Writing Courses and Resources

Courses at Pitt

PUBHLT 2031 - Techniques for Professional Writing
PUBHLT 2034 - Public Health Communications (only open to MPH students)

BCHS 3004 - Integrative Research Seminar: Grant Writing
BCHS 3006 - Integrative Research Seminar: Writing for Publication

BIOST 2058 - Scientific Communication Skills

CLRES 2071 - Advanced Grant Writing Part 1
CLRES 2072 - Advanced Grant Writing Part 2
CLRES 2076 - Introduction to Grant Writing
CLRES 2141 - Medical Writing and Presentation Skills

EPIDEM 2012 - Writing in Population Neuroscience
EPIDEM 2921 - Grant Writing
EPIDEM 2923 - Scientific Writing in Epidemiology

HUGEN 2011- Scientific Writing and Human Genetics

IDM 2041 - Research Ethics and Scientific Communication

Online Courses

Writing in the Sciences (Stanford) [Recommended by previous Pitt Public Health Students]
Academic English (University of California Irvine)
English Composition I (Duke)

Academic and Business Writing (Berkeley)
English Grammar and Style (University of Queensland)

Or look for more from the MOOC list.

Online Resources

The granddaddy of online writing resources is the Purdue Online Writing Lab. They have everything imaginable, but it can be hard to find your way around. Browse the site map (really an index). There are sections on the writing process, on professional and technical writing, on grant writing, on citations, and even on writing for the job search process.

Dave’s ESL Café
Online English Grammar Resources from edufind.com
Writing a Scientific Research Article From Columbia University

On-Campus Resources

Health Sciences Library Database Tutorial Sessions & User Guides (EndNote, PubMed, and others)
Health Sciences Library Private Librarian Consultation
Health Sciences Library Responsible Literature Search Module
University of Pittsburgh English Language Institute
University of Pittsburgh Writing Center | About the Writing Center


On Writing Well by William Zinsser
Common Errors In English Usage by Paul Brians (the link to the book is in the left-hand column)
How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper by Robert A. Day and Barbara Gastel

Plagiarism Detection Software

Plagiarism detection software is a great way to check your work before turning it in to make sure you are not inadvertently sharing too much language with your sources.

Eleanor Feingold's Foolproof "How To Write" Recipe

  1. Start by identifying your audience. Scientists? Grant reviewers? People outside your field? Keep that audience in mind with every word you write.
  2. Look at examples to identify the typical style and format for the type of document you are trying to write. A grant? A scientific paper? A job cover letter?
  3. Organize your main points before you start. A bulleted list works for some people. Make sure you are stepping through these points in logical order.
  4. Turn the points into paragraphs. Each paragraph should start with a topic sentence that clues the reader in on what the paragraph is about.
  5. Flesh out the writing using short simple sentences. Don't inflate your syllable count. If you find yourself using the word "utilize," you are probably writing badly.
  6. Edit, edit, edit. Go back and read everything and make sure it flows logically. Are ideas introduced in order? Is terminology defined before you use it?
  7. Now edit again. Look at every word of every sentence and see if it is necessary. Get rid of the fluff.
  8. If you make substantial revisions, edit again from start to finish to make sure everything still flows correctly.
  9. When you can't stand reading your own writing anymore, give it to someone else for editorial suggestions.