Short Courses on Writing for Graduate Students

WRI 501: Reading and Writing about the Scientific Literature

Open to students in quantitative fields such as economics, science, and engineering who have completed at least one semester of graduate school.    

This course explores how scientific articles are constructed and interpreted, how research findings are presented, and how scientific arguments are developed. Students learn to engage the scientific literature critically, to read and analyze efficiently, to distinguish their own work from previous work, and to cite and report the work of others responsibly and accurately. The course is especially helpful for students new to academic writing in English who wish 1) to develop their critical written analysis in preparation for writing proposals and/or general examinations, or 2) to engage confidently in conversations about writing with their coauthors and collaborators.

Fall, 2015: The M/W section of WRI 501 in the second half term will focus on proposal writing.  Over the course of six weeks, participants will develop, draft, and revise research proposals for submission to departmental committees and/or granting agencies.  Priority in enrollment will go to students with proposal deadlines before February 1, 2016.  This section assumes near native proficiency in writing in English; international students may apply only if they have previously attended WRI 501.

WRI 501 is a half-term course and meets twice a week for six weeks. For each class, students read research articles and write informal critical responses to exchange with other class members. Students end the course by writing a short review of the science and engineering literature relevant to their research projects. Students who complete WRI 501 are eligible to enroll in WRI 502, “Writing an Effective Scientific Research Article.”

For more information about WRI 501, please contact

WRI 501 courses offered in 2015-16

  • Fall semester first half-term: September 16 - October 27, M/W 11:00am-12:20pm
  • Fall semester second half-term: October 28-December 18, M/W 11:00am-12:20pm*
  • Spring semester second half-term: March 21-April 29, M/W 11:00am-12:20pm

    * This section focuses on Proposal Writing.

Apply to WRI 501.

For more information about WRI 501, please contact

WRI 502: Writing an Effective Scientific Research Article

Open to graduate students in quantitative fields such as economics, science, or engineering who have completed sufficient research to begin writing an article for publication.

The scientific research article is a tightly compressed document: it presents persuasive arguments while simultaneously communicating precisely what was done, exactly what happened, what it might mean, and why it all matters. In this course, students develop their expertise in scientific writing by drafting a research article based on their original research. Students learn the elements of successful writing in science and engineering: 1) How to recognize and use the persuasive aspects of conventional written structure; 2) how to use analysis, feedback, and revision to develop and maintain a strong collaborative writing process; and 3) how to craft clear, concise, and compelling arguments to establish new scientific knowledge.

WRI 502 is a half-term course, meeting once a week for 6 weeks. Each class focuses on a different section of the research article; students prepare each week by drafting a section of their article and reading the drafts of other class members. Students participate in two individual conferences with the instructor and a final conference that includes the student’s research advisor.

WRI 502 courses offered 2015-16

  • Fall semester first half-term: September 16-October 27, Th 1:00pm-3:50pm
  • Fall semester second half-term: October 28-December 18, Th 1:00pm-3:50pm
  • Spring semester second half-term: March 21-April 29, W 9:00am-11:50am

Apply to WRI 502.

Note:  WRI 502 assumes considerable experience in written critical analysis of the scientific literature in English; students without recent experience, including most international students, should complete WRI 501 before applying to WRI 502.

For more information about WRI 502, please contact