Scientific Publications Office »  Scientific Writing Course

Scientific Writing Course

The Department of Surgery's Scientific Writing Course is intended for faculty and trainees who wish to learn specific ways to marshal the details of a biomedical research paper or grant proposal into a clear, concise and comprehensible story that will be understandable to an interdisciplinary readership (papers), or meet the agency's review criteria (proposals).

Objectives

By carefully deconstructing published examples and their own writing, participants will learn how precise word choice can eliminate jargon and ambiguities, how simple, direct sentences can describe complex science, and how organizing and developing ideas into paragraph form makes scientific writing logical and persuasive. Participants will also learn that although they may think they have described a concept, experiment, or result in an early draft, careful reading will typically reveal information gaps, unrecognized assumptions, and faulty reasoning. All of these problems can be fixed if the writer learns how to spot them, and how to revise them.

Who May Take the Course?

Faculty, postdoctoral/clinical fellows, and research residents who wish to learn specific ways to marshal the details of a biomedical research paper or grant proposal into a clear, concise and comprehensible story that will be understandable to an interdisciplinary readership (papers), or meet the agency's review criteria (proposals). The class size is limited to 15 full-time participants.  Priority is given to members of the Department of Surgery, but openings are often available for others.
To be considered for enrollment in the course, prospective students are required to provide a writing sample (see below). 

Course Structure & Format

The course is taught twice a year (Fall and Spring). Class meets for 8 weeks on Tuesdays or Thursdays from 4-5:45 pm. The following topics are covered:
  • Writing Fundamentals (word choice, sentence structure, and paragraph structure) (3 weeks)
  • Reports of Original Research (introduction, methods, results, tables & figures, discussion, abstract & title)
  • Journal Submission, Peer Review & Authorship
  • Grant Proposals
  • Although there are didactic presentations, participants should expect to do a lot of writing and revising in class and outside of class, and to expect feedback on their writing from the course instructor.

Course Requirements

  • Rewriting examples of unclear writing (time needed for homework: about 1-1.5 h per class meeting) 
  • Rewriting an Introduction to a paper written by the participant
  • Writing exercises are critiqued by the instructor

Course Fee

Tuition is $575.00 for participants who are not from the UCSF Department of Surgery.

Course Application & Writing Sample

Please contact to the course instructor, Pamela Derish: pamela.derish@ucsf.edu for the application, which includes a writing sample.
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