Graduate Scientific Writing Courses

Good communication skills are essential in today’s engineering world. Effective writing and the ability to get your point across orally can mean the difference between an average and an excellent thesis and often tip the balance in hiring choices. The Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering’s Graduate Scientific Writing Courses are designed to help students organize complex ideas into a coherent framework and express them using professional scientific language.

We offer two versions of an Introductory Course: an ESL (English as a Second Language) course, and an EFL (English as a First Language) course. The content is the same, but the material is delivered at a pace that is appropriate for each cohort. Upon completion of either of these courses, students may progress to the Advanced Course, also known as the “Thesis Course”.

COURSE DESCRIPTIONS:

Introductory Scientific Writing: ESL

This course focuses on developing a literature survey for the thesis or a research paper. Students will be guided through the process of writing, with an emphasis on the use of professional scientific language. They will also learn stylistic conventions that make it possible to achieve precision and conciseness.

Introductory Scientific Writing: EFL

The content of this course is the same as that of the ESL course, but it is delivered at a faster pace.

Advanced Scientific Writing

Also known as the “Thesis Course”, it is intended for students who have completed either Introductory course, providing them with the opportunity to work directly on passages from their own theses or research papers. Students will receive extensive feedback; the ultimate goal is to teach them how to edit their work by developing an appreciation of the structure of a scientific document.

The courses have the added benefit of being tailored towards students in one of three streams:

  • Chem Eng/IBBME/MSE
  • MIE/ECE/Civil/UTIAS students engaged in ‘hands-on research (those who build things)’
  • MIE/ECE/Civil/UTIAS students engaged in ‘IT/simulation research’

*Please note: students are encouraged to enrol in the appropriate class. Nevertheless, if necessary, students may enrol in any of the streams.

COURSE COMMITTMENT:

These thirteen-week courses will cover various aspects of writing about science. Each lesson will focus on the grammatical and stylistic topics necessary for producing a rigorous argument, written to a publishable standard and noting the variants that are important for scientists. Students will also be required to prepare a PowerPoint presentation that will be developed into a conference level talk. In each class, we shall read as a group excerpts from classic articles by great scientists, and then students will write a spontaneous analysis of this passage. Every week, there will be a major technical assignment. For the first half of the course, it will involve writing a précis of an article from the professional refereed literature that is relevant to your research or a comparison of two articles. The last few writing assignments will be more specialized, but will require 2-4 hours to complete. These exercises should form the basis of the thesis you will eventually write. The course will end with a presentation session to which your supervisor will be invited. You will have approximately 10 minutes to present a discussion of your work and receive critique and advice from your professor and other faculty members.

SCHEDULE:

FALL 2021 Session (September 13 – December 13, 2021) * Registration opening sometime in mid-August 2021*

  • Advanced – Chem Eng/IBBME/MSE stream. Mondays, 9am-12pm | Starts Sept 13 (room to be determined)
  • Advanced – MIE/ECE/Civil/UTIAS stream -  Wednesdays, 9am-12pm | Starts Sept 15  (room to be determined)

REGISTRATION:

FALL Courses: TO REGISTER FOR A COURSE, PLEASE CLICK  TO DOWNLOAD FORM, COMPLETE AND EMAIL TO: alex.schroen@mail.utoronto.ca

WINTER Courses: TO REGISTER FOR A COURSE, PLEASE CLICK  TO DOWNLOAD FORM, COMPLETE AND EMAIL TO: alex.schroen@mail.utoronto.ca

SUMMER Courses: TO REGISTER FOR A COURSE, PLEASE CLICK  TO DOWNLOAD FORM, COMPLETE AND EMAIL TO: alex.schroen@mail.utoronto.ca

Please note:

  • There is a $100 non-refundable registration fee. Please ask your supervisor for support and to provide their funding account information on the registration form.
  • Enrolled students have 2 weeks from the start date of their writing course to withdraw from the course and receive their registration payment back. Withdrawals beyond 2 weeks will not receive a refund.
  • Each course is limited to 20 students and registration is processed on a first come, first served basis. Waitlists are up to the discretion of the instructor. Students must be actively registered in their program to participate.
  • Due to the influx of applications, we cannot confirm receipt of each application nor we will contact you if your application is incomplete or incorrect. It is your responsibility to ensure that you submit a completed application, and with correct information (ie. you do not sign up for a course that is offered in a session that is not currently open for registration). Incomplete/incorrect applications will not be processed.
  • Once your application has been successfully processed, you will receive a email confirming your enrolment in the course.
  • For course related questions, please contact Debby Repka, the instructor of the courses, at d.repka@utoronto.ca. For all other enquires and registration, please send an email to alex.schroen@mail.utoronto.ca

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR:

Debby Repka has taught scientific writing to graduate students at the University of Toronto for over twenty-five years, working across the Engineering disciplines and in the Department of Computer Science, as well as instructing undergraduates in the Faculty of Arts and Science. She uses unique curricula based on her extensive experience and often developed in collaboration with her students’ supervisors.

Her hands-on teaching philosophy enables students to apply the material directly to their own written work. They also have the opportunity to develop the skills required to communicate their research orally. Their theses and papers are more likely to be accepted and their presentations to have a greater impact. The courses require dedication and hard work, but the investment pays off.

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