Enhancing Scientific Communication Skills: a Real-World Simulation in a Tertiary-Level Life Science Class Using E-Learning Technology in Biomedical Literature Perception, Reflective Review Writing on a Clinical Issue, and Self and Peer Assessments

  • Elisabeth EpplerEmail author
  • Jan Meyer
  • Steffen Serowy
  • Karl Link
  • Barbara Pauk
  • Luis Filgueira


This educational study aimed to explore the feasibility and acceptance of a literacy exercise adopted from the realworld of scientific publishing in a cell and tissue biology course. For that purpose, a tertiary-level multimodality science course, which integrated a blended learning faculty and student lectures, journal club, and wet laboratory sessions including a research project as well as examinations, was complemented by essaywriting of a review and peerreviewing of five manuscripts. All tasks contributed to the final course mark. Special emphasis was laid on the usability of different E-Learning applications for scientific writing and teacher- and peerassessment procedures. Further, potential influences of student characteristics on their peer- and self-assessments as well as their acceptance of the feedback from their peers were evaluated. Seventy-five undergraduate students from different Bachelor programs were included in the study. Plagiarism check and double-blind assessments of the essays were performed using “” Students self-assessed their paper and received feedback from five peers and the teacher. Peer assessment was more severe than the teacher- or self-assessment, and the peer mark correlated best with the final course mark. Students with better marks assessed more generously, and there had moderate tendencies for influences of gender and background on peer feedback behavior. The students perceived the writing and assessment exercises, especially being peer-assessed, as demanding, but rewarding and a great learning experience. The additional tasks were feasible using E-Learning technology, which should foster future biomedical courses to train writing skills and the ability to cope with different roles in the scientific community.


Communication skills Scientific writing Peer assessment Self-assessment E-learning Blended learning Plagiarism Peer review 



The study was supported by the School of Anatomy and Human Biology and an ISL Grant, UWA, Perth, Australia.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The study was conducted in accordance with the ethics rules and regulations at the University of Western Australia.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiomedicineUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.School of Human SciencesThe University of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia
  3. 3.Department of NeuroradiologyUniversity Hospital of MagdeburgMagdeburgGermany
  4. 4.Anatomy, Department of MedicineUniversity of FribourgFribourgSwitzerland
  5. 5.European Languages and Studies, School of HumanitiesThe University of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia

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