1887

Scientific Writing Workshop Improves Confidence in Critical Writing Skills among Trainees in the Biomedical Sciences

    Authors: Emily Wortman-Wunder1, Inge Wefes2,*
    VIEW AFFILIATIONS HIDE AFFILIATIONS
    Affiliations: 1: Department of English, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO 80217-3364; 2: University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO 80045
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Received 29 May 2019 Accepted 30 October 2019 Published 28 February 2020
    • ©2020 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology
    • [open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode), which grants the public the nonexclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the published work.

    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: University of Colorado Denver|Anschutz Medical Campus, Mail stop C296, 13001 E. 17th Ave., Rm. W5116, Aurora, CO 80045. Phone: 303-315-2719. E-mail: [email protected].
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. February 2020 vol. 21 no. 1 doi:10.1128/jmbe.v21i1.1843
MyBook is a cheap paperback edition of the original book and will be sold at uniform, low price.
  • PDF
    321.90 Kb
  • XML
    77.76 Kb
  • HTML
    68.16 Kb

    Abstract:

    Written communication is a key research skill, yet the current model of pre- and postdoctoral training in the biomedical sciences lacks consistent formal training in this area, leading to crises of confidence when tackling research writing. A 15-hour non-credit workshop, “Secrets of Successful Scientific Writing,” was developed in collaboration with an experienced instructor of scientific writing. The workshop consisted of six 2.5-hour sessions and was offered six times; a total of 126 trainees attended over these six offerings. Topics included strategies to engage the audience, principles of psychological linguistics to maximize sentence effectiveness, conventions of biomedical journal writing, technical writing and the history of scientific publishing, and two sessions on grant writing. Student confidence in and familiarity with targeted writing skills were assessed by self-evaluation questions administered immediately before and after each session. The workshop was determined to be effective at improving the confidence of participants regarding specific writing skills in the biomedical sciences, with all but two of the measures showing that the workshop had a large effect size. We conclude that a short, structured workshop can help improve the confidence and knowledge of pre- and postdoctoral writers, preparing them to better meet the writing challenges of their professional careers.

References & Citations

1. McGrail MR, Rickard CM, Jones R 2006 Publish or perish: a systematic review of interventions to increase academic publication rates Higher Educ Res Dev 25 19 35 10.1080/07294360500453053 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07294360500453053
2. DeLyser D 2003 Teaching graduate students to write: a seminar for thesis and dissertation writers J Geog Higher Educ 27 169 181 10.1080/03098260305676 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03098260305676
3. Shah J, Shah A, Pietrobon R 2009 Scientific writing of novice researchers: what difficulties and encouragements do they encounter? Acad Med 84 511 516 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31819a8c3c 19318791 6035752 http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0b013e31819a8c3c
4. Catterall J, Ross P, Aitchison C, Burgin S 2011 Pedagogical approaches that facilitate writing in postgraduate research candidature in science and technology J Univ Teach Learn Pract 8 2 Article 7
5. Cameron C, Deming SP, Notzon B, Cantor SB, Broglio KR, Pagel W 2009 Scientific writing training for academic physicians of diverse language backgrounds Acad Med 84 505 510 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31819a7e6d 19318790 http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0b013e31819a7e6d
6. Cameron C, Collie CL, Baldwin CD, Bartholomew LK, Palmer JL, Greer M, Chang S 2013 The development of scientific communication skills: a qualitative study of the perceptions of trainees and their mentors Acad Med 88 1499 1506 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182a34f36 23969363 3809893 http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/ACM.0b013e3182a34f36
7. Cable CT, Boyer D, Colbert CY, Boyer EW 2013 The writing retreat: a high-yield clinical faculty development opportunity in academic writing J Grad Med Educ 5 2 299 302 10.4300/JGME-D-12-00159.1 3693698 http://dx.doi.org/10.4300/JGME-D-12-00159.1
8. NACE 2016 Job Outlook 2016: The attributes employers want to see on new college graduates’ resumes National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) http://www.naceweb.org/career-development/trends-and-predictions/job-outlook-2016-attributes-employers-want-to-see-on-new-college-graduates-resumes/ Accessed 27 Sept 2018
9. Mason JL, Johnston E, Berndt S, Segal K, Lei M, Wiest JS 2016 Labor and skills gap analysis of the biomedical research workforce FASEB J 10.1096/fj.201500067R 27075242 4970602 http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.201500067R
10. Bandura A 1997 Self-efficacy: the exercise of control Freeman New York, NY
11. Huerta M, Goodson P, Beigi M, Chlup D 2017 Graduate students as academic writers: writing anxiety, self-efficacy and emotional intelligence Higher Educ Res Dev 36 4 716 729 10.1080/07294360.2016.1238881 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2016.1238881
12. Carter M 2007 Ways of knowing, doing, and writing in the disciplines College Comp Comm 58 385 418
13. Parker R 2009 A learning community approach to doctoral education in the social sciences Teach Higher Educ 14 43 54 10.1080/13562510802602533 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13562510802602533
14. Belcher WL 2009 Reflections on ten years of teaching writing for publication to graduate students and junior faculty J Scholar Publish 40 184 200 10.3138/jsp.40.2.184 http://dx.doi.org/10.3138/jsp.40.2.184
15. Watts SW, Chatterjee D, Rojewski JW, Shoshkes Reiss C, Baas T, Gould KL, Brown AM, Chalkley R, Brandt P, Wefes I, Hyman L, Ford JK 2019 Faculty perceptions and knowledge of career development of trainees in biomedical science: what do we (think we) know? PLOS One 14 1 e0210189 10.1371/journal.pone.0210189 30699144 6353103 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0210189
16. Gardner SA, Salto LM, Riggs ML, Casiano CA, De Leon M 2018 Supporting the writing productivity of biomedical graduate students: an integrated, structured writing intervention CBE Life Sci Educ 17 ar45 10.1187/cbe.16-12-0350 30142043 6234805 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.16-12-0350
17. Meyers FJ, Mathur A, Fuhrmann CN, O’Brien TC, Wefes I, Labosky PA, Duncan DS, August A, Feig A, Gould KL, Friedlander MJ, Schaffer CB, Van Wart A, Chalkley R 2016 The origin and implementation of the broadening experiences in scientific training programs: an NIH common fund initiative FASEB J 30 507 514 10.1096/fj.15-276139 http://dx.doi.org/10.1096/fj.15-276139
18. NIH NIH announces awards to strengthen the biomedical research workforce NIH News Releases Sept 23 2013 https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-announces-awards-strengthen-biomedical-research-workforce Accessed 26 June 2017
19. Schimel J 2012 Writing science: how to write papers that get cited and proposals that get funded Oxford University Press New York, NY
20. Heath C, Heath D 2008 Made to stick: why some ideas survive and others die Random House New York
21. Pinker S 2014 The sense of style: the thinking person’s guide to writing in the 21st century Viking New York, NY
22. Gopen GD, Swan JA 1990 The science of scientific writing Am Sci 78 550 558
23. NIH Grants & funding: write your application January 18 2016 https://grants.nih.gov/grants/how-to-apply-application-guide/format-and-write/write-your-application.htm Accessed 24 May 2019
24. Cohen J 1977 Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences Academic Press New York, NY
25. Onwuegbuzi AJ 1997 Writing a research proposal: the role of library anxiety, statistics anxiety, and composition anxiety Library Inform Sci Res 19 5 33 10.1016/S0740-8188 97 90003 7 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0740-8188
26. Pajares F 2003 Self-efficacy beliefs, motivation, and achievement in writing: a review of the literature Read Writing Q Overcoming Learn Difficult 19 139 158 10.1080/10573560308222 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10573560308222
27. Prat-Sala M, Redford P 2012 Writing essays: does self-efficacy matter? The relationship between self-efficacy in reading and in writing and undergraduate students’ performance in essay writing Educ Psychol 31 9 20 10.1080/01443410.2011.621411 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01443410.2011.621411
28. Russell-Pinson L, Harris ML 2019 Anguish and anxiety, stress and strain: attending to writers’ stress in the dissertation process J Second Lang Writing 43 63 71 10.1016/j.jslw.2017.11.005 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2017.11.005
29. Lam CKC, Hoang CH, Lau RWK, de Caux BC, Chen Y, Tan QC, Pretorius L 2019 Experiential learning in doctoral training programmes: fostering personal epistemology through collaboration Studies Cont Educ 41 111 128 10.1080/0158037X.2018.1482863 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0158037X.2018.1482863
30. Karathanos-Aguilar K, Sidman-Taveau R 2016 Academic writing development and self-efficacy: a model for linguistically diverse pre-service teachers Iss Teach Educ 25 133
31. Mitchell KM, McMillan DE 2018 A curriculum-wide assessment of writing self-efficacy in a baccalaureate nursing program Nurse Educ Today 70 20 27 10.1016/j.nedt.2018.08.003 30125867 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2018.08.003
32. Derouin AL, Hueckel RM, Turner KM, Hawks SJ, Leonardelli AK, Oermann MH 2015 Use of workshops to develop nurses’ and nursing students’ writing skills J Cont Educ Nursing 46 364 369 10.3928/00220124-20150721-03 http://dx.doi.org/10.3928/00220124-20150721-03
33. Lonka K, Chow A, Keskinen J, Hakkarainen K, Sandström N, Pyhältö K 2014 How to measure PhD students’ conceptions of academic writing—and are they related to well-being? J Writing Res 5 3 245 269 10.17239/jowr-2014.05.03.1 http://dx.doi.org/10.17239/jowr-2014.05.03.1
34. Lonka K, Ketonen E, Vekkaila J, Cerrato Lara M, Pyhältö K 2019 Doctoral students’ writing profiles and their relations to well-being and perceptions of the academic environment Higher Educ 77 587 602 10.1007/s10734-018-0290-x http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10734-018-0290-x
35. Cerrato Lara M 2014 PhD thesis Writing conceptions and psychological well-being in Ph.D. studies: students’ perspectives Ramon Llull University Barcelona, Spain
36. Odena O, Burgess H 2017 How doctoral students and graduates describe facilitating experiences and strategies for their thesis writing learning process: a qualitative approach Studies Higher Educ 42 572 590 10.1080/03075079.2015.1063598 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2015.1063598
37. González-Ocampo G, Castelló M 2018 Writing in doctoral programs: examining supervisors’ perspectives Higher Educ 76 387 401 10.1007/s10734-017-0214-1 http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10734-017-0214-1
38. Thomas M, Williams A, Case J 2014 The graduate writing institute: overcoming risk, embracing strategies, and appreciating skills Learn Assist Rev 19 69
39. Cameron C, Lee HY, Anderson C, Byars-Winston A, Baldwin CD, Chang S 2015 The role of scientific communication skills in trainees’ intention to pursue biomedical research careers: a social cognitive analysis CBE Life Sci Educ 14 ar46 10.1187/cbe.14-09-0152 http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.14-09-0152

Supplemental Material

No supplementary material available for this content.

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v21i1.1843
2020-02-28
2020-04-10

Abstract:

Written communication is a key research skill, yet the current model of pre- and postdoctoral training in the biomedical sciences lacks consistent formal training in this area, leading to crises of confidence when tackling research writing. A 15-hour non-credit workshop, “Secrets of Successful Scientific Writing,” was developed in collaboration with an experienced instructor of scientific writing. The workshop consisted of six 2.5-hour sessions and was offered six times; a total of 126 trainees attended over these six offerings. Topics included strategies to engage the audience, principles of psychological linguistics to maximize sentence effectiveness, conventions of biomedical journal writing, technical writing and the history of scientific publishing, and two sessions on grant writing. Student confidence in and familiarity with targeted writing skills were assessed by self-evaluation questions administered immediately before and after each session. The workshop was determined to be effective at improving the confidence of participants regarding specific writing skills in the biomedical sciences, with all but two of the measures showing that the workshop had a large effect size. We conclude that a short, structured workshop can help improve the confidence and knowledge of pre- and postdoctoral writers, preparing them to better meet the writing challenges of their professional careers.

Highlighted Text: Show | Hide
Loading full text...

Full text loading...

/deliver/fulltext/jmbe/21/1/jmbe-21-5.html?itemId=/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v21i1.1843&mimeType=html&fmt=ahah

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Please check the format of the address you have entered.
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error