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Build Your Scientific and Technical Writing Skills

Date & Time

Thursday, 21 February 2019 - 9:00am to Friday, 22 February 2019 - 5:00pm
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Thea Koerner House, Graduate Student Centre, 6371 Crescent Road, UBC, Point Grey campus


Postdoctoral Fellows Office and Mitacs


This session is being offered in collaboration with MITACS Training (formerly Mitacs Step). Mitacs Training provides professional development training to advanced degree graduates, supplementing their education and research experience with the tools necessary to succeed in today’s workforce.

*This is a two-day workshop, and attendance in both days is required.*

"This workshop provided me with excellent tools to improve my writing and in-class time to practice these tools." - Postdoctoral Fellows

Make an impact with your scientific and technical writing skills! This two day, hands-on workshop is aimed at those with scientific and technical backgrounds. From structure and grammar to impact – get on-site expert feedback, a chance to work on a current, future, or past piece of your writing, and get exposure to many samples of writing, from atrocious to outstanding. 

Workshop Objective:

To increase participant awareness and application of tools and exercises available to them to better present their research and knowledge in written form.

Learning Outcomes:

Through participating and completing this workshop, participants will: 

  • Broaden their perspective on the importance of the writing process
  • Learn to analyze their audience and plan the writing process accordingly
  • Be able to identify all aspects of technical reports
  • Learn effective editing techniques
  • Understand how to use graphics to make an impact and support an argument
Key Topic Areas:

Overall writing process

  • common pitfalls, dealing with procrastination, staying motivated
  • the importance of the writing process (inventing, drafting, editing, and revising)
  • audience analysis, understanding purpose, tone, and genres
  • effectively organizing documents and using standard forms (i.e., theses, journal papers, poster presentation, other reports)
  • persuasive and informative writing
  • aspects of technical reports (i.e., abstracts, introductions, results, and conclusions)

Editing and visuals

  • principles of punctuation
  • revising sentences for order (sentence structure, ordering ideas)
  • revising sentences for clarity (avoiding general language, vague this subjects, noun strings, and prepositional phrases)
  • revising sentences for conciseness (importance of descriptive verbs, avoiding empty sentence openers)
  • revising for connection (structuring paragraphs, transitions between sentences)
  • effective use of graphics (appropriate types of graphs, proper use of colour and layout, incorporating graphics into text)

Michael Sjoerdsma

Michael Sjoerdsma has taught in the School of Engineering Science at Simon Fraser University since September 2003. He teaches a number of courses encompassing various aspects of technical communication: Form, Style and Professional Genres; Graphical Communication for Engineering; Spatial Thinking and Communicating; Project Documentation and Team Dynamics; and Social Responsibility and Professional Practice. Because of his technical training as an engineer, Michael has firsthand knowledge of the requirements needed for effectively communicating technical material.

In addition to his teaching duties at the university, Michael has taught technical writing for the Management Skills and Advanced Technology program. He also provides writing and editing services for graduate students, professors, and private companies. Michael is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (societies: Professional Communication, Technology and Society, and Engineering Management Society), a member of The Canadian Association for the Study of Discourse and Writing, a member in the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, and an EIT with the Association of Engineers and Geoscientists of BC.


Registration in this workshop is required, and is now open. Those postdocs who are successfully registered will receive a confirmation email within one week of the workshop date.

** Please note that lunch will not be provided as part of this session. **



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