Scientific writing course

  About the course
Our two-day scientific writing course is for those whose studies or employment involves the reporting of scientific comment or research. There are no public courses. It is only available on request.

Courses are presented by Dr Annabel O'Connor or Dr Geoffrey Marnell.

Dr O'Connor has a PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Melbourne and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at CSIRO. She has published numerous academic papers and popular science articles and has worked for scientific journals as an editor. She has also worked as a technical writer.

Dr Marnell is the founder of Abelard Consulting (and continues as the company's Principal Consultant). He taught Technical Writing and Editing in the English Department at the University of Melbourne for many years, and is accredited by IPEd (the Institute of Professional Editors). Geoffrey has more than 30 years experience as a technical writer, recruiter of technical writers, documentation consultant, documentation project manager and educator. His is the author of scores of papers and six books. His latest books are Correct English: Reality or Myth?, Essays on Technical Writing and Mathematical Doodlings: Curiosities, Conjectures and Challenges.

  Where held

An in-house course can be held anywhere in Australia, New Zealand or South-East Asia, on-site or off-site.

Call 03 9574 6144 to enquire or make a booking. Or visit the ATTAR website for more information.

  Topics covered
The curriculum shown at the right is a sample curriculum. The actual curriculum delivered will be tailored to the client's specific requirements.

  Some recent clients
  Therapeutic Goods Administration (a number of courses)
  Geoscience Australia (a number of courses)
  SA Water (a number of courses)
  Biota (a number of courses)
  Department of Primary Industry, Queensland
  Canon Information Systems Research
  Department of Microbiology, Latrobe University


Call 03 9574 6144, send an email to or vist the ATTAR website.

  Typical 2-day curriculum
1: Introduction
Why good scientific writing matters: for others and for you
2: Fundamental attributes of good scientific writing
The legacy of Francis Bacon: communicative efficacy and objectivity; the five attributes of good scientific writing: clarity, familiarity, economy, neutrality and consistency; the problems of language flux
3: Professional style
Scientific and mathematical typography; numbers, symbols and measurements; tables and figures: conventions and templates; citing and referencing: methods and practices
4: The language of language
Parts of speech; the building blocks of language; writing effective paragraphs
5: Scientific documents: types, structures and content
The IMRAD structure and its offshoots; writing abstracts; grant applications; common faults of logic
6: The process of writing
Techniques; tips and tricks; overcoming writer's bock
7: Aspects of grammar
Old rules best forgotten; subject–verb agreement; the that-or-which dilemma; comparatives and superlatives
8: Obstacles to readability in scientific writing
Sentence complexity; conceptual density; misplaced jargon; nominalisation; noun clustering; poor use of voice; poor font choice
9: Troublesome words
Words easily confused; transition words; homonyms
10: Vital punctuation
Senseless fads; hyphens and dashes; commas; parenthetic markers; brackets; colons; semicolons; apostrophes; etc.
11: Ethical issues in scientific writing
Co-authorship issues; plagiarism; fabrication; undisclosed funding; ghost citations

Click here to see a list of the topics in the reference book participants receive at no extra cost.