Writing Biology: Texts in the Social Construction of Scientific Knowledge

By Greg Myers

CoverIn Writing Biology, Greg Myers shares his exploration of discourse in the biological sciences. His goal, as he notes in the preface to this landmark book, is to "provide some interpretations of scientific texts in their social context that will help us understand how texts produce scientific knowledge and reproduce the cultural authority of that knowledge" (p. ix). Arguably the first major work in writing studies that explores the rhetoric of science, Writing Biology offers a detailed analysis of texts, with a strong focus on social construction of knowledge and the rhetorical contexts in which scientists construct their texts. As Myers notes, "Science is like other discourses in relying on rhetoric; it just uses a different kind of rhetoric" (p. 4). This foundational work serves as a landmark in the turn toward exploring the discourses of professional communities by writing scholars.

Table of Contents

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Front Matter


Chapter 1. Controversies about Scientific Texts

Chapter 2. Social Construction in Two Biologists' Proposals

Chapter 3. Social Construction in Two Biologists' Articles

Chapter 4. The Cnemidophorus File: Narrative, Interpretation, and Irony in a Scientific Controversy

Chapter 5. The Social Construction of Popular Science: The Narrative of Science and the Narrative of Nature

Chapter 6. Narrative and Interpretation in the Sociobiology Controversy

Conclusion. Reading Biology

Appendix 1: Texts of Proposal Summaries

Appendix 2

Appendix 3. Figures from Crews and Fitzgerald 1980

Appendix 4

Appendix 5



About the Author

Greg Myers is Emeritus Professor at Lancaster University in the UK. Much of his work focuses on the social context of written academic texts, especially in science, treating such issues as politeness, cohesion, narrative structure, commonplaces, and illustration, drawing on frameworks from the sociology of scientific knowledge. His more recent work has studied expression of opinions in talk, particularly in focus groups and consultation processes, largely drawing on conversation analysis. He is the author of five books: Writing Biology: Texts in the Social Construction of Science (Wisconsin, 1990), Words in Ads (Arnold, 1994), Ad Worlds: Brands, Media, Audiences (Arnold, 1998), Matters of Opinion: Talking about Public Issues (Cambridge, 2004, and Discourse of Blogs and Wikis (Continuum, 2010). With Ruth Wodak, he edited the John Benjamins book series Discourse Approaches to Politics, Society, and Culture. In 2011, he was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. From 2012 to 2015, he served as Chair of BAAL, the British Association for Applied Linguistics.

Publication Information: Myers, Greg. (2022). Writing Biology: Texts in the Social Construction of Scientific Knowledge. The WAC Clearinghouse. https://wac.colostate.edu/books/landmarks/myers/ (Originally published in 1990 by University of Wisconsin Press)

Publication Date: October 20, 2022

Contact Information:
Greg Myers: g.myers@lancaster.ac.uk

Landmark Publications in Writing Studies

Series Editor: Mike Palmquist, Colorado State University

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Copyright © Greg Myers. Republished with permission. You may view this book. You may print personal copies of this book. You may link to this page. You may not reproduce this book on another website. For permission to use materials from this book in other publications, please contact Greg Myers.