Scientific writing workshop for MD and PhD students

ScientificVilnius University’s (VU) Faculty of Medicine together with the Department of Doctoral and Postdoctoral studies organized its first-ever workshop in scientific writing for fourteen MD/PhD students from the Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences Centre. The guest instructor was Terese Bergfors from the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at Uppsala University (Sweden) and a former journal editor.

“We strongly believe that the skills our PhD students gained in this course will help tremendously when writing their PhD thesis. We’re happy to provide such an opportunity to comply with our general competences initiative,” said Professor Janina Tutkuvienė, Chair of the Doctoral Committee for PhD studies in Medicine.

“Scientific writing courses should become mandatory for all PhD students at Vilnius University, this is vital. I’m proud we can offer it to our students”, said Prof. Kęstutis Strupas, Head of Department of Gastroenterology, Surgery and Nephro-urology at the Faculty of Medicine.

Over the 2-day workshop, students learned construction of sentences and paragraphs for English-language texts. Essential parts of a medical paper, like the PICO elements and research statement, were also covered, as well as two linguistic tools – the CARS template and phrase banks.

"Every scientist must publish their research, but writing is hard work, and even harder when English might not be the writer's first language. This is where templates can be of great help. They provide a ready-made structure for the writer," said Terese Bergfors.

Participants submitted a 300-word essay before the course, after which they discussed it with the instructor, one-on-one, during the final afternoon. Many found this to be the most enjoyable part of the workshop.

"As long as the paper has a proper structure, grammar is easy to fix. But personalized feedback is important, because not everyone has the same problems with their writing" said the instructor.

Several students commented that the workshop was the first opportunity they ever had for formal instruction in scientific writing. "It was an eye-opener", stated one participant. The workshop was a well-received initiative from the Faculty of Medicine (Professor Janina Tutkuvienė and PhD student Aistė Kielaitė-Gulla) and supported by the Department of Doctoral and Postdoctoral Studies at Vilnius University, in particular, Dr. Virginija Uksienė and Lina Janionienė.

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