Scientific writing is one of the most essential skills in science. It’s critical for writing grants, good theses, and manuscripts, as well as for posters and presentations. Because it’s so crucial, we have assembled a collection of resources to help you learn how to, or refine your skills to, write (and review!) scientifically. No matter what your career stage, you are likely to find a helpful resource in the list below.

We are continuing to develop more content and resources for scientific writing and publishing. If you know of resources or content you think should be represented here, please email me at svolk@ascb.org.

 

Resources for Learning, Refining, and Reviewing Scientific Writing Web Links
Science Writing for Manuscripts, Theses, Presentations, and other formats
“The Science of Scientific Writing” (Dec 1990, American Scientist) An excellent article on how to write scientific manuscripts concisely and professionally, while also being reader-friendly and clear. “If the reader is to grasp what the writer means, the writer must understand what the reader needs.” Link
“English Communication for Scientists” (last updated Jan 2014, NatureEducation-Scitable Website) This is a detailed, easy-to-navigate e-book is chock-full of great content to help you communicate your science in a wide variety of venues. “Organized as six self-contained units, it will help you: understand basic communication strategies and address various audiences (Unit 1); design and draft not only scientific papers (Unit 2) but also e-mail, résumés, and short reports (Unit 3); structure, support, and deliver oral presentations (Unit 4); create and present posters, chair sessions, and participate in panels (Unit 5); and prepare, run, and evaluate classroom sessions (Unit 6).” It’s written with the non-native English speaker in mind, but the content is useful for everyone. Link
Oral and Written Science Communication Resources from the CLIMB (Collaborative Learning and Integrated Mentoring in the Biosciences) program at Northwestern. The CLIMB Program was established in 2007 as a supplemental professional development program to create a diverse community of young scientists at Northwestern. The resources provided include PDFs and video recordings of workshops covering steps to writing a manuscript in fine detail. Link
“Swan – Scientific Writing AssistaNt” A free tool to help scholars write reader-friendly manuscript, and to help you identify whether your scientific paper is written in a way that will enable the reviewer to appreciate your contribution.. This tool was designed based on the techniques described in “Scientific Writing 2.0: A reader and writer’s guide”. Link
“When The Scientist Presents” – an entire blog dedicated to helping scientists present information better in a variety of formats and venues. This was developed as a complement to the book “When The Scientist Presents”. It includes a number of multi-media approaches (videos, podcasts, traditional blog posts) to sharing information with you. Link

Reviewing Scientific Manuscripts (Learning and Teaching)

“How to review a paper.” (Benos DJ, Kirk KL, Hall JE. Advances in Physiology Education. 2003 Dec;27(1-4):47-52.) From abstract: “The purpose of this article is to define how best to peer review an article. We will stipulate several principles of peer review and discuss some of the main elements of a good manuscript review, the basic responsibilities of a reviewer, and the rewards and responsibilities that accompany this process.” Link (free full-text)Pubmed Link
 “Manuscript peer review: a helpful checklist for students and novice referees.” (Seals DR, Tanaka H. Advances in Physiology Education. 2000 Jun;23(1):52-8.) From abstract: “In our journal club and graduate courses we have been using a “checklist” to help graduate students and postdoctoral fellows critically analyze original research papers. In this article we present these guidelines in the hope that they will serve as a helpful resource for students and other novice reviewers when critiquing scientific manuscripts.” (NOTE: PubMed says the full text should be free, but it is currently behind a paywall at APS) Link (paywall)Pubmed LinkDownload PPT of checklist
 “Teaching how to prepare a manuscript by means of rewriting published scientific papers.” (Tomaska L. Genetics. 2007 Jan;175(1):17-20. Epub 2006 Nov 16.) From abstract: “The objective of the course described here is to train undergraduate students to write a scientific manuscript. [Students are provided with data and background info, but not the actual publication.] The students are informed about the basic rules of writing the individual sections of a scientific paper. They are then asked to write and formally submit a manuscript summarizing the data.” Link (free full-text)Pubmed Link
 Grantwriting
Our posts about Grantwriting (this content is for this specific type of scientific writing – see these for other grantwriting resources) Link
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