LSSR Science Writing from Start to Finish - Academic Skills Centre - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Science Writing

Science Writing for Undergraduates

This three-part course provides an overview of the type of writing most commonly used in the Science and Engineering: the laboratory report. It is especially useful for students who are new to university, or who are more familiar with writing essays than lab reports.

The course focuses on how research is presented in a report or journal article, and includes techniques for editing and proofreading your finished work. In addition, students will learn how to build a logical argument using topic sentences and well-constructed paragraphs; how to cite sources correctly; and (most importantly) how to clearly state their research question.

Session 1: The structure of a report: Understanding the role of the Introduction, Aims, Method, Results, and Discussion sections and knowing what material goes where.
Session 2: Writing style and grammar: Use of the third person and passive voice in science writing; correct use of tense throughout a report; subject-verb agreement; sentence fragments; avoiding common sentence errors; and referencing basics.
Session 3: Producing a final draft: Practical exercises that focus on how to write clear and informative topic sentences and well-structured paragraphs. Editing and proof reading  techniques will also be covered.

Science Writing for Postgraduates

This course offers postgraduate science students (particularly thesis writers) a forum in which to discuss their science writing and to explore ways to improve their written expression.

Students will meet every week of the academic term. At each session, the learning advisor will give a 20-30 minute presentation (and relevant exercises) on specific topics requested by the students. For the rest of the session, students can get a portion of their writing constructively critiqued in a supportive environment.

Tutors: Jacqui Tither and Candy Lin

Course Outline (PDF)


Dates and times

  • POSTGRADUATE Science Writing: Wednesdays, 3 March to 17 March between 11.00 am to 11.50 am : passed

The next set of dates for this learning event has not yet been scheduled.

Even if this course is fully booked, it is likely there will be space on the day, so feel free to turn up. If you would like to be notified when it is next scheduled, request it at a different time or day, or just find out more, email Academic Skills.


  • Handout: Better Lab Reports.
  • Knisely, Karin. 2005. A student handbook for writing in biology (2nd ed.). Sinauer, Sunderland, Mass. (This is on 3-day loan in the library)
  • Findlay, Bruce M. 2006. How to write psychology research reports and essays. (4th ed.). Pearsons, French Forest NSW.
  • Gopen, George and Swan, Judith. 1990. The Science of Scientific Writing. American Scientist, 78(6):550–558. Nov–Dec 1990. Link.
  • Academic Skills Centre
    University of Canterbury,
    Private Bag 4800,
    Christchurch 8140
    +64 3 369 3900
    When contacting us, please use your
    University of Canterbury email address.
  • Our location
    Level 3,
    Central Library (Puaka-James Hight)