CHEM 17
Precision and Clarity! An Exploration of Scientific Writing Winter 2023

Class Details

Most scientific journals demand specific writing styles that include brevity, avoidance of duplication, proper grammar and clear, effective communication. Participants in this course will learn the elements of the scientific report (Title, Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results and Discussion) and understand that unique information is required for each section recognizing that information required for each section should not appear in the others. Participants will explore the “Question Driven Style” . This style of reporting emphasizes brevity, logical flow of questions and answers and discourages unnecessary repetition and lack of clear and specific presentation. The application of this style to basic research in all scientific disciplines will be illustrated. A major focus of this course will be group discussions of manuscripts submitted for publication as well as some notable classics. ( For example: Hill AB. The Environment and Disease: Association or Causation. Proc Royal Society Med 1965;58:295-300) The course instructor (Cornell) has collected a series of manuscripts submitted for publication with a wide range of writing quality. The discussions will be conducted in the style of a journal club. The class will meet for 2 hour sessions 3 times per week. Tuesday class will include a didactic presentation ( 60 minutes) followed by group discussion. Reading assignments will be made for the Wednesday and Thursday meetings. These sessions will be conducted in the manner of a journal club. The format for week 1 will be: Review of the journal club format. Question Driven Style: Special Emphasis on the Introduction, Rationale for a Study and Formulation of Study Aims/Questions. Week 2 will focus on the Methods Section. Week 3 will cover reporting of Results and the Discussion. Week 4 will explore internal and external validity and sources of bias in scientific reporting.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 12
Expected: NA
Class#: 1071
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: Short paper and final project or presentation. Participants will mediate a journal club discussion of an assigned manuscript. Participants will submit a written peer review of the assigned paper.
Prerequisites: The course will be open to all science majors, and not restricted to Chemistry majors.
Enrollment Preferences: Junior level students majoring in the natural sciences and psychology will be the target audience.
Unit Notes: Dr. Cornell('76) is Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Weill Cornell College of Medicine. He is Editor-In-Chief of the HSS Journal and Senior Associate Editor of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery and Clinical Orthopedics and Related Research
Attributes: EXPE Experiential Education Courses
STUX Winter Study Student Exploration

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