PhD Day’s workshop description



Academic English skills are essential in all aspects of postgraduate research at international level. Writing and reasoning are interrelated skills; sharpening these skills means focusing on the typical problems and pitfalls that tend to arise when writing an academic paper. Elements of the language such as prepositions, word order, idioms and collocations, adverbs and adjectives, and dependent clauses all pose particular problems for native and non-native speakers alike. Cohesive devices can also pose a problem as do verb tenses. Non-natives may have more problems with the first three elements in particular, however.
The workshop will cover a broad overview of the above topics and tips for finding useful sources will be provided. Initially there will be a discussion of academic writing and the difference between formal and informal register. Typical problems will be examined using examples from real writing samples.
This workshops aims to develop an awareness of the theory and conventions of academic literacy, from structure to style, with a focus on the academic dissertation/essay/article. The course is designed for students who are registered on a PhD programme, whose main language is not English or who have faced challenges writing at academic level and who require specialist mentoring and guidance in order to improve their academic writing skills and develop fluency and flair in their written work.
The main focus will include features of academic writing that are introduced and practised including the following:
• The structure of paragraphs and inter-paragraph cohesion, cohesive devices in general and how to use them effectively
• The distinction between register and style; the conventions of register in academic writing and the development of personal style, including ways to convey writer’s stance
• Academic conventions of citing sources (including author-prominent or information-prominent citations) and creating footnotes and reference lists
• The structure of longer texts such as essays
• Techniques of generation of ideas by individual brainstorming and peer consultation
• Appropriate grammar and vocabulary to consolidate writing skills
• The ‘vocabulary shift’ and the transition to a more formal, academic style
• Punctuation and its uses: how to apply the rules

Delivery and Methodology
Material discussed in the workshop can be provided electronically if desired and recommended links to dictionaries, thesauri and other important resources will be supplied. Students are also encouraged to share any resources they find useful with each other.

Intended result
Having followed this one-hour workshop, students should have some basic knowledge and skill to be able to distinguish between formal and informal writing and apply certain rules to help them confidently compose a piece of writing that can be judged academically rigorous and suitable for publication after final editing/proofreading. They should be able to use the appropriate vocabulary to express their ideas effectively and concisely. The aim is to briefly train students to handle a piece of academic writing such as a doctoral dissertation without too many problems.


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