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Research PhD courses

Write a Scientific Article in 15 weeks


Dr. Esther Chang (RUG)
Dr. Corine Eising (RSEE)

Aim of the course

An important responsibility of scientific researchers is to produce articles for publication. However, many scientists receive little or no formal training in writing and writing can be a frustrating, ad hoc process as a consequence. In this course, we aim to ease Ph.D. students into this process by instructing them on how to develop skills in the following: 1) organizing their thoughts to produce clear lines of logical reasoning (i.e. clarity of thought) and 2) communicating these thoughts effectively through writing (i.e. clarity of writing). As we work our way through the conventional structure of the scientific article, section by section, participants will write their own research articles from start to finish in 15 weeks.

Contents & Structure

General Course program

The course is organized into ten 2.5-hour meetings, which consist of lectures, in-class exercises and discussions. During the writing clinics, we will specifically address common problems that are seen in the participants’ own writing. The period of time scheduled between meetings ranges from 1 to 3 weeks depending upon the length and difficulty of the writing assignment. Throughout the course, participants will exchange comments on writing assignments. They will receive substantial and thorough editing of the final article by Dr. Chang if they fulfil the requirements of the course. To prepare for the course, participants should have the following ready:

  • have a research project ready for the writing phase e.g. analyzed dataset, completed model;
  • write a 250-word summary of their article in a “genre” style (e.g. romance, western, horror, science fiction, detective) to be presented at the first meeting as a fun and memorable way of introducing their projects to fellow participants;
  • two published articles from their own research field (original research articles rather than reviews; one well written and one poorly written) in PDF format, which should be sent to Dr. Chang at least 3 weeks prior to the beginning of the course; excerpts from these articles will be used as examples in the course.
Course program:

The meetings will always be held on Tuesdays from 15:00 to 17:30.

1. 3rd November, 2020: Materials and Methods

  • purpose and organization of the Methods section
  • verb tense in the Methods section
  • passive vs. active voice

2. 10th November, 2020: Tables and Figures tell the “story”

  • when to use tables or graphs
  • designing tables and figures
  • table and figure captions

3. 24th November, 2020: Text of Results; Strategies to be a productive writer

  • purpose and organization of the Results section
  • verb tense in the Results section
  • presenting statistics
  • scheduling time to write
  • importance of regularity and setting goals for writing
  • monitoring writing progress

4. 1 st December, 2020: Structuring the Introduction; Using references

  • 2 models for structuring the Introduction (“funnel” shape or hypothesis-driven)
  • good citation practices
  • suggested process for drafting an Introduction

5. 15th December, 2020: Technical aspects of the Introduction; Writing an effective Title

  • editing for logical flow in paragraphs and sentences
  • stumbling blocks that interrupt flow
  • choosing strategically for a noun phrase, statement or question in the Title

6. 5th January, 2021: Structuring the Discussion

  • what makes an effective Discussion?
  • what information should be included in the Discussion?
  • the “pyramid” shape of the Discussion

7. 12th January, 2021: Writing Clinic 1 (Methods & Results)

8. 19 th January, 2021: Technical aspects of the Discussion; Abstract

  • voice, verb tenses and making claims
  • using the paragraph as a vehicle for logical development
  • deduction vs. induction
  • common mistakes in the Discussion
  • purpose and content of the Abstract

9. 9th February, 2021. Writing Clinic 2 (Introduction)

10. 16th February, 2021: Publishing process and course evaluation

  • choosing the target journal
  • the cover letter
  • understanding the editor’s role
  • understanding the referees’ role
  • responding to editor and referee comments
  • how to deal with conditional acceptance or resubmission
  • how to deal with rejection
General Information
Course credits 4 ECTS (in addition to a written, edited article)
Location The location for the course will be at the Linnaeusborg, Nijenborgh 7, Zernike Campus, Groningen. Building 5173, room number 0347.
Duration & date

Meetings start 3rd November, 2020, and end 16th February, 2021: 25 hours of meetings, 15 weeks to write (and revise) your own article.

Costs The registration fee is € 300,- for all GELIFES PhD students with an approved TSP. Other participants will pay € 450,- . The fee includes coffee and tea, and the course material. Travel expenses are not included.
Participants The maximum number of participants is set at 12. Priority is given to GELIFES PhD students but students from other institutes are welcome to participate if there is space available (check with Corine Eising). As it is a requirement for the course to have an analyzed dataset available for writing, this course is less suitable for first year students. Priority will be given to students in their 2nd, 3rd, and final year.

The course is now open for registration. Click here

Please note that registration is on first come first serve basis for GELIFES students. Any remaining positions will be open to external participants. If you would like to be put on the waiting list for the course, please send an email to Corine Eising. Please take note of the cancellation policy applicable to all registrations. For further inquiries regarding the course content, please contact Esther Chang.

Last modified:08 September 2020 4.11 p.m.