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Rackham / Sweetland Workshops

Rackham / Sweetland Workshops, co-sponsored by the Rackham Graduate School, cover a host of topics designed to help graduate students in various aspects of writing.

Transition to Graduate Writing, Part 2

Tuesday, January 24, 2023 • 10:00-11:30am
West Conference Room, 4th floor, Rackham Building

Graduate students are required to navigate a range of academic writing conventions, genres, expectations, and audiences. This workshop will help graduate student writers identify critical strategies for reading and writing academic texts. We’ll talk about how to approach unfamiliar writing tasks, develop drafting and revision practices, and identify patterns across all disciplinary forms of academic writing. The workshop will conclude by identifying our learning goals and developing best methods for achieving them.

Presenter: Stephanie Moody, Sweetland Center for Writing

Structuring and Developing Arguments

Tuesday, February 21, 2023 • 1:00-2:30pm
East Conference Room, 4th floor, Rackham Building

What kinds of arguments can graduate students make as they proceed through their coursework, professional development, and dissertation process? This presentation will focus on how to conceptualize and scaffold arguments to develop and shape scholarly work across the whole of one's graduate career.

Presenter: Raymond McDaniel, Sweetland Center for Writing

Writing Literature Reviews

Thursday, March 23, 2023 • 2:00-3:30pm
East Conference Room, 4th floor, Rackham Building

How do I turn this never-ending tangle of literature into a neat, polished review? In this interactive workshop, we'll cover laying the foundation for your scholarly literature review and then taking that first critical step towards composition. We'll crowdsource tips for generating a source list, organizing it as you go, and starting to extract themes and ideas for section headings from your reading library. We'll also cover the basics of structure to reduce the barrier for writing your first sections. Whether you're halfway through or just starting out, you'll have a chance to take the next step on organizing, defining your purpose, or revising your argumentation. This presentation will focus on reviews in the sciences, but concepts are generalizable to all literature reviews.

Presenter: Jimmy Brancho, Sweetland Center for Writing

Previous Workshops

Workshops are co-sponsored by the Rackham Graduate School.

Revising to Publish

This workshop will provide an overview of how to revise a course or conference paper for publication. We will start with a review of useful publishing resources, and move through exercises to redefine your argument, identify a target journal, and design a writing schedule to achieve your publication goals. Students should bring a course or conference paper to work with during the workshop.

PhD Milestones as Cumulative and Integrative (for humanities/social science students)

To help demystify the graduate student and candidacy process, this presentation explores how PhD milestone genres can build off each other. Students will learn strategies to leverage the connections across these genres with the goal of earning their doctorate in a timely manner.Please have access to your program's degree requirements. The more detailed the better: if there is an official program checklist for these requirements, please bring that, but if there are also unwritten expectations, like conference presentations, funding, or publications, that knowledge will also be useful.

Journey Through the Dissertation - Student panel

This multidisciplinary panel of doctoral students will share insights from their dissertation writing journeys. Panelists will discuss their own writing processes, challenges they have encountered, and strategies and resources they are using to advance and complete their dissertations.  Whether you are just beginning your first chapter or finishing your last, you will hear how other writers approach their dissertations and takeaway insights into how you can make your own dissertation writing process successful.  

Structuring and Developing Arguments

What kinds of arguments can graduate students make as they proceed through their coursework, professional development, and dissertation process? This presentation will focus on how to conceptualize and scaffold arguments to develop and shape scholarly work across the whole of one's graduate career.

Personal Statements in STEM - Workshop on Crafting your own Narrative

This workshop will focus on the personal statement for fellowships applications and will provide participants an opportunity to bring examples of their statements and get feedback from their peers. 

Writing Cover Letters

Your cover letter is usually the first impression you make on a prospective employer. In this workshop we will review the essential elements to include in a cover letter, and you will spend time working on a letter.

Structure, Content, and Argument

What kinds of arguments can you make with your scholarly writing, and how can you deploy previous work to shape and inform the writing work of your dissertation? This presentation assists graduate students in framing and positioning their writing relative to their fields, and addresses the kinds of structural and argumentative opportunities (and challenges!) the dissertation process offers, both in its discrete components and its cumulative effect.

Writing the Teaching Statement

In this hands-on workshop, we will focus on a very important element in most academic job applications: the teaching statement. We will consider the criteria that review committees use in evaluating these statements, and we will assess examples of successful submissions in order to consider what makes for effective content, structure, and language. The workshop will include time for writing and revising an initial draft.

Editing for Organization, Flow, and Precision

Connecting ideas smoothly for readers is one of the primary challenges in editing one’s own writing. When sharing your writing, do you ever worry that your readers will see a list of sentences more than an elegant, logical flow of ideas? Do you receive feedback asking you to develop ideas further, or connect points together? Do you find yourself using the same logical connectors (e.g. however, similarly, as a result) over and over? In this workshop for graduate student writers, we will explore “information bridges” as a means to improve the organization, flow, and precision of documents you compose. We will work with examples from a range of academic disciplines, and provide tools to explore how information bridges tend to be constructed in your own corner of the academic writing world.

Writing Proposals in STEM: Personal and Research Statements

This workshop will focus on two important elements of most research proposals in STEM disciplines - the personal statement and research statement. We will consider the criteria that review committees use in evaluating these statements and will critique examples of successful submissions in order to consider what makes for effective content, structure, and language. The workshop will conclude by sharing tips for writing, revising, and editing these statements.

Transition to Graduate Writing

Writing in graduate school calls on students to work in a variety of new genres and challenges writers to expand on their skills as communicators. This workshop will help early graduate student writers identify critical practices and strategies to enhance their writing and build an effective approach to graduate writing. We’ll talk about becoming more strategic readers and examine patterns of inquiry across disciplines moving from the practice of asking good questions to the importance of topic construction. We will also talk about the variety of communication forms graduate writing can take. The workshop will conclude by examining our writing routines and finding ways to expand our own writing process to succeed in graduate school.

Resume Writing Toolkit

This workshop provides participants with useful information and skills for creating successful resumes. Students will take part in activities evaluating resumes and work with their peers to improve their own. Please bring a Resume (or partially written Resume or Curriculum Vita) with you to the workshop.

Structuring Content

What kinds of arguments can you use a dissertation to make, and how can you frame or position those arguments? Once you've committed to an argument, how do you arrange your dissertation to best serve it? How can you think about the overall shape of what you're doing and making? The Structuring Content workshop will present graduate students an opportunity to consider these questions, learn about some of the common components of dissertations in the humanities and social sciences, and ask questions about how to scaffold and build out their dissertation topics and projects.

Writing Literature Reviews in the Natural Sciences 

A literature review is a foundational component of the dissertation that provides important context for one's research and writing.  It is also a challenging organizational project.  In this workshop, we will explore the purpose and conventions of literature reviews in the natural sciences.  The workshop will include a discussion of the genre of literature reviews, why they are important, and how they can be organized. Our ultimate goal will be to equip graduate students with both an understanding of different approaches to literature reviews as well as strategies for summarizing the literature and organizing content.

Composing Effective Academic and Professional Email

This workshop equips graduate students to formulate effective academic and professional email communication in English, offering perspectives on audience, register, and strategies for achieving common purposes of email, e.g. for formulating requests or thank-you messages.

Writing Grant and Fellowship Proposals in STEM Disciplines

This workshop offers students tips and ideasfor writing more competitive grant and fellowship proposals in STEM disciplines. The workshop will provide an overview of the types of criteria that reviewers use in evaluating proposals as well as an opportunity to evaluate examples of successful research proposals and personal statements. The workshop will also cover options for integrating broader impact statements into proposal language. The workshop will conclude by sharing tips for writing, revising, and editing proposals.

Writing for Content and Clarity

Writing for Content and Clarity is a workshop that offers graduate student writers an opportunity to develop strategies for clear, effective, and flexible prose for a diverse array of academic writing occasions.

Grants and Fellowship Workshop for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

This workshop will provide an overview of writing grant and fellowship applications in the sciences. We will start with an overview of resources to identify funding opportunities, and move through meeting application requirements, how to develop and write components of a proposal, and how to avoid common errors in proposal writing, finishing with the reviewer’s perspective when evaluating proposals.

Academic Writing in the Social Sciences & Humanities

This workshop is designed to help graduate students identify and meet the challenges of academic writing in the Social Sciences and Humanities. This workshop will offer practical suggestions on how to:

  • Contextualize, frame, and test an effective argument
  • Strengthen the structure of an argument
  • Identify writing conventions in your discipline
  • Situate your work within the existing scholarship of your field
  • Write with clarity and precision at the level of sentence, paragraph, and section
  • Solicit and respond to feedback from advisers and peers

This workshop will be useful for Social Science and Humanities graduate students writing seminar papers, dissertations, conference papers and articles.

Writing for Blogs and Digital Media

Writing for blogs and digital media is an essential skill for today's writers. Whether you are writing for a blog or some other form of digitally created and shared piece of writing, there are many issues you should be aware of--from creating compelling and convincing posts that resonate with your target audience, to navigating the shifting waters of authorship and publication. Most important, you should become familiar with how text and images work together, how links can be effective, and how content achieves a purpose. Come to this workshop to begin exploring and understanding these contemporary aspects of writing.

Writing Persuasive Personal Statements

This session considers personal statements as a form of argument and focuses on their underlying rhetoric. The workshop will:

  • Review examples of calls for proposals and decode their language to see more clearly how best to respond
  • Construct general principles about audiences for statements of purpose and how to write to meet their needs
  • Offer tips on easy ways of preparing to write and enrich the statement
  • Share exercises on how to conceive of the statement as an argument
  • Consider what UM statistics say about why proposals are rejected
  • Review a list of things (and words) to avoid in statements of purpose

This workshop will be useful for any graduate student applying for fellowships, grants, or other opportunities whose applications require some form of statement of purpose. It will not address how to identify grant or fellowship opportunities.

Academic Writing in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Disciplines

This workshop will provide an overview of writing at a professional level in the sciences. The information discussed will apply equally to journal papers, dissertations, and other graduate level writing. We will cover drafting and revising techniques, discuss how to best target your audience, go over the structure of scientific writing, and focus — at a sentence and paragraph level — on what your reader needs from your writing.

Effective Writing Plans and Goals

Balancing the demands of writing with the array of other graduate school responsibilities—planning discussion sections, building syllabi, grading, acting as a research assistant, reading for classes, being a diligent citizen of your home department, etc.—can seem overwhelming. The good news is, it can be done, and it can be done reasonably. This workshop focuses on how to develop productive academic writing habits. The purpose is to instruct participants how to plan a project, set goals, and meet them, and students should leave the workshop with their own writing plans in place. We will discuss specific approaches to:

  • Understanding your individual writing needs
  • Determining appropriate form and scope of projects based on purpose, audience, and time constraints
  • Breaking projects into manageable stages
  • Setting reasonable, achievable goals
  • Time management (especially working effectively with limited time)
  • Moving back and forth between research and writing
  • Moving back and forth between projects
  • Building in accountability
  • Making the most of peer groups
  • Incorporating feedback for revision

Writing Your Way Through the Dissertation

While the dissertation is the final achievement of your graduate education, writing the dissertation is a process few face without struggle. Little prepares graduate students for the enormity of writing these extended and original academic arguments. This workshop will consider how writers can better manage writing their dissertations, and in fact, use writing as a way through the whole process. The workshop will offer strategies that address writing practice, work routines, and divisions of labor. This workshop will also present approaches to writing issues that dissertators in particular encounter, including: clarifying dissertation expectations, audience and working with committees, and the expanded role of revision for dissertators. The workshop is intended for writers from all disciplines who are in the midst of writing their dissertations and in search of strategies and approaches that can help advance their writing practice.

Topics include:

  • clarifying expectations of a successful dissertation
  • audience and working with committees
  • reflective mapping strategies
  • best writing practices for dissertators

Beyond Plagiarism: The Role of Citation Norms in Establishing Scholarly Credibility

While proper citation of sources is required of any writer who wants to avoid plagiarism, academic norms regarding citation and source use are complex and extend beyond law and ethics. This workshop offers a quick overview of key ethical concerns, followed by a more in-depth exploration of the role of citation practices in establishing scholarly credibility. Distinctions between plagiarism and copyright violations will be noted, but the workshop focuses more on how to situate one’s own research in a broader rhetorical landscape (how to position one’s work in an academic field) than on how to avoid breaking laws. This workshop will be most useful for graduate students in any discipline who are beginning to think about disseminating original research, whether at conferences or for publication. It will not address technicalities of copyright law in science or engineering fields. Topics addressed:

  • Law vs. ethics vs. credibility
  • Varieties of plagiarism
  • Effective use of paraphrasing
  • How to signal your own research contributions through strategic use and citation of sources