Doctoral Students

During your time at GCU the Graduate School aims to provide opportunities for you to develop your own unique set of skills and expertise, both to assist with your research project but also to provide desirable skills for employment beyond your doctorate.  While there are many Researcher Development workshops which will be relevant to you, we would also encourage you to take advantage of all opportunities for seminar participation, poster presentation, conference attendance and other academic citizenship activities. 

Doctoral Students

Academic Writing

First year Doctoral Writing 5-part workshop series

1a: Building a Writer's toolkit

This workshop explores strategies designed both to get you started in academic writing and to keep your word-count going. Many research students feel that they have very little to say in the early weeks and months of research, when they are still battling with ‘the literature’ and, indeed often treat the first year as a/the Reading Year. The goal of this workshop is to show that you can start developing yourself as a research writer even in the earliest days of your PhD.

 

1b: Writing a Literature Review

We all know that a Literature Review is not simply the retelling of everything that has gone before, but knowing what it is not does not answer the question of what a Literature Review really is. This workshop seeks to help you develop strategies and a structure that will enable you to write a synthesis of the state of research around your chosen topic.

 

1c: Developing Your Academic Writing Style

This workshop looks at how we define academic writing and whether there are any generic aspects to it. Being able to describe what you are writing is important because it enables you to reflect critically on your style and to enhance it. Here we will provide you with a very basic vocabulary to be able to talk about the details of your writing and the means to discuss academic writing within the context of your own research.

 

1d: The Nuts and Bolts of Academic Writing: the sentence, the paragraph and the chapter

Constructing ‘good’ sentences and creating effective paragraphs are key components of successful writing. In the same way that, as the cliché goes, ‘…a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step…’ so the thesis of 60,000 words begins with a single sentence. Giving some consideration to these basic elements of thesis writing at this early stage will result in increasing your confidence as a writer and raise your awareness of what constitutes ‘good’ academic writing that is fit for publication.

 

1e: How to plan and write a methodology

This is a practical writing session that requires you to come prepared to commit yourself to paper.  You may not have decided definitively what your ‘methodology’ will eventually consist of, but you should be able to draw upon your research question to sketch an outline of the approach your research may take.

 

Second year Doctoral Writing 6-part workshop series

2a: Seeking structure – planning, outlining and designing a thesis

This 90 minute workshop organised by the Graduate School, introduces doctoral students to techniques for designing their thesis. The workshop is ideal for those in the 2nd year of their doctoral studies, or anyone who is currently writing-up chapters for their thesis. The workshop is based around understanding the structures and conventions of thesis and research writing, both in general and within specific fields of research.

 

2b: Seeking structure – Writing introductions and conclusions

This 90 minute workshop organised by the Graduate School, introduces doctoral students to techniques for structuring and writing introductions and conclusions. The workshop is ideal for those in the 2nd year of their doctoral studies, or anyone who is currently writing-up chapters for their thesis. The workshop is based around understanding the structures and conventions of thesis and research writing, both in general and within specific fields of research.

 

2c: Writing about evidence and data – a mixed methods approach        

This 90 minute workshop organised by the Graduate School, introduces doctoral students to effective strategies for writing about mixed methods research. The workshop is ideal for those in the 2nd year of their studies, or anyone who is currently writing about the mixed methods data they have collected. The workshop considers the techniques and language required for writing about mixed data sets and ‘good practice’ guidance for organising and introducing evidence.

 

2d: Writing about evidence and data – the language of qualitative research

This 90 minute workshop organised by the Graduate School, introduces doctoral students to effective strategies for writing about qualitative evidence and data. The workshop is ideal for those in the 2nd year of their studies, or anyone who is currently writing about the qualitative data they have collected. The workshop considers the techniques and language required for writing about large data sets and ‘good practice’ guidance for organising and introducing evidence.

 

2e: Writing about evidence and data – reporting quantitative research

This 90 minute workshop organised by the Graduate School, introduces doctoral students to effective strategies for writing about qualitative evidence and data. The workshop is ideal for those in the 2nd year of their studies, or anyone who is currently writing about the qualitative data they have collected. The workshop considers the techniques and language required for writing about large data sets and ‘good practice’ guidance for organising and introducing evidence.

 

2f: How to write and edit a methodology

This 90 minute workshop organised by the Graduate School, introduces doctoral students to effective strategies for writing and editing a Methodology chapter. The workshop is ideal for those in the 2nd year of their studies, or anyone who is currently editing their thesis chapters.  The workshop considers the techniques and language required for writing about the justification, approach, definition, methods and analytical perspective you have adopted on your research journey.

 

Doctoral Writing: Essential final year activities

This half-day workshop organised by the Graduate School, focussing on the final stages of writing up a doctoral thesis. The main aim of the workshop is to help graduate students to produce a detailed plan of what they have achieved and what they have left to do. Practical activities that are directly relevant to finishing your thesis and which have been shown to work are the bedrock of this workshop. Students should leave with a clear idea of what they have left to do and a plan to help achieve it.

The workshop is for doctoral researchers in the final year. This workshop is not suitable for students in the earlier stages of their doctoral studies.

Essentials of Academic Writing for International Students

Session 1

An Introduction to the Grammar of English Academic Writing.

The term 'academic writing' comprises many different types of text, ranging from a research article written for publication in an academic journal to an MSc dissertation or an essay written for a university course. However, there are certain features which appear to be typical of academic writing.  This session explores these grammatical features of English for Academic Purposes with a view to enabling students to identify these features in their reading and employ them to enhance their writing.

 

Session 2

What makes a good sentence?

A sentence is a group of words that make sense.  However, what makes sense to a writer does not always make perfect sense to the reader.  This session explores sentences as the building blocks of academic texts and reveals how the secret of writing a great sentence lies in keeping it simple.

 

Sessions 3&4

What is Cohesion and Coherence: what do the terms mean and how can we achieve them? Parts 1 & 2

Cohesion and Coherence are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they do not mean the same thing.  Cohesion might best be described as ‘flow’ whilst coherence most often describes the concept of ‘unity’ in a piece of academic writing.  The first of these two sessions explores the language commonly used to create a sense of movement through a text and the second focuses upon the strategies used to create depth and discussion in academic writing.

 

Session 5

Relative clauses: what are they, how can we use them and why should we to use them?

Relative clauses strike fear into the heart of many English language students.  These structures appear to be very complex, but they have their own rules and format and once you know how to use them they can enhance and enrich your writing.

 

Session 6

Reading with a Purpose: using a critical reading template.

Reading critically is a key element of research.  Recording your thoughts, ideas and observations on the texts you read can present a challenge.  This session will consider how to read with a purpose and practise critical academic writing through the device of critical reading templates.

 

Session 7

Nominalisation and Passive Tenses: when and how to use them.

Academic writing frequently uses nominalisations; that is, the noun forms of verbs. The process of nominalisation turns verbs (actions or events) into nouns (things, concepts or people).  Nominalisation is taught in EAP units throughout the world as a key principle of academic writing, but it can be overused and has led to many students writing the overly-formal and wordy texts.  The overuse of passive verbs can lead to the same outcome – dull, boring, ‘passive’ writing.  This session looks at how to use these devices to enhance, rather than detract from, academic writing.

 

Session 8

An Introduction to Standard English Punctuation.

This session tackles the four most commonly used and misused punctuation devices in academic English: the comma, the semi-colon, the colon and the apostrophe.  We look at how and why these small symbols are essential in the creation of coherent and credible academic texts. 

 

Sessions 9 & 10

The essentials of English pronunciation for international students. Parts 1 & 2

These workshops are two sessions on English pronunciation for international students. They are designed to follow the series of eight 90 minute workshops which raise research students’ awareness of the demands of reading and writing in academic English. Please only register for these workshops if you have attended 'The Essentials of Academic Writing for International Students' series.

 

Researcher Development

How to be an Effective Researcher

What can you do to make yourself a more effective researcher at Doctorate level and get the most out of your PhD?  This interactive and intensive 1-day course gives practical ways to increase your effectiveness in research and meet the challenges of completing a PhD.   

Careers

The Careers Service is a dedicated resource for all students at GCU, including research students, with information on their website.

Vitae

Vitae is a UK-wide organisation dedicated to researcher development and their website has a wealth of information for researchers.  GCU is a member of Vitae so login with your university email to have access to all the resources on the site.  

Useful links

Other useful links can be found here.