USAISR Researchers Sharpen Writing Skills

USAISR researchers participate in a writing workshop

USAISR researchers participate in a writing workshop taught by George Gopen, Professor Emeritus of the Practice of Rhetoric at Duke University June 2-5 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas. (Photo courtesy of USAISR)

Ask any researcher at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research what part of their job is most difficult and they will probably say, "writing a grant proposal."

USAISR Research Director, David Baer, agreed, "Writing a good research grant proposal is not an easy task."

To help researchers improve their professional writing, including drafting grant proposals, the Institute turned to renowned author and writing consultant George Gopen, Professor Emeritus of the Practice of Rhetoric at Duke University. During a four-day writing workshop June 2-5 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Gopen shared his unique insights.

"I discovered that reading and writing are not, as most people assume, 85 percent word choice and 15 percent structure. Rather, they are 15 percent word choice and 85 percent structure," he said. "The bottom-line question where the quality of professional writing is concerned is simple, did the reader receive what the writer was intending to send?

Chief of Statistics and Epidemiology Jeana Orman agreed with Gopen's approach.

"If the reader doesn't understand what the writer intended, the writing will not have the desired impact. That could directly affect whether a grant proposal gets funded, an article gets published, or a research protocol gets approved," she said.

While Gopen's lectures focused mostly on scientific and legal writing he stressed that his approach could be applied to all forms of communication.

Michael Barba, a registered nurse and nurse preceptor coordinator at the USAISR Burn Center Progressive Care Ward, said that this workshop will improve both her abstract writing and her personal communication.

"I find myself re-reading my emails. Before sending them, I make sure that I've communicated my message to the reader," she said.

According to Gopen, he is on a life-long crusade to teach writers the key to success: writing that meets the reader's expectations.

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Last Modified Date: 09-Jul-2014