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Workshops, Retreats, and Write-Ins

The Graduate Writing Center offers many workshops, of varying length, to support graduate students with their writing. All workshops are open to enrolled University of Maryland graduate students free of charge. We also welcome suggestions for workshops and will design and provide programs for specific disciplinary needs upon request. Please contact Dr. Linda Macri, Director of Academic and Professional Development, with questions.

This fall, the Graduate School Writing Center will offer two workshop series, the Be Heard series, which includes workshops on both oral and written communication, and the Moving Projects Forward series, focused on longer projects and offered in conjunction with the Research Commons.

Be Heard Series 

In these times—when there’s a lot of noise but not always a lot of substance, and when researchers and scholars need to be heard above the panic—ensuring that you can communicate and lead through your informed, researched work is more important than ever.

All writing sessions will be held on Monday, from 4-5pm, and all oral communication sessions will be held on Tuesdays, from 4-5pm

Each session will start with a brief presentation (about 15 minutes) that will be recorded, followed by time for discussion.  Recordings will be made available immediately after the session, and then each Thursday, from 4-5pm, we’ll offer a drop-in/discussion of that week’s topic (it’s suggested that students dropping in on Thursday should watch the video in advance of the session). 

September 15 (drop in September 17):  Be Heard in Class Graduate seminars can be intimidating! Imposter syndrome, speech anxiety, and clarity fo ideas can all be barries to successful participation in classes.  In this workshop, we'll discuss strategies for how to prepare for classes and in-class approaches to engagement. Register for Tuesday, September 15 or Thursday September 17Watch the presentation for Be Heard in Class here!

September 21 (drop in September 24):  Writing Emails in Academia You know how to write an email.  You’ve probably written thousands of them. But academia is a new setting, and you want the recipients of your emails—professors, administrators, funders—to have a good first impression of you.  In this workshop, we’ll talk about length, level of formality, salutation, and other things to think about to write an effective email.  Bring an email you recently wrote—or some ideas for an email you are dreading writing—and we’ll work out the kinks. Register for Monday, September 21 or Thursday, September 24.

September 29 (drop in October 1): Elements of Successful Presentations Giving a successful presentation requires balancing numerous different elements. This workshop will focus on major content and delivery components of successful presentations. Participants will understand kinds of audiences and how to adapt to non-specialists in their field, as well as compelling verbal and nonverbal delivery approaches. Register for Tuesday, September 29 or Thursday, October 1 Watch the presentation for Elements of Successful Presentations here!  

October 5 (drop in October 8): Writing Effective Summaries To join the academic conversation of your field, you’ll do a lot of reading and writing about texts.  Knowing how to write an effective summary will be a key skill to develop.  You’ll write summaries for reading notes, course assignments, and papers or articles—and summarizing can take a long time (not to mention that not doing it well could lead to plagiarism). In this workshop, we’ll look at some templates and strategies for writing effective summaries.  To make the workshop work for you, you might attend with an article you need to summarize in mind. Register for Monday, October 5 or Thursday, October 8

October 13 (drop in October 15) Using Narrative to Explain Your Research “Show, Don’t Tell” is a common expression in academic scholarship. This often refers to “so what?” arguments that define the urgency and significance of a presentation. This workshop will explore one strategy for meeting these demands, using narratives. Through representative anecdotes and compelling stories, participants will learn how to show their audiences why their research matters. Register for Tuesday, October 13 or Thursday, October 15 Watch Using Narrative to Explain Your Research

October 19 (drop in October 22) Writing a Diversity Statement Increasingly, postings for academic jobs—and often for acceptance to graduate programs—ask for a diversity statement as part of a packet of application materials.  In a diversity statement, applicants are expected to demonstrate how they have and will contribute to the equity and diversity values of the academy through their teaching, research, and service.  At this workshop, we’ll explore the purpose of a diversity statement, look at some examples, and consider effective strategies for drafting your own statement. Register for Monday, October 19 or Thursday, October 22

October 27 (drop in October 29) Using Visuals Effectively in Presentations “Death by PowerPoint” is a common pitfall that speakers need to avoid in order to give successful presentations. This workshop will explore strategies for how to craft an appropriate visual presentation for a given audience. Register for Tuesday, October 27 or Thursday, October 29.

November 2 (drop in November 5) Who are You? Writing a Professional Bio You’ll have to represent your accomplished, academic self in a variety of ways during graduate school, in genres such as a cover letter, or a curriculum vitae. You’ll likely have to provide a brief professional biography, sometimes called a biosketch, for a website, a conference, or even a journal submission.  So start putting one together now!  In this workshop, we’ll talk about what a biosketch is and when you might use one, and we’ll look at some examples and spend some time drafting. Register for Nov. 2 or Nov. 5

November 10 (drop in November 12) Let Me Tell You About My Research: Brief and Informal  Explanations Briefly answering the question, “so, tell me about your research,” can be challenging, whether the question comes from an expert in your field at a conference or your cousin at a family gathering. At this workshop, we’ll discuss ways to explain your research briefly, in a sentence or a few sentences, to both expert and non-expert audiences.

November 16 (drop in November 19) What's the Story? Using Narrative in Your Academic Writing Humans are storytelling animals; we respond to and remember stories. You may have heard the idea that good academic writing should have a story, but what does that mean?  How do you create a story out of data, analysis, synthesis, method, theory? We’ll explore that question in this workshop and offer you some ways to bring narrative to your academic writing.

November 30: Writing an Op-Ed As scholars, researchers, teachers, parents, citizens, visitors, and members of a community, you have valuable knowledge and experience that can help shape how others think about the world around them. Join us for this workshop to learn more about writing an op-ed and pitching it to a news source.  Bring some ideas! Register for Monday, Nov. 30.

December 8 (drop in December 10) Hire Me! The Academic Job Talk In this workshop, we’ll examine the academic job talk and consider how to present your research and your self at a campus job interview. Participants will learn about how to create effective presentations that coherently summarize their research and how to plan for and handle questions and discussion about your research. Register for Tuesday, December 8 or Thursday, December 10.

Moving Projects Forward Series 

Organizing Research Notes and Data -- Tuesday, September 22, 12:30 – 1:30pm -- REGISTER HERE 

You read the literature.  You take notes on the literature.  You collect your data.  You make observations about your data. You are moving forward with your research –but if it’s not organized effectively, frustration will follow. In this workshop, we’ll look at some strategies and tools for organizing notes and data. We’ll explore how citation management tools can be used beyond citations and other ways to be organized so you can move forward efficiently.

How to Write a Literature Review  -- Tuesday, October 6, 11am-12pm -- REGISTER HERE 

New to research at the graduate level or just need a refresher? Not sure how to move from research to writing? Join us for this workshop, offered in conjunction with librarians from the Research Commons, focusing on entering an academic conversation through research and writing. The workshop will cover graduate-specific library privileges, effective research and citation practices, writing from sources, and a general introduction to the literature review process.

Moving from Proposal to Dissertation: Reworking, Expanding, Revisioning -- Tuesday, October 13, 11am-12pm -- REGISTER HERE 

Your dissertation proposal is a step in the process.  Your ideas and plans are imagined, designed, and approved.  Then, inevitably, they change as you shift from proposal to dissertation.  In this workshop, we’ll discuss some strategies for effectively moving your written words and plans from proposal to dissertation (we might call this upcycling!).

How to Structure a Dissertation in the Humanities --Thursday, October 22, 11am-12pm -- REGISTER HERE 

A dissertation is a unique genre.  Chances are you’ve never written one before, so thinking about how to structure it so that it is both focused and thorough is a challenge. In this workshop, we’ll talk about what a dissertation is, what a humanities dissertation should aim to accomplish, and how all of that should shape the way you structure yours. 

How to Structure Dissertations in STEM Fields --Tuesday, October 27, 11am-12pm -- REGISTER HERE 

A dissertation is a unique genre.  Chances are you’ve never written one before, so thinking about how to structure it so that it is both focused and thorough is a challenge. In this workshop, we’ll talk about what a dissertation is, what it should accomplish, and various ways to structure a dissertation in STEM fields.

Revising Your Drafts -- Tuesday, December 1, 11am-12pm -- REGISTER HERE 

Maybe you’ve heard that good writing happens in the revision stage.  But what exactly is the revision stage, and how do you effectively revise a draft without endless frustration?  At this workshop, we’ll talk about strategies for revising at the global and local level, and tackle revision challenges from organization to concision. 

Applying for Grants and Fellowships

Grant Geographies -- Wednesday, October 14 and Thursday, October 15, 3pm

Grant Geography Workshops provide students with tools for finding funding opportunities and guidance on how to frame research in a grant application. Offered in conjunction with the Graduate School Office of Funding Opportunities.

Register for Wednesday, October 14 or Thursday, October 15

Applying for Fellowships & Awards -- Tuesday, December 8 and Wednesday, December 9, 3-4:30pm or  Wednesay, December 16, 10-11:30am

This 90-minute workshop provides students with information about how to apply for the Graduate School Fellowships and Awards. The Ann G. Wylie Dissertation Fellowship and the Summer Research Fellowships will be reviewed in detail, and guidance on how to write an effective project summary will be presented. Offered in conjunction with the Graduate School Office of Funding Opportunities.

Register for Tuesday, December 8 or Wednesday, December 9 or Wednesday, December 16

Thesis & Dissertation Retreats

Register for our January 2021 Virtual Dissertation Retreat here!  

The Graduate The Graduate School Writing Center will offer a virtual Thesis & Dissertation Retreat from January 11-15, 2021, from 9am-12pm daily. The retreat is aimed specifically at students already writing their theses, dissertation proposals, or dissertations. Since this retreat is virtual, there will be no limit to the number of participants and no fee for registering, but students are asked to register by January 7 so we can send out instructions, etc. All registered students will be invited to participate. Please contact with any questions.

Weekly Write-Ins

For Fall 2020, we'll be holding virtual Write-Together time each Friday Morning (beginning September 4)  from 9-11am EDT: no advance registration is necessary -- just join!

Writing regularly and with a sense of support contributes to accomplishing writing goals. You can join your graduate and postdoctoral colleagues every Friday morning for structured time to write. All graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty are welcome.

Sign in with your writing goal and/or writing question, use the "pomodoro method" to structure two hours of writing time. Fellows from the Graduate School Writing Center will be available to offer support in brief, one-on-one consultations. 

GradTerp Exchange Monthly Prep Session

  • Wednesday, September 16, 3-4pm and Wednesday, October 21, 3-4pm on zoom 

Interested in giving a talk at our monthly GradTerp Exchange – or just learning how to offer a talk for an audience outside your discipline? At this workshop, we’ll talk about using narrative, humor, strong visuals, and other features of a great talk for a broad audience, and you will have the chance to experiment with ideas and techniques and get feedback from your peers and fellows from the Graduate School Writing Center.

Click here to register


Making Small Talk Monthly Conversation Hour

  • Fourth Mondays (September 28, October 26, November 23)  at 1pm 

Every day, in work places and professional situations across America, people make small talk – brief conversations that are unrelated to work but crucially important to creating relationships.  But many of us—for a wide variety of reasons—don’t feel comfortable making small talk.  Come join the Graduate School Writing Center to learn more about why we use small talk and to practice how to feel more comfortable making small talk.

Join September 28 meeting at this link with your UMD account (passcode: Writing! )

Join October 26 meeting at this link with your UMD account 

Join Novemver 23 meeting at this link with your UMD account (passcode:  Writing!)


Contact Information

Graduate School Writing Center

5100B McKeldin Library
College Park, MD 20742

Fall Drop-In Hours: Wednesdays and Thursdays, 12:00-3:00pm

Upcoming Events: