VALUE Course 2012

Scientific Writing in English
Turku, Finland 15.-17.2.2012

Venue: Auditorio 1 (2. floor), Dept. of Geology and Mineralogy, Åbo Akademi University
Address: Tuomiokirkontori 1, Turku

Responsible teacher: Stephen Stalter, Teacher and Language Reviser
Teaching methods: Contact learning with exercises
Work load: Estimated totals up to 1 ECTS


Working hours: Wed 15 & Thur 16 during 9:30 - 9:30-16:30, Friday during 17 9:30-12:30

Purpose: To acquaint researchers with the conventions and methods of writing articles in English primarily for publication in international journals. The course aims to provide researchers with valuable tools that will enable them to become more effective editors of their own writing. Together, we will review the main characteristics of good scientific writing and discuss techniques for improving our writing skills.

Please note that the course will serve as an editing workshop for writers, so participants will need to provide a current writing sample – presumably a work in progress. We will improve our writing samples by actively applying the skills we learn in the seminar.


Process Writing

  • Tips for avoiding a blank computer screen

Writing Mechanics

  • Differences in Punctuation Usage
  • Prepositions of Time and Place
  • Articles – the, a/an, no article
  • Handling Numerals
  • Adverb Placement

Writing Style

  • Stylistic Considerations – Finnish vs. Anglo-American academic structure
  • The End-Focus Technique
  • Active vs. Passive voice
  • Word Choice – more precise, academic verbs
  • Strengthening Negatives
  • Tense Choice
  • Connectives – sign-posts in your writing
  • Avoiding Wordiness – editing for conciseness
  • Avoiding Ambiguity – saying clearly what you intend

Article Structure

  • Trouble with Titles
  • Abstracts – necessary elements, pitfalls to avoid
  • Introductions – the four moves
  • Materials/Subjects and Methods
  • Results and Discussions Sections – How do they differ?
  • Tables, Legends, Figures, and Graphs

Additional Topics

  • Plagiarism – paraphrasing correctly, references and citations, and handling quotes
  • Hedging – expressing uncertainty with tact and confidence; leaving room for error
  • Article Submission – good cover letters, handling referee comments

Offered material

Participants will receive a handout of the course contents.

About the instructor

Stephen Stalter, MA, has been both a language revisor and teacher of academic writing and conference presentation for Language Services at the University of Helsinki since 2002. He has revised numerous articles, theses and dissertations and has taught courses for post-graduate students from a variety of fields. In recent years, Mr Stalter has also been invited to teach seminars on scientific writing at universities in the Baltic region.


Register for the course by sending an e-mail to the coordinator (riitta.kamula at oulu.fi).  

More information:

Instructional coordinator Riitta Kamula, Tel. +358 8 553 3566, riitta.kamula at oulu.fi