This Academic Writing Day, held on 14 February 2018, provided participants with a theoretical and practical overview of alternative techniques that can enhance various stages of thesis writing process, from pre-writing to drafting and editing. The event opened with a talk from our guest speaker, dr. Adrian Wallbank (the Centre for the Development of Academic Skills (CeDAS) at Royal Holloway, University of London), including insights from his most recent volume, Academic Writing and Dyslexia: A Visual Guide to Writing at University (2018).
The plenary was followed by two hands-on workshops, packed full of practical tips. The event closed with a round-table discussion in which presenters answered questions based on their experience of completing a PhD thesis as well as providing support to PhD researchers.
Sessions at a glance
Adrian Wallbank’s plenary session, Argument, Agency and Originality: Exploring your Academic ‘Voice’ investigated issues surrounding argumentation, rhetorical strategies and stance in academic writing and discussed perceptions of agency in the light of close, comparative analyses of the discourse and rhetorical features of submitted work. In his workshop, Picture This: Re-Thinking Academic Writing for Dyslexics, Adrian went on to explore some of the main challenges dyslexic academic writers face when writing a thesis and present some of the bespoke visual strategies he has developed for helping dyslexic writers process, structure and articulate their thoughts. Emily Forster’s session Mind mapping your thesis using MindGenius introduced participants to how mind mapping software can be used to create an overview of a whole thesis, store resources as well as a tool in the writing process.
The event, described by a participant as a ‘powerful, rich, relevant conference delivered in an engaging style’, was initially fully booked (50 registrations), and was attended by 35 postgraduate students and several members of staff with an interest in this topic. The majority of participants who returned a feedback form rated the event as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’, with significant learning points. For example, one participant noted: ‘As a dyslexic student, I found the session so informative. It was great to hear from an academic who thinks the same way as me’. Another participant reflected that in the wake of the event, they became aware ‘that dyslexia is not a problem but a type of thinking’. The practical strategies of using MindMapping software introduced in one of the workshops have also been mentioned as useful in the development of research.
The event has been recorded using DMU Replay technology. Videos and links to further resources are available on the event page.