Promoting Publication in the Sciences

Nancy Karabeyoglu, Sabanci University (Turkey)

A newly required graduate level course, Scientific and Technical Communication, has been piloted this year atthe Faculty of Engineering and Natural Sciences at Sabanci University, an English-medium university in Istanbul, Turkey. The rationale for the course initially grew out of the Science Faculty’s immediate observations of the need to support graduate student writing skills in course work, thesis, and dissertation. In the process of designing and teaching the course, moreover, its ability to facilitate a university-wide goal also emerged:  that of increasing research output, in which science students, as part of a team of researchers, play a crucial role, in writing up and presenting publishable research.  Thus the rhetorical genres characteristic of scientific and technical writing—review of literature, poster, composite thesis, article for publication, and review paper—provided the foundation of a course. With this long-term goal in mind, emphasis thus shifted from ‘learning how to write better to get an ‘A’ or ‘writing to the teacher’ to the more integrative strategies involved in professional development. In looking holistically at scientific communication, young researchers began to see how the fundamental questions of audience and purpose shape communication, whether an industry report, article for publication, cover letter, or teaching the material of an undergraduate science course.  The course thus localized the students’ early sense of professionalism, in seeing themselves as future academicians or engineers, physicists, biologists, computer scientists, or mathematicians.  Such a perspective then led to various collaborations—internally, with the university’s teacher training program and academic advising program, as well as externally, with the Central European University of Budapest’s in the creation and design of teaching portfolios.  Reflective writing, videotaping, and peer editing are some of the strategies that supported this initiative. This presentation narrates the processes of course design as well as university-wide collaboration.

Nancy Karabeyoglu is the Coordinator of the Writing Center of Sabanci University, Istanbul. With two other faculty members, she created the Writing Center in 2001 and has since been responsible for the Graduate Program in Writing, where she teaches two courses, both based on communication skills, at the Faculties of Management and  Engineering and Natural Sciences.