Writing tips, templates, further reading…
Use these resources when they feel right for you, whether you want to try out a new writing technique or streamline your daily routines.
Note that the linked resources require single sign-on (SSO) login, so are available only to Oxford University members.
Everything you need to begin well.
- Programme guidance booklet (includes sections on effective scheduling, planning, writing well, peer support, staying flexible, and further resources)
- Orientation session slides and content outline (in case you missed the session, or just want to remind yourself what we covered)
- Cheat sheet for your first meet-up (read this to get your partnership off to a strong start)
- Writing meet-up goals diary (in Word or PDF, for you to print or adapt as you like)
- Writing session, day, and single project planner/tracker templates (in Excel, to help with calculations and overview; also includes a list of writing session tactics)
Ideas to enhance your academic writing and planning.
- Tip 1: Setting and achieving goals [download goals diary and planner/tracker templates above]
- Tip 2: What are you writing about and why? (Motive spot check) [download template a or template b]
- Tip 3: Hearing what your writing sounds like
- Tip 4: Changing places
- Tip 5: Thinking aloud
- Tip 6: Remote meet-ups
- Tip 7: Lucky dip
- Tip 8: CV review
- Tip 9: Thinking through your metaphors
- Tip 10: How to plan and give a talk
- Tip 11: Role and goal mapping
- Tip 12: Regular professional review
- Tip 13: How to write an abstract
- Tip 14: Ideas list
- Tip 15: How to have a good summer
- Tip 16: How to plan your day
- Tip 17 (Prewriting I): How to generate a good research question
- Tip 18: How to stop procrastinating and get started
- Tip 19: Why and how to write by hand
- Tip 20: How to write a book review
Books to consider buying; blogs to consider following.
- How To Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing, by Paul Silvia (2019), 2nd edition.
A no-nonsense guide to getting academic writing done, including plenty on scheduling and self-motivation, as well as some genre-specific advice for papers, books, and grant bids, and perspectives on prioritisation of specific writing tasks, and the pros and cons of writing groups. On Amazon here.
- Stylish Academic Writing, by Helen Sword (2012)
A data-driven case for the importance of good style in academic like all other writing, full of examples and quotes, large-scale and line-by-line analysis, and ‘things to try’ for each chapter. Covers topics including pronouns, voice, perspective, and register; titles and openings; storytelling and illustrative examples; jargon; and referencing systems. Google Books preview here. On Amazon here.
- The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century, by Steven Pinker (2014).
A beautifully readable demolition of senseless pedantry, full of examples and principles for writing well in contemporary contexts. This Guardian review gives some nice examples of his no-nonsense take on grammar ‘rules’. On Amazon here.
- Thesis Whisperer, by Ingwer Mewburn, Director of Research Training at the Australian National University.
Covers all aspects of how to complete a PhD, including plenty on writing.
- The Research Whisperer, by Jonathan O’Donnell (Senior Research Initiative Coordinator for the Faculty of Science at the University of Melbourne) and Tseen Khoo (Senior Lecturer in Research Education and Development at La Trobe University).
‘Just like the Thesis Whisperer—but with more money.’ With the wide topic remit of ‘doing research in academia’, the blog explores things like research communication, research culture, funding, and career strategies.
- Explorations of Style: A Blog about Academic Writing, by Rachael Cayley (Associate Professor, Graduate Centre for Academic Communication, University of Toronto).
Includes sections on all the main phases of the writing process, as they relate to three key writing principles: using writing to clarify thinking, committing to extensive revision, and understanding the needs of your reader.
- DoctoralWritingSIG, by Claire Aitchison (Academic Developer, Teaching Innovation Unit, University of South Australia), Cally Guerin (Research Training Scheme Officer, Careers, University of Adelaide), and Susan Carter (Associate Professor in English Literature, University of Toronto).
Themed categories on the dissertation/thesis, grammar/voice/style, writing practices, publication, and identity and emotion.
- Writing for Research, by Patrick Dunleavy (Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, LSE).
A range of insights on writing practices for nonfiction with a research focus.
- The Professor Is In, by Karen Kelsky, Ken Weinhold, et al.
Hard-headed practical ‘pearls of wisdom’ on all things career-related, whether you want to stay in academia or not. The archive category Productivity is a good place to start.
- The Thriving Researcher, by Eleanor Pritchard, Researcher Development Coordinator for Oxford’s Social Sciences Division.
Material on academic work, life, and careers, as part of an initiative also including writing and other events.
- The Early Career Blog, by Steve Joy (Head of Researcher Development at Cambridge University) and Rachel Bray (Careers Adviser and Strategy Lead at the Oxford Careers Service).
Focused on careers advice for PhDs and postdocs, this blog has a few posts on writing and publishing, and plenty more on the academic world and how to navigate it.
these weekly tips are GREAT. I think that’s the whole value of this programme in the first place — it really gets us thinking in MANY DIFFERENT WAYS about how to approach our writing and our lives as academics.