Writing Workshops

CWSC evidence-based workshops are open to graduate students from across the disciplines and professions, at any level of study (unless otherwise specified).

Upcoming Workshops

Workshop Roster

Abstracts: Communicating Research Findings With Brevity and Concision

Abstracts play a vital role in the communication of research. Studies show that abstracts are the most frequently read part of a research article: abstracts help researchers determine whether or not to read the entire study. But how do writers communicate the relevance and legitimacy of their research to members of the discipline, and beyond? This evidence-based workshop introduces two typical structures for abstracts, while accounting for differences in disciplines and purposes.

CGS-D Proposal: Crafting a Compelling Research Story

This workshop is designed for graduate students applying for the Canada Graduate Scholarship – Doctoral (CGS-D) from the national funding agencies: CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC. Drawing on evidence-based research about successful grant proposals, facilitators discuss particular elements of this written academic genre: audience, purpose, knowledge gap, competence claim, structure, style, and more. The workshop includes examples of successful UBC CGS-D research proposals.

CGS-M Proposal: Crafting a Compelling Research Story

This workshop is designed for undergraduate and graduate students applying for funding from the Canada Graduate Scholarship-Master’s (CGS-M) Program. Drawing on evidence-based research about successful grant proposals, facilitators discuss particular elements of this written academic genre: audience, purpose, knowledge gap, competence claim, structure, style, and more.
The workshop includes examples of successful UBC CGS-M research proposals from several disciplines, as well as a facilitated discussion with UBC master’s students about writing their successful CGS-M proposals.

Citation Practices in Academic and Professional Writing

All too often, citation is approached by students as a frustrating obstacle on the path to completing a writing assignment, rather than as an intellectual pursuit in its own right. Academic writing involves a complicated process of text integration, rather than mechanically following the rules of a particular style guide. No matter the citation style they are being asked to engage with, participants will come away from this workshop with a greater understanding of the purposes and functions of citations, as well as a pragmatic conception of how to apply that understanding in their own academic writing.

Common Academic Expressions in English: Basic Functions

Did you know that 40% of language production in English is formulaic, that is, made up of common expressions? However, producing effective writing in English can be challenging for many non-native writers of English. The good news is, these formulaic expressions can be learned.

This workshop is designed for those who speak English as an additional language. In this workshop, participants are introduced to common expressions that perform a number of basic functions in academic English. Participants will walk away with a better understanding of how to use common academic English expressions in their writing, as well as the motivation and confidence to develop a larger repertoire of these expressions to further improve their academic English writing proficiency.

Common Academic Expressions in English: Making Connections

One of the major challenges that academic writers encounter is making connections within the text, for example, making comparisons and drawing conclusions. Rather than counting on readers to figure out the meaning of a difficult text, academic writing requires writers to make clear connections between ideas. In this workshop, we introduce a variety of academic expressions that are commonly used by academic writers to outline the overall structure of the text, or specify the relationships between sentences. At the end of the workshop, participants will walk away with an awareness of the writer-responsible nature of academic writing, and develop better facility with using academic expressions to connect ideas in their own writing practice.

Common Academic Expressions in English: Research Article Introductions

Writing an effective Introduction is not an easy task, especially for multilingual writers who speak English as an additional language. As a complement to the workshop “Research Article Introductions: Mind the Gap” this workshop introduces participants to common academic expressions characteristic of Introductions (e.g., background context, literature review, knowledge gap). Participants will walk away with a better understanding of common academic expressions that facilitate effective communication in the Introduction section.

Lay Summaries: Going Public With Your Research

Lay summaries offer researchers opportunities to increase the visibility and accessibility of their research and thus invite public dialogue. As a way to promote science communication, many open access journals, public policy institutes, and granting agencies require researchers to provide summaries of their studies for non-specialists. But how do scholars communicate specialized research to non-specialist audiences, and why? This evidence-based workshop introduces researchers to some of the ways in which lay summaries differ from scientific abstracts and enhance science communication.

Research Article Conclusions: Wrapping Up and Looking Forward

The research article is the most privileged form of publication in which academics present their intellectual contributions. As such, research article conclusions offer writers several final opportunities to engage with readers in this high-stakes writing situation. With conclusions in mind, the facilitator explores some of the organizational patterns of research articles written in English, while accounting for disciplinary norms and differences.

Research Article Introductions: Mind the Gap

Research shows that writers of research article introductions establish an original research space by pointing out a research gap or problem that the current study aims to address. In this way, the introduction offers an opportunity for writers to begin to tell the research story, or summarize the scholarly conversation, in order to take their own conversational turn. But how do writers persuade readers that the research gap or problem is consequential? In order to answer this question, the workshop facilitator analyzes a number of real-world examples across a range of disciplines.

Speaking as a Scholar: Telling Your Research Story

How does one give a successful academic talk? “Make eye contact,” “be confident,” “dress professionally”… The advice that we often receive tends to focus on the performance aspect of “presenting”, rather than viewing it as an opportunity to communicate and further our research. This workshop aims to help participants develop a better understanding of how to engage in scholarly conversations. By analyzing successful examples of academic talks, the facilitator discusses some of the essential elements of this academic genre and offers strategies for telling a successful research story.

Statements of Teaching Philosophy: Writing

Increasingly, faculty positions in research and teaching streams require a statement of teaching philosophy as one component of a teaching portfolio or dossier. Teaching statements reflect personal beliefs about teaching and learning, but also reflect disciplinary cultures and institutional structures and norms in a particular context. Research shows that one of the central questions the teaching statement addresses for readers is, why do I teach? Furthermore, the teaching statement must demonstrate how the pedagogical approaches are actualized in practice, in the classroom. This workshop grounds the discussion of typical organizational and stylistic features of the teaching statement in several real world examples from diverse disciplines. As well, the workshop includes dedicated time for participants to revise a statement of teaching philosophy and receive feedback from the facilitator. Therefore, the workshop is most useful for those with a draft teaching statement underway.

Verbs for Citations: Moving From Paraphrase to Summary

“Study A showed that …” “Study B showed that…” Have you ever wondered how verbs like show function in describing and summarizing previous studies when writing your literature review, and what alternative verbs are available for you to tell your research story? By focusing on the use of reporting verbs in published research articles, the facilitator will discuss citation strategies in literature review writing that help you to move away from sentence-level paraphrasing, to summarizing and synthesizing from the larger understanding of previous research.

Writing a Grant Proposal

Researchers who study academic writing across the disciplines offer a number of evidence-based models for the macro-structure of research grant proposals. This writing workshop draws on that body of research to produce a versatile, malleable, and dynamic model or heuristic to help solve the problem of what a grant proposal achieves and how.

Writing a Literature Review: Mapping the Scholarly Conversation

Literature reviews accomplish several purposes for scholars writing up their research study, or research story, in order to summarize the scholarly conversation. In the introduction to a research article, research paper, or thesis chapter, for example, writers review research in order to provide readers with relevant background context to situate the current study. But how do writers summarize the scholarly conversation already underway and, then, join that conversation? This evidence-based workshop introduces researchers to some of the typical structures of literature reviews, while accounting for variation in communicative purposes, audiences, and disciplinarity.

Writing an Annotated Bibliography: Synthesizing Multiple Studies

This evidence-based workshop introduces researchers to the typical structure of an annotated bibliography, while accounting for variations in purpose. Typically, the annotations aim to synthesize multiple studies, thereby enabling researchers to develop a discussion of the current field, and, if relevant, identify a potential knowledge contribution. Research shows that annotated bibliographies across disciplines typically consist of 3 parts: the full bibliographic citation; a relevant academic summary; a critical evaluation. But how do researchers synthesize multiple studies? What does it mean to write critical annotations? The workshop facilitator addresses these questions with real-world examples, while discussing this text as a type of literature survey or review with its own distinct patterns of organization.

Writing in STEM: Common Academic Expressions in English

Writing in the STEM disciplines can be an especially challenging task for multilingual writers who speak English as an additional language, as it requires a high level of language proficiency to effectively use the English language with the appropriate level of accuracy, precision, and conciseness. Research shows that common academic expressions can greatly improve writing quality and fluency, therefore, it can be beneficial for multilingual writers in STEM to develop a large repertoire of these expressions. In this workshop, we introduce academic expressions that are commonly used in STEM research articles with authentic examples. Participants will walk away with a better understanding of common academic expressions in STEM, and be able to use them as a resource to improve their scientific writing competency.

Writing in the STEM Disciplines

This workshop introduces researchers to the typical organizational structure of a research article in the STEM disciplines, while accounting for variation in disciplinary differences. That is, some conventions and features of English academic writing remain constant across STEM disciplines, while others vary to account for discipline-specific norms and expectations of community members. The workshop facilitators draw on evidence-based research to identify some of the similarities and differences in style at both the macro- and micro-levels of the text. The workshop includes dedicated time for participants to revise a section of a research article and receive feedback from facilitators and peers. Therefore, this workshop is most useful for those with a research article underway.

Writing Statements of Intent and Purpose: Crafting Your Scholarly Identity

Graduate school applications typically include a statement of intent or purpose, whereby prospective students describe their research background and expertise and begin to map out a research plan. But how do emerging scholars craft their identity in this high-stakes document? Research shows that the scholarly identity prospective students construct in these statements must demonstrate the relevance and timeliness of the research proposal to the chosen discipline, as well as demonstrating researcher competence. Therefore, this workshop draws on scholarly evidence and uses real-world examples to introduce participants to the macro-organization and some of the typical stylistic features of statements of intent and purpose.

Writing the Op-Ed: An Instructional Talk

The Public Humanities Hub and the Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication present a workshop on writing the op-ed. The op-ed derives its name from traditional print media, where the op-ed is published on the page opposite the editorial. Hence, the op-ed section of the newspaper offers scholars opportunities to engage with new audiences and new issues, and to identify new purposes for writing in the 21st century, for example, using a public forum to influence public policy or judicial processes. This evidence-based talk considers some of the typical linguistic features and characteristics of this particular type of text, while paying attention to audience and place of publication. The facilitators welcome questions and comments from participants throughout the interactive talk, whenever something sparks your interest.

Writing with Integrity: Citing Like an Insider

In this workshop, we focus on the interrelations between writers (academic and professional), their source materials (cited works), and their readers (intended audience). This pedagogical approach to writing with integrity positions workshop participants as emerging scholars grappling with the intertextual structure (why and how one text relates to others) of academic and professional writing—writing that positions emerging scholars as part of a dynamic, research community with something to say. This means we move beyond the mechanics and ethics of citation to consider some generative questions about the functions of citations in scholarly and professional writing.

Writing with Integrity: Fundamentals for Emerging Scholars

How do I avoid plagiarizing? “Paraphrase,” “cite everything,” “stick to the style guide”… These answers, and perhaps the question itself, neglect the fact that academic writing involves a complicated process of text integration, rather than mechanically following the rules to avoid being accused of plagiarizing. Despite the widespread interest surrounding academic integrity, what constitutes academic integrity remains unclear to emerging scholars new to academic writing. Drawing on the most recent pedagogical research, this workshop will cover some fundamentals of academic integrity in the writing context.