From the writing course “Better together” in Bergen, Norway

Author: Muhammad Asaduzzaman

Muhammad Asaduzzaman, PhD Research Fellow at the University of Oslo and IBA member, received funding from us to attend a course in Bergen. This is what he has written as a report from his course:

Since my arrival in Norway early this year, this is my first trip to any Norwegian city other than Oslo. When Tina informed the last minute offer to join a course on popular science writing in Bergen from 14-18 October, it seemed to be a great opportunity for me as a first year PhD student.  This course was organized by DEEP (Norwegian Research School for Dynamics and Evolution of Earth and Planets) and the students came from three research schools – IBA (The National Graduate School in Infection Biology and Antimicrobials), NORBIS (National research school in bioinformatics, biostatistics and systems biology) and DEEP.

Group photo of participants (photo credit: Dr Muhammad Asaduzzaman)

As mentioned in the course website, this is definitely a successful initiative to develop basic writing skill in clear and concise way. This course has redefined my way of thinking in writing both scientific and general context. We learn many things but forget again without practice. This 5 day course is a complete package of sharing idea, writing in own way, polishing with others’ feedback and development of a final draft. The basic, simple but important steps I have learnt here is the use of active voice, continued flow, cutting needless and repetitive words, use of strong voice and avoid the long noun/adjective strings. In addition, we have realized the beauty of peer review how it improves the write-up skill for self and others. 

The most important instruments in a training course are the proactive mentor/instructor and attentive participants. Mathew Stiller-Reeve, senior Meteorological researcher, school teacher, science communication expert and founder of SciSnack writing community is such a wonderful person to conduct this type of courses. Maybe we were the great attendee as well ( ). Because Mathew evaluated us as “You all impressed me by your hard work and development throughout the course. I really enjoyed watching your articles develop throughout the week”

The instructor, Mathew Stiller-Reeve with Dr. Asad (photo credit: Dr. Muhammad Asaduzzaman)

Disregarding the flow we learnt, I can’t resist myself to tell about the city of Bergen. Bergen is a nice green city with an amazing amalgamation of sea and hills. I booked my hotel (unintentionally) near the most of the tourist attractions like Mount Floyen and the Funicular (Floibanen), Bryggen, Fish Market, theatre hall, several museums in university of Bergen, Bergenhus fortress etc. I was fortunate to visit the Natural History Museum when it was reopened after 3 years’ restoration process on October 14. I really enjoyed my stay in this city of scenic beauty with little boring rain.

Nice buildings in Bryggen area (photo credit: Dr Muhammad Asaduzzaman)

Finally, my impression about this basic writing course is that all PhD students in their first year should attend this interdisciplinary training. The organizers can also think of an advanced course on scientific article writing for those who have attended this course and some sort of grant writing training for final year PhD students and postdocs.

I express my gratitude to IBA for the travel support as well as for the opportunity to attend this excellent course.