CHEM 710/7100-01 - Chemistry Manuscript Writing

Semester: Spring 2020

Professor: K. Preuss | Discipline: Inorganic | Campus: Guelph


Pre-requisites:          CHEM*7940 or CHEM*7950; Minimum grade 75%

This is a workshop-style course designed to coach students through writing a manuscript for publication by participating in an iterative peer-review process. Students must have sufficient original, unpublished research, and permission from their supervisor, to write a manuscript for submission to a journal. Alternatively, students must arrive with a well-formed plan for an original literature review suitable for publication. Course admission is by instructor permission only.


Each student must have access to a portable device (laptop, tablet, etc.), equipped with Microsoft Word or any other word processing program that outputs a journal manuscript in a format that is acceptable to their identified journal for manuscript submission. This device must be brought to class, must be able to access the internet, and must allow the student to compose writing during class time. Each student must have access to suitable programs to prepare figures, graphs, and any other method of data visualization required for their specific manuscript. These programs might include Mercury, Photoshop, SigmaPlot, Origin, ChemDraw, etc. and might require negotiating with the student’s supervisor to gain access to a computer (not necessarily their own laptop) with the necessary program(s). EndNote or similar reference management software is recommended but not required.


Preparation tasks – 5%
Peer-reviewed manuscript tasks – 40%
Reviewer tasks – 30%
Final manuscript grade  –  25%


  1. Manuscript Writing – The ability to write a manuscript for publication, describing original research or articulating a novel and timely perspective on present literature, is a necessary skill for a successful research scientist. Chemistry journals impose specific requirements unique to the field, thus writing for chemical publications is an endeavor with narrower parameters than “scientific writing”. Objectives: Students will create a complete first draft of a manuscript intended for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. Students will select an appropriate journal for their submission, identify the manuscript components and formatting required by that journal, and prepare their manuscript accordingly. Students will craft a narrative, articulating the importance/relevance of their research/review within their field. Students will clearly and succinctly describe their original research or original review perspective, using scientific language and correct grammar. Students will write a clear and compelling introduction, an appropriate abstract, and an informative conclusion. Students will reference statements and ideas that are based on previous literature, using the most accurate, relevant, and complete references.
  2. Effective Visualization of Data – A picture says a thousand words, and figure is an invaluable way of conveying information succinctly and clearly. Equally useful are graphs and tables of data. Creating informative figures, schemes, charts, tables, and graphs is a skill that improves with practice and careful planning. Objectives: Students will plan and prepare figures, schemes, charts, tables, and graphs relevant to their manuscript that convey the information intended in the clearest, most concise manner. These components will adhere to their chosen journal’s guidelines with respect to dimensions, resolution, font, color, file type, etc.
  3. Peer Reviewing – The ability to objectively assess published information is a necessary skill for the successful research scientist. So, too, is the ability to review the work of other scientists and provide constructive feedback to improve the quality of their research, their interpretation of results, and their ability to clearly describe research such that it contributes to our collective knowledge. It is also important to be able to receive criticism and deal with it objectively and constructively to improve the science and dissemination of the science. Objectives: Students will read manuscript component submitted by their peers, assess the clarity of presentation (writing and data visualization), and provide critical written feedback to the authors that will materially improve the manuscript without being offensive. Students will evaluate feedback they receive from their peers, providing an assessment of its value, using it to improve their own manuscript, or explaining why it could not be used to improve their own manuscript (i.e., writing a rebuttal.)


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Office Hours

Office: MACN 335 Phone: x56711 Email: [email protected] I do not hold regular office hours. Please email me for an appointment so that I can guarantee you adequate time. You may ask questions by email, and I will do my best to answer them in a timely fashion during work hours. Please feel free to drop by my office any time, but be aware that I may be busy and ask you to come back later.