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Writing in the Sciences

About This Course

This self-paced 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.

This course is for undergraduate and graduate students; medical students; scientists; medical professionals; and science writers.



Course Staff

Dr. Kristin Sainani

Dr. Kristin Sainani

Kristin Sainani (née Cobb) is an associate professor at Stanford University and also a health and science writer. After receiving an MS in statistics and a PhD in epidemiology from Stanford University, she studied science writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has taught statistics and writing at Stanford for more than a decade and has received several Excellence in Teaching Awards from the graduate program in epidemiology.

Dr. Sainani writes about science and health for a range of audiences. She authored the health column Body News for Allure magazine for a decade. She is also the statistical editor for the journal Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation; and she authors a statistics column, Statistically Speaking, for this journal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment?

Yes, participants who score at least 70 percent will pass the course and receive a Statement of Accomplishment.
Participants who score at least 95 percent will receive a Statement of Accomplishment with distinction.

How much of a time commitment will this course be?

The course consists of 8 units and each unit will take approximately 4 - 8 hours to complete, but you can work through all of the material at your own pace and on your own schedule. There are no due dates for any of the assignments.

Which web browser should I use?

We recommend taking this course on a standard computer using Google Chrome or Firefox as the internet browser. We are not yet optimized for mobile devices.

Any additional textbooks/software required?

There is no textbook for this course. Participants who would like additional reading may enjoy:

- On Writing Well, William Zinsser
- The Elements of Style, Strunk and White
- Sin and Syntax, Constance Hale
- Essentials of Writing Biomedical Research Papers, Mimi Zeiger
- Science and Society: An Anthology for Readers and Writers, eds: Nelson-McDermott, LePan, Buzzard

Are there other versions of this course available? 

Yes. There is a Coursera offering, and a Continuing Medical Education offering. The CME offering is described below.

Our Stanford Lagunita offering is self-paced, unmoderated, includes self assessment assignments, and offers you the ability to earn a free Statement of Accomplishment.

The Coursera offering is provided on a monthly basis, is more moderated, includes peer assessment assignments, and offers you the ability to earn a certificate of completion for a fee.

Can I get CME credit for this course?

This free version of the course does not offer CME credits, but there is a fee-based CME version available as well. Go to the Stanford online CME course page for more information. You are welcome to take this free version of the course before the CME course, but note that you will still need to create an account on the CME site, pay the registration fee, and complete the CME Pre-test, Post-test, Evaluation Survey, and Activity Completion Attestation statement in order to receive your credits.

Course logo image adapted from one of Nic McPhee's photos on flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license.

  1. Course Number

    SciWrite - SELF PACED
  2. Classes Start

  3. Estimated Effort

    8 units, 3-5 hours/unit
  4. Price