Developing Academic Writing

Chad NILEP Associate Professor

Department: Institute of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Class Time: 2016 Fall Wednesday
Recommended for: Graduate students in any field

close Syllabus

Course Objective

The course develops skills of academic research writing and logical thinking. Its goal is to help graduate students understand how to incorporate sources into their writing and to write a literature review. Students produce an annotated bibliography and deliver an oral presentation relating their work to their field of study.

The course uses group discussion among students and the instructor. For this reason, all participants must be able to communicate in spoken and written English. Participants should be prepared to discuss actively. This includes asking questions and sharing ideas. There are also some course readings-typically short pieces written in English-to be read before class meetings.

Course Schedule

Date Topics Readings Other asignments
10/5 Introduction, registration none none
10/12 What is an anotated bibliography? Engle, "The Annotated Bibliography";
Stacks et al., "Annotated Bibliographies"
Register at the administrative office of your department. (Deadline varies by department.)
10/19 What is a thesis statement? Lai, "What is a thesis and how to build one from scratch" Preparation for assignment 2: Begin work on your annotated bibliography.
10/26 How can I improve my thesis statement?

What is a literature review?
Taylor, "The literature review"
ACW, "How to write a dissertation literature review"

Lecture notes (PDF, 756KB)
Write a (one sentence) thesis statement.
11/2 What is a logical argument? Lecture notes: Deductive reasoning and Inductive reasoning Preparation for assignment 2: Every time you read something related to your project, add it your annotated bibliography.
11/9 How do I use logical argument in my writing? Weber and Brizee, "Using logic in writing" Analyze and be prepared to discuss these arguments (PDF, 248KB)
11/16 How can sources support (or challenge) my argument? WTS, "Using Evidence";
Dowell and Carter, "Introduction to Syntheses"
11/30 Tips from successful writers Wagenmakers, "How to write clearly";
Perlmutter, "The completion agenda"
12/7 Writing a literature review UNC, "Literature Reviews";
UQ, "Why do I have to have a literature review" and "Making sense of the literature"
Bring your work-in-progress annotated bibilography to class. Ask any questions you have about the process. (not graded)
12/14 How should I prepare for an oral presentation? (1)

How do I cite sources?
Citation styles (PDF, 427KB)
Lecture notes: Plagiarism and paraphrasing (PDF, 293KB)
Review Major assignment 1, (PDF, 41KB) instructions. Be prepared to ask questions.
12/21 What is plagiarism? Why is it a problem?

How do I write quotations, paraphrases, and summaries? (1)
Compare these three:
  1. Stoner, "Why students should avoid plagiarism"
  2. Liberman, "The writer I hired was a plagiarist!"
  3. Pettigrew, "All your profs are wrong about plagiarism"
Based on the three readings and your own ideas, write a short definition of the word plagiarism. (not graded)
1/11 How should I prepare for an oral presentation? (2)

How do I write quotations, paraphrases, and summaries?(2)
1/18 Student presentations none Major assignment 1: (PDF, 41KB) Oral presentations
1/25 Student presentaions none Major assignment 1: (PDF, 41KB) Oral presentations
2/1 Major assignment 2, (PDF, 37KB) annotated bibliography


Students who enroll for course credit are required to meet the following conditions: attend at least 80% of meetings; write an annotated bibliography; deliver one oral presentation. Students who wish to observe the course for no credit may request to do so.

Textbook, Reference book, etc.

A website will be introduced during the first class.

Enrollment Conditions, etc.

The course is open to graduate students in any field. You must be able to communicate effectively in English.


Enrollment is limited to 20 students.


Any graduate student, researcher, or professor may schedule a tutorial with Mei-writing faculty (including Professor Nilep) or Mei-writing tutors. Click here to make an appointment.

Close Section

close Class Materials

Lecture Notes

Class 2
Annotated bibliography (PDF, 513KB)
Class 3
What is a thesis statement? (PDF, 847KB)
Class 4
What is a literature review? (PDF, 885KB)
Class 5
What is a logical arguments (PDF, 878KB)
Deductive_reasoning (PDF, 478KB)
Inductive_reasoning (PDF, 358KB)
Class 6
Logical arguments (PDF, 445KB)
Logical arguments homework (PDF, 248KB)
Class 7
Using logic, Using sources (PDF, 427KB)
Class 9
Literature Review (PDF, 784KB)
Class 10
Developing Academic Writing - How to prepare your oral presentation (PDF, 864KB)
Citation styles (PDF, 427KB)
Paraphrasing_lecture.pdf (PDF, 293KB)
Class 11
Developing Academic Writing - How do I cite sources? (PDF, 827KB)
Class 12
Quoting - Paraphrasing - Summarizing - Synthesizing (PDF, 714KB)

Close Section

Page last updated June 19, 2017

The class contents were most recently updated on the date indicated. Please be aware that there may be some changes between the most recent year and the current page.

Browse by Category

  • Letters
  • History
  • Arts & Culture
  • Politics & Economics
  • Law
  • Philosophy
  • Education, Development & Psychology
  • International Studies
  • Informatics
  • Engineering & Technology
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Life Sciences & Medicine
  • Environmental Studies & Earth Studies

Browse by School / Graduate School