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Writing Scientific Papers: English Writing for Physicists

Module PH8116

This module handbook serves to describe contents, learning outcome, methods and examination type as well as linking to current dates for courses and module examination in the respective sections.

Module version of SS 2016

There are historic module descriptions of this module. A module description is valid until replaced by a newer one.

Whether the module’s courses are offered during a specific semester is listed in the section Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature below.

available module versions
SS 2022SS 2021SS 2020SS 2019WS 2016/7SS 2016

Basic Information

PH8116 is a semester module in English language at Master’s level and graduate-studies level which is offered in winter semester.

This Module is included in the following catalogues within the study programs in physics.

  • Catalogue of soft-skill courses

If not stated otherwise for export to a non-physics program the student workload is given in the following table.

Total workloadContact hoursCredits (ECTS)
120 h  h 4 CP

Responsible coordinator of the module PH8116 in the version of SS 2016 was Stephan Paul.

Content, Learning Outcome and Preconditions


This course aims at teaching two key competences in scientific life:

  • How to write a scientific paper/thesis
  • How to write clear applications

We discuss all aspects of scientific paper writing and touch the following subjects

  • Style of (scientific) english writing
    • basic english grammar
    • elements of style with emphasis on commonly occurring mistakes
    • editing your own writing
    • introduction to English references
  • Papers:
    • How to frame a paper
      • How to choose the journal
      • How to choose a title
    • How to structure a paper and the scientific content
      • Abstract writing
      • Laying out of a paper
      • Laying out of plots and graphs
      • How to efficiently prepare a paper (includes paper writing in collaborations)
    • Referencing (including pratice with endnotes and bibtex)
  • Conferences:
    • How to write a conference abstract
    • How to write proceedings (strong page limitations)
  • Thesis (master/PhD thesis)
    • appropriate structuring your thesis (introduction, main body, conclusions, appendices..)
  • Funding applications:
    • Determine what you really want/need
    • Choose the context/topic
    • Joint funding
    • How to choose the funding agency/funding program
    • How to choose your language and style of writing

Learning Outcome

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Courses, Learning and Teaching Methods and Literature

Courses and Schedule

VO 2 English Writing for Physicists Paul, S.
Assistants: Greenwald, D.
Wed, 16:00–18:00, PH II 127
Wed, 16:00–18:00, MW 1050

Learning and Teaching Methods

The course will give guidelines (there a few general rules) on how to organize and conduct your work. The course will work with real examples ((famous) papers, theses, applications). Using examples the participants will have to design/write their own sample work (like abstracts, introductions, conclusions, summaries). A native English speaker will give hints on proper use of english language, idioms and writing style all adapted to the scientific context, based on well referenced standards.


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W. Strunk & E.B. White, The Elements of Style (top priority) (10$)

other books:

  • K. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses and Dissertations
  • MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers
  • The Chiago Manual of Style (Thick reference book)
  • The Garner’S Modern American Usage (Thick reference book)

Module Exam

Description of exams and course work

no info
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