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Scientific Publications Office »  Scientific Writing Course

Scientific Writing Course

The Department of Surgery's Scientific Writing Course is offered annually (January-March) and is intended for faculty and trainees who wish to learn specific ways to marshal the details of a biomedical research paper or grant proposal into a clear, concise, and comprehensible story that will be understandable to an interdisciplinary readership (papers) or meet the agency's review criteria (proposals).


By carefully deconstructing published examples and their own writing, participants will learn how precise word choice can eliminate jargon and ambiguities, how simple, direct sentences can describe complex science, and how organizing and developing ideas into paragraph form makes scientific writing logical and persuasive. Participants will also learn that although they may think they have described a concept, experiment, or result in an early draft, careful reading will typically reveal information gaps, unrecognized assumptions, and faulty reasoning. All of these problems can be fixed if the writer learns how to spot them, and how to revise them.

Who May Take the Course?

Faculty and trainees in the Department of Surgery receive notice about the course via email announcements in November to enable them to plan for attendance over eight weeks in January-March. Priority for enrollment is given to members of the Department of Surgery, but openings are often available for others, including medical students doing research with faculty in the Department of Surgery.

Course Structure & Format

The course consists of eight 90-minute sessions and covers the following topics:

  • Writing Fundamentals (word choice, sentence structure, and paragraph structure, continuity)
  • Reports of Original Research (introduction, results, discussion, abstract & title)
  • Journal Submission, Peer Review & Authorship
  • Grant Proposals

Course Requirements

  • Rewriting examples of unclear writing, including your own (time needed for homework: about 1-1.5 h per class meeting). Feedback on writing exercises is provided by the instructor

Course Fee

There is no fee for members of the UCSF Department of Surgery. There is a recharge fee for participants from other UCSF Departments.

Course Application & Writing Sample

Please contact to the course instructor, Pamela Derish: [email protected] if you are interested in applying for the course. 

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