Mastery of academic writing is crucial for anybody who is going to pursue a career in science. If you always had trouble putting words together on paper, don’t worry – academic writing is an entire discipline of its own, with its own rules and principles, and a good writer per se is not a prerequisite to excel in it. There are courses that can make your entry into the field easier; and it is no wonder that in this day and age some of these courses are available online for free – and in this case ‘free’ doesn’t always mean ‘bad’, mind you.
1. Writing a First Year Report – available at the University of Edinburgh
For those entering the field of academic study this may be the one to start with. It offers both basic and advanced information necessary for successfully writing a course work or a first year report as it is called in some schools, covering points from the correct way of composing an introduction to formatting the literary references. Even if standards in your particular school are a little bit different, it may be of great help, as academic world has notably similar approaches to research in most universities and disciplines alike.
2. Technical Writing – available at New Jersey Institute of Technology
Aimed primarily at advanced writers, this course offers great insights into the intricacies of technical writing. Created by members of NJIT, it contains almost 40 video lectures, providing the students with theory for solution of various complex and complicated technical problems. This course is especially valuable because it is more concerned with general recommendations on academic writing that will be useful in any scientific paper rather than with formal advice, the usefulness of which may be limited to a particular school.
3. The Writing Process – available at Purdue University
Purdue University is well-known for its Online Writing Lab (OWL), providing access to a wide variety of online information sources on academic writing and accompanying topics. This particular course ranges from general topics like proofreading tips and dealing with writer’s block to recommendations on thesis statements, pre-writing, reverse outlining, audience analysis and much more. And it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that OWL in general is a goldmine of other kinds of useful information as well.
4. Critical Reading and Writing – available at University of Massachusetts at Boston
The primary aim of this course is to help students develop their reading and writing skills to college level using critical exploration of the US foreign policy as a subject matter. It exists in the form of text documents and PowerPoint presentations, as well as additional materials in other formats.
5. Writing and Reading the Essay – available at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
As is clear from the name, the course is centered around the essay as a form of academic writing. Students study a number of essays, learn why good and bad essays are good and bad, how they are to be written to reach the desired effect and much more.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to learn things. You won’t get credits for these courses, of course – but you will learn, and that’s what important.