Welcome to Academic Conference Skills for PhD Students, the focus of which is assisting students in the preparation of their research or policy papers. This is a 15-week course offered by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences during autumn term, 2016.

In this course, we will be meeting a total of 15 times. I will be at Tsukuba U on Friday afternoons from about 3 until 6, and I am always available via email.

Our course description is as follows: Conference papers and presentations are an integral part of onefs professional life. This course aims to provide students the key skills for turning their research ideas into high-quality conference papers and presentations. Beginning with an introduction to the use of corpus tools to enhance vocabulary, it then covers the basics of crafting clear, concise academic papers for conferences in the humanities. Thereafter classtime will be spent on various aspects of the process of presenting at conferences; this culminates with students enjoying the experience of delivering a 20-minute paper and handling questions from the audience.

 Course Material 

Our initial class will include an overview of the course.

Class material

More comments here.

 Weekly Schedule 

 Week 1 (October 7, 2016) — Term Introducation 

Good day, everyone, and thank you for enrolling in this course. We will endeavor, as you certainly know, to expand your knowledge of skills necessary to succeed at academic conferences.


  • ✓ Become familiar with our Google Drive Word Bank and add at least five lexical items.
  • ✓ From your particular area, upload (or bring in) a handful of articles for analysis.

 Week 2 (October 14, 2016) — Corpus Analysis Tools 

This class we will devote to becoming more familiar with corpus analysis tools, including those at the Compleat Lexical Tutor, a very useful yet ugly site, Corpora at Brigham Young University, and finally the myriad tools from Laurence Anthony via his website.

A small sidelight I'd like to address today is writing polite email (or emails if you prefer the plural form with that distinctive S). These are, of course, of considerable importance, and the skill to craft effective messages is an often overlooked skill.


 Week 3 (October 21, 2016) — TBA 

A potentially very helpful tool, the art of corpus analysis allows us to look in detail at various things, but we will touch on two types of analyses.

 Homework & Class Material: 

  • ✓ My corpus linguistics resource page
  • Corpus worksheet
  • ✓ For your own mini-corpus of at least five files, examine the usage of three lexemes or phrases. Be prepared to discuss your results in our next class.
  • ✓ For at least three files, examine the vocabulary distribution.

 Reminder: Next week and the following week (Nov 4th) we will have no class. See you in November! 

 Weeks 4-5 (November 11, 2016) — Abstracts: Construction & Analysis 

In these two sessions today we will delve into the oh-so-necessary world of abstracts. This are short, concise statements that are often what determines if a reader will choose to actually read your article or come to watch your conference presentation. Thus, Gentle Students, these are crucial.

Abstracts, as you will see in the examples below, are relatively brief summaries that appear at the beginning of an article. Often they mirror the organization of the article or presentation yet must follow certain guidelines (e.g., number of words). Let's begin with a look at a how abstracts are often organized.

 Class Material: 

Having looked at abstracts from a couple different fields, let us extend our corpus analysis notion here.


  • ✔ For the three abstracts that you found, mark the various parts we talked about in class. In addition, provide the bibliographical information for each article.
  • ✔ Write an abstract for each of these two essays.
  • ✔ HW for November 15: Locate and bring in information on at least three academic conferences. You might consult the Linguist List of Conferences for some ideas.

Week #7 (November 18) —  Conference Proposals 

This class will be devoted to crafting proposals for conference presentations, which is a scenario you might well encounter in the future (and I hope you do so!).


 Week 8 (November 25, 2016) — PowerPoint Basics 

This fall we will we will talk some about the oral components of public speaking and making presentations. I prefer a certain template which makes the organization of your presentation very, very clear to your listener.

 Class Material: 

 Weeks 9-10 (December 2, 2016) — Academic Style; Visual Information 

Good afternoon, everyone. Today we will look more closely at writing and the language of academic papers. This is an area in which students can sometimes get perilously close to the register used in oral communication, which is generally much more casual. Here we have a useful chapter on academic style, courtesy of Scott Bailey and his book titled Academic Writing: A Handbook for International Students. Below you will also find two of my articles, which we will glance at to check for my use of academic style.

We will also delve some into the world of tables and figures, which is more art than science, I think. Here we have a useful chapter on the use and presentation of visual material.


 Week 11 (December 9, 2016) — Cause and Effect; Problem-solving  

This week we will examine a couple common methods that occur in academic writing.

Good People, your homework today is a bit of practice using actual academic articles. In the last couple classes we've been talking about elements of writing and, today, visual presentation. Your homework is thus to select one of the articles in the December literature folder in Dropbox and then gently critique it. In more detail, I'd like you to look for elements of ...

 Class Material: 

 Week 12 (December 16, 2016) — Definite Articles and Other Fun Things 

We will devote some time today to looking at definite articles, which routinely give students problems. Below you will find some material to help you along.

Inasmuch as this is our final class of 2016 (where does the time go?), I have cleverly decided to give you a bit of homework (the sample essay below). Lest you worry, however, note that our next class meeting will be late in January—specifically, on January 27.

 Homework over the winter holiday: Here we find an easy article for correction; you need to follow the directions on the first and last pages. In addition, consider whether you would revise anything in the essay (e.g., grammar). Of course, you should also enjoy your holiday!


 Weeks 13-14 (January 27, 2016) — Genre Analysis 

Welcome back, everyone, and I hope that 2017 is a happy, healthy, prosperous year for you and your family.

This afternoon I would like to spend the first part of our class covering the article for correction from last week as well as reviewing and practicing articles. We'll select one of the worksheets from our last class.

OK, having finished that I would like to move on into a type of corpus analysis that is called genre analysis. This consists of parsing an essay (or multiple essays) and examining the resulting mini-corpus. We'll be using a shared spreadsheet in Google Drive, on which you'll find an example taken from a 1997 article by Chris Bramall about differences in living standards in pre-war Japan and China.


  • Living Standards (1997)
  • ✓ HW: Prepare a genre analysis of one article, either one from the December lit folder in Google Drive or one of your choosing. You'll need to focus on a particular aspect in your chosen article, and the choice of which is entirely yours. For example, as I'll have shown you in class, you could look at the topic sentences of all of the paragraphs.

 Week 15 (February 3, 2016) — Final Presentations 

As you have no doubt surmised, in this class you will be making your presentation.

URL: www.jimelwood.net/students/tsukuba/gradwriting/gradwriting.html

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Date last updated: January 26, 2017 * Copyright 2017 by Midas, Cyrus, and all the other lunatics.