PLEASE NOTE: This is an archived course and if you are joining late, you will not be able to earn a Statement of Accomplishment. If you would like to earn a Statement of Accomplishment, a self paced version has been released and is available here.
About This Course
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, and issues in publication and peer review. Students from non-science disciplines can benefit from the training provided in the first four weeks (on general principles of effective writing).
In the first four weeks, we will review principles of effective writing, examples of good and bad writing, and tips for making the writing process easier. In the second four weeks, we will examine issues specific to scientific writing, including: authorship, peer review, the format of an original manuscript, and communicating science for lay audiences. Students will watch video lectures, complete quizzes and editing exercises, write two short papers, and edit each others’ work.
Week 1 - Introduction; principles of effective writing (cutting unnecessary clutter)
Week 2 - Principles of effective writing (verbs)
Week 3 - Crafting better sentences and paragraphs
Week 4 - Organization; and streamlining the writing process
Week 5 - The format of an original manuscript
Week 6 - Reviews, commentaries, and opinion pieces; and the publication process
Week 7 - Issues in scientific writing (plagiarism, authorship, ghostwriting, reproducible research)
Week 8 - How to do a peer review; and how to communicate with the lay public
Kristin Sainani (née Cobb) is a clinical assistant professor at Stanford University and also a health and science writer. After receiving an MS in statistics and PhD in epidemiology from Stanford University, she studied science writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She writes about science for a range of audiences, including authoring the health column Body News for Allure magazine and the statistics column Statistically Speaking for the journal Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. Dr. Sainani has previously taught "Writing in the Sciences" on Coursera and OpenEdX; and "Statistics in Medicine" on OpenEdX.
Pooja Yesantharao (TA)
Pooja Yesantharao graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from Rice University in 2015. As a current MS student in Epidemiology and Clinical Research, she is studying the genetic mechanisms behind squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), to better understand how human leukocyte antigen genes can modulate SCC risk. As an aspiring physician-scientist, Pooja is passionate about the use of epidemiology to inform health policy and evidence-based medicine, and she enjoys working as a Teaching Assistant. Beyond her academic career, Pooja loves playing tennis, reading, and teaching her pet parrot how to speak.