day one writing course

My intention in these posts is simply to outline the activities in the course in case you want to try any of them for yourself. If I have time/energy I’ll add other bits too, but tonight is quite late and this is just a run through of what we did today…

The course ran from 1300 to 1800 and most people had already been to work in the morning. (This included me of course as I’d spent the morning working on a bid.) Most people in the group were from Education with two from Business and one from Anthropology. We began with the usual round of names and areas of research. This was also to help me know what kinds of examples to give. Then into three key concepts – text work/identity work, writing as a social practice and the community of journal readers. Next onto the business of choosing a journal by ‘reading’ the Editors and Editorial Board, the titles of articles and abstracts and finally the mission statement. (I’ll write something about each of these four later, but they are in the writing books.)

We did two little five minute shut-up-and-writes – the first one on ‘the article I’m going to write’, and the second on ‘why the journal readers need to read my article’. I ask people to write about what they will write rather than start on the article because it’s a way of getting going without it being too difficult. That’s in part because it’s writing in the first person. It’s a Robert Boice technique – write about what you will write rather than start by trying to write it.

Paired discussion was followed by the bad news about why articles get rejected. I always use some of David Gillbourn’s interview on Education Arena to make these points.

After some input about the notion of ‘the contribution’– something that adds to the conversation in the journal about the topic – and the introduction of the horrid So What question (So that’s your point? Who cares? So what! Tell me why), we finally got to the structured abstract. Some quiet writing was followed by paired discussion.

Most people used this sentence skeleton abstract.

• ….. is now a significant issue (in/for).. because…. . ( Expand by up to one sentence if necessary)
• In this paper I focus on …..
• The paper draws on ( I draw on) findings from a study of… which used…… in order to show that….. (expand through additional sentences)
• The paper argues that….
• It concludes (I conclude) by suggesting that…

Tomorrow I start on some more individual interactions in public… I’ve asked people to think about whether they want to volunteer or not!

About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
This entry was posted in abstracts, journal, just write and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to day one writing course

  1. sevcanozturk says:

    Reblogged this on tezenzi and commented:
    kendime not:


  2. Pingback: Tacking, shifting and stitching | sharonmcdonough

  3. ailsahaxell says:

    Excellent. Am entering into your course at a distance, and a little late, but fortunately had an article in progress so the catch up isn’t too difficult. This first task has already made an improvement to my article just by prompting me to really focus on what i want the reader to takeaway.


  4. Pingback: My first article | loup et lapin

  5. Pingback: DIY Writing Retreat | sharonmcdonough

  6. Pingback: Paper writing: opening with a strong abstract, title and keywords – How to write a PhD in a hundred steps (or more)

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