Harvard Macy Institute Podcast

Season 3 Episode 4: Better academic Writing with Lorelei Lingard

April 25, 2022

Most of us would like to ‘write better’, but few of us make intentional efforts to improve. Lorelei Lingard is internationally known for her efforts to help health researchers and clinical scholars become better writers. In this podcast we talk about her Writers Studio courses and her book “Story, not Study”, 30 Brief Lessons to Inspire Health Researchers as Writers.

Lorelei Lingard has a ‘day job’ as Professor in the Department of Medicine, and Senior Scientist at the Centre for Education Research & Innovation, both at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University in Canada. With a PhD in Rhetoric, she studies the communication practices of clinical teams, and evidence-based educational initiatives to improve teamwork.  She received the Karolinska Prize for Research in Medical Education in 2018.

In this conversation, she shares details of her training in rhetoric, her transition to working in health professions education, and her joy she finds in coaching relationships as a writing mentor. We spoke about the Writer’s Craft - a transformative series of articles on better academic writing - written by Lorelei and her colleague Chris Watling (also an HMI alumnus). Each article offers a succinct pearl: Mastering the sentence, Enlisting the power of the verb, Get control of your commas, and many more. Building on this series and their coaching work, the duo has now produced “Story, not Study”, 30 Brief Lessons to Inspire Health Researchers as Writers. If you’ve never considered your writing voice, whether you paragraph strategically, or how you approach academic hedging, this is a great place to start.  

Lorelei also shared her thoughts on reading habits (she thinks Margaret Atwood is good, but not great 😊), on writing for social media (check out @LingardLorelei), and on how speaking and writing are connected. She even had the temerity to point out the lack of coherence in one of the questions I asked her in the podcast!

For more on Lorelei’s work on writing, you might like her Academic Medicine Last Page on Story, not Study, and a wonderful talk she gave about coaching writing at a seminar at McGill University.

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