Writing in the Sciences (Stanford University)

Where: Online


This free, self-paced, on-line class from Stanford University 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. Students from non-science disciplines can benefit from the training provided in the first four weeks (on general principles of effective writing).

In the first four weeks, we will review principles of effective writing, examples of good and bad writing, and tips for making the writing process easier. In the second four weeks, we will examine issues specific to scientific writing, including: authorship, peer review, the format of an original manuscript, and communicating science for lay audiences. Students will watch video lectures, complete quizzes and editing exercises, write two short papers, and edit each others’ work.


Unit 1 – Introduction; principles of effective writing (cutting unnecessary clutter)
Unit 2 – Principles of effective writing (verbs)
Unit 3 – Crafting better sentences and paragraphs
Unit 4 – Organization; and streamlining the writing process
Unit 5 – The format of an original manuscript
Unit 6 – Reviews, commentaries, and opinion pieces; and the publication process
Unit 7 – Issues in scientific writing (plagiarism, authorship, ghostwriting, reproducible research)
Unit 8 – How to do a peer review; and how to communicate with the lay public

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this activity, participants should be able to:

  • Develop skills to write clear and interesting research papers that demonstrate the ability to develop the abstract, introduction, and content, including methods and the results, using good style and grace.
  • Develop strategies to apply principles of effective writing as they pertain to reviewing and publishing peer review papers.

Estimated Completion Time

25 Hour/s

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