Writing in the Sciences and Engineering

Graduate Student Resource Center

Writing for the Sciences Workshop Videos

Writing for the Sciences Workshops: Recorded GWC workshops focusing on writing in the sciences and engineering, such as dissertation proposals, journal articles, and article-based dissertations.

Comprehensive or General Websites

Writing Guidelines for Engineering and Science Students: This Penn State website offers suggestions for writing presentations, correspondence, lab reports, grant proposals, articles, and theses/dissertations in the sciences and engineering.

Writing in the Sciences: This course, provided by Stanford University, is free to audit through Coursera. It addresses general writing strategies as well as best practices for writing a scientific manuscript.

Writing in Science: This Colorado State University website describes the various sections of scientific papers in some detail, with a focus on the “scientific voice” and examples of successful scientific writing.

Genres of Scientific Writing

Theses and Dissertations

Theses and Dissertations: This page from the Virginia Tech writing website offers a variety of “how-to” guides and templates for formatting and organizing a dissertation or thesis in the sciences.

Policies and procedures for UCLA thesis and dissertation preparation and filing: This PDF file contains all the official details about preparation and submission of a thesis or dissertation so that it will be accepted by the UCLA Library and Graduate Division. A necessary document, so read it carefully! You should also consider attending a presentation at the library early in the quarter you plan on filing, which presents much of the information in the PDF. Meeting schedule.

Dissertations: This page, from the UNC Chapel Hill Writing Center, offers suggestions for managing and successfully completing the dissertation process. It focuses more on lifestyle and psychological issues than writing tips, but these may be more of a challenge for dissertation writers than the research and writing themselves!

Lovitts, B. E., & Wert, E. L. (2008). Developing quality dissertations in the sciences: A graduate student’s guide to achieving excellence. Stylus Publishing. A concise booklet designed to define and explain expectations for dissertations in the sciences.

Journal Articles

Getting Published and Increasing Your Visibility: From “Making the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs and New Faculty” (by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Burroughs Wellcome Fund), this chapter focuses on publishing academic articles in the sciences, with a particular focus on the biomedical sciences.

How to Write a Paper in Scientific Journal Style and Format: While this site is primarily targeted towards undergraduate writers first learning the scientific writing style, it contains useful basic information about how to construct a scientific article. Developed by Greg Anderson of Bates College, it utilizes many examples to compare more and less effective ways of writing each section of the paper.

Writing and Publishing a Scientific Paper: Written by Joe Wolfe, Professor of Physics at the University of New South Wales, this webpage provides valuable advice on how to write a scientific article and get it published.

Writing and Editing for Biomedical Publications: These extensive guidelines from the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors are targeted towards biomedical journals, but they contain useful information for scientific writers in other fields. The site’s particular focus on the ethics of publication makes it a valuable resource for all writers.

Writing in the Sciences: This website from the WAC Clearinghouse gives an overview of writing a scientific paper for publication.

Posters and Presentations

Rethinking the Design of Presentation Slides: In this PowerPoint presentation, Michael Alley (Penn State College of Engineering) offers suggestions for improving the impact and comprehension of scientific results presented through PowerPoint slides.

Presentation Tips: This website, by Garr Reynolds of Kansai Gaidai University’s Department of Marketing, provides tips on professional presentation, including numerous suggestions for content, slide design, and presentation style. You can also check out his blog at Presentation Zen.

Design of Scientific Posters: This page contains specific stylistic suggestions for effective poster design, as well as numerous examples of well-designed posters and downloadable PowerPoint templates for posters of various sizes.

Creating Effective Poster Presentations: This site focuses on how to design scientific posters so that they deliver the greatest impact, with specific recommendations for layout, text, images, color, etc.

Guidelines for Giving a Poster Presentation: This page, written for the American Society of Primatologists, includes suggestions for poster design but also poster presentation – how to effectively discuss your poster at a professional conference.

Grant and Fellowship Proposals

Getting Funded: From “Making the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs and New Faculty” (by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Burroughs Wellcome Fund), this chapter focuses on grant writing and offers valuable suggestions for applying for major NIH and NSF grants. The same principles apply to graduate funding opportunities from those agencies.

US National Science Foundation Guide for Proposal Writing: Helpful suggestions from the NSF for writing proposals to their grant and fellowship programs. Keep in mind that this file dates from 2004, so it should supplement the current funding cycle’s program-specific materials for NSF applicants.

Advice on Writing Proposals to the National Science Foundation: Written by Susan Finger, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, this page offers concrete suggestions for those submitting grant proposals to NSF.

U.S. National Institutes of Health Grant Writing Tutorials: The NIH is the primary funding agency for biomedical research in the US. These pages include links to various helpful NIH publications and websites dedicated to preparing successful applications to various Institutes within the NIH.

Grant Proposals (Or Give Me the Money!): From the UNC Chapel Hill Writing Center, this handout describes the grant writing process and provides specific suggestions to improving the argument in your proposal, as well as useful examples for how to present budgets and timelines.

Lab Reports

LabWrite: This site, devoted to writing better lab reports, contains separate sections for students, lab instructors, and faculty, and offers downloadable, printable template forms and online interactive resources for improving lab reports. This site is especially useful for TAs teaching in lab courses.

Writing in Specific Scientific Fields

Biological Sciences

Review Paper for the Biological Sciences: This online guide, from Colorado State University, focuses on the parameters and challenges of writing a review paper in the biological sciences.

Engineering Sciences

Engineers on Writing: This site, from Colorado State University, includes videos of professors, academic researchers, and corporate engineers talking about how they use writing in their professional activities, with specific suggestions for writing in engineering.

Writing in Engineering: This site, from Colorado State University, contains more general guidelines for engineering writing, including field-specific suggestions for civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering.

On-Line Handbook: This guide, from the University of Toronto’s Engineering Communication Centre, focuses on report and article writing for engineers, in addition to techniques for oral presentation of engineering results.

Writing Technical Articles: This page from Columbia University offers suggestions for article writing and links to helpful writing resources.

Writing Engineering Reports: This set of online resources from Purdue's Online Writing Lab focuses on a set of civil engineering reports and uses them as the basis for numerous suggestions related to writing technical reports for engineers in industry.

IEEE Style Guide: This standard style guide (updated in 2016) is used by most engineering journals and is a necessary reference for those publishing in engineering.

English Solutions to Engineering Research Writing [PDF]: This free ebook, by Adam Turner at Hanyang University in Korea, is jam-packed with writing tips for not just engineers but grad students in all disciplines. Turner has chapters on formal email, how Google and Adobe Acrobat Reader can help you locate discipline-specific grammar and word choice, sentence structure basics, paragraph structure, and the structure and grammar of an (engineering) research article.

Health Sciences

Writing in the Health Sciences: This set of resources from the University of North Carolina contains resources related to copyright, references, and organization, as well as links to additional resources.

Handbook of Biomedical Research Writing: Written for Korean biomedical scientists writing in English, this handbook, by Jocelyn Graf, covers the different parts of a journal article (and grammatical problems common to each part), as well as clinical case reports, correspondence with journal editors, and responses to reviewers.

Writing Statistical Results

UCLA Statistical Consulting: UCLA Statistical Consulting offers a variety of services, including seminars and workshops on various statistical computing topics and walk-in statistics help.

Plagiarism in Scientific Writing

Paraphrasing, Plagiarism, and Misrepresentation in Scientific Writing: Written by Mark Eberle of the Department of Biological Sciences at Fort Hays State University, this paper discusses the continuum from plagiarism to misrepresentation and gives useful examples of correct paraphrasing that avoid both extremes.

Scientific Reference Materials

The New Oxford Dictionary for Scientific Writers and Editors: This searchable reference dictionary for scientists gives special attention to commonly accepted spellings, punctuation, and abbreviation of key scientific terms, and includes vocabulary not present in conventional dictionaries.

To report a broken link, please email us at gwc@gsa.asucla.ucla.edu.