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Filmed and Web-based Workshops

The Writing Center is gradually building a library of filmed Writing Center workshops, hosted on the NPS Video Portal. The available films, with workshop descriptions, are linked in the menus below.

Additionally, for the benefit of off-campus students, a few workshops are conducted on the web using Collaborate videoconferencing. Resident students are welcome to sign up for these. Offerings vary each term, so check the current workshops page for more information.

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[For current schedule and Collaborate link, see the Workshops page.]

Part I: Is your writing a little rusty? Want to raise the credibility of your work? In this workshop, we will review the underlying rules behind the common problem areas of mechanics and punctuation as well as basic conventions of academic papers. Group exercises will provide hands-on practice and time to ask questions. Leave with the basic toolkit for graduate-level writing.

Part II: If NPS is your first foray into graduate-level writing, this refresher workshop is for you. We’ll build on the concepts of Level I to review the common problem areas of grammar and style in academic papers. Group exercises will provide hands-on practice and time to ask questions. Expand your toolkit from Level I with academic writing essentials.

Booklet covering all the above material:

Not sure how an analysis differs from an argument? How an introduction should be different from a conclusion? How a thesis statement differs from an abstract? Are you unclear about the role of alternative explanations, what goes in a bibliography, what to footnote other than sources, or the point and structure of a literature review? Come learn how the building blocks of academic papers fit together, making your papers more readable and complete.

Constructing a research question is probably the most important task for any paper you write. An overly broad question becomes mission impossible, while an excessively narrow question won’t help fill the pages. Learn strategies for identifying answerable, interesting questions. A compelling research question will keep you motivated and your reader engaged.

[For current schedule and Collaborate link, see the Workshops page.]

Overusing passive voice is one of the most common stylistic blunders in academic writing. However, it can be hard to identify and even harder to fix. This workshop will explain what passive writing looks like and why in most cases active constructions are a better choice. Collaborative mini-lessons and hands-on activities will show you how to transform idle verbs and inactive sentences. You will leave with strategies to select the best possible verbs, to craft more interesting prose, and to express your ideas more concisely.

What is graduate-level research? Without guidance, most students simply read a pile of books, then string together as many quotes as possible, creating slapdash, wandering papers that are painful to write and torturous to read. In this workshop, you will learn how to explain your research goals, explore potential research questions, and use other tactics that will make your research focused, efficient, meaningful and, yes, even fun to write and read!

Are you incorporating mathematical formulae in your writing? Do you need auto-numbering, cross-references and bibliographies? LaTeX ("lah-tek") is a free, decades-old tool for typesetting elegant technical documents. Please counsult the LaTeX Thesis Portal for guides, manuals, tutorials, and videos.

A master’s degree requires mastering a field, and that mastery is demonstrated in a literature review, a required component of most theses and many papers. It is not, as often believed, a multi-title book review. It is, rather, a comprehensive analysis of the literature relevant to your research question. More than a summary, it identifies strengths and inadequacies in the existing literature, which dovetails with your goal of adding new knowledge to your field. In this workshop, you will learn how literature reviews are constructed and how to make yours justify your research.

Note: For maximum benefit, print or display the below-linked sample literature review before viewing this workshop.

Are you unsure whether your papers are well-organized? Want to write with more confidence and efficiency? This workshop will demonstrate how academic writing differs from other forms. Standard academic organization will be explained for three levels: paper, paragraph, and sentence. Color-coded examples will make the process clear. You will learn techniques of organizing and writing that consistently produce a coherent logical flow. Finish your papers knowing that your readers can follow your argument with ease.

Note: For maximum benefit, display the below-linked sample journal article before viewing this workshop.

You’ve all heard what you shouldn’t be doing: don’t violate the Honor Code, don’t plagiarize, don’t forget the rules of academic integrity. This workshop focuses on what to do to avoid these serious problems. We give you the skills to confidently incorporate others’ words, ideas, analyses, models, and images into your own writing. You will gain experience summarizing, paraphrasing, and incorporating quotes from source material.

So much reading, so little time! Learn and practice a sure-fire method for reading at the graduate level. This “search and destroy” technique allows you to comprehend and synthesize an author’s key arguments in 15 minutes—though this method takes practice to perfect. The pay-off is high in terms of comprehension, time saved, and enhanced critical thinking.

Note: For maximum benefit, print out the below-linked article before viewing this workshop.

Level II teaches the "destroy" half of Professor Shore's "search and destroy" technique. Learn how to critically examine a text for its strengths and weaknesses.

Note: For maximum benefit, print out the below-linked article before viewing this workshop.

Academic writing is a gentle form of warfare. You go on “offense” by discovering the inadequacies in ideas that have come before you and reveal their weaknesses. Your offense also includes presenting convincing, well-reasoned arguments, which you, in turn, must defend. We will explore the nature of argumentation and persuasion, discuss common fallacies, and learn to structure and anticipate counterarguments.