Universiteit Leiden

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Pitfalls for Advanced Writers of Academic English & Word Order (Graduate School FSW)

This short course focuses on the communicative aspects of writing about your research: how to ensure that you make your writing as easy as possible for the reader to follow and understand. This will considerably improve your chances of publishing in top journals.

Target group
PhD candidate
Maria Sherwood-Smith  (Academic English Lecturer)
Training course
Maximum number of participants

There will be some in-class exercises, and participants receive detailed individual feedback on a short sample of their own writing. Focus areas include:  

  • clarity and readability
  • paragraph unity and coherence 
  • punctuation
  • use of tenses   

The emphasis varies depending on participants' individual needs. The course is specifically concerned with writing at the paragraph and sentence level, and does not address questions of overall structure such as ‘what do I put in the Introduction?’ or ‘where does my literature review go?’ – these issues are often discipline-related, and are usually better discussed with your supervisor.

The final session of the three is devoted to an aspect of academic writing that can sometimes prove problematic (even for native speakers of English): word order. Where do I put ‘only’? Can I start a sentence with ‘also’? It is also possible to take this session separately. 

You can now register for the courses for the 2023-2024 academic year. In principle, the teaching will take place in person (but hybrid possibilities will be available). Please specify your 1st and 2nd preference (e.g., Course 1 or 4) and I will try to take that into account. You can do so in the registration form.

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