Academic Writing: An Essential Skill for Students and Researchers
This course will be taught face-to-face
‘Publish or perish’ is a well-known say that gives a sense of the kind of expectations researchers should meet to survive in academia. This course aims to provide the essential training for academic writing in English to international students and early career researchers. The goal is to provide them with the essential knowledge on grammar rules, style and conventions concerning academic writing in English. This course is also targeted to those who may have incurred in roadblocks or tend to procrastinate writing. We will discuss in detail the whole process of academic writing and break it down into sections. Laying out each section into smaller and more manageable tasks greatly increase the possibility of successful writing.
A clear and engaging academic writing is essential to convey ideas, share thoughts and participate in the scholarly debate. Being able to effectively communicate in a written form is an essential skill not only for writing thesis and dissertations, but also for writing articles, reports, and grant applications. This course will be of interest to students and early career researchers from any field; it addresses the main obstacles they face when it comes to put in a written form their ideas. The goals are to provide a methodological frame for academic writing, discuss the writing habits of successful academics and provide tips to become more skilful writers and overcome any writer’s block.
The course opens with an overview (which includes exercises and tests) on grammar rules and writing techniques relevant for academic writing in English. Topics include:
- Formal vocabulary: nouns and adjectives; verbs and adverbs;
- Numbers and numerical phrases;
- Using passive voice judiciously;
- Employing an impersonal and cautious style;
- Summarising and paraphrasing;
- Writing parallelism;
- Acknowledging your sources and avoiding plagiarism.
Over the next four days, we outline the importance of finding an original research question and the need to provide a sound, reliable and convincing answer that can be beneficial to the scholarly community and effectively advance knowledge. This includes a reflection on the reader’s expectations and consider the importance of engaging the audience. Subsequently, we tackle each of the sections that constitutes the process of academic writing and discuss possible ways to organize the research plan (plan the paper, organize ideas, evaluate information, write a first draft and receive some feedback). The following items will be thoroughly discussed and practiced:
- State your research question and working hypothesis.
- Search for evidence: consult primary and secondary sources. Should you take notes or leave it for later? Write as you read!
- Record your sources fully, accurately, and appropriately: determine your citation style and record bibliographic data.
- Basic outline of your first draft: choosing and ordering points; breaking sections into smaller parts.
- How to structure a paragraph: communicate complex ideas in a way that makes them least likely to be challenged.
- Logical organisation of your argument: clearly report your reasoning to readers.
- Responding to others’ arguments.
- Writing the conclusion.
- Revising. Editing. Proof-reading.
- How NOT to feel crushed under the weight of academic expectations: tips and clues to stop procrastination, distraction and make good use of your innate perfectionism.
Attending this course will allow you to see academic writing as a skill that can be learned and refined over time. It will also help you to detach from any emotional block you may have experienced in the past and reframe academic writing under a new light.
- Bailey, Stephen, Academic Writing. A Handbook for International Students, Routledge; third edition (2011).
- Carr, Cynthia E., The Nuts & Bolts of Grant Writing, Los Angeles: SAGE (2015).
- Sword, Helen, With Air & Light & Time & Space: How Successful Academics Write, Harvard University Press (2017).
- Turabian, Kate L., A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, University of Chicago Press; eighth edition (2013).
- Booth, Wayne C., Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams, Joseph Bizup and William T. Fitzgerald, The Craft of Research, University of Chicago Press; fourth edition (2016).
The course has no specific prerequisites but don’t forget to bring pen and paper with you.
Elsa De Luca is an early music scholar pursuing research on medieval chant notations; she is also actively involved in the development of tools for computer-assisted research in early music. Elsa has published articles on notation, cryptography, and liturgy in Iberian and French manuscripts (10th – 16th cent.), and on music encoding. She co-edited a special issue of the Journal of Medieval Iberian Studies (14/1, 2022) and two forthcoming books on the palaeography of plainchant. Elsa is the PI of the research project ‘Echoes from the Past: Unveiling a Lost Soundscape with Digital Analysis’ (2022.01957.PTDC). The project was ranked first in the 2022 FCT call for R&D Projects in the ‘Arts’ domain. Elsa is Coordinator of the Portuguese Early Music Database; co-director of the book series MUSAM, by Brepols; a member of the CESEM-NOVA FCSH editorial committee and review editor for the Portuguese Journal of Musicology. Finally, Elsa will serve as member of the CESEM board of directors from 04/2023.