Science Writing

COM320-001; COM320-002 Spring '14-15
Lawrence Souder, Ph.D. Voice: 215-895-2730
Classroom: 3 Parkway 608; 9:00 am - 10:20 am; 10:30 am - 11:50 am Office Hours: Tuesday/Thursday, 12:00 - 1:00 pm. 3 Parkway
Wednesday, 5:00 - 6:00 pm, PISB Glass Tower
Office: Main Campus, #47, Room 324 E-mail: LS39 @

Description: Scientists convince the world of their ideas and secure credit for them largely through writing. This course will guide you in exploring the conventions of the various genres of scientific writing. In particular it will provide the means for determining what features distinguish one genre from another, how each of these genres is composed, and why they are so designed. Once you have defined these conventions generically, you will explore them in your specific scientific areas of interest. Ultimately you will use these conventions for developing your own rhetorical processes to communicate effectively and responsibly in your field. Among the genres of scientific writing to be considered are: research reports, research reviews, research proposals, and writing for lay audiences. Special emphasis will be placed on adapting scientific information for the general reader. This course will also show an articulation between scientific writing and writing in general.

Objectives: If you successfully complete this course, you will be able to:

Text: Penrose, Ann M. and Steven B. Katz, Writing in the Sciences: Exploring Conventions of Scientific Discourse, 3rd Edition, New York: Pearson, ISBN-13: 978-0-205-61671-8. (Companion website)


The writing samples produced for this class become the primary basis for your grade and will constitute a portfolio that you can also use for career development in the field. If you already have professional or academic experience in science writing, please consider modifying the guidelines for the writing projects to reflect your specific interests and abilities. We will use the text to explore the conventions of scientific writing, which is the primary goal of this course.

Attendance: You are expected to attend all classes. Attendance is important to your progress and your classmates'. Much of what you learn will come from discussions and interactions with your fellow students. A formal presentation for which you are absent will be graded as an F. If an emergency prevents you from attending class (such as a personal illness or family emergency), please contact me in advance of your absence. You may miss two classes without penalty; any additional absences will reduce your final grade.

Punctuality: You are expected to be on time for all classes. Late arrivals are disruptive to the instructor and your fellow students.

Academic Honesty: It is assumed that the work you submit for this course, whether written or spoken, is your own. Any attempt to represent someone else's work as your own will be considered plagiarism. See the University's policy on plagiarism--a form of academic misconduct. Plagiarism includes copying another student's work on papers or tests, copying without attribution the ideas or words from published sources, and submitting papers written in previous semesters. Such academic misconduct will result in a failing grade for the assignment, a probable failing grade for the course, and a report to the Dean for possible disciplinary action. Be advised that internet services such as EVE 2.3 and make the detection of plagiarism easy.

Assignments: Each class meeting will require you to prepare a reading and a writing assignment. Late assignments will be penalized one letter grade increment for each class day late. See the Assignment Schedule for details. Click on the chapter designators for study guide questions to help you focus on the key concepts. Expect a short quiz on each chapter as a check of your understanding of the concepts. Click on the project designators for specific details on the writing assignments. This course presumes you have successfully completed English composition or its equivalent. All written assignments should be typed and should conform to standard American English. Your resources for writing the assignments should include an English composition handbook and a manuscript style guide. Also, consider some of the resources for writers on the internet including Purdue's writing center and Strunk's Elements of Style.

Course Add/Drop/Withdrawal: Refer to the University's policies to add, drop, or withdraw from this course.

Special Needs: Students with disabilities requesting accommodations and services at Drexel University need to present a current accommodation verification letter (AVL) to faculty before accommodations can be made. AVLs are issued by the Office of Disability Services (ODS. For additional information, contact the ODS at, 3201 Arch St., Ste. 210, Philadelphia, PA 19104, V 215.895.1401, or TTY 215.895.2299. Other resources for students with special needs are available from the following: