The Dr. Antoni Esteve Foundation and the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) have launched  Writing for the Biomedical Sciences, a new online course aimed at those who want to improve their skills in scientific writing in English.

This course, that begar on 2020 March 11th, lasting a total of 13 weeks and comprising 50 hours (2 ECTS) of student’s work, represents a further step in our goal to offer tools to improve scientific dissemination in the field of scientific publishing. After the cancellation of their face-to-face courses in March as a measure to stop the expansion of the coronavirus, the Dr. Antoni Esteve Foundation has decided to offer 9 more grants for this online course

Our first initiative, the course Cómo redactar un artículo científico – Online Edition gives basic notions about the structure of an original research paper and how to write each of its sections. This second initiative not only has lessons on the structure of an original research article but shows how to write it following the cornerstones of scientific writing in English: precision, simplicity, fluidity and concision. It also provides practical knowledge about the process of publishing scientific articles. Unlike other online courses, each student will have the opportunity to apply the lessons learned to their own manuscript as part of the course activities.

Offered as a research, transfer and entrepreneurship course by UOC’s Doctoral School, the course is aimed at students, graduates and postgraduates in the field of health sciencies (Biology, Biotechnology, Medicine, Nursery, etc.). However, scientific translators can also benefit from the course contents.

Although it has been an initiative of the Dr. Antoni Esteve Foundation and counts with John Giba’s expertise as a scientific and medical translator, we also have had UOC’s support and experience in both designing and delivering the course. The teaching team is comprised by John Giba, the course instructor, and Raquel Viejo and Salvador Macip, UOC’s faculty teachers with extensive experience in scientific writing and teaching tools management.

Teaching staff

John Giba

Originally from the United States, he completed a bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh in 1984 and has taught English in Spain since the following year. His current activity centres mainly on helping scientists and healthcare professionals to draft scientific manuscripts for international journals and prepare for oral presentations at conferences. In this vein, he has led conferences and workshops as part of a number of biomedical English courses. Additionally, he has designed and taught a module on scientific English in a range of master’s degree programmes at the faculties of medicine of the University of Barcelona (UB) and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). He has co-authored three books on scientific communication: Surgical English (2010), Inglés médico y sanitario (English for Medicine and Health, 2010) and Preparing and Delivering Scientific Presentations (2011). His fourth book, Developing Skills in Scientific Writing, is available free of charge through the Dr Antoni Esteve Foundation. 


Raquel Viejo

Master’s degree in Cognitive Neuropsychology and doctoral degree in Neurosciences from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM). She is currently a tenured professor at the UOC and conducts research with Cognitive NeuroLab (CNIT). She also works with the Laboratory for Neuropsychiatry and Neuromodulation at Massachusetts General Hospital (Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA). Her research focuses on exploring the neural bases of cognitive processes and emotional processing, for which she employs non-invasive brain stimulation and neuroimaging techniques.


Salvador Macip

Medical doctor and doctoral degree in Molecular Genetics from the University of Barcelona. Expert in the molecular basis of cancer and ageing, he heads the Mechanisms of Cancer and Ageing lab ( at the University of Leicester. Professor and researcher at UOC since 2020. He is also dedicated to scientific dissemination, and has published several books and articles in different media platforms.


Methodology and content

Through readings and exercises, students will learn to properly organize the information in the scientific article and to use the appropriate language following the principles of scientific writing in English: precision, simplicity, fluidity and concision. In addition, they will apply this knowledge to draft and improve their own scientific manuscripts. In blocks, students will apply the lessons learned to each of the sections of their manuscripts and will also review the texts of two of their classmates and suggest ways to improve them, under the supervision of the three course teachers.

The course includes the following lessons:

  1. Biomedical writing basics
  • IMRaD structure for research papers
  • The writing process and how to choose a journal
  1. The introduction section
  • Principle: Fluidity
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Writing the introduction
  1. The methods section
  • Precision
  • Writing the methods section
  1. The results section
  • Principle: Simplicity
  • Presenting data and making good figures
  • Writing the results
  1. The discussion section
  • Principle: Concision
  • Writing the discussion
  1. Putting it all together and the icing on the cake
  • Titles
  • Abstracts
  • Summary statements and conclusions
  • Putting together the manuscript
  1. Getting published
  • How to deal with the reviewers

Dr. Antoni Esteve Foundation grants

After the cancellation of their face-to-face courses in March as a measure to stop the expansion of the coronavirus, the Dr. Antoni Esteve Foundation offered 9 more grants for this online course, which have already been sold out. Those people who submitted their application will have preference in the inscription of the next edition of this course, which will take place during the second semester of 2020. Meanwhile, inscriptions are still open for the online course Cómo redactar un artículo científco (in Spanish) and the book Developing skills in scientific writing, by John Giba, is available.

Comments from the first edition participants

Participants in the first edition of Writing for the biomedical sciences rated the course with an average of 7.3 out of 10. 80% would recommend the course to another person.

“I find it very useful because it has allowed me to have the opinion of colleagues who do not work in my field, the contributions on English have been very useful and also add clarity to the article that I had not been able to get from co-authors”.

Professor John Giba, the course set up and the materials were excellent. The experience with my two group colleagues could not have been more positive, it was a very good idea to be evaluated by them and to evaluate their works as well. Although, personally it has been somewhat difficult for me to combine the course with work (due to changes in my work status), in general the pace of the course’s activities and deadlines did seem appropriate”.