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 Fall Workshops and Events


Register Now

Sentence Mechanics and Academic Style

Date: Tuesday, September 4 | Time: 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM | Place: 102 Kern

This workshop will provide a refresher on academic style through practice with the grammatical forms and stylistic possibilities of the English language. Therein, it will introduce participants to new methods for achieving clarity in their academic writing at the sentence level. The workshop will be divided into two parts: 1) a discussion of general style principles and the tools necessary for expanding stylistic repertoires, and 2) a peer review session where participants will practice the strategies outlined in the lecture. Participants are encouraged to bring two printed copies of one of their own works to workshop.
Instructors: Layli Miron and Michael Young, GWC Consultants

Running Successful Writing Groups

Date: Thursday, October 18 | Time: 2:00 – 4:00 PM | Place: 102 Kern

In this workshop, we will discuss how successful writers make use of peer review, collaboration, feedback, and writing groups. Writing groups are a fantastic way for writers of all kinds to hone their ideas, improve their prose, build accountability and support networks, and prepare their work for publication. Following a presentation on the best practices for creating and maintaining successful writing groups, participants will be given the opportunity to network with fellow writers and to establish groups of their own.
Instructors: Layli Miron and Michael Young, GWC Consultants

International Write-In

Date: Sunday, December 2 | Time: 3:00 PM – 12:00 AM | Place: 103 Paterno Library

As the semester draws to a close, join us at the library for the biannual International Write-In! The International Write-In is open to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff. Its purpose is to provide a communal writing space for anyone who needs/wants a little extra motivation, some company, or free coffee, pizza, and snacks. Show up for as long as you like and leave whenever you’re ready. GWC consultants, undergraduate tutors, EPPIC 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.

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.

2018 Spring Workshops

Strategies for Writing Literature Reviews

Tuesday, February 13, 2018, 2:00-4:00 PM, 112 Kern

Instructor: Chenchen Huang

This workshop will cover the basics of writing a literature review from start to finish. Material will be applicable both to literature reviews that are integrated into a larger research argument 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.

Academic Writing for Multilingual Writers

Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 2:00-4:00 PM, 112 Kern

Instructors: Chenchen Huang & Shannon Stimpson

This workshop will discuss common obstacles faced by multilingual speakers as they adapt to the conventions of academic written English. The first half of the workshop will be devoted to a discussion of citational strategies, and the second half will look at lesser discussed supporting genres (e.g. professional correspondences, memos, etc.) that multilingual speakers are reported to be challenged by as they build an academic career. Rhetorical strategies and tools will be provided to address these issues in terms of grammar, organization, and style.

The Craft of Scientific Writing

Tuesday, April 10, 2018, 2:00-4:00 PM, 112 Kern

Instructors: Shannon Stimpson & Michael Alley


Based on Michael Alley’s award-winning book, The Craft of Scientific Writing, this workshop is designed to help graduate students and professionals write about their work clearly and effectively. Using scores of examples from a wide variety of disciplines, this workshop demonstrates the differences between strong and weak writing. The workshop will cover advice on how to draft, revise, and finish documents. Although the information in this workshop draws upon Michael Alley’s work with hundreds of scientists and engineers, the materials are designed to benefit writers across disciplines in the arts, liberal arts, and social sciences.

The Craft of Scientific Writing Workshop Packet

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 Chenchen Huang (cxh561@psu.edu) in advance of your participation or visit.

2017 Fall Workshops

 

Crafting Professional Documents: Resumes and Cover Letters
Tuesday, October 3, 2017, 3:00 – 5:00 PM, 112 Kern Graduate Building
Instructor: Chenchen Huang

What is the difference between academic and non-academic job documents? How do you alter your materials to target individual audiences? This workshop will focus on strategies for drafting neat, concise, and unique materials for your academic or alt-ac job hunt. Please bring two copies of your current résumé and cover letter for workshopping with your peers.


Crafting Professional Documents: Personal Statements, Research Statements, and CVs
Tuesday, October 10, 2017, 3:00 – 5:00 PM, 112 Kern Graduate Building
Instructor: Shannon Stimpson

What do search committees look for in CVs and personal statements? How are these documents used by faculty and administrators to make hiring decisions about academic candidates? The workshop will emphasize how CVs, personal statements, and research statements differ from and complement each other. Participants will focus on genre conventions and writing with stylistic emphasis and concision. This workshop is geared specifically toward preparing documents for an academic job search. Please bring a copy of your personal statement and/or CV to the workshop.


Writing Abstracts
Tuesday, November 7, 2017, 3:00 – 5:00 PM, 112 Kern Graduate Building
Instructors: Shannon Stimpson and Chenchen Huang

Current demands in indexing, selection, and publication make the abstract an increasingly important form to master. However, even seasoned researchers and practiced writers struggle to write compelling abstracts. Our final workshop addresses the art of abstract writing and summarizing extended arguments for interest, relevance, and accuracy. As part of our discussion, we will also consider how keywords play a crucial role in indexing and access. Participants will practice identifying keywords and revising abstracts for different contexts (i.e., conference papers, journal articles, book chapters, dissertations and theses, research grants, and book proposals). Please bring a copy of an abstract for a project you are working on to the workshop.

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 us (gwc.psu@gmail.com) in advance of your participation or visit.

Summer 2017 Workshops

 

Introducing Your Research
Tuesday, June 13, 2017, 2:00 – 4:00 PM, 112 Kern Graduate Building
Instructors: Michelle Kaczmarek and Shannon Stimpson

A strong introduction creates interest and convinces editors and reviewers that your manuscript is worth publishing. This workshop will introduce methods for revising graduate work for academic publication by focusing on the beginning of any manuscript—the introduction. It will present the necessary components for crafting a strong introduction as well as provide different methods for achieving this goal.


Strategies For Writing Literature Reviews
Wednesday, June 14, 2017, 2:00 – 4:00 PM, 112 Kern Graduate Building
Instructors: Mckenzie Eggers and Chenchen Huang

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.


Revising For Publication
Friday, July 7, 2017, 2:00 – 4:00 PM, 112 Kern Graduate Building
Instructors: Michelle Kaczmarek and Mckenzie Eggers

This final workshop will be devoted to peer review. Participants will be expected to use skills and knowledge acquired in the previous summer workshops to help their peers revise works in progress. With the intention of soliciting feedback that can lead towards publication, each attendee will be asked to upload a draft of a current work-in-progress to be shared with other participants by Monday, July 3rd. Participants will then be placed into feedback groups based on subject and will read and respond to their group members’ work in advance of the workshop. As you read, please be sure to note where and how the writers in your group can improve their work so that you have detailed feedback for them on the 7th. The workshop will be devoted to sharing this feedback and devising revision plans for future action.

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 us (gwc.psu@gmail.com) in advance of your participation or visit.

Spring 2017 Workshops

 

All graduate students, regardless of disciplinary affiliation or English fluency, are welcome to enroll.

Welcome Back: Beginning the New Year in Style, Thursday, February 16, 2017, 4:00 – 6:00 PM, 117 Henderson

Instructor: Michelle Kaczmarek

Registration for this workshop ends 02/15/2017 at 12:00 PM.

This workshop will provide a refresher on academic style through practice with the grammatical forms and stylistic possibilities of the English language. Therein, it will introduce participants to new methods for achieving clarity in their academic writing at the sentence level. The workshop will be divided into two parts: 1) a discussion of general style principles and the tools necessary for expanding stylistic repertoires, and 2) a peer review session where participants will practice the strategies outlined in the lecture. Participants are encouraged to bring two copies of one of their own works to workshop.


Revising for Publication: Introducing your Research, Friday, March 24, 2017, 12:00 – 2:00 PM, Osmond Lab 112

Instructor: Michelle Kaczmarek

Registration for this workshop ends 03/23/2017 at 12:00 PM.

A strong introduction creates interest and convinces editors and reviewers that your manuscript is worth publishing. This workshop will introduce methods for revising graduate work for academic publication by focusing on the beginning of any manuscript – the Introduction. It will present the necessary components for crafting a strong Introduction as well as provide different methods for achieving this goal. The latter half of the workshop will be devoted to peer review in which participants will practice general revision and editing skills with a current Introduction that they are working on. Accordingly, participants are encouraged to bring a draft to the workshop of an Introduction for a manuscript they are revising for publication.


Strategies for Writing Literature Reviews, Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 2:00 – 4:00 PM, Osmond Lab 110

Instructor: Mckenzie Eggers

Registration for this workshop ends 04/03/2017 at 12:00 PM.

Just in time for seminar paper season, 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 reviews that stand on their own. This workshop 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. The workshop will suggest a variety of organizational patterns for literature reviews and address some major revision concerns. It will end with a peer review exercise in which participants will apply new knowledge to one another’s literature reviews. Accordingly, participants are encouraged to bring drafts of introductions or literature reviews (in-progress or complete).


Fall 2016 Workshops

Welcome Back: A Review of Writing Principles for Graduate Students

Instructor: Mckenzie Eggers

This workshop will address the needs of students who are returning to school after a period of time away and of anyone who desires a review of academic writing practices. It will be organized in three sections: (1) a review of core writing principles (e.g., how to structure an argument effectively at the paper, paragraph, and sentence level; how to transition smoothly; how to incorporate evidence; how to write a strong thesis statement and clear topic sentences); (2) a Q and A during which the instructor will address concerns of workshop attendees; (3) a peer review session in which participants will work together to apply workshop principles and discussion to a work-in-progress.

Date: September 19 Time: 3:00–5:00 PM | Place: 105 Wartik Lab

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Drafting Professional Documents Part I: Résumés and Cover Letters

Instructor: Mckenzie Eggers

What is the difference between academic and non-academic job documents? How do you create a rhetorically effective and aesthetically pleasing résumé? How might you use a cover letter to emphasize and enhance your résumé instead of simply repeating its content? How do you alter your materials to target individual audiences? This workshop is the first of a two-part series intended to help students compose effective job documents. It will focus on strategies for drafting neat, concise, and unique materials for your non-academic job hunt. Information provided here will be supplemented in part II of the workshop series on the following day which will focus on the academic job hunt. Please bring two copies of your current résumé and cover letter to review with your peers.

Date: October 11 | Time: 3:00–5:00 PM | Place: 112 Kern Building

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Drafting Professional Documents Part II: CVs and Personal Statements

Instructor: Michelle Kaczmarek

How do search committees use CVs and personal statements to decide on academic job candidates? How do these documents vary between disciplines, and how might you use these documents to stand out from the crowd? This workshop will teach strategies for creating a professionally written—yet unique— CV and personal statement that will appeal to an academic admissions or hiring committee. Participants will focus on genre conventions, organization, and word choice. This workshop will extend the discussion begun in part I, focusing on academic rather than non-academic documents, and touching on the similarities and differences between them. Please bring two copies of your current CV and/or personal statement to the workshop.

Date: October 12 | Time: 3:00–5:00 PM | Place: 124 Business Building

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All graduate students, regardless of disciplinary affiliation or English fluency, are welcome to enroll. We hope you can join us!

To sign up: https://secure.gradsch.psu.edu/registrations/writing/

Follow our Facebook Page (Penn State Graduate Writing Center) and Twitter (@gwcpsu) for updates on these and other GWC events!