ASC grant write-up: MD Writing and Editing course

By Ravindra Palavalli-Nettimi, PhD student, Macquarie University, 2017 grant recipient.

One course, 6300 words, and 2 papers.

I was awarded one of the Australian Science Communicators professional development grants last year to take a scientific writing and editing course offered by Dr. Malini Devadas. I am happy to share with you that since I started the e-course, I have been able to revise a paper and submit it, and have written another paper to be submitted soon.

The course was unique and very handy for me at the right time of my PhD thesis writing. It was an eight-week course with short video tutorials and worksheets. It was not just about the actual writing, but also about navigating different stages of writing a paper. The course also gave me access to an exclusive Facebook group consisting of other students taking the course.

I found some of Malini’s tips very useful in the process of writing of papers—especially on planning, revising and copyediting. Here are a few things I learned in the course:

  1. Spend time thinking about what your main result is.
  2. Plan each paragraph. Write a sentence summarising each of them, and expand on it later.
  3. Do not edit while you are writing.
  4. Take a break from your paper for at least a week before you revise.
  5. Revise to make your sentences succinct and remove redundancy.
  6. Copyediting is often neglected (at least I did). But make sure you check punctuation, syntax, and use a consistent/appropriate style for the journal you are writing. For instance, some journals want x% as opposed to x %, or similarly, >x or > x—some details that often get overlooked.

You know the feeling when you realise you have learned to do something more clearly and better than before. I had that feeling about writing the papers. Thanks to the ASC and Malini for this opportunity and a learning experience.