Scientific Writing Workshop Series Empowers Staff

By Jessica Johnstone

A successful poster session held at the Duke’s School of Nursing this past March marked the completion of a new writing workshop series conducted by the Duke AI Health Community of Practice. This initiative, titled “Foundations of Scientific Writing for Staff Members,” was focused on helping operational staff develop and extend their scientific and scholarly communication skills.

“Although we made use of a traditional lecture-style format, we also designed the series with an eye to interactivity and student participation,” said Jonathan McCall, MS, communications director for Duke AI Health.

McCall, who helped lead the didactic portions of the workshops, went on to note that the organizers didn’t want the virtual classes, held via Zoom, to consist solely of “talking head” instruction.

“One feature that arose almost through improvisation – using small breakout sessions during the classes – helped keep things engaging for our learners,” he added.

The workshop series invited individuals with varying degrees of experience in scientific writing but was particularly focused on encouraging participation from a broad spectrum of staff, including coordinators, project managers, project leaders, and analysts. Learners had the opportunity to choose poster topics that aligned with their interests and experience in operational processes, program descriptions, communication strategies, and more.

“I’m thrilled to witness the growth and enthusiasm among participants as they honed their scientific writing skills throughout the workshop series,” said project manager Jessica Johnstone, who helped organize and run the workshop series while also participating in it as learner.

The workshop series, which was produced in collaboration with the Duke Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), comprised five sequential sessions that addressed basic principles of scholarly writing and publication and provided a foundation for hands-on experience developing posters. Although classes were conducted remotely, the culminating poster session, held on March 13th at the Christine Siegler Pearson Building at the School of Nursing, was an in-person event. Incorporated into the first day of the Fostering AI/ML Research for Health Equity and Learning Transformation (FAIR HEALTH™) symposium hosted by DUSON professor Michael Cary, PhD, RN, the interactive poster session gave participants a forum to showcase their work and gain experience both in presenting and discussing it.

“Our goal for this workshop series was to create a valuable addition to our employees’ training and development,” said workshop organizer Shelley Rusincovitch, MMCi, FAMIA, managing director of Duke AI Health and co-director of the CTSI Biomedical Informatics & Data Science (BIDS) Pillar. “We’re very glad to see this program succeed and we appreciate the support of CTSI’s leadership in making it possible.”



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