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Global Health: Writing in the Sciences

Writing in the Sciences

In scientific writing, [the words used should be as clear, simple, and well-ordered as possible;] there is little need for ornamentation. Flowery literary embellishments—metaphors, similes, idiomatic expressions—are very likely to cause confusion and should seldom be used in research papers. Science is simply too important to be communicated in anything other than words of certain meaning. And the meaning should be clear and certain not just to peers of the author, but also to students just embarking on their careers, to scientists reading outside their own narrow disciplines, and especially [emphasis in the original] to those readers (most readers today) whose native language is other than English. Many kinds of writing are designed for entertainment. Scientific writing has a different purpose: to communicate new scientific findings. Scientific writing should be as clear and simple as possible.

-- Gastel and Day, How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper, 8th Edition, 2016, p. 4

Guides for the Culminating Experience, Thesis & Dissertation

1. The Office of Academic Affairs & Student Services at UTHealth School of Public Health provides guides and templates to help facilitate student research

PDF versions of each guide and MS Word documents for each template are included below:

2. Need help working with the MS Word templates? These freely available resources can assist you in learning how to use MS Office software, as well as other IT concepts and applications.

3. The Penn State Graduate Writing Center has also developed several resources related to writing conference, dissertation, and thesis proposals.

PDF and PPT versions of relevant workshops are included below:

Resources for Theses & Dissertations

1. The UTHealth School of Public Health Library has bound copies of all dissertations and theses (through 2014), as well as digital copies of dissertations (since 1973) and theses (since 2008). These resources are excellent references when thinking about, and working on, your own thesis or dissertation.  

To search for dissertations and theses, visit the UTSPH Theses & Dissertations (sign-in required using your UTHealth credentials) database on ProQuest.

2. For guidance on writing dissertation and grant proposals in public health, check out the online book, Writing Dissertation and Grant Proposals: Epidemiology, Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics, which is available at each library that belongs to the Texas Health Science Libraries Consortium.

3. For general guidance on writing dissertations and theses, review the following handouts:

Seminars & Workshops

The Office of Academic Affairs & Student Services at UTHealth School of Public Health hosts the following seminars to help facilitate student research.

1. IRB Basics Seminar: This seminar will help to demystify the process for obtaining IRB approval on your written culminating experience, thesis, or dissertation project. 

2. Research Proposal Development Seminar: This seminar will help you identify a research project, assemble your research committee, and prepare your research proposal.

Scientific Writing

These resources are designed to help you improve your scientific writing skills.

1. General resources on graduate writing:

2. Lectures on scientific writing:

3. Resources on scientific writing:

4. "Resources for Proposal Writers" (e.g., "Writing Winning Proposals: The Heilmeier Catechism") and "Resources for Technical Writers and Students" (e.g., "Revising Technical Manuscripts to Improve Coherence, Clarity & Conciseness") are provided by Celia M. Elliot, a science writer/technical editor in the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Reading a Scientific Article

Building an Evidence Table

An important step in writing a research paper is showing the strength and quality of the evidence you have chosen, which is best done in an evidence table. Knowing how to build an evidence table is thus a critical step of the research process, whether or not one is required. Evidence tables differ in size and content based on subject, but these resources provide a great starting point for building your own.

American Medical Writers Association (AMWA)

The American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) is "the leading professional organization for writers, editors, and other communicators of medical information." AMWA provides educational and professional resources designed to promote excellence in medical communication.

Plain Language: Getting Started or Brushing Up

This NIH resource consists of five sections and a checklist. Each section provides several cards with information about using plain language in your work.

Science Writing

Not to be confused with scientific writing -- which is technical writing about science for scientists or other specialists -- science writing is popular writing about science for general readers. Science writers play a critical role by "translating" scientific expertise for non-scientists and non-specialists, that is, by contextualizing, interpreting, and explaining science to inform the lay public.

The following Web sites focus on science writing, and those related to awards occasionally provide article samples: