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English Communication for Scientists

This first unit will help you understand what makes communication effective and will help you identify your purpose and analyze your audience in terms of its level of specialization. It then proposes basic strategies to address less specialized audiences and mixed audiences, whether orally or in writing.


Understanding Communication

Effective communication is about getting your message across. It is centered on the audience and takes the specificities of the medium into account. It respects the intelligence of the audience members without overestimating their knowledge.


Identifying Your Purpose and Audience

Readers and listeners vary in how much they know about the topic you discuss and in how familiar they are with the context. Knowing your purpose and audience helps determine your strategy.


Writing or Speaking for Specific Audiences

As a scientist, you may find it challenging to present your work to a less specialized audience. More challenging still is addressing a mixed audience of both specialists and nonspecialists.


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This unit will help you select and organize a paper's content, draft it more effectively, and revise it efficiently. Among others, it offers advice on using verbs optimally, provides general rules for text mechanics (abbreviations, capitalization, hyphens, and so on), and points out frequent shortcomings for speakers of specific language groups.


Structuring Your Scientific Paper

Scientific papers are often structured chronologically, thus reflecting the progression of the research project. Still, effective papers typically break the chronology in several ways to present their content in the order in which the audience will most likely want to read it.


Drafting Your Scientific Paper

Effective writing is clear, accurate, and concise. When you are writing a paper, strive to write in a straightforward way. Construct sentences that reflect your ideas, choose appropriate verbs and use them well, and attend to the more mechanical aspects of writing in English.


Revising Your Scientific Paper

Writing is an iterative process. Do not hope to write a perfect paper in one pass. Instead, work in several passes, focusing on progressively smaller aspects of your document in each pass.


Advice for Specific Language Groups

A foreign language is all the more difficult to master when it differs from one's native language in unexpected ways. As a non-native speaker, watch for typical mistakes you might make in English.


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This unit will help you write an effective first-contact e-mail, demonstrate your qualifications for a job in an application letter and résumé, and prepare clear, accurate, and concise memos and progress reports. In particular, it discusses how to select an appropriate tone for corresponding in English.



E-mail is often the main mode of communication for scientists, so how you write an e-mail can shape what other scientists think of your character.


Memos and Progress Reports

Like e-mail messages, memos are common in many workplaces. A progress report is a specific kind of memo that summarizes recent and future work on a specific project.


Job Letters

If you seek a competitive position in your field, you will likely need to write a formal letter to express your interest in a particular job and showcase your qualifications.



A resume, sometimes called a curriculum vitae, is a summary of your education, work experience, and accomplishments. Employers use resumes to decide whether to interview you for a job, and proposal reviewers use resumes to decide whether you are qualified.


Letters That Follow a Job Interview

Sending a thank-you letter after an interview calls the interviewer's attention to your application once again. As another courtesy, if you have been offered a job, let the company know as soon as is reasonably possible whether you accept or decline the position.


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This unit will help you select and organize the content of an oral presentation, create effective slides to support it, deliver the presentation effectively, and answer questions usefully. It also offers tips on how to deliver as a non-native speaker of English and how to handle stage fright and mishaps.


Structuring Your Oral Presentation

Oral presentations at a conference or internal seminar differ from scientific papers: they are more localized in space and time; they impose a sequence and rhythm to the audience; and they normally include some level of interaction. These three differences affect the selection of a presentation's content.


Creating Presentation Slides

Slides are optional. A presentation is not a set of slides: it is about someone having something to say to an audience. If you do opt to support your presentation with slides, do them right: Design them so they get a message across to your audience in a visual way.


Delivering Your Oral Presentation

Delivery involves three components: what you say (verbal), how you say it with your voice (vocal), and everything the audience can see about you (visual). For all three components, maximize the signal-to-noise ratio: amplify what helps, filter out what hurts.


Answering Questions

The questions that arise after a presentation may frighten you, yet they are a great opportunity to reinforce your main message, correct any misunderstandings, and provide supplementary content. Prepare for questions and give yourself the time to answer optimally.


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This unit will help you create, promote, and present scientific posters effectively, chair a conference session or moderate a panel, and finally take part in a panel discussion. It includes advice on how to introduce and wrap up sessions, introduce speakers, and manage time.


Giving Poster Presentations

Poster presentations may not seem as prestigious as oral presentations, but they are a great opportunity to interact with other scientists in your field in a reasonably structured way. You must create the poster itself, perhaps promote it, then interact with visitors during the session.


Chairing Sessions

An effective chairperson creates a sense of coherence, brings the speakers closer to the audience, ensures that everything runs smoothly, and wraps up the session in a way that leaves everyone feeling good about it. This level of effectiveness requires careful preparation.


Panel Discussions

Panel discussions at conferences are a useful way to trigger an exchange of viewpoints among experts. Still, they are more difficult to prepare for than presentations, and more challenging to moderate than a regular conference session, too.


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This unit will help you prepare, run, and evaluate your classroom sessions. As an alternative to mere lecturing, it focuses on defining learning outcomes, designing learning activities, and facilitating active classroom sessions.


Preparing Your Sessions

Preparing your sessions is as important as running them. If you want to help students learn, you must first define learning outcomes, then design learning activities that allow students to achieve these outcomes. You must also take care of the learning environment.


Running Your Sessions

Supposedly, you can explain the material if you must. More difficult and more important is creating an appropriate atmosphere for your sessions and facilitating the learning activities. Having students be active is even more difficult when the group is large.


Evaluating Your Sessions

You can evaluate your sessions in two ways: objectively, by checking whether you have achieved the learning outcomes with your students; and subjectively, by asking the students for feedback.


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Results: Not completed yet.

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