GCAC Boot Camps and Writing Intensives

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​GCAC Boot Camps and Intensive Courses are designed to give U of T graduate students a blend of expert guidance and dedicated writing time. We offer support in dissertation writing, proposal writing, and research article writing, at different points throughout the year. For more info​​​rmation on each, please see below. By combining opportunities for distraction-free writing with instruction on complex graduate writing genres, we help graduate students to meet their writing goals, deepen their understanding of academic writing, and build a community of writers.

Dissertation Boot Camp: August 20 - 22, 2019

Why, What, Who, and How?

Why a Dissertation Boot Camp?

Writing a dissertation is a priority for doctoral students, but finding productive writing time is often a challenge. Despite its centrality, the dissertation is frequently neglected amidst all the obligations and distractions of everyday life. The Dissertation Boot Camp is a chance to step away from that routine and focus exclusively on dissertation writing for three days.

What is a Dissertation Boot Camp?

The Dissertation Boot ​Camp will give you dedicated blocks of writing time as well as the opportunity to learn about strategies for productive dissertation writing. You’ll be required to ignore the Internet (lunch breaks excepted) and set aside other demands on your time for three days, giving you the opportunity to make significant progress in your writing. We will also discuss various productivity approaches to help you gain momentum in your writing that will last beyond our three days together.

Who is eligible to enrol in a Dissertation Boot Camp?

In order to sign up for the GCAC Dissertation Boot Camp, you must meet the following conditions:

  • You are actively engaged in writing a doctoral dissertation in any department at U of T; the boot camp is not open to Master's students.
  • You are finished with course work, qualifying exams, and primary research and/or data collection; the boot camp is designed for writing, not further reading and research.

How does the Dissertation Boot Camp work?

We provide a space conducive to the business of writing: distraction-free with places to plug in your laptop. The camp will be run by a facilitator knowledgeable about the many challenges associated with dissertation writing. We provide coffee, tea, and snacks each day. Participants will come prepared with their own laptops and all the materials they need to achieve their writing goals. Each day will begin at 9:00 am and conclude after 4:00 pm.​

How Do I Apply?

Registration will open in early August. Please subscribe to our listserv​ to recieve weekly notifications on GCAC offerings, including future Boot Camps.


Academic Conversation Skills Intensive: August 22, 23 and 26, 2019

Why, What, Who, and How?

Why a 3-Day Intensive Academic Conversation Skills Course?

The 3-day intensive version of the ACS course is designed for incoming international students who are adjusting to living in an English-speaking environment. By providing a mix of explicit instruction, chances to use the speaking/listening strategies being learned, and time for social interaction with other incoming students, the course aims to prepare graduate students to be active in conversations in graduate school from their first days at the U of T. The course is offered in late August in order to help students get ready to participate fully in orientation activites.

What is the goal of the Academic Conversation Skills (ACS) Course?

ACS is a course for non-native speakers of English who wish to improve their listening and speaking skills in order to communicate more effectively in an academic environment.  If you anticipate you might have difficulty participating in class/lab discussions in English, or speaking to your classmates and professors, this course is designed to meet your needs. Over  15 hours (5 hours a day for three days), you will learn and practise a range of strategies designed to help you gain confidence as you develop your ability to engage in academic dialogue. In the course, we consider how conversational practices might differ across cultures (factors such as levels of formality, use of eye contact, etc.). Through a series of class exercises that require active student participation, ACS focuses on topics such as how to enter and exit conversations politely, how to present your ideas orally, and how to disagree respectfully. The goal of the course is to increase students’ confidence and effectiveness in participating in academic conversations.

Who is eligible to enrol in the 3-Day Intensive Academic Conversation Skills Course?

​In order to sign up for the 3-day intensive ACS course, you must meet the following conditions:

  • You speak English as a second (or third or fourth) language
  • You are starting a graduate degree (a Master’s degree or a PhD) at the University of Toronto in September, 2019, or you started a graduate degree at the U of T in the last six months and have not yet taken the ACS course
  • You are able to attend all 15 hours of the course (9:00 – 2:00 on Thursday August 22, Friday August 23, and Monday August 26 inclusive).​

How does the 3-Day Intensive Aca​​demic Conversation Skills Course work?

This course begins each day with a 45-60 minute lecture and question and answer (Q and A) on topics related to topics such as cultural differences in conversational preferences, strategies for active listening, and common causes of miscommunication in academic conversations. Following the lecture, students will get into small groups, each of which is taught by an expereinced teacher of academic conversation skills. In the small groups, students will lhave lots of chances to listen and speak as they learn and practise a range specific strategies for improving their English conversation skills. Each day runs from 9:00 – 2:00 with a coffee break and lunch included. At coffee break and lunch, students will have chances to meet others in the large group and to engage in conversations with other new graduate students from a range of graduate departments. The course runs on Thursday Aug 22, Friday Aug 23, and Monday Aug 26 from 9:00 – 2:00, and only students who are able to attend all 15 hours of the course are eligible to register. The course is designed with a weekend break in the middle in order to allow students a chance to practise what they are learning out of class, and to come back on Monday with questions/observations about the English conversations they participate in or witness out of class. The course is free and open only to U of T’s graduate students. Lunch and coffee are included.​

How Do I Apply?

Please read our Registration Instructions and Attendance Policies carefluly before registering. REGISTER.

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Writing SSHRC Proposals: August 27 and 28, 2019

​​​​​Why, What, and How?

Why a SSHRC Writing Intensive Course?

For many years, GCAC has offered courses on Writing SSHRC Proposals to graduate students who are preparing to apply for Master's or doctoral awards from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Good SSHRC proposals are hard to write, and they are also hard to prepare during the busy beginning of term. The goal of this writing-intensive version of our SSHRC course is to encourage students to devote concentrated time to writing their SSHRC proposals before the business of term begins.

What is the difference between GCAC's regular SSHRC course and the Writing Intensive version of the course?

The writing-intensive version of the SSHRC course takes place over two days. Students are required to attend both days to be eligible for GPS credit. This two-day course will include the same material covered in the regular course, but it will also include two blocks of silent, distraction-free writing each day. During that writing time, students will apply the concepts discussed in class to their own SSHRC proposals. One-on-one appointments will be available to students (dates to be scheduled). There will also be opportunities for peer-review and group discussions.


When: Tuesday August 27, 9:30 am - 4:30 pm and Wednesday August 28, 9:30 am - 1:00 pm
The 3-hour morning and afternoon sessions will begin with lectures by the course teacher followed by a break, 1 – 1.5 hours of distraction-free writing, and a discussion. You should bring everything with you that you need for productive proposal writing including your laptops and notes. There will be breaks throughout the day for students to purchase coffee, tea, and snacks, and students will be responsible for bringing their own lunch. We encourage you to eat together so you can meet your fellow grant-writers.

Eligibility & Registration Procedures


Enrolment is open to registered graduate students at the University of Toronto who are applying for Master's or doctoral SSHRC grants or for OGS (Ontario Graduate Scholarships). Those applying for postdoctoral fellowships are not eligible to participate. Applicants must participate for the full 9 hours of this course to be eligible for GPS credit.​

​Registration Procedures

Please read our Registration Instructions and Attendance Policies carefluly before registering. REGISTER. 

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Research Article Boot Camp: late December 2019​

Why, What, Who, and How?

Why a Writing Boot Camp?

Getting your research published is a priority for graduate students, but finding uninterrupted time for writing is often challenging. Most of us have been in the position of having completed our research and then feeling the pressure to get it down on paper. Yet prioritizing your writing and scheduling structured writing time seems impossible amidst all the obligations and distractions of everyday living. In short, your research is just sitting there and you need something to get you moving, something to get you closer to being able to press “submit.” 

What is a Writing Boot Camp?

The GCAC Research Article Writing Boot Camp is designed to provide U of T graduate students with a dedicated time and space for intensive writing. By providing you with a writing regimen in a distraction-free environment, as well as expert support and advice, we can help you to reach your writing objectives, namely, finishing your manuscript so you can submit your article for publication.

In this camp, you'll be asked to declare your writing goals and then be given dedicated blocks of writing time, free from all the regular distractions and demands on your time. You'll be asked to abandon the Internet and email for the two days (lunch breaks excepted), giving you the opportunity to get some writing done and to consider and discuss the process of writing with other graduate students facing the same challenges as you. 

Importantly, this “Camp” offers a way to rediscover the positive aspects of writing and move away from the stress and guilt that's often associated with it. What you will actually write depends on where you currently are in the writing process—whether you need to start, make progress on or complete your research article will be decided by you.

Who Should Sign Up?

In order to sign up for the GCAC Research Article Writing Boot Camp, the following conditions apply:

  • ​Your research and data collection must be finished, i.e. you need to be at a point where the only logical thing to do is write. Boot Camp is for writing, not further reading and research. 

  • You are willing to set goals and strive to reach them, to commit to a two-day program and to realize your potential for self-disciplined writing.

What Are the Logistics of the GCAC Research Article Boot Camp?

The GCAC Research Article Writing Boot Camp takes place on two consecutive days, from 9:00 to 4:30 each day. We provide a space conducive to thinking about, discussing and getting down to the business of writing—distraction-free with places to plug in your laptop. The camp is run by a facilitator knowledgeable about the ins and outs of writing research articles. We provide morning coffee, snacks, and lunch each day of the camp. You come prepared with your laptop and all the materials (e.g., research notes, lab results) you'll need to achieve your writing goals.

How Do I Apply?

TBA. Please subscribe to our listserv​ to recieve weekly notifications on GCAC offerings, including future Boot Camps. 

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