for the 2020-21 Autumn term will open on 25 September. Check back then!

Online delivery

To be able to fully participate in our online session(s), you will need to
  • have access to a computer with both a camera and microphone,
  • have a reliable internet connection,
  • be willing or able to use Microsoft Teams.

If you are interested in

  • writing academic texts in a more reader-friendly way,
  • expanding and refining your academic vocabulary,
  • presenting in a more engaging and effective way,
  • boosting the efficiency of your reading, or
  • improving your professional interactions,

participate in one or more of our Communicating Science Successfully (CSS) sessions. 

Our online workshops are video presentations embedded into a Microsoft Form that you can watch at your own pace. The videos have been specially created for online learning and contain all the material from our original workshop sessions. The questions within the form check your understanding of the concepts. 

We will also be holding a 'live' Q&A session, which will be via Teams video chat. You are encouraged to attend these sessions to ask any questions and listen to questions others raise to learn more and consolidate your understanding. 

Please note that access to the Q&A session is dependent on you having watched the workshop video and completed the Micorsoft Form first.

Autumn term 2020: Q&A session dates
DayDatesUK Time Session
Wednesday  21 October 9:00-9:30 or 14:00-14:30 (repeat) Informality and formality
Wednesday  21 October 9:30-10:00 or 14:30-15:00 (repeat) Meeting, greeting and sending emails
Wednesday  28 October
9:00-9:30 or 14:00-14:30 (repeat) Listening strategies
Wednesday  28 October
9:30-10:00 or 14:30-15:00 (repeat) Reading strategies
Wednesday  4 November
9:00-9:30 or 14:00-14:30 (repeat) Writing with Impact and Clarity
Wednesday  4 November 9:30-10:00 or 14:30-15:00 (repeat) Writing a Lab Report
Wednesday  11 November 9:00-9:30 or 14:00-14:30 (repeat) Knowing your genre: Poster vs PPT presentations 
Wednesday  11 November 9:30-10:00 or 14:30-15:00 (repeat) Essay Writing: Planning and paragraphing
Wednesday  18 November 9:00-9:30 or 14:00-14:30 (repeat) Keeping your reader engaged: Cohesion
Wednesday  18 November 9:30-10:00 or 14:30-15:00 (repeat) Mastering STEMM Vocabulary 
Wednesday  25 November 9:00-9:30 or 14:00-14:30 (repeat) Using tenses
Wednesday  25 November 9:30-10:00 or 14:30-15:00 (repeat) Writing a literature review  
Wednesday  2 December 9:00-9:30 or 14:00-14:30 (repeat) Presentations: Using your voice
Wednesday  2 December 9:30-10:00 or 14:30-15:00 (repeat) Critical Writing
Wednesday  9 December 9:00-9:30 or 14:00-14:30 (repeat Using articles
Wednesday  9 December 9:30-10:00 or 14:30-15:00 (repeat) Improving your cover letter: Language which opens doors 
Summary of the table's contents

Description of sessions

Informality and Formality

The aim of this workshop is to make you aware that audience affects the level of formality of communication and to help you develop a suitably formal style for academic STEMM writing.

You will therefore: 

  • understand that audience affects the level of formality of our communication   
  • be able to recognise formal and informal language 
  • begin to make a shift towards more formal academic style in writing  

Meeting, Greeting and Sending Emails

The aim of this workshop is to help you communicate appropriately with peers and colleagues around the College in person and by email .

You will therefore:

  • understand appropriate forms of address in speaking when you meet members of the College   
  • have a better understanding of email etiquette   
  • understand that the purpose of an email and who will receive it affect the formality and style of the message

Listening Strategies

The aim of this workshop is to help you ‘tune in’ to the STEMM communication around you and identify techniques and useful practice for improving your listening.  Strategies for writing while listening are also explored.

 You will therefore: 

  • become  familiar with the various accents you might encounter in College 
  • develop  strategies for extending  listening concentration 
  • practise writing while listening  

Reading Strategies

The aim of this workshop is to help you assess your own reading speed, develop strategies to improve your reading speed and to manage reading loads effectively.

You will therefore: 

  • know how to work on improving your reading speed  
  • develop strategies  for tackling  large volumes of reading material  
  • know how to scan content and structure to obtain an overview of a text 

Writing with impact and clarity

A mastery of grammar and vocabulary does not mean that you will automatically write with impact and clarity. A text can be very accurate and use a sophisticated range of words but still be unclear and painful for a reader to work through. If a reader struggles to access your science because you have not thought about the clarity and impact of what you write, you will have produced a ‘bad’ text and failed in one of the fundamental aspects of being a good scientist, namely passing on your knowledge so that others can build on it. This session will help you write with more clarity (giving you a happy reader) and write with more impact (giving you an engaged and supportive reader); it will also upgrade your understanding of good scientific writing.

Writing a Lab Report

The aim of this workshop is to clarify the format of a standard lab report and analyse examples of text and language so you can structure your writing and communicate your ideas more effectively .

You will therefore:  

  • understand the structure and purpose of a lab report   
  • know what information belongs in each section   
  • recognise the key language features of a lab report and be able to check your own text for accuracy  
  • be able to control a flexible, standard template for report writing  
  • understand the purpose, content and format of an abstract  

Knowing your genre: Poster vs PowerPoint presentations

Today almost all students, at every level, will be expected to present an aspect of their research output orally. This can take the form of a PowerPoint-style presentation (using slides, etc.) or a poster presentation. These two forms, clearly, have some similarities and share certain techniques; however, in some important aspects they are very different and require a different approach and different language. This session shares some good and bad practice from each genre and offers advice which will help you present in both form as effectively and professionally as possible.

Essay Writing: Planning and paragraphing

Aim: to clarify the format and content of an essay on a STEMM subject and how an essay differs from a standard report.  The workshop explores how to structure an essay and the language needed for evaluation and comment .

You will therefore: 

  • understand the purpose of a STEMM essay  
  • understand how to structure an essay   
  • recognise that an essay is a selective response to a title and includes evaluative comment  

Keeping your reader engaged: Cohesion

Poor coherence in writing is often the greatest impediment to successful communication. Even when each sentence in a paragraph is lucid and well formed, the text can still feel disjointed, unfocussed and lack a unified whole. If a reader struggles to follow the flow of information, they will quickly lose interest and you will not have successfully communicated your research. This session will show you how to build a coherent flow of information that the reader can track with little effort. It will also increase your awareness of what is meant by effective scientific communication, demonstrating techniques expert writers use to keep the reader engaged.

Mastering vocabulary for STEMM writing

Vocabulary is key to writing well. When a text has problems with vocabulary, it can appear ambiguous, informal, inappropriate, confusing, and annoying – not qualities we expect to find in STEMM writing at Imperial College London. This session will show you a number of strategies to refine and control your vocabulary and maximise the effectiveness of your text.

Using tenses: do, did or done?

Many students have learned general rules for the use of tenses, but don’t realise that in STEM writing, it’s more often a question of tense choice than ‘correct’ tense. In this session, the three main tenses used in science writing (present simple, past simple and present perfect) will be discussed and through real examples in context, you will gain a better understanding of how to use them to accurately communicate your science.

Writing a Literature Review

The aim of this workshop is to clarify the format and content of a literature review and analyse the language used to understand vocabulary and tense choices when reviewing the literature and the impact of these on the reader .

You will therefore: 

  • understand how to organise ideas from the literature into a coherent narrative 
  • understand how to synthesise and paraphrase key ideas from the literature 
  • recognise the importance of language choices when writing about the literature   

Using your voice: adding life to your presentations

There are many things that make a good presentation. Your science is clearly very important, as are the visuals you use to present the science. Many people, however, forget that their voice is also crucial to giving an effective and engaging presentation. Use your voice poorly and your audience may ‘zone out’ or disengage from what you are saying; they may not even grasp some of the key points you are trying to get across. This session will show you how to use your voice well. It will help you add life and gravitas to your presentations, and become a more effective public speaker.

Critical Writing

The aim of this workshop is to clarify what being critical  actually means  and help you develop the language needed for writing that analyses and evaluates, rather than just describes .

You will therefore: 

  • improve your understanding of what it means to write critically in a university context  
  • have a better understanding of how to read critically 
  • be able express your own analytical thinking more effectively 

Using articles: a or the?

Many students have learned rules on the use of articles (a/an, the or zero article) but don't realise that in STEM writing the writer's choice of article can have an impact on meaning. This session reviews the use of articles through examples in context and aims to help you gain a better understanding of how to communicate your work more accurately.

Improving your CV/covering letter: language which opens doors

You only have one chance to make a good first impression. If your CV or covering letter fails to impress, you are unlikely to get through to the next stage in the recruitment process. The content of your CV/covering letter (what you’ve done) is obviously extremely important but so too is the language you use (how you tell the company what you’ve done). This session will explore good and bad practice when writing a CV/covering letter, covering such aspects as grammar (which tense?), vocabulary (how formal?), and cultural appropriacy (does it make you look odd?).

Using modal verbs: can or could?

Modal verbs have very specific uses in STEM writing.  This session offers advice on how to interpret the most commonly used modals accurately and how to avoid ambiguity in your own writing.  We focus specifically on expressing possibility, probability and caution. 

Using relative clauses: that or which?

Do you want an efficient way to link the idea of almost any sentence to the next?  Do you want to know how to give a name to something you don't have a name for? If your answer is yes to these questions, then relative clauses may be the answer.  This is a seminar in three parts:

  • Before we meet, you'll be given access to a 20-minute video lecture you can pause, rewind and fast forward at your own pace with a practice worksheet.
  • When we meet, the 50-minute seminar will provide you with the opportunity to ask questions and do some more practice.
  • After we meet, you'll be invited to submit a paragraph which shows the use of relative clauses in action.

Using the passive: did or was done?

Students are often told to “use the passive in academic writing”. However, there are quite a few cases in which the passive form may not be appropriate or clear. Based on authentic examples of STEM sentences and texts, this session will help you understand when you should and maybe shouldn’t use the passive, what the alternatives are, and how to avoid common passive-related errors.

Using punctuation: comma or hyphen?

Making choices about punctuation in your writing may not seem too important, but it can dramatically change the meaning of your sentences. Take these two sentences as an example: 1) “Let’s eat, Grandma”; 2) “Let’s eat Grandma”. Can you see how the punctuation changes the meaning? Are you able to use punctuation correctly and effectively in your writing? Can you be sure that your sentences mean what you think they do? This session will address common errors in punctuation and focus in particular on the most prevalent punctuation issue in STEM writing, when and how to use the comma. 

Using prepositions: by or with?

Many students have learned general rules for the use of prepositions, but they may not realise that most prepositions have more than one meaning. It is, however, impossible (and unnecessary!) to learn them all. This session aims to help you develop effective strategies to identify the prepositions that you need for your discipline so that you can learn them and use them accurately in your own texts.

Writing the Introduction

Writing the Introduction

The aim of this workshop is to clarify the content of a dissertation introduction. You will analyse examples of text and language so that you can structure your writing and communicate your ideas more effectively.

You will therefore:  

  • understand the purpose and conventional structure of an Introduction to a dissertation
  • understand how to guide the reader towards the value of your dissertation
  • recognise the importance of language choices when writing an Introduction

Describing the Methods and Results

The aim of this workshop is to identify informational content of the method and results sections and to highlight important language features of these two sections of your dissertation.   

You will therefore:  

  • understand how to organise and write a coherent method description
  • understand how to write in a way that guides your reader through your interpretation of your key results 
  • recognise the importance of language choices when writing these sections

Writing the Discussion, Conclusion and Abstract

The aim of this workshop is to clarify the purpose and format of the Discussion, Conclusions and Abstract as part of a longer report/dissertation.

You will therefore:  

  • understand how to discuss implications of the results and draw conclusions that give the reader a clear and persuasive message 
  • understand how to concisely and accurately summarise the highlights of a dissertation in a coherent abstract
  • recognise the importance of language choices and consistency when writing these sections