Request for comments on “The Future of Science”

Update: Thankyou to everyone who has replied. I’m no longer looking for test readers.

I completed a first draft of my book “The Future of Science” last year. I was happy with much of it, but the draft was inadequate in important ways. I put it aside to let the ideas gestate. I took it up again a couple of months back and have since been hard at work on a second draft. This time around I’m much happier, and I’m now looking for a few people willing to comment on the second draft of chapter 1.

The book is aimed at a wide audience, and so I’m interested in feedback from a wide cross-section of people. I already know many people in the hard sciences, but there’s many other groups I’d also like to reach. For that reason I’m particularly interested in getting feedback from programmers, entrepeneurs, biologists, social scientists, students (both undergrad and grad), and from non-scientists.

If you’re in one or more of these groups, and interested in reading and providing comments, please let me know (mnielsen at perimeterinstitute dot ca). Of course, if you’re in the hard sciences and keen to read, I’d also like to hear from you! Unfortunately, this is not a paying gig, unless you count my thanks in the acknowledgements.

A few bits and pieces about what sorts of commentary would be especially helpful:

  • Which are the boring parts? Elmore Leonard has said the secret of good writing is to leave out the boring parts. Unfortunately, I find it hard to spot the boring parts in my own work, so comments from sympathetic and perceptive readers help. One trick I find useful is to score all my sentences or paragraphs: 1 = boring, 2 = okay, 3 = interesting. Eliminating, compressing or changing the 1’s and 2’s inevitably strengthens the piece.
  • Where is the book unclear? Where do I write like a specialist – a physicist, a geek, or an academic?
  • What important ideas are missing? Is anything flat-out wrong? What’s unconvincing?
  • How can I improve the impact of the writing? Simple comments – “this paragraph is flat”, “you could use a more active verb here” – can be incredibly helpful.

(You might ask why I don’t just blog the drafts. Certainly, this is becoming pretty common, and it’s something I’m keen to do. However, I’m yet to sign a contract with a publisher, and I’d like to get my future publisher’s endorsement before blogging huge swathes of the book.)


  1. Dear Michael,

    Well, I’m happy to have a look if you don’t think I’m too close to the material!



  2. Hi Michael!

    Stumbled across your blog by chance and was immediately fascinated by your academic collaboration tools/Future of Science. I’d gladly volunteer as a reader of your draft, if you’re still accepting any… also just signed up for the “Science in the 21st Century” conference at PI and am looking forward to meeting you there in person!

    I’m currently working on a project ( centered around these ideas. We like to think of it as a “ for research” (not least because the entrepreneur who helped to build is now on our team). There’s a short demo video of the concept on our homepage, as well as on YouTube:

    Would love to hear your opinion on it.

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