Biological Scientific Writing (BIOL 825)

Syllabus is subject to change during semester.
Most recent update to the course web content: 24 September 2012

Instructor: Mark Eberle, AH 424, meberle@fhsu.edu, 785-628-5264.

Class Times: Monday and Friday, 8:30-9:20.

Classroom: Albertson Hall 321 (Biology Computer Lab).

Required Texts:

  • R. A. Day and N. Sakaduski.  2011.  Scientific English: A Guide for Scientists and Other Professionals, third edition.  Greenwood, Santa Barbara, California.  225 pages.
  • A. J. Friedland and C. L. Folt.  2009.  Writing Successful Science Proposals, second edition.  Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut.  224 pages.

Recommended reference:

  • Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 11th edition. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, Springfield, Massachusetts. 1623 pages..

Other Resources:

Credit Hours: 2 credit hours.

Course Description: Techniques and methods of writing scientific papers.

Course Objectives:

  • Teach students basic grammar from a scientific perspective to help them construct clear, concise, grammatically correct sentences and paragraphs.  
  • Teach students how to prepare thesis and grant proposals.  
  • Teach students general aspects of how to conduct research.  
  • Teach students how to summarize their research in the IMRaD format in a clear, concise, well organized thesis or journal article.  
  • Teach students about the process of peer review in scientific literature.  
  • Teach students how to prepare a curriculum vitae.  

Course Grades: one test (25%), written research proposal and supporting documents (two drafts, 60%), and class participation (15%). Academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, cheating) or failure to turn in assignments on time can result in a score of 0% for that assignment and possible other actions by the university. For transgressions on the proposal, each draft will be considered 30% of the total score possible for the course. For example, plagiarism on one draft of the proposal would reduce the total points possible for the course to 70% (a maximum grade of C).

Course Content:

  • Scientific writing style  
  • Scientific English  
  • Thesis and grant proposals  
  • Theses and publications  
  • IMRaD format  
  • Word processing  
  • Editing  
  • Publication process  
  • Participation in scientific organizations  

Course Format: Lectures, class discussions, writing and editing assignments, and reading assignments.

Course Requisites: Permission of the instructor; graduate students only.

Course Links: Class notes and assignments (additional links included within lecture notes).

Course Mantra: Be clear, be concise, and strive for the highest levels of integrity and quality. It is easy and takes little time to develop a bad reputation in any endeavor. A good reputation is a lifelong process, and this is true of learning to be a good scientific writer.

General Academic Policies: This course will comply with general academic policies regarding adding or dropping courses, grade appeals, academic honesty, class attendance, and intellectual property rights as outlined in the University Catalog.