Lugano, Switzerland

How to Forge Arguments in Writing Scientific Papers

when 12 August 2024 - 16 August 2024
language English
duration 1 week
fee CHF 700

Workshop contents and objectives

Publishing scientific papers represents a core activity of researchers and, increasingly the career of young scholars is determined by their ability to publish in high-reputed outlets. The process has become more and more competitive with success rates on top-journals becoming extremely low and the publication process longer and extenuating in the extent of revisions needed. In such an environment, forging strong argument to convince reviewers of the novelty and robustness of your findings in order to get their support has become a core dimension of scientific writing.

The goal of this workshop is help PhD students to understand how to forge strong arguments in writing their own papers and to assess the extent to which they are likely to convince their readers and, specifically, journal editors and reviewers. Further, we will analyze how to engage in a (critical) discussion with reviewers and to answer effectively to their comments,

The course will build on two main pillars. On the one hand, an understanding of science as a community of practice, where scholars discuss their ideas in front of peers and engage in discussions about their validity, whose outcome determines whether these ideas are included as part of the accepted realm of knowledge. In such a perspective, activities such as presenting at conferences, writing scientific articles, submitting grant proposals are central to the development of science, as well as to the career of individual researchers. Scientific communication takes place largely through texts, which obey to specific literary conventions, but are also constructed in order to convince the reader and to refute objections using elements such as past authority (citations), logical argumentation, data, statistical analyses etc.

On the other hand, the course will build on theories of human communication, which extensively analyzed how argumentation can be used effectively to bring interlocutors, such as other scientists, to your side through strategic maneuvering. These theories lead to an understanding of scientific communication as a critical discussion, in which scientists advance and defend their ideas by respective a code of conduct that, for example, obliges them to take seriously the objection of peers and to respond through new valid arguments. In such a perspective, researchers are highly strategic in engaging in scientific debates and pursue multiple objectives, such as improving their work, getting their ideas accepted and enhancing the status in scientific communities. Conceptualizing scientific communication in these terms will help students to better understand how to manage their writings and how to avoid mistakes that might lead to a refusal of their ideas or results or to jeopardize their position within the community.

The workshop will be organized in face-to-face lectures and in practical exercises, in which students will analyze scientific texts for their argumentative content and simulate scientific debates playing both the proponent and opponent role. It will focus in this respect on two major forms of scientific communication, i.e. the scientific paper and the grant proposal.

Workshop design

Face to face lectures in the mornings, practical work in the afternoon:

Argumentative analysis of selected papers in social sciences (in groups);
Argumentation pitches on your own research.

Detailed lecture plan (daily schedule)

Day 1.
Introduction: science in action and the role of writing in science; Argumentative Warm-up.

Day 2.
Analysing arguments in scientific papers.

Day 3.
The publishing process and dialoguing with reviewers.

Day 4.
Crafting arguments in scientific papers: a production perspective,

Day 5.
Argumentation in grant proposal writing.


None, but PhD students already engaged in writing scientific papers will benefit most of the course.

Course leader

Benedetto Lepori is a titular professor at the Institute of Communication and Public Policy at Università della Svizzera italiana.

Andrea Rocci is a Full Professor and Director of the Institute of Argumentation at Università della Svizzera italiana.

Target group

graduate students, doctoral researchers, early career researchers

Credits info

The Summer School cannot grant credits. We only deliver a Certificate of Participation, i.e. we certify your attendance.

If you consider using Summer School workshops to obtain credits (ECTS), you will have to investigate at your home institution (contact the person/institute responsible for your degree) to find out whether they recognise the Summer School, how many credits can be earned from a workshop/course with roughly 35 hours of teaching, no graded work, and no exams.

Make sure to investigate this matter before registering if this is important to you.

Fee info

CHF 700: Reduced fee: 700 Swiss Francs per weekly workshop for students (requires proof of student status).*

Reduced Fee

To qualify for the reduced fee, you are required to send a copy of an official document that certifies your current student status or a letter from your supervisor stating your actual position as a doctoral or postdoctoral researcher. Send this letter/document by e-mail to

*These fees also include participation in one of the preliminary workshops (a 2/3-day workshop preceding the Summer School). The registration fee for the Preliminary workshop booked on its own is 200 CHF.
CHF 1100: Normal fee: 1100 Swiss Francs per weekly workshop for all others.*

*These fees also include participation in one of the preliminary workshops (a 2/3-day workshop preceding the Summer School). The registration fee for the Preliminary workshop booked on its own is 200 CHF.