Make science beautiful, researchers.

That, according to Nature, is the call issued by ecologist Stephen Heard, who wants researchers to keep their prose whimsical, funny, elegant and moving:

In a guest post on the Tree of Life blog, Heard wrote that “style and beauty are not incompatible with scientific writing” and offered a few examples to make the point. One of these is a 2011 article in which Matthew Rockman, an evolutionary biologist at New York University in New York City, uses the nineteenth-century California gold rush as an extended metaphor for the ongoing hunt for meaningful gene variants in the human genome. Rockman wrote: “The shiny (Mendelian) nuggets are rapidly being collected, and ever larger teams of researchers with ever more powerful technologies are now probing whole genomes to find their quarry.”

[Isabelle Côté, a marine ecologist at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, ]says that some of her own attempts at whimsy have been quashed by editors, a loss that she chalks up to a “false notion that the communication of science is impeded by adornments and that the only point of elegance and humour in writing is to detract from major flaws”.