Melissa Thomas

Major: Community Health, and Public & Professional Writing
Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, Indiana University School of Liberal Arts
Supervisor: Megan McHenry, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Department: Department of Pediatrics, Indiana University School of Medicine

Becoming a Teacher of Technical Writing for Student Research Projects

The most important part of scientific research– beyond the data and the implications of a breakthrough finding– is disseminating your results. To make real changes, crucial scientific information must be effectively shared with other scientists, students, and the general public. For many students in STEM, the intersection between complex scientific information and impactful communication can be daunting. Under Dr. McHenry’s guidance, I have edited and developed numerous manuscripts throughout the year at many different stages. During this process, I have learned of common misconceptions or mistakes that are often made in scientific writing by students and professionals alike. For my project, I used my developing skills in technical writing to create a module for scientific writing for any student interested in publishing their research. This module demonstrates real ways that incoming scientists can adjust their writing to truly compel the reader with the message and significance of their research. The content that is covered includes: top 10 misconceptions, the writing process, using the active voice, ‘strong’ verbs, and how to create a “flow”. Learning to communicate effectively will not only change the impact of one student’s manuscript, but will also benefit the scientific and general community as a whole.