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Writing in the Sciences (Coursera)

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This course teaches scientists to become more effective writers, using practical examples and exercises. Topics include: principles of good writing, tricks for writing faster and with less anxiety, the format of a scientific manuscript, peer review, grant writing, ethical issues in scientific publication, and writing for general audiences.

Who is this class for: This course is for undergraduate and graduate students; medical students; scientists; medical professionals; and science writers.

Syllabus

WEEK 1

Unit 1 introduces the course and reviews key principles of effective writing. In particular, you will practice cutting clutter from writing.

Graded: Unit 1 Homework

WEEK 2

Unit 2 focuses on writing with strong, active verbs. Lessons include how to: write in the active voice; avoid turning verbs into nouns; choose strong verbs; and get to the main verb of a sentence quickly.

Graded: Unit 2 Homework

WEEK 3

Unit 3 reviews how to vary sentence structure and write strong paragraphs. You will practice using the dash, colon, semi-colon, and parentheses, as well as writing well-organized and concise paragraphs.

Graded: Unit 3 Homework

Graded: Paragraph editing exercise

WEEK 4

Unit 4 reviews the writing process. I will give you tips for making the writing process easier, more efficient, and more organized.

Graded: Unit 4 Homework

WEEK 5

Unit 5 reviews the sections of a scientific manuscript. You will learn how to format tables and figures, and how to write results, methods, introduction, and discussion sections.

Graded: Unit 5 Homework

WEEK 6

Unit 6 discusses the peer review process, as well as ethical issues in scientific publishing. You will learn how to avoid plagiarism, determine authorship, submit a paper, write a peer review, and avoid predatory journals.

Graded: Unit 6 Homework

Graded: Essay

WEEK 7

Unit 7 reviews types of writing beyond original research manuscripts. You will learn how to write review papers, grants, letters of recommendation, and personal essays.

Graded: Unit 7 Homework

WEEK 8

Unit 8 reviews communication with broader audiences. You will learn how work with the media, be interviewed, conduct an interview, and write about science for general audiences.

Graded: Unit 8 Homework

Graded: Lay summary exercise

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