Tools for developing critical thinking skills, teamwork, and communication.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Geoff Hyde is putting together a free online course on scientific writing, using Rationale as the tool of choice. He's cautious, but it's already up, and we expect that he'll refine it over time.
When the course is fully developed, its design will allow it to be done independently online by anyone who wants to improve their science writing skills. Alternatively, it could be done in conjunction with a teacher who provides feedback on certain exercises. The great majority of the content, and exercises, however will not require teacher feedback. -- Geoff Hyde
I highly recommend however that you do the course by accessing the course web site within the argument mapping application Rationale.
I have been using Rationale for several years now in Scientific Writing courses that I run for postgraduate students at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore. Rationale is mainly focussed on teaching people how to think clearly about contentious issues, and has very successfully popularized a diagrammatic method of argument development.
My experiences in the classroom have taught me that this diagrammatic approach is also a great starting point for writing all types of scientific text. It is the most practical way to outline that I have come across. Outlining is often promoted as a writing tool because it forces the writer to focus first on organising ideas, before moving onto packaging them. Getting your thoughts in order is very important - many writers waste a lot of time crafting elegant sentences only to trash them when they realise they don't fit in with the bigger picture.
If you try this course please let Geoff (email@example.com) know how you go.