Scientific Writing


Prepared by:  Dan Masiga and Nicki Tiffin
Module Name: Scientific Writing
Contact hours (to be used as a guide)Total (15 hrs), Theory (20%), Practical (80%)


On completion of this module, students should be able to

1. Create a document template for thesis write up
2. Use a reference manager to upload a citation into the library, cite a reference in the text, and create a bibliography
3. Follow a practical framework for turning a thesis into a manuscript for publication


H3ABioNet bioinformatics modules as pre-requisites: None required
Additional: None required


Resources developed by Nicki Tiffin:

Converting your thesis to a paper

A)    Theory lectures

1. Preparation for your thesis write-up (2 hours)

1.1  Creating your thesis document at the beginning of the research degree (1 hour)

  • How to use Styles and the Navigation/Document map pane to create the thesis document
  • How to use the structured thesis outline to avoid linear writing – make notes in all sections and subsections; add results, comments references along the way; use an unstructured, lateral approach so that most of the content is already added in note form and referenced in each section before “writing” officially begins
  • Automatic table of contents creation
  • Curating, commenting code and creating pseudocode and documentation for the write-up
  • What goes in Acknowledgments, Title pages, Appendices etc
  • How to write the introduction – see Resource, attached tutorial.

1.2. Using a reference manager from the beginning of your research degree (1 hour)

  • Selected reference manager overview and demo (suggested manager: Zotero)
  • Brief review of other referencing software (e.g. Mendeley)
  • Systematic storage of pdfs and downloaded papers
  • Making notes in your write up document and adding a reference, as you read each paper.

B)    Practical component

 1.1 How to turn your thesis into a paper (5 hours contact time; 5-10 hours take home work) 

This is best presented as a workshop at the end of the degree programme and once the theses have been submitted. Each participant can bring their own thesis to the workshop. This can be presented as a one-hour-a-day workshop, where each step from the provided outline is demonstrated at the session and then the students spend time between sessions implementing that step for their own work.

Resource: Tutorial outline – Converting your thesis to a paper


Proposed assessment activities (up to the trainer to decide whether to assess this module):

“How to write your thesis”

–       Submit a document outline with styles, headings, and one paragraph in the introduction with three references added using a reference manager programme, such as Zotero

“How to convert your thesis to a paper”

–        Students could turn in their final document for a mark – this could be the completed document, for one figure, or for all their figures for their paper, as the trainer sees fit.

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