Communicating Science


Writing, Publishing, and Communicating Peer-Reviewed Papers in Biological Sciences (BSC 6936; 3 credits)

Why Academics Stink at Writing – Steven Pinker  


Term: Spring 2019

Location: MMC, AHC1-416

Date/Time: Fridays 12:00PM-2:00PM

Instructor: Dr. John Kominoski; OE 207; 305.348.7117;


Class Schedule

Jan. 18: LECTURE: Writing Overview: Essential Components of Scientific Manuscripts

LECTURE: Science Writing as Storytelling/Structure/OCAR

25: LECTURE: The Opening: Is Anybody Listening?

LAB: Title/Abstract/Introduction

Feb. 1: LECTURE: The Challenge: Develop Important, Testable Questions

LAB: Questions that Advance Science

8: LECTURE: The Action: When, Where, Why, What, How

LAB: Methods and Results

15: LECTURE: The Resolution: Take us home

LAB: Revised Results

22: LECTURE: Writing from the Inside Out: Where and How to Begin

LAB: Discussion and Conclusion

Mar. 1: LECTURE: Acknowledgements, Literature Cited, Tables and Figures

LAB: Manuscript – writing group feedback

8: LECTURE: Authorship and Ethics

LAB: Manuscript – writing group feedback

15: Spring Break – No Class

22: LECTURE: Journal Instruction for Authors, Cover Letters, Choosing Reviewers

LAB: Manuscript – writing group feedback

29: LECTURE: The Review Process

LAB: Manuscript –writing group feedback

April 5: LECTURE: Service: Providing Excellent Peer Reviewer

LAB: Manuscript – First Draft Due

12: LECTURE: Responding to Reviews

LAB: Peer reviews returned, discussed

19: LECTURE: Science Communication: Beyond the Publication

LAB: Example outreach communication pieces

26: Revised Manuscripts Due/ Course Evaluations


Required Textbook

Schimel, Joshua. 2012. Writing Science – How to write papers that get cited and proposals that get funded. Oxford University Press, New York. ISBN: 978-0-19-976024-4


  • Manuscript First submission: 30%
  • Manuscript Final submission: 15%
  • Manuscript Peer Review: 30%
  • Class Participation/Attendance: 25%

Publication Status & Grade

  • Accept as is: 100
  • Accept with minor revisions: 95
  • Accept with moderate revisions: 85
  • Reconsider after major revision: 75
  • Reject: ≤65


Expectations & Participation. 

Students will (1) participate in weekly lectures, labs, and discussions, (2) participate in giving and receiving weekly feedback with peer writing partner, (3) present manuscript sections and draft manuscripts during two labs based, (4) write a manuscript draft and revised manuscript of original, completed thesis or dissertation research, and (5) provide a journal-style peer review of another student’s draft manuscript. Weekly activities will include (i) preparing and circulating manuscript sections and draft manuscripts by the class period prior to the class period where materials will be presented, (ii) integrating feedback from class into revised manuscripts, (iii) and communicating their updated results and interpretations throughout the writing and revisioning process. Students will be graded on their attendance (all absences must be excused), participation, facilitation of discussion and the clarity, content and conciseness of all written work.

Student Outcomes. 

After completing this course, students will be able to (i) understand how to structure a scientific paper as a story containing essential elements of effective writing, (ii) identify the fundamental components of scientific papers and how to structure their own scientific paper based on the target journal of their choice, (iii) provide effective peer review as a professional service to their scientific community, (iv) write a cover letter to the editor(s) of peer-reviewed journals to solicit their consideration of review of their manuscripts as well as write a response cover letter to address peer-review feedback on resubmitted manuscripts to a journal.

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