Getting Through Graduate Work

Writing a Thesis or Grant Proposal

Graduate students write many proposals – federal grant proposals, travel grant proposals, thesis proposals – and every proposal has a potentially significant impact on a student’s ability to carry out specific research. The introductory workshop in this series provides an overview of proposal writing designed to get students thinking about the demands of, and the predictable variations in, this important genre of writing. We will examine the similarities and differences between thesis and grant proposals, consider the main questions that most proposals must answer, and see examples of answers to those questions in successful proposals. We will also consider common pitfalls in proposal writing, and strategies for getting started on writing a proposal.

Writing Literature Reviews

For graduate students engaged in a variety of  writing tasks including research articles, course papers or the thesis chapter entitled ‘Literature Review,’ the ability to review the literature of your field effectively is an essential skill. The lit review plays many roles ranging from establishing a need for new research to communicating the researcher’s bona fides. This workshop will explore this genre of academic writing, identify common pitfalls and examine strategies to maximize your lit review’s effectiveness.

Five Principles to Improve Your Academic Writing

If you’ve ever worried that your ideas aren’t flowing together on paper, that your reader might not be getting your message the way that you intended or that your prose style isn’t dynamic enough, this workshop is designed for you. In it, we will examine five principles which can improve your academic writing and help ensure that the expression of your research is as accomplished as the ideas behind it.

Making the Most of Oral Presentations

Whether you are preparing for a graduate seminar, an academic conference, a job talk or a thesis defence, this workshop is designed to help you improve your oral presentation skills. Topics discussed will include overcoming nervousness, designing effective visual support and handling questions.

Becoming a Productive Writer

Why does it seem like there’s never enough time to write? One of the key challenges of graduate study is balancing the many demands on your time; every graduate student needs to manage both increased workload and increased autonomy. One of the areas in which you’re most likely to struggle is being productive as a writer. In this workshop, we will discuss how and why academic writing is so difficult and look at some strategies for establishing a productive writing practice.

Editing Your Work Effectively

While everyone knows that they should leave time for editing, not everyone knows the best way to approach the task of editing. This workshop will offer concrete advice on improving the first draft of an academic paper. We will begin by discussing the need to clarify the different types of editing, before going on to some general strategies to improve the editing process.

Developing Effective Note-Taking Strategies

In the workshop we will consider strategies for note-taking during lectures and in response to written texts, the varying benefits of different formats for note taking (by hand, in Word, and/or in a citation management software), and strategies for using spreadsheets to compare what you read in a range of articles. We will explore ways in which a citation management package like Zotero or Mendeley can be used to take, store, organize and manage notes and related materials for a variety of academic tasks. Using electronic tools can both solve and create problems, as can other formats of note taking. In the workshop we will encourage you to reflect on which of your current note-taking habits are serving you well and what new strategies might help you at your current stage of study.

Reading Efficiently and Effectively

All graduate students have the challenge of dealing with large volumes of reading material. In this workshop for multilingual graduate students, we will examine strategies for identifying your research and reading goals to help you effectively and efficiently make the most of your readings. We will discuss how to scan and skim text and where to focus your time. Special attention will be paid to developing strategies for dealing with unfamiliar vocabulary items, for identifying an author’s strength of claim, and for prioritizing your reading when time is short.