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An interactive online course for scientific writing and publishing, delivered by Nature Research journal editors
Case Study: Chitkara University
An interactive online course for scientific writing and publishing, delivered by Nature Research journal editors
Field of study
Natural sciences
Training areas
Scientific writing
Research publishing
Recipients
Undergraduate students
Postgraduate students
Faculty
Program elements
Online course
Blended learning
Workshop

Background

Chitkara University is renowned as one of the best private universities in the North India region. The university offers multi-disciplinary programs in a wide range of fields including business, engineering, health sciences and education, all of which are designed to be industry-relevant. The university has established a research centre of excellence, known as the Chitkara University Research and Innovation Network (CURIN), to foster a culture of research and innovation and enable its researchers to work collaboratively across disciplines.

To support their research mission, Chitkara University became a subscriber to the Nature Masterclasses online course in Scientific Writing and Publishing in 2017.

Nature Masterclasses online course

The Scientific Writing and Publishing online course is delivered by editors from the Nature Research journals and gives a first-hand insight into how to publish in top journals. The editors share their editorial and scientific experience and give practical advice on the writing and publishing processes. In addition, interactive activities enable researchers to apply and solidify their learnings.

Chitkara University has a site-wide subscription, which enables all members of the university to access the course online.

Mandating the course and ‘blended learning’ with workshops

Upon subscribing to the Nature Masterclasses course, Chitkara University decided to make it mandatory for their postgraduate students. Describing their decision to do this, Dr Rajnish Sharma, the Dean (Research) of Chitkara University, explained:

“We realised the need to sow the seeds of research at the very basic level, rather than limiting it to only a handful number of senior professors.”

As well as mandating the Nature Masterclasses course for postgraduate students, the university decided to create an elective for undergraduate students based around the course. The elective, called Publishing Research, comprised 45 contact hours, spread across one semester. During the contact hours, students watched and discussed the videos from the Nature Masterclasses course, and engaged with case studies, presentations and activities. This type of blended learning (combining online digital media with traditional classroom methods) can be very engaging, efficient and collaborative for learners.

Chitkara University also used the Nature Masterclasses course as part of a workshop it conducted for 500 faculty members during the summer. The faculty members used the course to learn the basics about writing good quality research papers.

Outcomes

Over 240 students registered and using the course

Including the Nature Masterclasses course in the faculty workshop was beneficial to the faculty members and also ultimately to the students.

“As an outcome of the summer workshop, this pool of faculty members could draft a significant number of research papers… We further believe that knowledge acquired by faculty members will be passed on to the students.”
-Dr Rajnish Sharma, the Dean (Research) of Chitkara University

For the Publishing Research elective, the university evaluated its impact by asking students to complete 3 tasks:

  1. A multiple choice test, based on the Nature Masterclasses course videos
  2. Prepare a draft research paper, with a Title, abstract and brief Introduction only
  3. Prepare a fully-fledged research paper with all sections

As a result of the third task, the students prepared 19 draft research papers.

“…they familiarised themselves with the whole life cycle of a research paper – right from the inception of an idea, through to the final publication of the paper.”
-Dr Rajnish Sharma, the Dean (Research) of Chitkara University

It (the elective results) gives us the confidence that we did a fairly good job. We could kindle a desire among young minds to engage themselves in research and publish good quality research papers.

Dr Rajnish Sharma Dean (Research)
Chitkara University
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