Smithsonian Style: An Example of Science Writing Style

Having never read the Smithsonian before, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the magazine with regards to style. The first thing that came to me immediately was the extensive use of quotes. The actual writer of the article had little to no personal opinion on the article’s topic, which happened to be Albert Einstein’s tobacco pipe. The author makes on opinionated remark to start the article off with: “[Of Einstein’s pipe] It’s not exactly the thing that made Albert Einstein renown in human history. But the modest smoking device just may have helped create his world-changing theories and formulas.” Writing this article must have consisted mostly of the author gathering quotes from reputable sources, picking out the most interesting ones, and putting them in some kind of logical order. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting article with a definite purpose that the author makes clear at the end, stating that Einstein’s tobacco pipe is so popular at museums because it’s one of the few objects that “humanize” him.

Reading this article from the Smithsonian is relieving. The writing style exhibited by this piece matches my own nicely: it’s not too formal but not too casual. This Smithsonian article also uses a great deal of quoted evidence, which is the type of thing that I am excited to use because I’ve done a lot of research on my topic. It’s been really interesting to get an idea of how exactly to write science while still making it sound interesting. Not knowing how to write this type of thing for a real publication, it wasn’t clear to me what style science writing might take in practice. Now I know.

2 thoughts on “Smithsonian Style: An Example of Science Writing Style

  1. alecsakazenas April 16, 2015 / 6:45 pm

    In scientific articles, it’s expected that it should be largely dependent on both style and valid evidence. It was cool to see how a scientific publication chose to depict such a scholar as a human as well, through exploring the history of an artifact!


  2. daydreambeliever95 April 18, 2015 / 9:50 pm

    Heavily researched articles were always something that I found so tedious. I’m so glad there are people who have the discipline and patience it takes to write this kind of article. Now I really want to read the article about Einstein’s pipe!


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