2019 Spring Workshops

Graduate Writing Center Spring 2019 Workshop Series

Celebrating 20 Years of Service to Penn State Grad Students – 1999–2019

In honor of twenty years of interdisciplinary collaboration, the GWC is pleased to offer three workshops co-led by instructors from the sciences and the humanities. Our collaborators this semester come from Applied Linguistics, Earth & Mineral Sciences, and Engineering, melding their expertise with that of GWC staff. Join us to learn how to apply genre conventions (January 23), storytelling (February 6), and style (February 21) in your writing. We also invite you to meet one-on-one with a consultant at the Center and, at the end of the semester, at the International Write-In (April 21).

Workshop 1: Mapping Genres to Meet Reader Expectations

Instructors: Jade Sandbulte (EPPIC, Applied Linguistics) and Layli Miron (GWC)

Wednesday, January 23, 1:00-2:30pm, Kern 102

Overview: Abstracts, cover letters, CVs, dissertations, literature reviews, research papers, teaching philosophy statements: most grad students need to write in these genres. Each comes with its own set of “secret” expectations, some particular to US academia, some unique to your discipline. How can you figure out these expectations to succeed in high-stakes writing situations? This workshop asks you to step into the shoes of a linguist by learning how to analyze the conventions of any genre you might encounter.

Learning Objectives: You will refresh your knowledge of common academic genres, then identify discipline-specific genre conventions, and finally discuss how to apply your findings to your own writing, with the guidance of the instructors.

Requirement: This is a hands-on workshop, so to participate, you must find a model of a kind of writing you need to do this semester—for example, if you’re drafting a scholarly article, find a similar article published by a prestigious journal in your field. Register by Monday, January 21, at 12:00pm. Registrants outside of University Park will be emailed a Zoom link for streaming.

Audience: All grad students unfamiliar with genre theory could benefit from this workshop. It could be particularly useful to those new to the US academy, such as international and first-generation students.

Register here for Workshop 1.

Workshop 2: Telling Your Research Story to Engage an Audience

Instructors: Del Bright (Earth & Mineral Sciences) and Layli Miron (GWC)

Wednesday, February 6, 3:15-4:45pm, Kern 102

Overview: Cognitive research indicates stories activate our brains and help us retain information. Developing a concise, compelling narrative about your research may help you explain what you do and why it matters. Using the science of storytelling—not to distort the truth, but to help connect people to your research—is useful when giving presentations, writing proposals, preparing for interviews, and generally communicating the “so what?” of your research endeavors. In this workshop, using a step-by-step approach, you will practice a powerful way to distill your research story to engage and delight future audiences.

Learning Objectives: You will learn to use a message box to compose your research story, write it, and tell it based on feedback from peers, with the guidance of the instructors.

Requirement: This is a hands-on workshop, so to participate, you must be prepared to talk and write about one of your research projects. Bring a one-paragraph summary of your project’s research question, method, findings, and significance; this overview will serve as material for the storytelling activity. Register by Tuesday, February 5, at 12:00 pm.

Audience: Any graduate student engaged in research and seeking ways to develop research and career opportunities for him/herself could benefit from this workshop.

Register here for Workshop 2.

Workshop 3: Crafting Sentences to Convey Your Research

Instructors: Michael Alley (Engineering) and Layli Miron (GWC)

Thursday, February 21, 2:30-4:30pm, Kern 102

Overview: Do you find writing about research challenging? On the one hand, you have to be simple enough to be understood. On the other hand, you have to be sophisticated enough to be taken seriously. Based on Michael Alley’s award-winning book, The Craft of Scientific Writing, this workshop aims to help graduate students write about their work in a style that is simple, yet sophisticated. To help you achieve that style, Alley will work through scores of examples from a variety of disciplines.

Learning Objectives: You will learn to make your sentences not only precise and clear but also energetic and connected.

Requirement: Because this workshop is hands on, you should bring in at least one paragraph of your own writing to work with in exercises. That paragraph or excerpt could be an introduction to a paper, an abstract, or a biography (such as for an invited talk). Also, because core grammatical terms such as subject, verb, and dependent clause are needed to discuss writing at the sentence level, we recommend that you review those essential terms on https://www.craftofscientificwriting.com/grammar.html. Register by Wednesday, February 20, at 12:00 p.m.

Audience: This workshop could benefit graduate students who want to improve their writing at the sentence level. Although the materials draw upon Michael Alley’s work with hundreds of STEM writers, the workshop pertains to writing across disciplines. After all, the sentence is the basic unit of expression in research.

Register here for Workshop 3.

International Write-In with the University Libraries

GWC Consultants: Layli Miron and Michael Young

Wednesday, April 24, 3:00-10:00pm, Paterno Library 103

Overview: As the semester draws to a close, join us at the library for the biannual International Write-In! Show up for as long as you like and leave whenever you’re ready. GWC consultants, EPPIC tutors, undergraduate tutors, and librarians will be present to answer any writing questions you might have, and there will be a separate room for those who want to work in complete silence.

Learning Objectives: You will benefit from writing in a communal space, gaining motivation from peers, and sustenance in the form of coffee, pizza, and snacks.

Requirement: Bring a writing project! Stay tuned for a registration link.

Audience: The International Write-In is open to graduate students, undergraduate students, faculty, and staff.

Register here for the International Write-In.

Questions? Please email Layli Miron (layli@psu.edu).

Additional Resources

If you want to register for an upcoming workshop, please scroll down.

If you’re looking for materials from one of our workshops, please go to our Download Resources page.

We also recommend that you check out the workshops and other resources offered by EPPIC (English for Professional Purposes Intercultural Center), the Career Resource Center, the Office of Graduate Fellowships, and the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence.

2018 Summer Workshops

Register Now

The summer is the perfect time to revise your work and send it out for publication. Our summer series of workshops will help writers do just that by introducing them to a range of methods for reconsidering their work and reframing it for publication.

To sign up: http://gradschool.psu.edu/current-students/graduate-writing-center-workshops/


Strategies for Writing Literature Reviews

Date: Wednesday, June 13th  |  Time: 1:30–3:30PM  |  Place: 112 Kern

This workshop will cover the basics of writing a literature review from start to finish. Material will be applicable both to literature reviews that exist as part of a larger introduction and to more extensive literature review articles that stand on their own.  We will address how to narrow your search for sources, how to read sources critically, and how to effectively critique, analyze, and organize those sources in your literature review.

Instructors: Layli Miron and Miles Young, GWC Consultants

The Craft of Scientific Presentations

Date: Tuesday, July 10th  |   Time: 1:30–3:30pm  |  Place: 112 Kern

From an audience’s perspective, many research presentations suffer because the talks are unfocused. This lack of focus leads to much noise, which reduces the understanding by the audience. Much of the problem arises from speakers following PowerPoint’s defaults and building their talks on phrase headlines supported by bulleted lists. This workshop presents the assertion-evidence approach (http://www.assertion-evidence.com) to designing research presentations. In this approach, the speaker builds the talk on key messages supported by visual evidence. Our research has found that assertion-evidence talks are more focused and much better understood by audiences. In addition, our speakers (even those initially nervous about making presentations) report that using the assertion-evidence approach has given them more confidence.

Optional Preparation Assignment: Before this workshop, participants are encouraged to download a template from http://www.assertion-evidence.com/templates.html and create a couple of slides for their next research presentation. Participants are also encouraged to view the following model research presentations by graduate students.

Instructor: Michael Alley, Associate Professor, Engineering Communication

Drafting and Revising for Publication

Date: Monday, July 30th  |  Time: 1:30–3:30 PM  |  Place: 112 Kern

This workshop will cover strategies for drafting, revising, and preparing a manuscript for publication. We will address the various challenges that writers face at different stages of the revision process, including how to respond to conflicting or challenging feedback from advisors, reviewers, and editors. The second part of this workshop will address how to revise an existing draft to improve clarity, coherence, and sensitivity to audience.

Instructors: Layli Miron and Miles Young, GWC Consultants

All graduate students, regardless of disciplinary affiliation or English fluency, are welcome to enroll. Penn State encourages qualified persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact Layli Miron (layli@psu.edu) in advance of your participation or visit.