Writing Module Syllabus Y3

IGERT – Magnetic Materials for Biomedical Applications

Norfolk State University, Cornell University, Purdue University

Writing Module, Spring 2013

Group: Thejaswi Tumkur, Amanda Harding, Ahmad Mozafari, Seth Rylander

Advising Professor: Dr. Suely Black

Course Description:

This module is designed to help improve your scientific writing skills, with special emphasis on proposal writing and. The writing assignments will focus on documents that will be useful in seeking grants funding from government and industrial agencies. We will receive lectures from experienced faculty and a source from a government funding agency, outlining important aspects of writing proposals, and more specifically, a white paper. The lectures will be accompanied by examples of various proposals, work on in-class exercises, discussions and assignments. Towards the end of the module, there will be a few incentives for the top performers in class activities.

Course Schedule:

Lectures/Presentations: 1 ½ hr/wk


Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the Writing Module, trainees should:

  • Have a well-written abstract and a summary of the work that was done in the independent research module.
  • Have a general understanding of various  types of grants, proposals and funding sources
  • Be able to write a white paper, which will be graded by experienced judges.
  • Be able to write a technical document from outline to final draft

Lectures/Presentations: (Subject to modification)

Pre assignment

  • Abstract/summary based on research module, due in week 1.

Due by 11th December. Upload to dropbox and email the designated faculty member.

  • Prepare a 2 minute-elevator speech, to be presented during Week 1. The speech should be a brief introduction about yourself, and a summary of your ideas and findings from the IR module.


Week 1  12th Dec

  • Lecture, and/or video on scientific writing, focusing on abstracts and summaries tailored of various types of audience.
  • ~ 45 min dedicated for elevator speech presentations. There will be evaluations for people to fill out.

Assignment 1: Get feedback from designated faculty, and use it to re-write your summary. Also work on elevator speech critiques, and be prepared for round 2, during week 2 (Jan 16th)

  • Be prepared to discuss improvements and updates regarding  summary writing and elevator speech, for the Week 2 meeting.


Week 2

16th Jan

Week 1 assignment due by 14th Jan, uploaded  to dropbox.

  • Discussion of assignments before and after class on abstract writing.

What improved or changed in writing, after week 1?

  • Lecture on general aspects of proposal writing –round 1

Types of proposals that can be prepared, basics in proposal writing, suggestions for advantages, generalized pros and cons

  • Elevator speech- round 2 (GROUP 1)
  • If time permits, have discussion on general experiences on proposal writing

Assignment 2 – 1 page (minimum) description of experiences and thoughts on proposal writing. Upload it to dropbox, by Jan 22nd.

Week 3

23 Jan

Week 2 assignment uploaded to dropbox 2 days before meeting.

  • Lecture from a faculty member on his/her experiences with proposals (more specific)- round 2
  • Elevator speech- round 2 (GROUP 2)
  • Discussion among students on what they knew before, and what they learned after the lecture and ideas for future proposal writing.

Assignment 3: Write the first draft of your white paper (more like an extension of the summary writing assignment) based on information obtained from week 3 lecture., Due by 28th Jan to dropbox.


Week 4

30 Jan

Week 3 assignment due.

Lecture from an investigator at a funding agency. Obtain and review examples of successful and unsuccessful white papers. How writing a white paper can help transition to full-on proposal writing?

-        Drafts of white papers discussion (including grammar, content, relevancy, professionalism, etc), how to offer constructive criticisms of white paper content, interaction with members

Assignment 4: Imporve on your  first draft of the whitepaper. Remember that the final draft will be due only a couple of days after the Week 5 meeting!

Week 5

6 Feb

Week 4 assignment due.

Analyze and discuss examples of good and bad proposals.

Grade/review white paper draft assignment.

-        We’ll divide up into 6 groups of three. This means that each person will evaluate white papers of 2 people (in his/her own group). Each group will have guidelines/scoring schemes provided. (~ 20-30 min overall to review papers).

-        ~ 15-20 min for discussion within the group.

-        Discussion amongst everyone about good and bad aspects of proposals in their respective groups.


Assignment 5: Final assignment to write a white paper based on idea from independent research module and revisions done in previous weeks. Judges will be randomly chosen to grade assignments. Due by 11:59 pm on Friday, February 8th. If it is not uploaded by the deadline, it will not be considered for an award!

Note: Your assignments will be emailed to the designated Judges by a random group leader, to keep the information anonymous and fair.

Decide on the faculty to be the judges.

Week 6

13 Feb

Reflection with judges and awards.


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