OSW Office of Scientific Writing
The Office of Scientific Writing (OSW) was established to maximize the research potential of CPH faculty and staff by helping to refine grant applications, journal articles, IRB materials, and other research-related communications. We can edit manuscripts, create figures, and guide investigators through the IRB process. Check out the FAQ below to learn more about how the OSW works and what it can do for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Office of Scientific Writing (OSW)?
The Office of Scientific Writing (OSW) is a virtual office staffed by people with expertise in scientific writing and publishing who can assist College faculty and staff members with research-related writing projects such as journal manuscripts, grant applications, and IRB documents.
Who can use OSW services?
OSW staff can assist College of Public Health faculty and staff members with research-related writing projects.
What services does the OSW provide?
OSW staff can assist at any point in the writing process, from early drafting stages to final copy editing and preparing to submit to a journal, funding institution, or UK IRB. For journal manuscripts, authors often involve the OSW when a working draft is in hand. For grant applications, authors often consult with the OSW iteratively as sections of the grant are developed. Those who have used OSW services have remarked that having someone outside the coauthor group read, edit, and comment on a draft typically results in clearer, more publishable, and more impactful manuscripts. In addition to helping to write, edit, and revise text, the OSW can help create publication-quality graphs and other visuals. The OSW does not format citations and bibliographies/reference lists; however, OSW staff can answer questions about using bibliographic software such as EndNote.
The OSW also has an administrative writer who can assist with IRB proposals, help navigate the E-IRB platform, and answer questions on the UK IRB process. The administrative writer serves as an IRB liaison connecting faculty and staff with Office of Research Integrity contacts.
How do I use OSW services?
For journal manuscripts and grants, begin by completing the online intake form (https://is.gd/OSWIntakeCPH). There you can provide information about yourself, your project, and the services that you are requesting. You can also use this form to request a meeting with OSW staff and to upload your draft documents. Someone from the OSW will contact you to begin the collaboration.
IRB support is available to assist faculty with various IRB forms, the E-IRB process, Institutional Authorization Agreements, and more. An IRB consultation can be requested at the initial stage of IRB submission or after receiving requested revisions to review questions and language in the protocol. Contact Doris Castellanos for support.
How long will it take for the OSW to edit my materials?
The OSW operates on a first-come, first-served basis, so the current workload can influence turn-around time. Also, the type of services you request and the state or quality of the manuscript can impact timing. Given all that, OSW staff can usually return marked-up materials to the author within one week, often less. In general, try to give the OSW a few weeks of lead time, but don’t hesitate to request services even if you have a very tight timeline. Arrangements can often be made. Also, note that many journal manuscripts benefit from two editing cycles with the OSW—the first to address higher-level issues of cohesiveness and clarity, the second to address the details of copy editing and formatting.
Can students use OSW services?
OSW services are for faculty and staff. However, if you are a graduate student, if your faculty advisor is a coauthor on your journal manuscript, and if the manuscript advances your advisor’s research agenda, then he or she can request OSW services.
Are OSW services confidential?
The OSW staff is very sensitive to the proprietary nature of the methods, findings, and ideas articulated in journal manuscripts and grant proposals. Nothing you submit to the OSW will be shared or discussed with anyone except you and your designees.
Who is the OSW staff, and why should I believe they can improve my writing?
Journal manuscripts and grant applications are read and edited by Steve Claas. Steve has a bachelor’s degree in zoology and a master’s degree in scientific and technical communication. He has been involved in environmental and public health research for over 25 years, coauthored ~50 journal articles and book chapters, edited ten volumes of full-manuscript conference proceedings, and worked as a journal managing editor. He has been using computer graphics software since before the invention of color. IRB consultations are provided by Emily Clear, MPH, CHES. Emily is a public health researcher and research program manager with experience in regulatory and multi-site project management. In the Office of Scientific Writing, she serves as a CPH IRB liaison for faculty, staff, and the UK Office of Research Integrity.
What are people saying about the OSW?
"As always, Steve’s feedback is detailed, thorough, prompt and exceptional. He has this ability to break things down into pieces that seem doable, rather than providing vague, general comments which has been my experience with others in the past. He’s also able to infuse his constructive criticism with levity, and often includes useful examples to demonstrate the point he’s making. Despite him having no background in my particular research areas, he gave me the most insightful feedback I’ve received on that paper since I first drafted it many years ago. I am a Steve fan!"
"The OSW has been an amazing resource. A recent interdisciplinary grant submission came back where reviewers clearly missed the point. A paper that was “so close” but needed help to get submitted. A resubmission of a paper where the new journal was a different format. A complicated methods paper that needed an external review/revision to improve clarity. The OSW has helped with them all, providing responsive, efficient, and insightful edits. My colleagues in other colleges are jealous that we have such an incredible asset."