Facilitator

Dr Errol Wood or Desirée Williamson

Description

This workshop can be tailored to suit scientists or engineers, both of whom require writing skills for which they may have had no formal training. 

Scientific research demands precision. While scientific writing should reflect this precision in the form of clarity of meaning, this ideal is not often attained. A brilliant experiment may have been completed, yet if the results cannot be explained clearly and concisely, and the reader is not convinced of their importance, the experiment will go unnoticed or undervalued.

Likewise, practising engineers are required to write proposals, specifications, reports, conference papers, correspondence. Writing is perhaps the most important way in which information is conveyed to managers, fellow engineers, clients and other project stakeholders. An engineer’s communication skills will therefore support their success as an engineer, alongside their technical expertise.

This workshop covers the basic principles and practices of scientific and technical writing, including structuring a technical report or a paper for a journal or conference proceedings, the integration of illustrations in the document and using language that is clear, concise and correct.

Learning Outcomes

Participation in this workshop will enable you to:

  • explain the importance and value of excellence in scientific/technical writing
  • produce a proposal, report or paper which is correctly structured, according to the formatting requirements of the client, conference organiser or journal publisher
  • apply good writing practices including clarity, precision, correct word usage, grammar, punctuation and logical flow
  • decide on the most appropriate method of presenting results, ie as tables, diagrams, graphs, etc
  • integrate illustrations with the text in a proposal, report or paper
  • introduce variety into writing by using appropriate subdivisions, in the form of headings, subheadings, subsections and paragraphs
  • apply the correct ethical behaviour with respect to copyright, due acknowledgement of others’ work and avoidance of plagiarism
  • helpfully appraise the written work of colleagues.

Content

  • Justification for excellence in scientific/technical writing
  • The structure and requirements of the document
  • Use of illustrations – tables, graphs, diagrams, photographs
  • Grammar and punctuation
  • Use of language for clarity and conciseness
  • Introducing flow, variety and interest
  • Strategies for the writing process, from drafting to final editing
  • The requirements of journal editors 

I started writing everything instead of thinking about sentence structure first. Once I have written a lot, I go over it and apply the learned rules, shorten, remove redundancies, etc. I also used the paper format, and instead of writing from scratch I now build up piece by piece, which is much easier and organised.

I'm being more conscious of my writing as I can be prone to use more words than needed. I have also found myself looking more closely at others' writing when I am approving their work.