What to Look for with Scientific Writing Courses

You may have already looked into scientific writing as a career option. If you have, you know there are three primary career paths: science journalism, science communication, and scientific research.

While you can go down a path of scientific writing on your own without any formal education, having training may be useful for getting your foot in the door. So what are your options for this? 

Here’s a brief introduction to some of the options available, including what you might expect if looking at higher education, and a few online learning options.

What to Look for in Learning Opportunities

When looking at learning opportunities, remember to keep a few key points in mind. Most important is that the course you are looking at is teaching you to become a more effective writer. This should include real examples with comparisons between effective and ineffective writing. 

Equally important is that the course teaches you to understand the research process better, how to interview people, present information, and publish your work. However, not all of these topics will be covered in a single course. If the course touches on some of these, but you still lack a comprehensive understanding, look for courses related to the specific area you want to learn more about. For example, if you were instructed to write a paper about the role of key ingredients in Terry Naturally or Klaire Labs products, but you didn’t know where to start, other classes in the field of nutrition may help to clear things up.

Degree Options

If you want a traditional education experience at a college or university, writing, research, and the scientific writing process will most likely be part of a broader degree program. If you are interested in the sciences, you may want to look into some of the following degree paths.

  • General biology.
  • Biochemistry.
  • Biophysics.
  • Cellular biology.
  • Ecology.
  • Genetics.
  • Marine and aquatic biology
  • Microbiology and immunology.
  • Zoology.

If you can’t decide on one path, talk with your guidance counselor or college recruiter and ask some of the following questions.

  • What classes will I take?
  • How is the program structured, and how long will it take to graduate?
  • Do I need to meet any admissions requirements?
  • What career opportunities will I have after graduation?
  • Is there overlap in classes between the fields, so if I switch majors I won’t be far behind?
  • Are there opportunities to learn from or shadow professionals in the field?
  • How much hands-on training will I receive?
  • Will I have writing, editing, and peer review opportunities?

If committing to enrollment at a college or university is too big of a step for you right now, you could take online courses to get an idea of whether or not you want to pursue things further.

Online Options

The below courses will give you access to higher education resources at an affordable rate while studying at home and on your schedule.

Writing in the Sciences by Stanford University

In this course, you will learn how to write efficiently, format and edit documents, conduct interviews, and use tables and graphics to lend a visual aid to your writing. This online course also makes it easy for students to create notes, control video playback, and provides practical examples of good writing. 

At the end of the course, you will receive a certificate. 

Science Writing I by UC San Diego

This course puts more of an emphasis on an introduction to most forms of science communication. This includes non-scientific audiences, including news, feature writing, university communications, public relations, and much more. You will also be introduced to several career options, interviewing, and making complex topics simple.

English for Research Publication Purposes by Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology 

In this course, you will learn academic literacy skills, writing and editing, persuasive grant proposal writing, and communicating information obtained from technical and experimental work. Upon completion, students should be able to demonstrate an ability to write research articles, grant proposals, and technical reports.