_ research.

I know from experience that some organizations hire persons who have
certain desirable attributes (such as great attention to detail, outstanding
language skills, flexibility, and the ability to learn). Then, the
employer trains the new employees to develop the special skills (such as a
particular writing style) that the employer needs. I also know from
experience that some organizations apparently consider for employment only
those who are mostly- or fully-qualified to begin with.

When I first became interested in this possible career shift, I had in
mind "technical" scientific writing (such as a for a pharmaceutical firm). I'm
still interested in that style of writing, but I also want to learn about
"journalistic" scientific writing (such as for "Discover" magazine or for
"Scientific American Frontiers").

As for the "technical" style: I've visited the website of the American
Medical Writers Association (AMWA), where I found some information about
writing courses, but I get the impression there's a, "Which came
first: the chicken or the egg?" or a "Catch 22) situation involved. I'm
confident I could join the AMWA if I were a medical-flavor scientific writer
and could then persue the writing courses, (which can be years long), but,
obviously, I'm not a scientific writer let alone a medical writer. (If my
impression is correct, I could see Major Major right away, and Yossarian
would be proud.)

As for the "journalistic" style of scientific writing: I believe this
might be more my style (some pun intended), but I'm just as much at a loss
as to how to get a start, and I doubt that asking Alan Alda for a job would

Please give me your thoughts and suggestions as to how I might proceed.
Thanks in advance for your time, interest, and help.

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