Writing a Scientific Paper - ONLINE (2023-I)

Course description

This eight-week E-learning course covers the writing process, structure and style of a scientific paper. The template and style specifics of science writing are taught as instruments that support your writing process. Key topics are the steps in the writing process, the story line of a paper, the conventions of structure and style, and typical grammar features of the scientific style.

Learning objectives

This course is a thorough preparation for the writing task of the PhD student. Special attention is paid to the problems of starting up the writing process: how to overcome writer’s block and how to compose a coherent line of thought. The student will learn how to design, write, analyze, and edit a scientific paper with an eye for cohesion, clarity and conciseness. By working on these issues, the student will gain confidence in writing.

Instructional method

You are trained through short web lectures, various materials and exercises, as well as feedback from the trainer and your peers through the ULearning Platform. It is not required to be working on a paper at the start of the course. Yet if you are, you may submit a draft – or part of your manuscript, in any stage - for discussion and feedback. Every week you have to work on assignments (4-6 hours a week) that you need to submit before the new week (learning unit) starts. You may choose to relate some of the assignments to your own writing.

The course consists of 8 learning units, spread over 8 weeks:

  1. Basics of scientific writing
  2. Building an introduction and a discussion
  3. Paragraph structure: topic and key sentences
  4. Textual cohesion and emphasis
  5. Results: tables and figures
  6. Academic style 1: sentence length and the passive voice
  7. Academic style 2: noun style, concision, hedging and boosting
  8. Revising your article: verb tenses, pitfalls of scientific English, punctuation


To take part, you need to buy the book by Adrian Wallwork: English for writing research papers, 2nd edition, Springer 2016, ISBN 978-3-319-26092-1. (DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-26094-5) The book is also available as a download from the Online Library of the Utrecht University.

You will be trained by Annemarie van der Zeeuw (Scientific Writing). Annemarie has been training Graduate School of Life Sciences PhD candidates face to face since 2015. Several resources of the course are available here.

Group Size

8 to 12 participants

Number of credits

1.5 EC

Course schedule

Starting January 9, 2023, every week one new session will be online for you to follow, up until March 6, 2023.
You are free to decide what time in the week you will complete the learning unit.

Course certificate

You will receive a course certificate after completing all seven learning units and being an active participant on the online platform.

Cancellation and No-show policy

This course is free for GSLS PhD candidates. However: free of charge does not mean free of responsibility. Once you have signed up for a course, we expect you to attend. For every late cancellation or no-show we have had to disappoint others who would have liked to attend. This is our policy:

  • You may cancel free of charge up to 4 weeks before the start of the course. After this date you can only cancel if you have a GSLS PhD candidate to replace you in the course. Send the name and contact information of your replacement to pcc@uu.nl, at least 2 working days before the start of the course;
  • We expect that you actively attend the full course. You have to complete the total E-learning.

  • Not meeting the above requirements means you will be charged a no-show fee (€ 195). We will send the invoice after the course has ended. We are unable to make any exceptions, unless you have a valid reason (i.e., illness or death in the family 1st/2nd degree or partner). Your supervisor has to send an e-mail to pcc@uu.nl indicating the reason.

Unfortunately we don’t offer this course for participants not part of the GSLS. Our courses tend to be fully booked by GSLS PhD candidates.

From the beginning the online course Writing a Scientific Paper is rated with an 8+ (out of 10)!

It exceeded my expectations. I got a clear overview, the best tips to write an article, and learned about the biggest pitfalls

This E-Learning directly improved the quality of my papers and research proposals

Start date and time
End date and time
Entrance fee
This course is free for GSLS PhD candidates.

Registration for this course opens 2 months before the course start. You can register via our course portal. After opening, the portal shows how many spots are still available.

More information
PhD Course Centre