Writing in Biology

Michael Dillon
Zoology and Physiology
Program in Ecology
University of Wyoming

Writing in Biology (ZOO/BOT 4100)

This course aims to refine your technical writing skills, both for scientific (papers, technical reports, reviews, popular science) and business-related products (C.V., resume, cover letter), by combining lectures with group and independent work and lots of practice. The first 8 weeks of the course (lecture) will will be taught by me. You will work closely with your discussion section instructor for the remainder of the course.

Spring 2012 Syllabus

Discussion Contract (due Feb. 8, 2012)

Week 1 (11 January)

Introduction to the course and to formal writing, goals and philosophy of the class.

Lecture 1: Introduction

Lecture 2: Empty Nouns and Dead Verbs

Empty Nouns and Dead Verbs list

Exercise 1: Verbs, nouns, and sentences

Homework: 1) 2 page essay on "My evolving interest in Biology". (Double-spaced, 12pt Times, 1 in margins). Due next week; 2) Read Hacker sections 1-15 and SW Ch. 1 and 2 for next week 3) Re-read Lecture 2 (link above)

Week 2 (18 January)

Writing concisely, word choice, active vs. passive voice

Lecture 3: Words and Sentences

Exercise 2: Words

Exercise 3: Sentences

Homework: 1) Revise "My evolving interest" essay based on readings and exercises we've already covered in class. Email me two things before class next week: a) Original essay from week 1, marked up with "track changes", and b) "Clean" edited version; 2) Read Hacker 17-24, SW Ch. 5; 3) Re-read Lecture 3 (link above).

Week 3 (25 January)

Punctuation and putting it all together.

Lecture 4: Punctuation

Exercise 4: Punctuation

Homework: 1) Revise your essay taking into account peer comments. Email me the final version ("lastname-final.doc") AND bring a printed copy to class next week (you will be graded on this).

Week 4 (1 February)

Sentences and parallelism

Lecture 5: Sentences

Exercise 5: Sentences

Exercise 6: Revising

Homework: 1) Exercise 6 due in class next week, 2) BEFORE class next week, read the paper I emailed to you, 3) Bring your signed contract next week.

Week 5 (8 February)

Quiz 1 in class and scientific writing. In class group exercise in decostructing a scientific paper.

Lecture 6: Scientific Writing

Week 6 (15 February)

Figure legends and writing cover letters and resumes

Lecture 7: Figure Legends

Lecture 8: Cover letters and resumes

Exercise 7: Writing figure legends (in class)

Homework: Write a cover letter and resume applying for your dream job. Make up the job description and address your materials to me -- your potential future boss. Bring hard copies of both to class next week.

Resources

University of Wyoming Writing Center

Council of Science Editors (Home page -- see Reference link for more resources)

Some sites for job application materials: Sample resumes and templates, more resume templates

Last modified: Thu Feb 16 12:13:04 MST 2012