The Craft of Scientific Writing:
A Workshop on Documenting Research

Michael Alley
Penn State
Phone: (814)867-0251

Described here is a workshop that is designed to help you (the engineer, scientist, or technical professional) document your research. The workshop has three goals: (1) to teach you the major differences between strong and weak research writing; (2) to make the process of writing research documents more efficient for you; and (3) to give you feedback on a research document that you are writing. The workshop consists of lectures, discussions, exercises, and critique sessions.

Course Schedule

The following schedule presents the topics, exercises, and readings for the workshop on scientific writing. The readings are from The Craft of Scientific Writing.

Topic Exercise Corresponding Reading
Pre-Workshop Assignment Draft of title and abstract from a research document you are writing pp. 16-27
Formal Class Portion:
Avoiding Errors of Structure
Avoiding Errors of Language
Avoiding Errors of Illustration
Exercise on Style
Exercise on Writing Headings
Exercise on Designing Illustrations
Exercise on Avoiding Ambiguity
Exercise on Grammar, Punctuation, and Usage
Chapters 1-3, 5-6, 9-11
Roundtable critique Session Short excerpt from a research document you are writing Excerpts from other participants in that critique session

Recommended Texts and Web Resources

Alley, Michael, The Craft of Scientific Writing, 3rd edition (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1996), 282 pages.

Writing Guidelines for Engineering and Science Students, ed. by M. Alley, L. Crowley, J. Donnell, and C. Moore (State College, PA: Penn State, 2006).

Last updated 09/2006