Teaching plan for the course unit



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General information


Course unit name: Scientific Communication

Course unit code: 569888

Academic year: 2019-2020

Coordinator: Francesc Cardellach Lopez

Department: Faculty of Medicine

Credits: 3

Single program: S



Estimated learning time

Total number of hours 75


Face-to-face and/or online activities



-  Lecture





-  Group tutorial





-  Document study




Supervised project


Independent learning




Competences to be gained during study


— Capacity to write original articles.

— Capacity to prepare and present an oral communication.

— Capacity to prepare and present a poster.





Learning objectives


Referring to knowledge

The primary goal of research in the biomedical field is to obtain results that can be applied to the improvement of the diagnosis and/or treatment of diseases. Developments in any related area require validated evidence and, thus, the critical evaluation of the scientific community. This evaluation can only take place if the results of research are effectively communicated and reviewed in the appropriate forums, so that they may be certified and applied to patient care with surety. Equally, as a professional in the field one must be capable of critically assessing the results of research conducted by others. Ultimately, effective communication and the critical analysis of scientific production are essential in achieving these objectives. Research has no value unless it can be verified and disclosed among the scientific community in any of various acceptable ways, whether oral or in writing.

Undergraduate curriculums in the field of biomedicine at the University of Barcelona do not include a course that specifically teaches these skills, although they undoubtedly cover some of the aspects in a general sense. However, this lack, along with the fact that these skills are essential for researchers needing to communicate their results, whether orally or on a poster at a conference or in a written piece for a biomedical journal, clearly justifies the inclusion of this subject in the context of the master’s degree. As an example of the need for this, look no further than the difficulties that most doctoral students have in presenting a thesis, communicating partial results or writing an article on biomedicine.

From this perspective on the absolute need to become a good communicator, the content of this elective course is clearly a very appropriate addition to the master’s degree for all those who wish to acquire or improve their communication skills, which are not just complementary but, indeed, integral to the qualifications of all good researchers in the field of biomedicine.

On completion of the subject students will have achieved the following objectives:

— Learn the technique of preparing a biomedical article.

— Develop the capacity for critical reading of biomedical articles.

— Understand how to objectively choose which biomedical journal to send the results of a research project.

— Learn how to prepare and deliver an oral presentation.

— Learn the techniques involved in preparing and presenting a research poster.



Teaching blocks


1. Types of scientific communication

*  Introduction to the course outlining why learning science communication is necessary and the different ways there are to carry it out. Basically, this covers general aspects, differences and indications relating to: oral presentations, biomedical articles (print and electronic), and research posters. It also includes an analysis of the transmission of information by electronic means.

2. Scientific articles

*  An explanation of the various types of biomedical article: original research articles, editorials, letters to the editor, reviews, and others. Also, of how to prepare an original research article, detailing its structure and different sections: introduction, material and methods, results, discussion, bibliographical references, tables and figures. Special emphasis is placed on the writing of abstracts. Most common mistakes made in each section.

3. Bibliographic sources

*  Rigour with bibliographic references generally reflects the quality of the research and the biomedical article itself. The most widely used bibliographic sources for research are explained. International standards for citing and presenting bibliographies are also discussed, with special attention devoted to the most common errors made and the consequences. Wide explanation on Open Access Journals.

4. The decision-making process

*  This topic deals with deciding where to send an original research article: the choice of journal is key to success. It explains the importance of the covering letter, the relevant forms to be completed, and the submission of an article via electronic means. The importance of the impact factor.

5. The publishing process

*  This entails all the stages a manuscript goes through from the time it is accepted by a publisher through to the production phase. It provides an overview so that students may understand the various stages of the process that their manuscript will go through. Special emphasis is placed on the role of the editorial board, as a fundamental cornerstone of the process. Finally, the process of online publishing is explained.

6. Assessment of the quality of a scientific article

*  Analysis of the formal quality and content of a biomedical article as per internationally accepted standards. Special emphasis is placed on maintaining an appropriate structure, proper exposition of method, the content of results and the development of related arguments. Critical analysis of the title, abstract and reference list. Explanation and discussion of the most common mistakes.

7. Critical analysis of the design and statistical methodology of a biomedical article

*  The design of a scientific study and the statistical methodology used are key aspects in the validity of the results. This topic discusses the major biomedical research designs, the most-used statistical techniques and the most frequent errors.

8. The peer review process

*  Peer review is a key phase in the process of assessing the quality of a biomedical article. This topic analyses the role of experts, the characteristics, the number used, degree of compliance, and the level of improvement in articles thanks to their input. It also looks at the interaction between the expert committee and the editorial board.

9. Ethics and bias in biomedical publication

*  Analysis of all the ethical issues that may affect a biomedical article, from those pertaining to authors to those affecting the editorial board and peers. Sets out the internationally accepted standards and mechanisms for preventing or, at least, minimizing the influence of ethically undesirable factors. Concept of duplicate publication, redundant publication and fraud. Bias in biomedical publication is also discussed.

10. Post-publication impact

*  The influence of a biomedical manuscript is not only limited to the scientific arena but also may have repercussions in society at large. This is clear from the relationship publishers maintain with the media. The significance of this relationship, as well as of the transfer of knowledge resulting from research, is important enough to warrant close analysis. The rules governing this relationship and which influence the media impact of a biomedical publication are also covered.

11. Oral communication

*  This topic covers the preparation of an oral presentation, from the beginning of the idea. The various techniques used in public speaking are addressed. Typical errors and flaws that should be avoided in the delivery of an oral presentation are also detailed.

12. Preparation and presentation of a research poster

*  The world of the image has undergone exponential development in recent years. Scientific communication through images is the purpose of the research poster. This form of communication is analysed by studying the various methods of poster preparation, their growing importance, the pros and cons, most common errors and the mechanics of presentation. Finally, some reflections on the concept of the ideal poster are made.



Teaching methods and general organization


Face-to-face learning activities


Lectures are based on the use of visual media, mainly PowerPoint presentations (working knowledge of the technology is assumed), and are characterised by continuous interaction between the teacher and students. Prior to each class students are provided with the specific and required learning material for the relevant topic. Additional material, schematic diagrams and other information needed for the classes is provided in the electronic dossier for the course, which is hosted at the corresponding address on the UB Virtual Campus.

Practical classes

Practical learning exercises are set by the teacher responsible for the related theoretical subject matter, once that topic has been taught. The necessary material is provided for each exercise. This typically includes copies of biomedical articles, abstracts, etc. To carry out these practical exercises students need access to a computer with Internet connection and a projector.

Distance learning

Assignment tasks

Students must devote sufficient time to the preparation of several assignment tasks following guidelines given in the classroom: 1) preparation of an abstract for a biomedical article (as per previously established instructions), a covering letter, a bibliography search and a reference list using the Vancouver system; 2) preparation of an oral presentation, and 3) preparation of a research poster. The estimated time required outside class to complete this work is approximately 15 hours in total.

Independent study

Students are expected to devote sufficient time to studying the course content outlined in the classroom, which comprises the subject matter of the final examination for the course. The time required for independent study of the 12 topics is estimated to be 15 hours in total.



Official assessment of learning outcomes


Assessment criteria

— Class attendance (maximum 3 points).
— Practical exercises and assignments (maximum 3 points).
— 20-question multiple-choice test (maximum 4 points): each multiple-choice test question has five optional answers, where only one is correct. Wrong answers do not incur a penalty.

The final grade for the subject is calculated by the following scale:
— 0-4.9: Fail
— 5.0-6.9: Pass
— 7.0-8.9: Merit
— 9.0-10: Excellent

A minimum 80% class attendance is required to pass the subject.

Students with a final grade higher than 9.0 may opt for an honours mention.

Assessment procedure

Assessment is finalised jointly by the four teachers who teach the subject based on the score obtained in each of the three evaluation criteria.



Reading and study resources

Consulteu la disponibilitat a CERCABIB


Hall GM. How to write a paper. 5th ed. Chichester, West Sussex : John Wiley & Sons, 2013.  EnllaƧ

Rozman C...(et al.). Manual de estilo : publicaciones biomédicas/ Medicina Clínica. Barcelona [etc.] : Mosby/Doyma Libros, 1993.  EnllaƧ

Hall GM. How to present at meetings. 2nd ed. London : BMJ, 2007.  EnllaƧ

Stuart C. Técnicas básicas para hablar en público. Madrid [etc.] : Deusto, DL 1991.  EnllaƧ

Norman G. Cómo escribir un artículo científico en inglés. Madrid: Hélice; 1999.  EnllaƧ

Huth EJ. Writing and publishing in Medicine. 3rd ed. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1999.  EnllaƧ

Lang TA, Secic M. How to Report Statistics i Medicine: annotated guidelines for authors, editors and reviewers. Philadelphia: American College of Physicians, 1997.  EnllaƧ

Investigación Médica en Medicina Clínica: Aspectos metodológicos:  Selección 1983-1997 de  Medicina Clínica. Barcelona: Ediciones Doyma, 1998.  EnllaƧ

Lock S. A difficult balance; editorial peer review in medicine. Philadelphia (Pa.) : ISI Press, 1986.




Guarding the guardians. Research on editorial peer review. JAMA 1990;263:1317-1441.  EnllaƧ

Arnau C, Cobo E, Ribera JM, Cardellach F, Selva A, Urrutia A. Efecto de la revisión estadística en la calidad de los manuscritos publicados en Medicina Clínica: estudio aleatorizado Med Clin (Barc) 2003; 121:690-4.  EnllaƧ

Arnau C, Cobo E, Ribera JM, Cardellach F, Selva A, Urrutia A. Efecto de la revisión estadística en la calidad de los manuscritos publicados en Medicina Clínica: estudio aleatorizado. Med Clin (Barc) 2003; 121:690-694.  EnllaƧ

Cardellach F, Ribera JM, Feliu E, Rey C. Las cartas al Director en Medicina Clínica: 1985-1996. Med Clin (Barc) 1998; 109:525.  EnllaƧ

Pulido M. Publicaciones biomédicas (varios artículos). Med Clin (Barc) 1977; 68:45-6, 257-9  EnllaƧ

Pulido M. Publicaciones biomédicas (varios artículos). Med Clin (Barc) 1976; 67:100-5, 252-3.  EnllaƧ

Pulido M. Publicaciones biomédicas (varios artículos). Med Clin (Barc) 1975; 65:156-7, 217-8, 264-5, 311-3, 436-7.  EnllaƧ

Pulido M. El médico en las reuniones científicas: cómo hablar en público para tener éxito. Medicina Clinica,  2004,Vol.123, 17, Pages 664-668.  EnllaƧ

Ribera JM, Cardellach F, Selva A. Procesos de revisión y de edición en Medicina Clínica. Med Clin (Barc) 2005; 125 (supl.1): 3-7.  EnllaƧ

Kronick DA. Peer review in 18th-century scientific journalism. JAMA 1990;263:1321-1322.  EnllaƧ

Burnham JC. The evolution of editorial peer review. JAMA 1990;263:1323-1329.  EnllaƧ

The First International Congress on Peer Review in Biomedical Publication. JAMA 1990;263:1317-1441.  EnllaƧ

The Second International Congress on Peer Review in Biomedical Publication. JAMA 1994;272:79-174.  EnllaƧ

Web page

International Committee of Medical Journal Editors. Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals. Updated october 2005.  EnllaƧ

Ir a “advise to contributors”. Normas de publicación, guías para evaluación de los artículos, editoriales sobre temas de publicación médica de interés.  EnllaƧ