The Australian manual of scientific style (AMOSS) was designed as a key resource for the Australian scientific and communications community. It brings together a wealth of information on scientific writing, style and design, to support the presentation of clear and correct scientific communication.
This section discusses:
- who the manual is for
- why we need such a resource
- what is covered in AMOSS, and what is not
- the style rules that have been evaluated and followed.
AMOSS is for anyone who writes about science or technical matters, or who edits scientific and technical documents. This includes researchers and students in academia; report writers in government departments and agencies, nongovernment organisations and industry; and journalists, writers and editors in all forms of media. AMOSS can help you to produce a variety of publications, from scientific papers to reports, websites, social media and print media articles.
AMOSS will be helpful for researchers preparing technical journal articles. However, highly technical, discipline-specific terms and styles are not all covered here, and will need to be checked either by reference to international and national standards (follow the links from the subject-specific sections in Editing), or by consultation with experts in the relevant area.
We welcome input from members of the science writing community to further develop AMOSS as an Australian scientific resource: How can I get involved?.
Science makes a fundamental contribution to our society, health and wellbeing, environment and economy. Communicating science well is important so that people understand and value science, are encouraged to support it, consider pursuing scientific careers, and are well informed about science issues that affect their lives.
Writers and editors working in the science arena need to be able to:
- understand and communicate basic science principles
- express complex science information clearly and logically
- understand the community perspectives and values that can influence the transfer and uptake of scientific information
- follow detailed style rules relating to nuances of language, scientific terminology, units of measurement and other technical issues.
AMOSS provides the guidance needed to achieve this.
In addition, Australia has many specific language and terminology preferences relating to its unique environment, flora and fauna, history and other factors. AMOSS provides comprehensive rules for presenting this information.
AMOSS addresses the main issues that science writers and editors encounter.
AMOSS has three main sections:
- Writing provides advice on the principles of good writing to help you to communicate complex information in a way that is easy to read and understand, and avoid the major pitfalls that can block effective communication.
- Editing provides the ‘nuts and bolts’ of scientific and technical style, organised by discipline (eg chemistry, biology, health and medicine).
- Showing describes how best to present graphs, tables and other visual information, and includes help with data visualisation.
AMOSS does not aim to reproduce the information in other specialised science style guides that provide technical details for specialists working in different science or technical disciplines (such as chemistry, genetics or mathematics). It does not seek to reproduce details of science communication theory or practice.
However, throughout the text, there are references to more detailed and specialist information, including the most comprehensive internationally recognised resources for each discipline. This provides guidance should readers need additional information on particular issues.
AMOSS was developed by Australian science writing, editing and design professionals, informed by discipline experts.
AMOSS scientific styles are based on primary international and Australian sources, wherever possible, and these are shown at the start of relevant subsections of Editing. We have also referred to the Council of Science Editors Scientific style and format (8th edition) and other internationally recognised style manuals listed in the Resources section.
For most general editorial matters, AMOSS follows those outlined in the Australian Government Style manual for authors, editors and printers (6th edition).
However, in some areas, AMOSS style differs from the Australian Government Style manual. These differences are based on Biotext’s extensive experience in science writing, editing and design, and are generally designed to simplify or modernise styles. For example, in References, we have presented our own comprehensive reference style that is more streamlined, is easier to apply and more closely aligns with styles used in the international science literature than that presented in the Australian Government Style manual.