Writing/Speaking in the Physical & Life Sciences

Thesis Writing in the Physical & Life Sciences

This workshop will give an overview of thesis writing in the physical and life sciences. Thesis writing is a unprecedented challenge in the life of a graduate student; the task of writing a full-length work based on one’s own research requires new and different skills. In this workshop, we will discuss the elements of a thesis, highlighting the specific challenges associated with each. We will also discuss approaches to productivity that can help during the thesis writing process.

Effective Use of Scientific Illustrations, Graphs, & Tables

It is said that “a picture is worth a thousand words”. This is nowhere more true than in the realm of scientific research, where clear graphics are needed to summarize complex data, communicate difficult concepts, and to enable you to use fewer words in your publications. With the help of good, bad and plain ugly examples from the literature, we will learn how to produce effective scientific illustrations and tables. We will also explore the essential process of coupling your illustrations to text. For this workshop, students are encouraged to bring along some of their real illustration problems for classroom discussion.

Maximizing Your Poster Presentations

In this workshop we will identify the goals and benefits of presenting ongoing research in poster form. We will identify strategies for effective poster design, learn to organize and write poster text, and learn how to use tables and other visuals to present results. This workshop will also provide strategies for effective oral presentation—organizing material to make the most effective use of limited presentation time, preparing physically for ‘the day’ and poster competition, speaking clearly and persuasively to an audience, and handling audience questions.

Writing Grant Proposals in the Sciences

This workshop is designed to help graduate students in the sciences write brief research proposals, such as those required for NSERC, OGS, and CIHR-type studentship applications. The tips and strategies that will be discussed are also useful for students interested in applying for postdoctoral fellowships and other research grant programs. As well, many of the basic concepts covered are applicable for dissertation proposals.

Editing Your Work Effectively

While everyone knows that they should leave time for editing, not everyone knows the best way to approach the task of editing. This workshop will offer concrete advice on improving the first draft of an academic paper. We will begin by discussing the need to clarify the different types of editing, before going on to some general strategies to improve the editing process.

Writing a Research Article: The Fundamentals

This workshop will explore fundamental strategies for writing research articles written in the IMRD format (Introduction – Methods – Results – Discussion). This course is designed to help graduate student writers engaged in experimental work by increasing their familiarity with the established forms of such articles. We will consider the objectives of the four sections, what “moves” are typically found in each and discuss how you can best reach your communicative goals.