Writing Skills Workshops for Doctoral Researchers

This academic year we have a range of writing workshops designed to meet the complex demands of academic writing.

The suite as set out below aims to cover the principal writing needs of researchers in the course of writing their PhD.

The Writing Process: Getting Started333

For many researchers, starting to draft is one of the most challenging aspects of writing a PhD. How do you know whether you are ready to write? How do you overcome that sense of paralysis or overwhelm that often accompanies the early stages of the writing process? This workshop provides tools and tips for when and how to get started; for generating, focusing, targeting and structuring material; and for developing a first draft. All of these will be put into practice through the development of a short text. This is a half day workshop.

Text: Coherence, Structure and Argumentation

We all want our writing to be coherent and well-structured – but what does that mean in practice? This workshop focuses on what makes a text ‘hang together’ in a way that makes sense to your reader. Course topics include ensuring focus and unity; ordering sentences and paragraphs; signposting to support logic and smooth transitions; and developing a coherent argument. This is a half day workshop.

Effective Writing: Grammar

The course covers: Modern grammatical terminology, Constituents of a sentence, the structure of phrases, Plurality and agreement, Tenses, auxiliary verbs, modal verbs, aspect and voice. This is a full day workshop

Writing a Literature Review

The literature review is a key component of a PhD, because it motivates and contextualises key research issues. Developing a review is a complex task which involves selecting, organising and evaluating source material; reading actively while taking effective notes; and shaping relevant information into a coherent piece of writing. This workshop offers practical ways of making this process manageable and beginning to develop a review. This is a half day workshop.

Writing Well: Language and Style

This workshop focuses on stylistic aspects of writing and the way these may make a text more elegant or more pleasurable to read. We will identify key aspects of good writing – such as economy and flow – and analyse, by means of examples, how these qualities are realised linguistically. We will also consider stylistic advice from authorities in the areas of both academic and creative writing, and put principles into practice through a range of exercises. This is a half day workshop.

How to be Your Own Best Editor

Skilful editing will transform a draft and turn a good piece of writing into an excellent one. This workshop aims to equip you with strategies for editing effectively. We will identify key aspects of good writing – such as clarity, conciseness and flow – and analyse, by means of written examples, how these qualities are realised linguistically. Working with a draft text, you will learn to focus on different levels of your text and make appropriate editorial decisions. This is a half day workshop.

Writing for Publication

Publications are central to the success of departments as well as the careers of individuals, but getting your work published can be daunting, challenging and even perplexing. This workshop aims to demystify the publication process by breaking it down into stages and providing information and tips for each step. We will look at developing a publication strategy; revising material into a publishable article; targeting journal; preparing a manuscript; working with editors; and making the most of the review process. This is a half day workshop.

 Writing Abstracts

Abstracts are an important academic ‘micro-genre’: they serve to attract the interest of an article’s potential readership and to engage its actual readers. In this workshop we will be scrutinising abstracts, taking abstracts apart and putting abstracts together. We will consider their function; their typical components and structure; abstract-related conventions in different disciplines; and the stylistic conventions associated with abstracts. We will also compare the abstracts with introductions and conclusions. This is a half day workshop.

Writing Clinics

Writing clinics enable researchers to get one-to-one feedback that focuses on their writing habits and challenges. You will be asked to submit a piece of writing in advance and book a slot, during which you can discuss any writing-related problems you may have, and/or get constructive suggestions for improving your writing. (25 minutes per student)

Beating Writer’s Block

You know you need to start (or continue) to write – so what is stopping you? Writer’s block can occur at any stage in the process of writing a PhD, and typically not only affects planning but well-being and motivation as well.  In this course, we’ll look at how writer’s block manifests, what causes it and what strategies you can adopt to re-connect with your research, your writing, your confidence and your voice. This is a half day workshop.

Is My Writing ‘Academic’ Enough?

Does academic writing have to be dull or obscure, or can it be engaging and clear? This workshop explores the standards and expectations associated with academic writing. We will look at relevant linguistic and stylistic choices (active or passive? first or third person? plain English or jargon?) and consider academic conventions in terms of organisation and writing style. This is a half day workshop.

Academic Writing Masterclass

A Masterclass is tutor-led group session for academic writers who would like to get feedback on their writing from a small, supportive audience. If you are offered a place on the Masterclass, you will be invited to submit an extract (approximately 1000 words) from your academic writing two weeks in advance. All submissions will be circulated, anonymously and in strict confidence, to other course participants. If your writing is discussed at the Masterclass – something which depends on the number of submissions – your text will be approached as a ‘minimal viable product’ rather than a finished piece. Feedback will focus on the strengths of your writing as and any writing patterns that may inhibit clarity or make your writing less effective. This is a half day workshop.

 ‘Just Write’

Are you a PhD student writing your thesis? Or trying to write for publication? Are you struggling to find the time to write without interruption? The aim of a ‘Just Write’ session is to facilitate a time and place for you to write without the distractions of emails, Facebook, Twitter and everyday life. The session will provide you with a space to focus exclusively on your writing, with a member of staff present, to ensure that everyone abides by the rules. This is a half day workshop.

Structured Writing Retreat

Come to a writing retreat if you want to make progress on a writing project (such as a thesis chapter or a journal article) and build confidence in your academic writing skills. At this structured retreat, writing slots will be interspersed with short discussions and reflections. The retreat format of working alongside (and sometimes in conversation with) others has been shown to generate pages as well as solutions to writing problems. This is a full day workshop.

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