About this Class

Science says the first word on everything, and the last word on nothing. ~ Postcritum de Ma Vie, Victor Hugo

Welcome to ENGL 105i Writing in the Natural Sciences.  

Over the course of this semester you will learn to write several genres of writing common to all science disciplines (hard or soft) with an emphasis on natural sciences like Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Computer Science, Neuroscience, Environmental Science, etc.  Since this is a genre-based writing course,  you will study how genres in the sciences function, learn how to conduct and analyze research in the sciences, learn to parse scientific jargon, and, most importantly,  learn how to adapt these science genres to fulfill your own purposes and meet the needs of a variety of audiences.


The class consists of three units, each of which focuses on a specific type of science writing: literature reviews (synthesizing science), grant proposals (funding science), popular science writing (sharing science).  However, you may notice that these genres appear in ALL forms of academic study. Every academic discipline has genres that synthesize information, ask others to fund research, and share discoveries and ideas with a broad audience. This common groundwork will allow you to develop your writing even outside the sciences.  I hope that you find this useful.

Each unit will culminate in a unit project and include two smaller assignments called “feeders.” The feeders are designed to help you progress toward the larger unit project.

Because this course is a process-based approach to academic writing – this means you will be writing multiple drafts, receiving ongoing feedback from your peers and your instructor (me), and participating in the evaluation of your own and others’ work at many stages of the writing process – you will spend a large portion of each class participating in workshops.  The workshop-based course, as opposed to the lecture-based course, emphasizes the role of writing in learning and promotes interactive, experiential learning.  And it’s the most effective way to improve writing.  The logic sounds circular (reading and writing improves reading and writing), but we have quite a bit of scientific evidence that attests to its truth.

And finally, because writing is always public in nature (even if that audience is yourself), you will be publishing your final unit products on this course website.  As such, your work may be viewed by an unknown audience.  Please be mindful of of this requirement as you compose your texts.

writing in the natural sciences