Erasmus Summer Programme Courses

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Workshop Advanced Medical Writing and Editing [ESP71]

Course highlights

EC points


Start date

20 August 2018

End date

24 August 2018

Course days

Monday to Friday (5 mornings)

Course time

From 8:45 till 11:45


Prof. Philip Greenland, MD

Course fee

€ 710


Erasmus MC, Rotterdam NL




Background requirements for the course include basic epidemiology and biostatistics.

Course Materials

Online, download instructions will be sent in August by e-mail.

Textbook/Reading Materials

Text – You are not required to purchase any text for this course. All assignments will be provided as library references or PDF’s. However, if you wish to own a relevant resource text, in my opinion, the best text is currently out of print, but if you can find it on Amazon, or elsewhere, you might want to buy it. It is: Writing and Publishing in Medicine, by Edward J. Huth, Williams and Wilkins, published 1998. We will supply several chapters as PDF’s for the course. Another very good, and very short, text is How to Write A Paper, 5th Edition, edited by George M. Hall, 2013, Wiley-Blackwell, BMJ Books.

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Detailed information about this course:


Faculty: Prof. Philip Greenland

The hands-on course, taught more as a workshop than a lecture course, should be of benefit to anyone interested in improving medical writing skills and in more effectively understanding the biomedical publication process. Students will refine and demonstrate writing, reading, editing, and reviewing skills. Discussion areas include: How journal editors think and make decisions, what matters (impact factor), what/how to prepare before writing, ethics of authorship, and understanding the peer review process. This course is designed to improve medical writing skills for those who already have some experience in medical writing, including those with moderately extensive experience.

  • How journal editors and reviewers reach decisions about articles - what is important?
  • What matters - Impact Factor?
  • Editorial Ethics: Who is an author? What else is important?
  • What and how to prepare before you write
  • Learning by doing peer review
  • Learning to do an outline before writing
  • All the basics for submission: Cover letter, Title page, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Tables, Figures, References, Acknowledgements, Supplementary Material

In the first of the 5 class sessions, we will extensively review several articles as a background for improving one’s own recognition of common writing mistakes. In the remaining sessions, we will cover the following topics:

  • Improving titles and abstracts;
  • Preparing an outline before writing a paper – why this is a good idea and how to do it;
  • Discussions of papers in progress by members of the class;
  • Preparing a response to a review – how to be successful in getting your nearly accepted paper to the finish line.

Each student should be actively writing a paper or willing to share a recently completed paper to be used for discussion within the class.

It is strongly encouraged that students submit papers-in-progress to the professor before the course begins since these can be used for class discussions.

Class members will be expected to take part in active discussion, and are encouraged to do approximately one hour of reading and up to 1-2 hours of writing each day before class, and to submit a paper for review before the class begins on August 20.

Teaching methods: There will be readings for each class and some writing assignments between classes. The class depends on very active participation in analyzing papers, writing outlines, titles, abstracts, and responses to reviews. While there will be some degree of \"lecturing\" from the professor, the class is primarily designed for active learning by the students rather than learning from lecture.

Important Request

This class will utilize written work for workshop analysis. It is desirable, and preferred, to utilize actual written materials prepared by members of the class. Please send to Professor Greenland, in advance of the class, at least one paper that you are currently working on, or a paper currently under peer review, or even an outline of a paper that you are proposing. Wherever possible, workshop discussions will be based upon actual writing from members of the class. Please participate!!!


  • To improve writing skills by active learning and critique of one’s own work and the work of others
  • To adopt new habits that will improve one’s writing in a predictable and consistent way
  • To make oneself a better collaborating author and to improve the work of your co-authors

Participant profile

Anyone interested in improving writing skills and making his/her writing more competitive for the top-tier journals. Medical students, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and early career faculty may find the course valuable. It is essential that one bring to the course previous writing experience, and a recently published paper or (preferably) a paper that is near completion must be provided to the professor before the first day of class.