Scientific writing should be a structured practice. Structure takes the pain and guesswork out of writing for publication.
If you write and “do science” at the same time, you will be close to finished by the time other scientists are ready to “write a paper."
I offer these modules to students and institutions outside Switzerland on a freelance basis. (See my rates.)
Within Switzerland, my courses are integrated into the medical, pharmacy, and dental curriculum at the University of Bern, and into the Switzerland-wide public health program SSPH+. I regularly teach courses through the Medical Library of the University of Bern: these are free to members of the UniBE community with an ILIAS account, and available at a discount to affiliates of other Swiss educational institution. If you live in Switzerland and are unaffiliated, you can take the Medical Library courses at the regular rate.
Course modules can be mixed and matched to suit your needs. They can be taught individually as 2- or 3-hour online or on-site workshops or combined into more comprehensive courses (8-20 hours) that take participants at any career stage through the writing process from beginning to end, quickly or in-depth.
This module covers the organizational skills you need to write as you do science, beginning with recommendations, tracking literature, taking and organizing notes, and sorting your notes thematically into the appropriate sections of your paper. The course also covers outlining—an esssential skill for writing while you do science and one that English native speakers use as the basis for constructing all their papers. You will come out of this course with a clear organizational plan and the skills to execute it. (3-hours, highly interactive)
In many languages, breaks between blocks of text are intuitive and informal. But in English, the paragraph is the main unit of meaning; paragraphing is formal, highly structured, and a basic requirement of written communication. Unfortunately, even advanced English courses rarely teach the rules for writing strong paragraphs, so this course fills the gap. You will learn how to write proper paragraphs that clearly convey your ideas, and how to create chains of paragraphs that lead your reader to your argument’s conclusion. (3 hours, highly interactive)
Writing in plain language is an essential skill for scientists today, both because we are increasingly asked to make our work accessible to broader audiences, and because we are often writing to non-native English speakers. This course covers the essentials of plain language writing, including reader-centered organization, active voice, elegant simplicity, appropriate vocabulary, and graphic design for comprehension. (3 hours, highly interactive)
Chat GPT and other AI tools are especially welcomed by non-native English speakers who must publish in English. This course covers the uses and limits of these tools, their appropriate application in scientific writing, and the dangers and pitfalls of improper use. AI is evolving quickly, and this module is continually updated to match the market. (3 hours, highly interactive)
If you write while you do your science, you will begin your writing process with your Methods section and proceed to Results. This course streamlines the process. You will learn how and why to take proper notes as you design and carry out your experiment, how to choose the correct data reporting guidelines, and how to integrate these guidelines into the structure of your paper. (3 hours, highly interactive)
Many scientists find the Discussion section the most challenging to write. This course lays out the structure of a well-written Discussion section and goes into detail on each component. You will learn how to assemble the content of your Discussion and then stucture it to meet the requirements of your target journal, increasing the chances that your paper will be accepted for publication. (3 hours, interactive)
Too many scientists make the mistake of writing their Introduction first. This course approaches the Introduction as the final step in crafting your scientific manuscript and helps you avoid the common problem of overly lengthy introductions that must then be trimmed. I cover the form and function of every section of the Introduction, and show you how to quickly and easily draft yours so that it is clear and to the point. (3 hours, interactive)
The average journal article in medicine has over a dozen co-authors. Coordinating work and schedules is an art, and soliciting constructive criticism is a skill. This course is designed for first and corresponding authors who need to successfully manage the collaboration process and meet scheduled deadlines. (2 hours, interactive)
Competition for funding is intense and funders want to be sure that their money is going to exciting, viable projects. This course focuses on tuning your application to your funders and crafting a compelling scientific narrative that showcases your science and your team to best effect. Learn how to ensure your research proposal, your personal statement, and your team biographies all work together to convince the grant committee that your project is significant, feasible, and will advance your career. (3 hours, lecture, interactive, Q&A)
The SNSF has made a committment to diversity and gender mainstreaming and now evaluates the gender components of your grants, including the integration of gender into your science and the effort to ensure your team is gender diverse and supportive. This module covers essential concepts of sex/gender for grant writers and suggests strategies for meeting the SNSF’s expectations. (3 hour or full-day workshop, depending on desired level of interactivity)
This module introduces you to basic principles of typographic and graphic design, with the goal of improving your tables and figures. Learn how to create honest, effective graphics and to reach your whole audience, including the 8.5% of readers with color-blindness. (3 hours, highly interactive)
Poster sessions can be frustrating, especially when your poster is surrounded by hundreds of other look-alikes. This course introduces the #BetterPoster format and other nontraditional poster designs that ensure your work will stand out a conference. It includes practical and design tips to ensure you get your message across to an inerested audience. (3 hours, highly interactive)
Funders and governments are placing more pressure on quantitative scientists to engage in mixed-method studies that include qualitative research. But few institutions offer workshops to train quantitative scientists in the basic of qualitative design and data reporting. This course fills that gap, and is especially useful for graduate students and early career researchers who need to write up the qualitative sections of a mixed-method paper. (3 hours, lecture, examples, and Q&A session)
Responding to reviewer comments appropriately is as much an art as a science. This course systematizes the process of reading comments for content and tone, prioritizing and organizing responses, and tactfully addressing both helpful and unhelpful suggestions. Learn how to respond to helpful suggestions, resolve conflicting suggestions, and delicately sidestep requests that you feel would harm your paper. (2 hours, lecture and Q&A)