Writing Science

by Carey Spence

Writing Science students in CUPID, collaborating on a project.

You might be thinking, what does science have to do with writing? The answer: a lot! From writing lab reports and research findings, to popular science news articles, communication is a key component of scientific disciplines. To give students an intro to writing in a scientific context, one course available is Professor Michael Strickland’s writing science class. Students in this class work on a variety of projects in order to hone their skills in writing for science publications.

To give you a closer look into the class, I interviewed Professor Strickland’s current students, both professional writing majors and minors and students outside of the discipline. The current project they are working on is understanding how science writers are using rhetorical strategies in a popular science novel of their choice. The second part of the project is to pick a topic in popular science and write an article for publication.

According to junior Abby Fuller, what she loved about this project was the ability to pick a novel of her choice and learn key rhetorical strategies for science writing. The author of the novel she picked, David Wallace-Wells, was not a scientist, so he had to spend more time building ethos to be a credible source on climate change in his book The Uninhabitable Earth.

Professor Michael Strickland consulting with a student while another works on revisions.

Senior Olivia Jung also had an interesting perspective on the class itself. As a science major and professional writing minor, Olivia wanted to bring both disciplines together in a way that was different than just writing lab reports and formal presentations of information and findings. She was particularly interested in science writing in a creative way. This class allowed her to learn what goes into writing for popular science news sources and publications. In a similar thread, senior professional writing major, Ashley Andrews, followed this up with specific skills students learn in the science writing class. Because Ashley wants to work in the technical writing field, she needed to learn ways to present technical, complicated information to a general audience. Ashley called this the ability to “translate” scientific information to an audience with little to no scientific background.

Science writing is a class that truly exemplifies the claim that professional writing is a highly diversified liberal arts program. Students from a variety of academic backgrounds have taken this class in order to bridge the gap between technical fields and writing. If you are looking to add an interesting class to your schedule, consider taking science writing when it’s next available!


Carey Spence is the 2018-2019 social media intern for Professional Writing & Rhetoric. Carey is double majoring in English Literature and Strategic Communications, with a minor in Professional Writing.

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