Academic writing for Publication

Introduction, course rationale

The axiom ‘publish or perish’ is a well-established reality in academia. An added challenge, however, is the requirement to publish in internationally acknowledged publications, which are most often in English. Unfortunately, many academics at European universities lack the writing skills required by such publications as the development of academic writing skills is often neglected in European graduate and postgraduate programmes. As a result, not only are university teachers hindered in their own career growth, but meaningful research is unable to reach the wider scientific and academic community.

Aims of the course

To address these challenges, the intensive, five-day Academic Writing for Publication course of the IMPACT project seeks to facilitate the acquiring and development of academic writing skills among participating university instructors in order to prepare them for submitting their work for publication in English. The course also aims to prepare participants to incorporate a writing component into their courses. 

Expected learning outcomes

By the end of this course, participants will be able to: 

  1. Understand the principles and process of writing scholarly articles in English, including the recognition of various concepts, components, and stages of the writing process in English from draft to submission
  2. Apply the principles and processes of academic writing to their own writing 
  3. Critically evaluate English-language scholarly articles written by others
  4. Design writing activities for their students that incorporate the concepts and principles of academic writing learnt in this course 

Course format and structure

This is a five-day, face-to-face practical course to facilitate the acquiring and development of academic writing skills among participating university instructors. The entire course respects the principles of active learning with a stress on critical reading and thinking, group work, peer-learning, and process writing. Participants’ contribution to class work is essential for their successful learning. 

The course consists of three 90-minute sessions per day (two before lunch and one after), for a total of 22.5 contact hours. Also included are short afternoon writing assignments to be completed either individually or in groups. 

The Masaryk University Information System is used for online course management, with assignments posted by the course instructors and completed assignments uploaded by participants.

The course enrolls 20 participants. Each participant is requested to bring to class a laptop or digital device on which they can conveniently access Wi-Fi, read online documents, and type.

Course dates and location

Initially planned dates were 25-29 January 2021 and the course was to take place at the Faculty of Arts, Comenius University in Bratislava, Gondova 2, Bratislava, Slovakia. Due to continued restrictions due to Covid-19 pandemics the course was delivered in the online format via Zoom. It stretched over two weeks (25 January to 4 February 2021) with classes scheduled every second day in order the participants had the capacity to pursue their own work and other duties.

Eligibility

Faculty members currently doing research for publication and teaching in the social sciences and humanities at Comenius University in Bratislava and Masaryk University are eligible to apply for the course. PhD candidates from the same fields and institutions are also eligible. All PhD students who succesfully undergo the course receive 3 ECTS.

Each applicant should have experience in writing for publication, in either their mother tongue or English, and the draft of a journal article ready in English at the time of application. 

How to apply

Applications must be in English and include the following documents:

1. Curriculum vitae (1-2 pages) highlighting your teaching and research interests, and publications

2. Motivation letter (400-600 words) making sure to include the answers to the following questions:

What has motivated you to apply for this course?

How do you believe your work as a scholar and as a teacher might benefit from taking this course

3. One academic paper written in English by the applicant

The applicant is expected to submit an English-language paper, if available OR if the applicant does not have a paper in English, please submit a one-to two-page description in English of your current research, including any sources you are working with and stating where you are in the process.

Applications should include a CV, motivation letter and one academic paper, preferably written in English. They are to be submitted by completing the following form.

If you have any questions, please email the course leader: linda.steyneuniba.sk

 

Deadline for applications: Monday, 9 November 2020

Extended deadline for applications: Monday, 30 November 2020

Notification of acceptance: Monday, 14 December 2020

Expected date for announcing a new call for applications: early October 2021

 

Criteria for selecting the applicants

Applications will be evaluated on the following:

●     The applicant’s level of interest in and motivation for taking the course

●     Prior experience in writing for publication

●     B2 minimum English language proficiency (this will be assessed based on the motivation letter)

After acceptance

Those accepted to the course will also submit three more documents at one time:

●     The electronic version (PDF) of a recent peer-reviewed paper in their field that they believe to be well-written

●     A brief explanation (maximum of 300 words) on why they think that paper is well-written

●     The rough draft of an academic paper they are currently writing in English and which they would like to improve during the course. This may be the same paper that was submitted with the application. 

Certificate

A certificate of completion will be awarded to each participant who 1. attends 90% of the course; 2. actively participates during the course; and 3. successfully completes the mandatory written assignments. 

The first iteration of the course

20 participants from Comenius University in Bratislava and Masaryk University attended the course. 18 completed all the required assignments and received certificates. Participants rated the course as excellent (9.1 out of 10 points) and extremely useful (9.1/10). They would very likely recommend the course to their colleagues (9.3/10). 

Tentative detailed syllabus

Day One: Introduction to Academic Writing in English

Instructor: Angeniet Kam

Co-instructors for Session 1: Jan Beneš; Lyn Steyne

Overall objectives/aims:

Recognize and apply concepts in academic writing in English—such as genre, research question and thesis statement, disciplinary and interdisciplinary conventions, and components of journal articles—to your own writing

Understand the principles of designing writing activities for your own teaching context

Apply the principles of constructive feedback to a piece of academic writing

Session 1: Getting acquainted and creating a common vocabulary

Introduction of instructors, participants, and the course plan

Cultural, disciplinary, and interdisciplinary differences and requirements of academic writing in English compared to Czech/Slovak (instructors: Jan Beneš and Lyn Steyne)

Concepts: genre, purpose, audience, and the writing process

Session 2: Structural requirements of journal articles—a genre analysis approach

The components of research articles (genre analysis)

Introduction to research questions and thesis statements

Evaluation and comparison of your article with benchmark articles

Session 3: Incorporating writing activities into your own teaching context

Suitable writing activities for students of different levels

The benefits and obstacles of writing assignments

Understanding and using constructive feedback—an active exercise

 

Day Two: The Academic Introduction

Instructor: Eszter Timár

Overall objectives/aims:

Recognize and employ good practices in reading and writing introductions

Recognize and employ good practices in raising research questions and formulating thesis statements

Design and evaluate exercises for students that focus on raising research questions, making an argument, and structuring an introduction in your discipline

Session 1: The function and form of the introduction

The purpose of the introduction

The reader’s expectations

The elements and rhetorical moves in introductions (how to write an introduction)

Evaluation and comparison of your introduction with those in a benchmark article

Session 2: Research questions and thesis statements

A good research question (how to write a research question)

The relationship of the research question and the research methodology (disciplinary norms)

The thesis statement: its form and characteristics; its function—controlling the paper

Session 3: Incorporating the use of research questions, thesis statements, and introductions into your courses

Designing and presenting an activity to use in your own teaching context

 

Day Three: Organising Your Academic Article

Instructor: Lyn Steyne

Overall objectives/aims:

Organise a journal article according to standard academic writing conventions

Understand, recognise, and evaluate content for each section of an academic article based on their individual purpose

Understand what is required to write an effective academic paragraph using a topic sentence and paragraph development

Session 1: How to organise your journal article

The title: its importance and relationship to the research question

IMRaD: The sections of a research article and their purpose

Outlining as a tool to develop your article

Session 2: How to write a paragraph

Characteristics of an effective English paragraph

The topic sentence

Paragraph development (coherence and cohesion)

Session 3: Incorporating writing skills into your courses for your benefit

Applying effective organisational, and coherence and cohesion strategies to academic texts

The usefulness of organisational, and coherence and cohesion strategies in your own teaching context

Designing and presenting an activity to use in a course you teach

 

Day Four: Effective and Fair Use of Sources

Instructor: Agnes Simon

Overall objectives/aims:

Recognize and employ good practices in citation

Classify, analyse, and appraise the relevant literature so that it furthers the argumentation of your article

Design and evaluate exercises for your students that focus on either the fair use of sources or the literature review

Session 1: Academic norms and Integrity

Academic norms and the practice of citations

Plagiarism and its consequences

Reporting ethically on other people’s work in your article

Session 2: The literature review

The function and purpose of the literature review

Making the literature review effective

The critical evaluation of literature reviews

Strategizing and working on revising your literature review

Session 3: Incorporating the effective and fair uses of sources and the literature review in your teaching

Identifying and pre-empting plagiarism in students’ work

Tips for effective exercise design

Designing an exercise for students on citation or reviewing the literature

 

Day Five: Conclusions, abstracts, and getting published

Instructor: Jan Beneš

Overall objectives/aims:

Better understand academic journals: writing for a specific journal, communicating with journal editors, and recognising predatory journals and predatory practices

Apply skills acquired during previous sessions to writing and evaluating conclusions and abstracts, keeping the differences between Czech/Slovak and English conclusions in mind

Discuss, brainstorm, and evaluate writing activities on conclusions and abstracts for use in your own teaching context

Session 1: Scholarly Journals’ Expectations

Q&A with the editor of a peer-reviewed journal

Expectations: how to choose a journal, how to prepare your article, journals’ expectations

Predatory journals: examples and how to spot one

Session 2: Academic conclusions and abstracts

The purpose of conclusions and abstracts

English vs Czech/Slovak conclusions

Summarizing, paraphrasing, outlining, and thesis statements in conclusions and abstracts

Session 3: Incorporating conclusions and abstracts into your teaching; Closing reflections

Strategies in teaching conclusions

Reflecting on skills learned

Looking forward: setting writing targets

Presentation of certificates

 

Programme document

Programme document of the Academic writing for publication course can be downloaded here.

 

Selected bibliography for instructors

Bean, John: Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom, 2nd Edition. Jossey-Bass: 2011.

Belcher, Wendy Laura: Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks, Second Edition: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing, 2019.

Birkenstein, Cathy, and Gerald Graff. They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing, 3rd edition. Norton, 2016.

McCarthy Michael and Felicity O’Dell: Academic Vocabulary in Use with Answers. Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Swales, John and Christine Feak: Academic Writing for Graduate Students, 3rd Ed. Michigan, 2012.

Swales, John and Christine Feak: Creating Contexts: Writing Introductions Across Genres. Michigan: 2011

Swales, John: Research Genres: Explorations and Applications. Cambridge, 2004.

 

Acknowledgement

This course is supported by a generous grant from the European Union’s Erasmus+ program Improving academic teaching and internationalisation through enhanced competences of university teachers (IMPACT) No. 2019-1-SK01-KA203-060671.