Integrated Writing

Department of Chemistry Integrated Writing Requirement

Expertise with various forms of writing is necessary for successful careers in Chemistry and Biochemistry as well as the many associated professions that students with these majors are prepared to pursue. The development and refinement of writing skills associated with evidence-based analysis is integrated throughout the sequence of courses taken by Chemistry and Biochemistry majors.

Developing the skill of crafting well written scientific papers begins in the first year when students write experimental procedures for guided inquiry experiments, proposals for independent free-lance projects and formal lab reports.  The next level of expanding and honing writing skills associated with evidence-based analysis occurs in the second year Organic Chemistry laboratory courses. The courses required of students in the third and fourth years of Chemistry and Biochemistry programs of study all include extensive writing assignments. Several courses require students to write comprehensive research papers probing a specific topic in depth after extensive primary literature reading and analysis.  All of the laboratory courses include advanced training in scientific writing and proper presentation of data and error analysis.  Throughout these courses students are given a variety of writing assignments including:  literature reviews, abstracts, scientific posters, qualitative and quantitative analysis of data, research proposals, experimental procedures and scholarly papers.

Students majoring in Chemistry or Biochemistry fulfill the Integrated Writing requirement by the completion of any two upper level courses in the Chemistry Department:  213, 219, 228, 323, 368, 408, and 520.  Writing projects in these upper level courses include the following components that are key to writing in the field of chemistry: identifying and explaining experimental questions, critical analysis and use of the primary literature, organizing and reporting complex data, and crafting a clear, concise, well-structured analysis.

The Chemistry and Biochemistry Honors program provides an opportunity for students to gain further practice in Integrated Writing by undertaking a senior honors thesis. The course sequence beginning the spring of the third year of study is 364, 365 and 370. Writing a senior honors thesis is an optional, but highly valuable opportunity to participate in authentic scientific research independently and explore Chemistry/Biochemistry beyond coursework.