Workshops – University of Copenhagen

Workshop descriptions and instructions

On Day 1, we dive into the literature on researcher communication to explore forms of writing, e.g., research proposals, we may already use but without knowing the empirical evidence that could enhance our work as researchers, supervisors and developers.

To enable this exploration, we have created a series of workshops, each addressing a different form of research writing. You will be able to participate in two, and, as in previous meetings, we ask you to do some prior work (reading) and post your response.

Each workshop provides the opportunity to discuss in small groups what you learned from your reading as well as time work as a whole to synthesize the results of your discussions to report in plenary.

Please number in order of priority your preferences; we will do our best to meet your requests while working within scheduling constraints.

Workshops Day 1:

10.30-13.00:

a. Research funding proposal: Why is it that the text is key but not sufficient for success?

b. Textbook: Research? Pedagogy? Neither or both?

c. Monograph thesis: What makes it a one-time endeavour? Why isn’t it a book?

14.00-16.15:

d. Peer review: How do we learn to deal with reviews and to act as reviewers? Why is it an occluded genre?

e. Journal articles: Why is it so difficult to write papers? What implies co-authorship? How to combine author’s voice and disciplinary conventions?

f. Professional writing: What is the range? What are the challenges?


a. Research funding proposal: Why is it that the text is key but not sufficient for success?

The problem that is recurrent … [is] that you never know what …people judge you on [so getting a grant involves] …having a good angel (Sam). (McAlpine, 2016)

I have met great scientists …that weren’t so lucky [as me] …for whatever reason …they don’t have the same luck in getting some grants …But …these are the rules of the game, I cannot change them. (Greg) (McAlpine et al., 2016)

Getting a grant is often a goal for academics and may as well be an institutional expectation. Yet, success is increasingly elusive given the reduction in funds and the increased competition. It is not surprising then that luck is often invoked as an influence in the results as we see in Sam’s and Greg’s comments. The articles listed below provide a range of perspectives on the research proposal and its genre system. If you have submitted research funding proposals already, you may be interested in analyzing one of them in light of these research findings.

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b. Textbook: Research? Pedagogy? Neither or both?

I like to …provide …many examples from my …research …[and] encourage students to go elsewhere, so …highlight research …with colleagues …just to give them an idea …[that] we are at the cusp of what is going on in terms of new knowledge and so I …present this saying, ‘Here is what your textbook says, but actually …this is what people are thinking or this is an exciting new thing …to think.’ (Brookeye)

While I was there [fieldwork], I had one main deliverable, which was a chapter revision for a textbook that I had agreed to do, and felt really strongly that I wanted to do that, not give up that opportunity, so I somehow managed to do that, and I don’t even know how I did that really. (KS)

More exactly, I wanted to know [from my supervisor] whether I should just quote the theoretical results from the stats literature without fully understanding their basis, or whether to thoroughly read a textbook on the subject so that I get a better understanding. She thought reading the textbook would be worth it, and I tend to agree. ] (George)

These early career researchers provide us different perspectives on the role of textbooks: teacher, author, and student. Their thoughts are useful reminders of what is often referred to as a blurred genre – neither fish nor fowl. Even if we choose and use textbooks, what do we know of the varied purposes and audiences? And how well does their structure achieve these goals … as well as ours as teachers or students? These articles provide some empirical evidence to help us use (and perhaps write) textbooks.

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c. Monograph thesis: What makes it a one-time endeavour? Why isn’t it a book?

During the hours that I assigned for my dissertation yesterday, I had a bit of a genre-identity crisis. I was editing and revising parts of a chapter in the morning when I discovered that I have been following no more than an idea ‘in my imagination’ of what a dissertation should look like… (http://www.nassrgrads.com/exploring-the-genre-of-the-dissertation/)

Most of us have had at least one experience, whether as a doctoral student or supervisor, of creating a monograph thesis – the traditional form of theses in the humanities and social sciences. Despite its book length, it is not a book and individuals are often surprised by this fact when they move after graduation towards publishing the results of their inquiry. In fact, the monograph thesis involves doctoral students in writing in a way they will never write again. So, what makes this genre unusual – and poor practice for future academic work? And, how can we use our knowledge of this in both studying doctoral experience and supervising the thesis?

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d. Peer review: How do we learn to deal with reviews and to act as reviewers? Why is it an occluded genre?

A big part of the academic experience is peer review and what the consequences that has for you and your career … I got two anonymous reviews from …a prestigious journal that I submitted [the ms] to—and both of those reviews were mostly positive and they did recommend it for publication. [But] they did have some issues and you really felt the subjective nature of it … when it comes to peer review, you can be very pleased with your own work …but if the people reading are expecting something different, then they are not going to be happy with it. (Barbara)

Having had more detailed experience with the whole peer review process …I just feel it is not …as good as it could be …I’m an assessment person and of course the peer review process …is assessment …and one of the important things about assessment is fairness …and I’m just not sure how clear it is …the whole idea that you get one reviewer—one reviewer asks for changes that may very well be valid …and then it doesn’t go back to that person, right, it goes on to somebody completely different who has a completely different viewpoint and it is just—it is really a never ending story …or it could be. And, the other thing …[some] people take it very seriously and take great care in commenting, etc., when others …they don’t feel accountable that it is actually a person’s reading of [the text] …it is just quite insulting ...the process is not just as good as it should be …from a pure assessment perspective. (Nancy)

Nancy and Barbara, both early career researchers, pinpoint the importance, the emotional power and the potential lack of fairness of peer review. We all experience receiving written feedback on our research and many of us write reviews. What does the research tell us about peer review that can make us better reviewers and better users of reviewer feedback?

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e. Journal articles: Why is it so difficult to write papers? What implies co-authorship? How to combine author’s voice and disciplinary conventions?

Normal writing is simple (like a slug) but writing an article is much more complex, isn’t it? The idea is that of a simple use compared to a much more elaborated use, much more evolved. And I feel very unripe at this. (Berta) (Castelló, Iñesta & Corcelles, 2013)

I’ve found many problems, how to select what is right for the article’s draft and I’ve had a lot of difficulties not feeling sure as to what was the most adequate. (Richard) (Castelló, Iñesta & Corcelles, 2013)

I feel I’m an author and I feel I am part of the disciplinary community because I have read a lot about this topic and I feel a very close identification with the disciplinary community I am addressing. The fact of having met some of the most important authors of my disciplinary community at conferences and of my dissertation director being a renowned author in this area probably helps me feel more like an author and part of the community. Perhaps I still need to feel like an IMPORTANT [capital letters show the emphasis of the student in his answer] part of the disciplinary community, but I’ll probably get to that with time and experience. (Mario) (Castelló, Iñesta &Corcelles, 2013).

Berta, Richard and Mario point out different concerns related to writing articles; the particular characteristics of both processes and products, their lack of knowledge regarding genre complexity and the process of developing a sense of authorship. We all have experienced these and other types of challenges related to writing articles. What are the results of research on writing papers? How do experienced writers deal with challenges? What can we/ do we have to offer to ECR for them to develop a scientific writing stance and be productive?

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f. Professional writing: What is the range? What are the challenges?

Who wrote that report [HI version]? It wasn’t no IG [information gatherer]. That report threw me ... but after a couple of pages it started to make more sense than the other one [LI report]. You know ...I found myself thinking more about that fellow Czarnek [HI report] than that other one [Rokitka LI report]. That’s good. ... That helps [me] to see the whole person (Suchan, 2014) .

Come on now. You’ve got to be kidding. ... That report was trash! It breaks the rules how these things need to be done. ... It’s outside the lines. You’d have to rewrite the RADM and change our jobs... our job descriptions before those types of reports could be used (Suchan, 2014).

These quotations illustrate the discussion of two professional workers regarding whether different reports were equally useful and appropriate for their purposes. As seen, they differ on their assessment of these reports. Who and based on what issues is deciding on the appropriateness of professional writing in a range of contexts? Are disciplinary specificities key issues regarding written genres characteristics? What is the role of contexts and companies? What is the role of professional-writers’ position in their communities on professional genres establishment and development? Is there any commonality among genres and writing practices in different disciplinary communities (History vs Law or Engineering)? What early career researchers should know about professional writing?

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