This course is designed to be an introduction to the types of writing engaged in by biologists. The students will learn by reading, discussion, writing, rewriting, presenting, and more discussion. Students must have prior or ongoing experience working in a biological research laboratory. This will provide each student with a specific research topic to focus on and access to a “working professional biologist” (the Principal Investigator of their research lab).
We will consider a variety of types of texts, with the goals of understanding how these texts are written and what their roles are in the broader scientific community. The two over-arching goals of this course are 1) to help students learn how to read, write, and present science research, and 2) to consider various purposes and processes required for communication in science. Students should understand that scientists must communicate in a variety of formats, that much of our writing is critically evaluated (by peer reviewers, grant study panels, students, and the general public), and there are accepted formats, conventions, and ethics involved in these processes.
Most in-class projects will be done in groups; out-of-class assignments will be done as individuals. The sequencing of discussion and assignments is designed to begin with the most specialized audiences and move gradually towards more mixed audiences and then finally to broaden our focus into the public domain.
This course is intended for juniors or seniors concentrating in any biological concentration (biology, CMB, EEB, neuroscience, microbiology, plant biology, general biology), or with an interest in biology. Non-science concentrators are welcome, as long as they have research experience in an appropriate lab setting.
Class time will be spent actively engaging in the processes scientists use to communicate: reading, writing, discussing, evaluating, critically reviewing, and analyzing.
There are two 1.5-hour class meetings per week. The entire course is taught by active participation of the students. Each unit that is covered includes a variety of types of activities and exercises. Many of the exercises are performed as small groups during class.