Writing and Communicating your Science - an IAA-CSIC Severo Ochoa Workshop

Salón de Actos (IAA-CSIC)

Salón de Actos



Tutors: Henri Boffin (ESO) and Johan Knapen (IAC)

Five half days (mornings) at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA-CSIC)

There is no science without communication and no successful scientists without good writing and communication skills. You can do the best science that exists, if you don’t write papers about it – papers that get cited! ­– and if you don’t give presentations that impress people, your science will likely be ignored. Moreover, if you do not write convincing proposals that appeal to non-specialists, you won’t get observing time, nor the coveted post-doc position and certainly not the very competitive but needed grants to fund your research. Finally, as a scientist, it is your duty and privilege to communicate your science to the general public, policy makers and the media, and like all the rest, this is something that needs to be learned. 

This course is an introduction about how to get your message across in the various supports you need to use as a scientist. It is aimed are junior scientists who are writing their first papers, but will also be helpful for colleagues with more experience. The skills learned in this course will be more generally applicable as well, whether or not you not plan to build a further career as an academic.

The course will be split in five sessions combining two hours of lectures and 1.5 hours of exercises. During the course and the exercises, you will refer to your own writing when we discuss items like title, abstract, introduction, or paragraph and sentence structure, so bring with you your latest paper, whether in early draft form or submitted to a journal.


1. How to write your papers (Sessions 1-3) 

Humans like stories, and so do scientists. This is the only way to attract readers and keep them reading (or listening). So how to transform your science in a story? And how to write the story in a clear and precise way? How do you put emphasis? 

We will start by analising how you catch a reader’s attention in our current era of information overload, and highlight the importance of title and abstract.

In addition, you will study the optimum structure of a paper: where and how do you provide the information?

You will also learn to optimally structure your text, from the entire text down to the paragraphs down to the individual sentences, thereby writing for the reader. We will highlight some grammar rules you need to know so that you will write papers that are pleasant to read.

The use of tools like ChatGPT will also be discussed critically. 

2. How to write a proposal? (Session 4)

Whether you want to get observing time on big telescopes, access to supercomputers, apply for a post-doc position or a prestigious fellowship, get a tenured job, or get funding for your research, you will need to write proposals. And they need to stand out in order to be successful. In this session, you will learn the recipes to follow and the pitfalls to avoid. 

3. Presentations and other communication channels (Session 5)

It is hard to imagine a successful scientist that doesn’t give great talks. The key to this is to practice and practice, but also to make sure to apply a few rules, which you will learn during this session.


Papers, presentations, and proposals are the most important way in which scientists communicate their research results to their peers. They are, however, not the only ones. Moreover, scientists need also to communicate with journalists and the public, and this can take several forms. We will explore the various communication channels, including social media, that you should consider as a scientist and how to excel at them.

For background reading, we recommend these Perspective papers in Nature Astronomy: 


Please register as a participant for "Writing and Communicating your Science" through this link:

There will be a limit of 40 participants. In case of oversubscription we will, in general, follow a "first come, first serve" policy, but the organisers reserve the right to modify the order of the list to optimise diversity (senior/juior/student, gender, etc.). Up to 15 slots will be reserved for participants from the IAA-CSIC.

The registration fee is 175 euros. Since this is a workshop organised by the Severo Ochoa Excellence Program of the IAA-CSIC, participants from the IAA may obtain a discount. The fee will serve to cover the costs of the tutors and coffee breaks.


This event is supported by the "Center of Excellence Severo Ochoa" award to the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía. We acknowledge financial support from the Severo Ochoa grant CEX2021-001131-S funded by MCIN/AEI/ 10.13039/501100011033 from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía.

The agenda of this meeting is empty