A student guide to proofreading and writing in science

Congratulations to Human Science professor Jason Tilan, who together with former GU colleagues J.P. Hyatt and Elisa Bienenstock, has just published an article based on their work on a core Integrated Writing course, Physiological Adaptations. Their essay appears in Advanced in Physiological Education. Check it out!

Here’s the abstract of the essay:

Scientific writing requires a distinct style and tone, whether the writing is intended for an undergraduate assignment or publication in a peer-reviewed journal. From the first to the final draft, scientific writing is an iterative process requiring practice, substantial feedback from peers and instructors, and comprehensive proofreading on the part of the writer. Teaching writing or proofreading is not common in university settings. Here, we present a collection of common undergraduate student writing mistakes and put forth suggestions for corrections as a first step toward proofreading and enhancing readability in subsequent draft versions. Additionally, we propose specific strategies pertaining to word choice, structure, and approach to make products more fluid and focused for an appropriate target audience.

Writing Program Reading Group Meeting

The Writing Program’s reading group will meet on Monday, January 23 from 2:00 – 3:00 pm in the Lannan Center (New North 408). All are welcome.

We’ll be discussing two texts: the Elon Statement on Writing Transfer and Heidi Estrem’s “Threshold Concepts and Student Learning Outcomes” (linked here, or available in Naming What We Know pages 89-104).

Please contact Dr. Karen L. Shaup (karen.shaup@georgetown.edu) if you have any questions.

Peer Review at Georgetown

In this video, created by our colleagues at CNDLS, Professor Matt Pavesich explains the role of review in writing instruction at Georgetown.

The Rhetoric of DC Flag Adaptations

Matt Pavesich alongside one adaptation of the DC flag.

Matt Pavesich poses alongside one adaptation of the DC flag. Photo by Chris Borales.

Congratulations to Matt Pavesich, Assistant Teaching Professor in the English Department and Associate Director of the Writing Program! On Sunday, John Kelly’s daily column for The Washington Post featured Matt’s research on rhetorical adaptations of the DC flag: The red stars and stripes of D.C.’s flag lend themselves to all sorts of creativity.

There are flags where the stars are transformed into baseballs, hearts or shamrocks. There are flags where the stars are replaced by the bold X’s of the hard-core movement, the symbol that was Magic Markered onto the hands of straight-edge punks. There are flags where the bars are rendered as waves or as chevrons.

“The thing that really gets me is the scale at which it’s happening and the materials and all the different subsystems,” Matt said.

After you read the article, be sure to check out Matt’s website for the project, at dcadapters.org.

Integrated Writing Online:
Tools for Faculty and Students

In envisioning different models for the future of the university, Randy Bass has suggested a “push/pull” model in which we not only “push” some learning experiences by incorporating them into courses but also “pull” students into experiences by making resources available for independent use. This model seems especially relevant to learning in areas like writing that cuts across disciplines. As Georgetown establishes the new Integrated Writing requirement, faculty will “push” writing in courses that emphasize disciplinary content and practices. Faculty need resources to support this work, including guidance on implementing best practices in the teaching of writing and materials to which they can direct students.

At the same time, students would benefit from independent support for some of the challenges of writing, like revision and editing, and for some specific writing genres, like proposals and scientific papers. The Georgetown University Writing Program will experiment with online modules to address these needs, creating four online resources:

  • A guide for faculty on incorporating online peer review in their courses, with examples and templates for use with recommended online tools
  • An online video tutorial on revising and editing
  • An online video tutorial on writing proposals, with options for specific guidance on writing business proposals and grant proposals
  • An interactive online tutorial on reading and writing scientific papers, with emphasis on the structure and style of academic writing in the sciences

Many faculty want to help their students develop as writers, but they lack expertise in writing pedagogy and don’t have time to invest in creating writing-specific resources. In discussions of the Integrated Writing requirement, faculty regularly note their frustration with students’ revising and editing abilities, and they have expressed concern about their preparation to help students with these aspects of writing. In addition, as they move through their Georgetown careers, and once they graduate, students and alumni often find themselves writing in genres whose conventions and forms are unfamiliar. Two of those genres, proposals and scientific reports, are central to multiple academic and professional fields, so a single tutorial could be useful to users in a wide range of situations, or tutorials could be adapted for use in specific courses or programs. Faculty could integrate these resources into courses, and they will be available via a new “writing portal” to any Georgetown student (or graduate) at any time.

Integrated Writing: Myths and Realities

Myth: Teaching writing takes time away from teaching content
Reality: You can teach writing by using course readings to examine how people in your field produce and share knowledge, make arguments, and use specialized language, formulas, or evidence

Myth: Teaching writing means assigning more papers
Reality: Teaching writing is about quality, not quantity; the focus is on preparing students to write better papers

Myth: Teaching writing means much more grading time
Reality: Providing clear assignments and guidance for writing can make grading more manageable, and students’ papers are likely to be better

Myth: Teaching writing means I have to assign long, formal papers
Reality: Teaching writing can involve short, low-stakes writing assignments, presentations, and multimedia projects

Myth: Teaching writing means I have to read and comment on everything my students write
Reality: You can help students learn about writing is by asking them to review and comment on each other’s work

Myth: Teaching writing means teaching editing and grammar
Reality: Teaching writing means letting students know when their form, style, or approach to argument doesn’t meet the expectations and standards of their audiences

Myth: Our students would write well if only they could get the grammar and mechanics right
Reality: Writers struggle to get the language right when they’re unsure about the content

Interview with Professor Jennifer Woolard

In a recent interview for the Georgetown Writing Program, Professor Jennifer Woolard sat down with us to discuss some of the recent writing integrations occurring within the Psychology Department.

Why Writing Matters

Entering college students already know that strong writing skills are needed for success in university-level courses, but it’s the job of the writing teacher to explain why these skills are important. These articles explain why writing proficiency matters in college and afterwards.

Writing Matters: Writing Well May Be the Key to Getting a Job or a Promotion

Individual Life is here for you; our most straightforward mission helps trainees get the best from their encounters at the college or university pay for homework answers It becomes an entertaining possibility for nominate your most enjoyable lecturer, tutor, supervisor, support people, counselor of studies, and so forth. If you feel part of team members went above and beyond to create your time at Glasgow marvelous, then what easier route to thank them rather than to nominate them to obtain a Student Showing Grant.

This article from UC Berkeley explains the importance of strong writing skills as graduates search for jobs and eventually seek out promotions.

Why Writing Matters

In this article from Scripps College, the author discusses the benefits of writing—both personal and professional.

The Importance of Good Writing

This blogger for Career Builder offers a black-and-white outline of why strong writing is an essential component in the job market.

Reasons Learning College Writing is Important

In this article, the blogger explains the importance of writing proficiency across the disciplines and how strong writing in one area will transfer to other fields, as well.