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Communicating Science: The Scientific Article from the 17th Century to the Present, by Alan G. Gross, Joseph E. Harmon, and Michael Reidy, New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 267 pp., including appendixes, references, and subject index. ISBN 0-19-513454-0.

In Communicating Science, rhetorician Alan Gross teams up with Joseph Harmon, a writer/editor from Argonne National Laboratory, and Michael Reidy, a history professor, to study scientific discourse from the birth of the scientific article. Gross, Harmon, and Reidy offer a carefully crafted analysis of scientific discourse conventions between the 1660s and 1995. Their corpus--over 1800 excerpts and 430 entire articles in English, French, and German--is impressive in size and scope. The authors' data analysis, while focused on formal linguistic and page-level conventions of journal articles, is complemented by the application of selection theory, which not only justifies the data analysis but provides an explanation for the findings that emerge from the data. Though Communicating Science does not provide startling new insights for those familiar with previous rhetoric of science studies, the quantitative validation of characterizations of scientific prose will lend comfort to scholars who study science from a historical or rhetorical perspective. In a previous book [1], Gross admitted that his rhetorical analyses were not "legitimately contestable," and Communicating Science leaves no doubt that Gross and his co-authors can provide a substantiated, contestable, systematic--verily scientific--treatment of scientific discourse.


Gross, Harmon, and Reidy introduce their text with a literature review comparing their current undertaking with seminal texts. Contrasting their book to Charles Bazerman's Shaping Written Knowledge [2], the authors claim that they employ a superior method and that the number of texts in their study makes their work more rigorous. Lawrence Prelli's application of rhetorical theory is dismissed by the authors as "largely unsuited to capturing what is distinctive about science" (p. 6). Gross, Harmon, and Reidy critique Gross's The Rhetoric of Science [3] as being atheoretical, and this book is the fruit of Gross's attempt to better theorize the evolution of scientific prose. These and other "first generation" workers in rhetoric of science set the stage for an emerging discipline, and Gross, Harmon, and Reidy hope their book raises the bar for rhetoric of science studies by focusing more on method. The authors are careful to identify their niche in the literature following Swales, to whom they refer. By studying the large number and scope of texts that they use, Gross, Harmon, and Reidy model sampling at a new level. And by quantifying discourse conventions ranging from subheadings to citations to pronouns, their work surpasses much of the extant research. These authors investigate across genres, disciplines, languages, and time to provide a multi-dimensional analysis of scientific articles. In Chapter 1, Gross, Harmon, and Reidy compare two articles written almost 300 years apart. The first, by Martin Lister, is titled "An Account of the Nature and Differences of the Juices, More Particularly, of Our English Vegetables," published in 1697 in Philosophical Transactions. The second, by Howard Goodman and Alexander Rich, is titled "Formation of a DNA-Soluble RNA Hybrid and Its Relation to the Origin, Evolution, and Degeneracy of Soluble RNA," published in 1962 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA. Relying on their "intuition," in stark contrast to the quantitativelysupported claim in the remainder of the book, the authors consider the two articles to be representative of their respective eras. The major rhetorical difference between the two articles--Lister's privileging of fact to the exclusion of explanatory theory, and Goodman and Rich's privileging of theory over fact, is attributable to the nature of the audience, context, and epistemological change over time. Having set the stage, Gross, Harmon, and Reidy are now poised to provide data in support of their theory-building endeavor. In Chapters 2 through 9, Gross, Harmon, and Reidy analyze the writing of each century for rhetorical features they trace to Aristotelian invention, arrangement, and style, devoting to each century one chapter on style and presenta tion ( ee arrangement) and one on argumentation. The quantitative analysis n in Communicating Science models the handling of large amounts of text in a systematic and responsible manner. The author's methods echo the methods attributed by the authors to science in the 20th century: providing a substantial amount of evidence in support of knowledge claims (p. 187). In the style and presentation chapters, the authors provide tables of various data. Tabular summaries of relative frequencies of various noun-phrase types reveal that noun


phrases across centuries illustrate changing trends in discourse conventions. Scholars examining the effect of time on nominalizations will benefit from such data, and many other similar examples could be provided to entice readers not just to read, but to use, the information in Communicating Science. Starting with the second chapter, the authors establish methodological rigor by providing a suite of arguments claiming that they collected, interpreted, and synthesized data responsibly and thoroughly. For example, Gross, Harmon, and Reidy explain why articles in English, German, and French are usually, but not always, sampled. They predict questions about why the number of articles in each language from each century is not consistent. Helpfully, they reduce counts to percentages or other numbers in order to make the data maximally useful to readers. In Chapter 10, the authors explain that their data supports claims far beyond style, presentation, and argumentation narrowly defined. Their comparisons of textual features over time should tell us something valuable about the making of knowledge in science, and here the authors succeed. By building on philosopher Stephen Toulmin and Thomas Kuhn, and scientists Hull and Campbell, the authors combine a model of Darwinesque natural selection with culture and learning to account for the types and speed of changes they observed in the discourse conventions of science over time. Changes in prose style, including fewer personal pronouns, for example, are results of selection pressures. The speed of change is accounted for by scientists' ability to learn from their observations of discourse and to incorporate their learning into their writing, while responding to selection pressures which may be unique to their situations. The goals of science, according to the authors, are objectivity and efficiency. Thus, texts and textual elements which promote either of those goals will be selected while features, such as epistolary style, are abandoned. Selection operates on individual articles, but the effects are collective. I found myself questioning the authors' use of selection theory in only one respect: does the adoption of a convention necessarily mean it is better adapted to science or merely better adapted to marketplace conditions? Throughout the book, the authors note the exclusionary effects of professionalizing scientific disciplines, similar to work done by John Battalio in his studies of the history of ornithology. Yet, their model seems to operate in an ideologically neutral world. The authors say that prose conventions that prevail must be "better adapted to the changing environments of the various scientific disciplines" (p. 212) but these conventions might also be direct responses to the balance of power, to which the authors allude when they mention, in passing, "the economics of publishing" (p. 232). Rather than use the theory to account for human agents, we see how style reacted and presentation reacted to conditions of the time under selection theory. The authors' discussions of German hegemony as an example of selection pressures gets to the heart of this matter, and opens the door to a broader analysis of the evolution of the scientific


article. Here the authors begin to foreground audience, the communalism of scientists' writing, and of the consensual values, critical approaches, and criteria that exist among scientists (pp. 216-217). Perhaps future works will expand on this line of inquiry. A notable feature of Communicating Science is representational rigor. Pro viding specific information on their selection, sampling, coding, and analytical techniques is a departure from many rhetoric of science studies, bolstering the authors' claim that their method is superior to what's been done before. Sampling and analysis are handled in Appendixes A and B, respectively. Throughout the book, the authors explain irregularities in their data and constraints on achieving a perfect balance of samples. They provide quantitative breakdowns of genre, syntactic units, and other units of analysis in numerous tables. Their clear argument that theorizing about trends should come after the trends have been identified empirically is made stronger by their saving the majority of their theorizing for the end of the book. In the epilogue, the authors speculate on the impact of electronic technologies on the nature of the scientific article. The authors predict that despite the ability of electronic dissemination technologies to destabilize knowledge, all scien tific journals will have online publication by 2025. They suggest that style, but not presentation, will be immune from the effects of publication medium. Here again the authors provide contestable claims for future studies to build upon or perhaps dismantle. A wonderful feature of Communicating Science is the authors' treatment of visuals as constitutive features of scientific articles. The entire book must be read to synthesize the authors' findings about visual rhetoric because the information is not conveniently (or reductively) presented in a single chapter, in keeping with the mostly chronological organization of the book. The authors' arguments about the reading of visuals are insightful and inviting of continued research by other scholars. Rhetoric of science studies should engage in a categorical and thorough treatment of visuals, making claims about production, reception, and epistemology. Communicating Science provides a good, broad background for the scholars who will attempt to do so, along with appropriate references to previous work of rhetorician Greg Myers, sociologist Bruno Latour, science historian Martin Rudwick, and others who have laid groundwork on which to build a theory of visual rhetoric. In the discussion of visual representations of 17th century articles, the dotted line is given as an exemplar of a convention. Rather than discussing the rhetorical effect or intent of the dotted line, however, the authors provide merely functional descriptions of how it is used. Their point is that 17th century prose is different from that of the 20th century, while French and English articles in the 17th century are similar. Here the authors defer an opportunity to conduct a more thorough analysis of the following:


· the way the dotted line conveys certainty or uncertainty; · the relationship of the dotted line to verbal hedges in the article; and · the use of the dotted line to construct a non-empirically justified version of reality. Perhaps future studies will engage these questions, along with the many other avenues for exploration suggested by the authors throughout the book. The authors avoid theorizing their data in order to defer interpretations to the end of the book, where they will employ selection theory to account for evolution of discourse conventions in scientific prose. Yet, the quantitative trump card is played irregularly. When Gross, Harmon, and Reidy examine their "impressions" of the prose they analyze, they diffuse their point that impressions are not as valid as quantitatively-supported conclusions which may or may not match those impressions. An example of this is the authors' analysis of the first publication by Isaac Newton in 1672. Though they characterize Newton's prose as possessing "disarming simplicity and even playfulness" (p. 69), this judgment arises independently of their quantitative method and their data, repeating the same mistake they accuse previous authors of committing: focusing too much on major figures rather than their science and making impressionistic judgments. Another instance finds the authors using atypical, rather than typical, excerpts to make a point about the use of verbs in the 17th century (p. 39). A book comprised primarily of content analysis might seem unduly challenged to achieve one of the authors' stated goals: to show the reader what it was like to do science in bygone days. Indeed, during my first reading of the book, I emerged with a better sense of what the texts did than what the scientists did. This resulted in no small part from the authors' continual granting of agency to the articles or syntactic features rather than the writers. For example, Gross, Harmon, and Reidy point to the text as the agent when they summarize their findings: "The scientific article has evolved . . . in the sense of changing to cope with the communicative and argumentative needs of an evolving set of disciplines whose messages have become ever more complex and have, consequently, strained to the utmost the resources inherent in natural languages" (p. 219). Selection theory avoids the question of the organisms (the scientists) and instead accounts for their artifacts in the authors' application. For maximum usefulness to a broad array of readers, the authors might consider adding a few features to future editions. In several cases, readers must infer definitions of terms used in the data analysis (e.g. "dummy subject," "fog index"). Because the index does not guide the reader to definitions of such key terms, a glossary would be particularly helpful. A list of tables and figures would save the reader from having to thumb through the chapters to realize that while some data are collected across languages in each century, most tabulations are only collected and presented for limited time periods.


Whatever my quibbles with details of Gross, Harmon, and Reidy's book, their argument succeeds not only in copia but in quality. These authors want their readers and critics to "acknowledge that communicative and argumentative theory forms a legitimate intellectual basis for viewing the practice of science" (p. viii). The readers will determine whether they feel persuaded by the arguments in this vein; regardless of the verdict, few will complain that Gross, Harmon, and Reidy have set a new and higher standard for methodological and presentational rigor in scientific communication content analysis. REFERENCES

1. A. G. Gross and W. M. Keith, Rhetorical Hermeneutics: Invention and Interpretation in the Age of Science, SUNY Press, 1997. 2. C. Bazerman, Shaping Written Knowledge, Uinversity of Wisconsin Press, 1988. 3. A. G. Gross, The Rhetoric of Science, Harvard University Press, 1990.

Kathryn Northcut Texas Tech Uni ver sity

Writing Center Research: Extending the Conversation, edited by Paula Gillespie, Alice Gillam, Lady Falls Brown, and Byron Stay, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 2002.

This book project, begun concomitantly to the National Writing Center Asso ciation, in discussions in 1994. Its purpose is to look at the current state of writing center research; specifically, what the editors term (deliberately echoing Stephen North) empirical or "practitioner inquiry . . . whose aim is to understand, improve, and/or change practice; and theoretical or conceptual inquiry, whose aim is to justify, guide, or critique practice" (p. xvi). The four editors are key figures in the writing center community, and contributors include several major names as well. The book is divided into three sections: (I) "Writing Centers as Sites of Self-Reflective Inquiry," (II) "Writing Centers as Sites of Institutional Critique and Contextual Inquiry," and (III) "Writing Centers as Sites of Inquiry into Practice" (pp. v-vi). The introduction to the text provides a careful overview of writing center practitioner inquiry and writing center theoretical inquiry within the context of composition studies, and ends with a call to "ethical, self-reflective approaches to inquiry" to "define the emergent [field of writing center studies]" (pp. xxvi-xxvii). This text is vital to people involved in writing center work; it will be particularly valuable to those who have, who plan to, or who wish to promote or use their center as a location of research.



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