Did you know that more than 2.5 million scientific papers are published each year? That is a huge field – so it can provide many opportunities for publishing your work. If you’re new to this field or simply want to refresh your knowledge, we’ve collated some science writing courses that are sure to help brush up on your skills and help you break into the lucrative business of science writing.
This 8-week course is from Stanford’s School of Medicine, but it works equally well for other scientific fields. The first 4 weeks focus on the principles of effective writing, while the second half provides more research-specific tutoring. The latter includes topics such as peer review, authorship, and communicating scientific ideas to an average audience.
The material of this science writing course is delivered through video lectures, quizzes, exercises, and 2 short papers.
This course has 11 hours’ worth of content divided into 10-minute video sessions. It’s aimed at students and researchers in the fields of natural sciences. The videos are subtitled and transcribed.
The content is divided into 3 parts, each with its own certificate.
- Part 1 focuses on the actual writing process. It includes instructions for writing correctly and with the appropriate style. In addition, it details how to structure a paper and how to present data.
- Part 2 is concerned with publishing. It provides advice on finding a journal, making it through the selection process, editing, and measuring impact.
- Part 3 is for writing and publishing a peer-review paper.
This free science writing course has 14 hours’ worth of video material and is available on Coursera. It’s good at easing the new writer’s anxiety because it presents common problems and how to fix them.
The course focuses on the unwritten rules of scholarly writing, as well as how to organize ideas, build arguments, and self-edit for science articles. It also teaches you how to write in the IMRaD format.
This course is not about grammar. It’s more focused on clear, concise communication principles. It’s divided into 3 lessons, each one takes about 45 minutes to complete. All lessons have examples and exercises provided.
The first lesson is about subjects and action. It explains how to write sentences in a way that takes the least amount of effort to understand, making the work accessible to a variety of audiences.
The second lesson is about emphasizing and cohesion. In other words, you will learn how to cue the reader to the most important part of your sentence, and how to make sentences flow.
The third lesson is about concision and simplicity. This is important not only for scholarly journals but for basic science articles for other media outlets.
As you may have inferred, this science writing course is more useful when you’re in the editing stage, but some tips can be translated over to the writing process, as well.
This handy website links to a video course hosted on YouTube. It provides detailed, hands-on instructions for writing each part of your scholarly paper.
It also dedicates a lot of time to grammar and formatting, which may be useful if you struggle with that in particular.
Although all of these courses are about the academic side of science writing, they serve slightly different purposes for a science writer who is trying to break into the field or maintain their ground. We recommend sampling several of these science writing courses to find out which suits you best. Happy writing!
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Bethany McKay is a multiplatform writer, editor, and social media manager. She has more than a decade of newspaper experience and subsequent work in publishing, editing and organizing a variety of publications, such as reports, college textbooks, and science, law, and business books.