Resources for 2019 Interns

Writing Workshop

All interns take part in a weekly writing workshop to improve their scientific writing and public presentation skills. The courses will be focused on writing your summer research paper, giving a scientific talk, and preparing your final poster presentation.

The ability to write clear succinct prose is an essential skill for scientists seeking to gain rewarding employment and for later career advancement. To write clear prose first requires an ability to think clearly and logically. Together we will explore the basic structure and purpose of scientific papers and their underlying logic. Our ultimate goal is to help you construct your own paper and a meeting abstract that both describe your RESESS research.

This class will take place on Thursday mornings (9:00 - 11:00 A.M.; consult the RESESS on-line calendar for exceptions) on CU - Boulder campus.

Due Dates

All weekly deliverables are due as Word documents to your Communication Mentor by Monday at 5 p.m. on the week each is due. After you revise your work in response to your Communication Mentor’s suggestions, put the revised draft on GoogleDrive by Wednesday at noon. You and a peer will be paired up to edit each other’s material. You will pick up that person’s essay at the same email address (this is a group email account and is not private). Please come to seminar on Thursday having already edited the material. We will spend our time together Thursday discussing your review with the author (and vice versa).

Key Deliverables and Overview of Schedule for Summer 2019

  • A professional research article
  • A scientific oral presentation
  • A scientific/technical poster & presentation

We will work on all three fronts each week as interns develop the following intermediate products/activities:

Week 1 - Wednesday, May 22

Field trip to explore the Rocky Mountain uplift controversy

Week 1 - Thursday, May 23

Seminar introduction/Discussion of a Research Prospectus and Work Plan: Overview of the Writing seminar; Peer review process; Organizing and writing a Research Prospectus; The role and importance of citations

Week 2 - Thursday, May 30 Parts of a scientific paper: The Introduction
Week 3 - Thursday, June 6 Field trip to Rocky Mountain National Park
Week 4 - Thursday, June 13 Parts of a scientific paper: The Introduction, Background, and Methods sections
Week 5 - Thursday, June 20 Background & Methods sections of a paper; The importance of figures
Week 6 - Thursday, June 27 Parts of an effective scientific paper: Good figures + Abstract and Conclusion
Week 7 - Thursday, July 4 UNAVCO Holiday – No seminar
Week 8 - Thursday, July 11 Writing the Results and Discussion sections and the Abstract and Conclusion
Week 9 - Thursday, July 18 One-on-one help polishing colloquium talks
Week 10 - Thursday, July 25 Peer review of Results and Discussion sections
Week 11 - Tuesday, July 30 - Thursday, August 1 Peer review of your finished scientific paper @ CU; Practice colloquium talk @ UNAVCO; RESESS Colloquium @ UNAVCO; Poster Practice @ UNAVCO; Final Poster Session @ NCAR

Overall Writing Workshop Objectives

  • Short term: support interns as they develop three key deliverables for the summer: a major research article, a professional oral presentation, and a poster session on their work.
  • Long term: develop writing and communication skills for their professional careers.

Specific Learning Objectives

  • Understanding the structure of a scientific paper (and more importantly, the process of inquiry behind it)
  • Understanding and using the scientific literature as an ongoing conversation (and contributing to that conversation)
  • Understanding how to shape an argument in light of a question at issue, available evidence, and skeptical questions
  • Understanding disciplinary discourse conventions and how to revise for effective style
  • Understanding strategies for effective oral communication in professional presentations
  • Understanding strategies for effective poster sessions

The Role of Writing Workshops

  • A resource for interns that offers both an intellectual framework for their work and a community for supporting that work.
  • A place to develop as a writer, reader, peer editor, and speaker.
  • A place to practice and discuss work in progress.
  • Not a writing class in the traditional sense of the term.

Philosophy and Pedagogical Approach

  • The workshops offer interns an opportunity to think of themselves as writers and producers of knowledge, especially given that other experiences have often positioned them as consumers of what other people already know.
  • Writing serves as an act of inquiry and exploration; it involves far more than writing up what one already knows.
  • Writing and research are collaborative and social acts.
  • Writing (much like research) is recursive, not linear; start early, revise often.
  • Writing and speaking inherently involve risk (and some frustration)
  • Writing is a problem-solving activity that involves strategic decision making. It is not a rule-governed activity.
  • Writing involves the art of functional design: understand and serve your audience.


Dr. Lon D. Abbott

    Senior Instructor, Geological Sciences, University of Colorado at Boulder (Ph.D. University of California, Santa Cruz).

    "One of Dr. Abbott's principal goals is to contribute to the public's understanding of and appreciation for geologic processes, the deep geologic history of the planet, and the significance of geology in our everyday lives. He works to achieve this goal via the publication of books and articles in the popular press and through public presentations. Dr. Abbott's research is focused on deciphering the geologic history of the Colorado Rocky Mountains/Colorado Plateau region and Australia's Great Dividing Range."