Seminar Series: Neil Klar, PhD

Writing Rules: Guidelines on Writing Clearly, Concisely and Ethically

Neil Klar, PhD

Associate Professor
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
Western University

Short Biography:
Neil Klar received a BSc in Environmental Biology and an MSc in Epidemiology from McGill University, an MMath in Statistics from the University of Waterloo and a PhD, in Biostatistics, from the University of Western Ontario.

His PhD was completed under the supervision of Dr. Allan Donner who also supervised his postdoctoral studies both of which focused on methods for the design and analysis of cluster randomization trials. In 1996 Neil moved to the Department of Biostatistics at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard School of Public Health as an Assistant Professor. Upon returning to Canada in 2000 he worked for Cancer Care Ontario accepting an appointment at the University of Toronto Division of Biostatistics in the then Department of Public Health Sciences. Neil was promoted to Associate Professor while in Toronto and then returned to Western's Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics as an Associate Professor with tenure in 2005. He continues his cluster randomization work and collaborates with graduate students and colleagues. Much of his (still limited) skill in writing comes from the excellent training received at Western from Dr. Donner with whom he had the privilege of collaborating on a cluster randomization text available at Amazon. Some of these writing tips will be shared in today's seminar.

The ability to communicate is often listed as one of the soft skills one should learn in university. I find this ironic as it is hard to write well! Or should I say it is difficult to write well? Happily, writing is a learned skill. With practice and attention one can learn to write clearly, concisely and ethically. This seminar provides guidelines to help you develop your skills. As you become a more skilled writer you may develop your own unique set of guidelines since there is no one way to write well. I hope that this seminar and the references and web sites listed on the following page help you with your own writing projects.

1. Pardy B. The Writing Rules: How to Write Research Papers and Essays at University. Kingston, ON: Fifth Forum Press Inc., 2006.
2. Peat J, Elliott E, Bauer L, Keena V. Scientific Writing - Easy When You Know How. London, UK: British Medical Journal Books 2002.
3. Roig M. Commentary: Ethical writing should be taught. British Medical Journal 2006; 333: 596-597.
4. Strunk W Jr, White EB. The Elements of Style, 4th Ed. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon 2000.
5. von Elm E et al., for the STROBE Initiative. The Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) Statement: guidelines for reporting observational studies. Epidemiology 2007; 18: 800-804.
6. Wilcox AJ, McCann MF. Editors declare a BAN (“Banish Acronyms Now”). Epidemiology 2009; 20: 2.

1. Scholastic Discipline
2. Plagiarism Dectection (
3. Statement of Expected Professional Conduct
4. Student Development Services - Psychological Services
5. Writing Support Centre

Date: Friday, January 13th
Time: 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm
Location: PHFM 3015 (Western Centre for Public Health and Family Medicine)