Writing in the Sciences

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8/10 stars
based on  13 reviews
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Course Details

Cost

FREE

Upcoming Schedule

  • On demand

Course Provider

Coursera online courses
Coursera's online classes are designed to help students achieve mastery over course material. Some of the best professors in the world - like neurobiology professor and author Peggy Mason from the University of Chicago, and computer science professor and Folding@Home director Vijay Pande - will supplement your knowledge through video lectures. They will also provide challenging assessments, interactive exercises during each lesson, and the opportunity to use a mobile app to keep up with yo...
Coursera's online classes are designed to help students achieve mastery over course material. Some of the best professors in the world - like neurobiology professor and author Peggy Mason from the University of Chicago, and computer science professor and Folding@Home director Vijay Pande - will supplement your knowledge through video lectures. They will also provide challenging assessments, interactive exercises during each lesson, and the opportunity to use a mobile app to keep up with your coursework. Coursera also partners with the US State Department to create “learning hubs” around the world. Students can get internet access, take courses, and participate in weekly in-person study groups to make learning even more collaborative. Begin your journey into the mysteries of the human brain by taking courses in neuroscience. Learn how to navigate the data infrastructures that multinational corporations use when you discover the world of data analysis. Follow one of Coursera’s “Skill Tracks”. Or try any one of its more than 560 available courses to help you achieve your academic and professional goals.

Provider Subject Specialization
Humanities
Sciences & Technology
4721 reviews

Course Description

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.
Reviews 8/10 stars
13 Reviews for Writing in the Sciences

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Rankings are based on a provider's overall CourseTalk score, which takes into account both average rating and number of ratings. Stars round to the nearest half.

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A/Prof Mead profile image
A/Prof Mead profile image
6/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
6 years, 10 months ago
This course is a tough call: a very diverse group of students with widely varying needs, as expressed on the class forums, from students wanting to improve their English to graduate students looking for help with drafting chapters to professional editors looking to establish a network to professional academics checking out a Humanities course in MOOC-format. So, it would be hard to cater to the expectations of all these groups. Other reviewers have noted the course's positives for them: practical instruction on how to edit; setting standards for scientific writing in journals; encouraging reflection on their own writing. These are significant successes and I don't want to diminish them in the slightest. My interest was in the content, use of technology, experience of assessment and, crucially, sustaining attention. I also have a research project in scientific writing and I was looking for another perspective. So, my interests are nar... This course is a tough call: a very diverse group of students with widely varying needs, as expressed on the class forums, from students wanting to improve their English to graduate students looking for help with drafting chapters to professional editors looking to establish a network to professional academics checking out a Humanities course in MOOC-format. So, it would be hard to cater to the expectations of all these groups. Other reviewers have noted the course's positives for them: practical instruction on how to edit; setting standards for scientific writing in journals; encouraging reflection on their own writing. These are significant successes and I don't want to diminish them in the slightest. My interest was in the content, use of technology, experience of assessment and, crucially, sustaining attention. I also have a research project in scientific writing and I was looking for another perspective. So, my interests are narrow and partial but MOOCs are for everyone, right? The course satisfied my last interest most successfully: I've not edited a scientific journal so it was illuminating to watch the instructor doing the hard yards on the page. I also appreciated watching an American editor at work. My field is English language and it's endlessly fascinating to watch how English differs across the cultures in which it's used. At the risk of sounding churlish, may I be frank about the other points? I found the content very limited. "Good writing" is the high aim but, as the peer reviewing exercise showed, there are many different kinds of writing in the sciences. So it would have been useful to look at writing in a range of journals, from a range of disciplines and a range of genres. The technology is (mostly) pretty good: Coursera has invested heavily in the platform and it's paid off. Two suggestions, though: a video lecture that goes over 15 minutes wastes the potential of online technology. The instructor knows her material and is convincing but anyone talking online, in the same pose, the same manner and, often, reiterating multiple examples is going to lose the audience. Second, one of the flexibilities of online — and a big selling point for the format — is the student's ability to sequence and progress at an individual rate. So, locking down the modules week by week is a disincentive. I'm a big fan of peer assessment and, in this case, students had the chance to get their hands dirty and do some editing. I spent a lot of time on this part and reviewed more assignments than required. But without supporting rubrics or some kind of scaffolding it's a lottery and the risk is a dive to the bottom, rather than the middle. The research I've read on this topic supports this argument. I accept that the embedded quiz has the advantage of immediacy but — forgive me — it's not checking whether I've "understood the preceeding material," it's checking my capacity to remember what the video just said. That said, I'm very grateful to have done this course. My interest was really sustained, though, not so much by the material or the format but by the questions the experience raised for me both as a researcher in scientific writing and as a professional academic. Humanities courses are not immediately suited to online modality. Coursera's Daphne Koller hit the nail on the head when she called MOOCs "data-drive" rather than "hypthesis-driven" learning. So, there's a significant challenge for the Humanities where it's all pretty much hypothesis-driven knowledge. I imagine that an area like this one might be sequenced with, say, this course providing a general introduction and then one or two others that develop by being more specialised. One of the instructor's real skills is technical precision and another more specialised course would provide more scope. This course would then become the pre- requisite for later courses. Thanks for the opportunity to review this course; thanks for the opporunity to *do* course.
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Syj Barbados profile image
Syj Barbados profile image
8/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
11 months, 3 weeks ago
This course provides applicable and easy-to-follow guidance on writing and communication in general. Dr. Kristin Sainani is a humorous and methodical instructor who can explain things inside out, taking the big pictures and the nitty-gritty both into account.
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Student profile image
Student profile image

Student

10/10 starsCompleted
3 years, 2 months ago
English is not my native language. I have been writing a lot since middle school and was known of relatively good writing compared to my colleagues. However, this course teaches you how to make your writing effective, instead of just writing; this is like the difference between knowing how to cook some food and how to cook first class food. I was ashamed of my first paper after I took the course. My first paper I developed after this course landed in a 2-tier journal, although it is my second one in my career. Highly recommended!
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Louis-Claude Canon profile image
Louis-Claude Canon profile image
9/10 starsCompleted
  • 7 reviews
  • 6 completed
5 years, 8 months ago
Excellent course covering writing style and the publication process. The peer- review system for the dissertations is still imperfect, but this does not prevent the course from achieving its goals. This course is particularly useful when starting a master or a PhD thesis, but I am sure anyone could benefit from it as well.
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Ricardo Teixeira profile image
Ricardo Teixeira profile image
9/10 starsCompleted
  • 86 reviews
  • 77 completed
6 years, 8 months ago
Writing scientific papers is a skill that every scientist must learn. It doesn't come naturally, as most people believe - the language and structure of papers are very peculiar, and there are certain expectations that reviewers and editors have that we'll sooner or later clash with. This course is a magnificent piece of work. It explains very clearly all the basics (and even some advanced tricks) needed to write quality papers. More than that, it gives the essentials for quality writing in English. It includes lots of training (writing and reviewing other people's writing), so it's very engaging. The best thing I can say about it is that after taking it I looked back at some papers I had written as a young PhD that were rejected by several journals - and now I know exactly why. They look like school reports and not like scientific papers.
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Laura Cushing profile image
Laura Cushing profile image
6/10 starsCompleted
  • 8 reviews
  • 7 completed
6 years, 11 months ago
Your basic run of the mill course. No interactivity between professor / staff and studnents. All matterials are lectures, with power point presentation. While I was able to learn from this and did pick up a lot of writing tips I didn't know before, I didn't feel motivated and engaged enough in the course to attempt the essays. Watching the videos pretty much provided all the practice I felt I needed to grasp the concept. The weekly 'homeworks' gave extra practice, but the grading system made them very difficult to gauge.
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Daniel Baneni profile image
Daniel Baneni profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
6 years, 10 months ago
Professor Sainani is brilliant; she is a genius. If anyone out there still doubts that we live in a special era of equal opportunity education, such doubts will fade away after taking this course. Great praise to Stanford and coursera for making this possible.
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Kav profile image
Kav profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
6 years, 11 months ago
A very good course for anybody in the science field. I got to lo learn a lot of tricks and techniques which have definitely helped me in viewing "boring scientific journals" in a whole new way. (Everytime I read something jargonny and boring, I want to lash out my red pen and start editing it). I wish we all change the way we write, it will just be more fun to read for everyone. A big fat thank you to Kristin Sainani and all the other members of staff for all their effort and time. I have truely been infected ;)
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Carol Colffield profile image
Carol Colffield profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 8 reviews
  • 7 completed
6 years, 11 months ago
Outstanding course and outstanding Professor! I will never write or read the same way I used to do. The course far exceeded my expectations and I would love to see a second edition soon. Thank you to Professor Sainani, to Stanford University and to Coursera. You are truly writing the future!
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Henry profile image
Henry profile image
3/10 starsCompleted
  • 2 reviews
  • 2 completed
6 years, 10 months ago
The best thing about the course are the 3 interviews with the outside journal editors. The good thing about the course is most people will learn something from it. Unfortunately, the instructor needs to learn English grammar.
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Krista Garver profile image
Krista Garver profile image
8/10 starsCompleted
  • 11 reviews
  • 10 completed
6 years, 10 months ago
This course is tailored for people just starting out in the sciences, but many of the topics and exercises could be useful for anyone who wants to write better. The concepts are presented clearly, with plenty of examples, and Kristin Sainani is an engaging lecturer. The writing assignments in this course are done using peer review, and I found the system more useful than for other courses. Rather than just grading essays using a rubric, you actually edit the other essays in a mini word processing program. It takes a good deal of time to do thoughtfully, but I found that I learned a lot from the exercise. I would like to see more peer review systems move in this direction -- perhaps not to actual editing, but beyond the basic grading rubric.
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Lynsey profile image
Lynsey profile image
10/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
6 years, 11 months ago
An excellent course, with many useful tips. My writing style has improved immensely already. If only I could have done this course before writing my masters thesis!
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Amy profile image
Amy profile image
8/10 starsCompleted
  • 1 review
  • 1 completed
6 years, 11 months ago
This course brought a very diverse group of students with different expectations. I learned a lot more than I had hoped and these skills will improve more than just scientific writing. There is no professor/student interaction (although the professor posts on the discussion board) so if you are expecting to be hand-held this course is not for you.
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Rankings are based on a provider's overall CourseTalk score, which takes into account both average rating and number of ratings. Stars round to the nearest half.