Course Identification

Scientific writing - life sciences (PhD students)

Lecturers and Teaching Assistants

Dr. Mechael Kanovsky

Course Schedule and Location

Second Semester
Wednesday, 11:15 - 13:00, FGS, Rm A

Field of Study, Course Type and Credit Points

Life Sciences: Lecture; Elective; Regular; 1.00 points
Life Sciences (Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience Track): Lecture; Elective; For PhD students only; 1.00 points
Life Sciences (Brain Sciences: Systems, Computational and Cognitive Neuroscience Track): Lecture; Elective; For PhD students only; 1.00 points
Life Sciences (Computational and Systems Biology Track): Lecture; Elective; For PhD students only; 1.00 points


Will be taught via Zoom starting April 19th.
This course is blocked for students who took the course during their master studies.




For PhD students only

Language of Instruction


Attendance and participation

Required in at least 80% of the lectures

Grade Type

Pass / Fail

Grade Breakdown (in %)


Evaluation Type

Final assignment

Scheduled date 1


Estimated Weekly Independent Workload (in hours)



The Scientific Writing Course for MSc and PhD students in the Life Sciences provides the tools necessary for writing coherent, well-organized research papers, posters, presentations and other documents. The main emphasis is on understanding the organization of a standard paper, and the rationale behind this organization. During the course, we analyze each of the various parts of a paper (Abstract, Introduction, Materials & Methods, Figures & Tables, Results, and Discussion) by describing their ideal organization, and by looking at literature examples -both good and bad- and at "mistakes" taken from writing assignments from previous courses that I have taught. In addition, several lectures are devoted to other types of scientific writing. While this is not an English course per se, I also review some English grammar. Lectures include the guided reading of specific examples, and each student will be required to complete six short writing assignments.  

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. Explain the organization of a thesis/ paper/ research proposal, and the rationale behind these conventions
  2. Practice writing the various sections of a research paper
  3. Recall common mistakes and how to avoid them
  4. Use techniques for effective scientific writing (papers, posters, presentations, thesis, CV etc.)
  5. Engage in scientific communication with confidence

Reading List

  1. "How to write and publish a scientific paper" by R. A. Day
  2. "Scientific English" by R. A. Day
  3. articles provided by the lecturer. 

Items 1 & 2 are on reserve at the Life Science Library