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WCC Workshops Spring 2024

We completed our workshop series for 2023-24. If you are interested in any of the topics listed below, please schedule an individual consultation with one of workshop instructors, and they will be happy to take you through the material of the workshop during their individual session.

Previous Workshops

WriteWise: Series on Effective Research and Writing Strategies

Join this ‘WriteWise’ series to master essential research and writing skills. From honing your reading techniques and using sources effectively to explaining why your work matters and crafting impactful titles, each workshop equips you with the tools needed to excel in academia and beyond.

When: Apr 11, 16, 18, 23
Time: 4-5:30pm

Sessions 1-3 in-person, building E17 room 136;
Session 4 by Zoom

Session 1: ReadWise: The Art of Effective Reading ( Thu, Apr 11, 4-5:30pm, E17-136)

The amount of academic and professional information we need to keep up with keeps expanding. So, how do we make the most of the time and energy we have for reading? And how do we optimize our ability to retain what we need to know or revisit? This workshop focuses on reading strategies and note-taking/documentation techniques that maximize reading comprehension, critical thinking, memory, and retention.

Session 2: CiteWise: Using, Not Abusing, Sources (Tue, Apr 16, 4-5:30pm, E17-136)

We use source materials in academic writing to provide background information, to support claims, and to establish credibility – in short, to join a scholarly conversation. But how do we incorporate sources into our work effectively and responsibly? This interactive workshop will cover the basics of citing, quoting, and paraphrasing, as well as more complicated topics such as common knowledge and self-plagiarism.

Session 3: SignificanceWise: Explaining Why Your Work Matters (Thu, Apr 18, 4-5:30pm, E17-136)

When graduate students and postdocs present their ideas to diverse audiences, they need to convey that their work matters. For the general public, funding agencies, hiring managers, blog posts, video interviews, social settings, and scientists from other fields – it’s essential that the audience understand the importance of your research. In this workshop, you’ll learn how to leave your listeners with a positive image of what you’re contributing.

Session 4: TitleWise: Crafting Effective Titles (Tue, Apr 23, 4-5:30pm, by Zoom)

Do your titles attract attention and get remembered? Learn to craft concise, memorable titles by choosing key words to gain attention and capturing the relevance of your study. We’ll discuss criteria for titles, and you’ll leave with techniques for creating strong ones.

Storytelling Strategies Workshop Series 

When: Thu, March 7th, 21st, Apr 4th, 2024
Time: 4-5:30pm
Building E17 room 136 (in person)

Humans are hardwired for stories, and telling stories can be an effective way to convey your research and engage diverse audiences—no matter your academic discipline or professional field. Develop and sharpen your storytelling skills in this three-part workshop series lead by MIT Writing and Communication Center Lecturer Chris Featherman, PhD. During these workshops you’ll learn how to:

  • find stories in your research and academic work
  • structure stories and use story to structure your communication
  • develop and deploy metaphors and analogies to explain and persuade
  • connect with public audiences through story
  • use stories to make your communication more inclusive

Session 1: Storytelling Principles for Academic and Professional Communication (Thurs., March 7th, 4:00-5:30 p.m.)

Session 2: Using Metaphors and Analogies to Explain and Persuade (Thu., Mar 21st, 4:00-5:30 pm)

Session 3: Connecting with Public Audiences through Story (Thurs., April 4th, 4:00-5:30 p.m)

Deliver to Win – How to Present Your 3-Minute Talk EffectivelyPrevious Workshops

When: Wednesday, Feb 21st, 2024
Time: 3:30-5pm EST
Zoom (pre-registration is required to receive the link)

Would you like to enhance your presentation skills and learn how to deliver with impact? This hands-on workshop will help you build confidence as a presenter and equip you with life-long tools to deliver your ideas eloquently, engagingly, and effectively. Come ready to participate!

This workshop is designed for everyone who wants to enhance their presentation skills, as well as those who plan to participate in the 4th Institute-wide Research Slam Competition, featuring postdocs and PhD students. 

The workshop is offered by the MIT Writing and Communication Center. For more info about MIT Research Slam, check https://researchslam.mit.edu/

The Nuts and Bolts of Writing a Master’s Thesis

When: Mon, Feb 13th, 2024
Time: 4-5:30pm

Writing a master’s thesis requires advanced planning and cutting down the writing process into manageable parts. In this workshop, WCC Lecturer Chris Featherman, PhD, will overview the main parts of the master’s thesis to help you envision the process and proceed with confidence.

Research Slam 2024: Information Session

What is the MIT Research Slam and why should you compete in it? Research Slam is a research competition that builds on the classic “elevator pitch” or 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. Come learn from the organizers of the Research Slam how to best prepare and submit your application and what resources there are to help you. In addition, winners from Research Slam 2023 will share about their experience with this event and answer your questions. For more information about this event, check the Research Slam website at https://researchslam.mit.edu/.

WCC Workshops IAP 2024

Styling Your Academic Writing (5-session series)

This series will teach you diverse and creative techniques for styling writing. We will engage with examples from academic, technical, and creative writing to get us thinking about the context of elegant and effective style. This workshop is tailored to suit the needs of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars across disciplines as well as researchers and other scholars. We encourage you to attend all sessions of the series, but you are also welcome to sign up for separate sessions.

Part 1: Clear It Up (Wed, Jan 10th, 12-1pm)
In this session, you will learn how to clarify your meaning in complex sentences.

Part 2: Trim It Down (Thu, Jan 11th, 12-1pm)
Your next step is to learn how to cut down your word count so that every word matters.

Part 3: Help It Flow (Fri, Jan 12th, 12-1pm)
It is also important to enhance the cohesion and coherence of your sentences and paragraphs.

Part 4: Word It Well (Thu, Jan 18th, 12-1pm)
To enhance your style, use precise and effective wording to increase clarity and thick description.

Part 5: Make It Shine (Fri, Jan 19th, 12-1pm)
Academic writing does not have to be boring and insipid. Here you will play with sentences, explore rhetorical devices, and have fun with punctuation.

Location: Zoom (pre-registration is required to receive the Zoom link)

Writing About YOU

Everyone has a story to tell, whether about life-changing moments or a memorable relationship, journey or event. In this workshop, Susan Spilecki, WCC Lecturer, instructor of writing and poet, will discuss literary devices that make good fiction—such as character, point of view, setting, conflict, and dialogue—to create a piece of narrative nonfiction that will engage readers. During this program, you will identify a significant experience and start the writing process. Whether you need to write another application essay or hope to build a long-form memoir, this workshop will get you started in finding your voice and telling your story.

When: Wen, Jan 17th, 2024
Time: 12-1:30pm
Zoom (pre-registration is required to receive the Zoom link)

Writing a Literature Review (3-session series)

The MIT Writing and Communication Center (WCC) and the MIT Libraries are partnering to offer a three-part workshop series that will help you start, shape, and draft a literature review. During these workshops you’ll learn the following skills and strategies:

  • how the literature review genre works
  • how to find an entry point into a research conversation
  • how to choose keywords and conduct keyword searches in the library databases
  • how to find, organize, and manage sources
  • how to plan and organize a literature review
  • how to synthesis sources into fluid, engaging writing

All three sessions will take place via Zoom on the following dates:  

Session 1: Starting a Literature Review (Tue, Jan 9th, 11am-12pm)

Session 2: Conducting a Literature Search (Tue, Jan 16th, 11am-12pm)

Introducing Introductions: Setting the Scene

Why do we, as strategic readers, focus on introductory paragraphs or sections before deciding whether to delve further into any extended text? How do we as effective writers provide readers the context they need to proceed smoothly? This workshop will examine how introductions across various academic disciplines and genres set the scene for, or “frame” what follows so that a text’s territory and purpose are clear to either casual or deeply intentional readers.

When: Wen, Jan 24th, 2024
Time: 1:30-3pm
Zoom (pre-registration is required to receive the Zoom link)

Strengthen Your Writing

In this four-part workshop series, WCC Lecturer and Communication Specialist, Chris Featherman, PhD, will teach you skills and strategies that will help you develop, draft, revise, and refine your writing projects.  

When: Sep 26, Oct 12, Nov 2, and Nov 14 2023
Time: 4-5:30pm
Building E17 room 136 (in person)

Register here

Session 1 (Tue, Sep 26th): Setting Out for the Territory: Starting Your Research-Based Writing Project

Got a research-based writing project on the horizon but don’t know how to start? This hands-on, interactive workshop can help. You’ll learn and practice a problem-based approach to discovering, exploring, and focusing a research topic so you can start writing. Complementing these practical and conceptual strategies will be tips for building a strong writing mindset and quieting the anxiety that often accompanies the start of a writing or communication project.

Session 2 (Thu, Oct 12th): Get Building! Drafting Your Writing Project

Even when you have a good writing plan, the drafting process can feel daunting if not overwhelming. No worries—the Writing and Communication Center can help. This workshop will cover strategies for developing your argument, building paragraphs, and engaging with your sources and data. Complementing these practical and conceptual strategies will be tips for troubleshooting and maintaining momentum in your writing or communication project..

Session 3 (Thu, Nov 2nd): How to Revise: Strategies for Focusing and Improving Your Writing Project

Revision is more than just a stage in the writing process. It’s an opportunity—to focus, develop, even discover what you want to say and how to best connect with your audience. In this interactive workshop, you’ll learn practical revision strategies you can apply to any writing project so you can make the most of your communication opportunities.

Session 4 (Tue, Nov 14th): How to Edit Your Writing

Editing, a crucial latter step in the writing process, means more than just checking your draft for errors. When writers edit well, they help readers better understand and appreciate their ideas by turning tangled, thorny sentences into a well-tended garden. In this hands-on workshop, you’ll learn and practice editing strategies that will make your sentences clear, concise, and cohesive so your writing and thinking can bloom.

Writing Your Thesis Proposal in the Humanities and Social Sciences

When: Wed, Nov 15th, 2023
Time: 4:30-6pm

Register here

Before you write a dissertation, you are usually required to get the approval of a “proposal” or “prospectus.” In this workshop, Bob Irwin, Ph.D., a WCC Lecturer and Communication Specialist, will address what makes a prospectus successful. Join us to learn how that smaller task can help you with the larger one.

Tips, Tricks, and Tools for Productive Writing (3-session series

During this three-session series, we will address topics that can help you avoid common pitfalls and become a productive writer.

Session 1: Managing Your Time and Expectations (Wed, Oct 18th, 4:30-6pm, E17-136)

Session 2: Tackling Imposter Stress (Wed, Oct 25th, 4:30-6pm, E17-136)

Session 3: Constructive Procrastination as Part of a Healthy Writing Process (Wed, Nov 1st, 4:30-6pm, E17-136)

Register for the sessions of the series here

Below is information about each of the sessions in this series.

Session 1: Managing Your Time and Expectations (Wed, Oct 18th, 4:30-6pm, E17-136)

Writing a dissertation can seem distinct from earlier work, with fewer deadlines, less structure, and less contact with others. At the same time, tackling this bigger project can be seen as a continuation of previous work, but one with more options for choice. During this workshop, Betsy Fox, Ph.D., a WCC Instructor and Communication Specialist, will offer suggestions on managing time, being productive, and making the long-distance journey of a dissertation more comfortable and companionable.

Session 2: Tackling Imposter Stress (Wed, Oct 25th, 4:30-6pm, E17-136)

Imposter stress–the persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud–is real and can influence students’ and scholars’ progress, timely project completion, and general wellbeing. In this workshop, Elena Kallestinova, Ph.D.,  WCC Director and Communication Instructor, will help you understand imposter syndrome and equip you with resources to tackle its negative effects.

Session 3: Constructive Procrastination as Part of a Healthy Writing Process (Wed, Nov 1st, 4:30-6pm, E17-136)

Society tells us that procrastination is bad, when in fact it can be a useful part of the writing process. In this workshop, Susan Spilecki,  a WCC Instructor and Communication Specialist, will help you brainstorm all the specifics of your individual writing process, from the beginning of a project to the end,  and discuss the usefulness of different strategies for different people. By reflecting on the way individuals actually learn, synthesize ideas, write, and revise, we can make our own processes more effective. Getting to know what you need for your particular process puts you in control of it, rather than letting it control you. In addition to gaining a better understanding of your existing writing process – and how you actually procrastinate constructively – participants will leave with resources and tools to better manage your process.


Crafting a Compelling Abstract

When: Thu, Oct 26th, 2023
Time: 4-5:30pm

Register here

For your paper to be successful, people have to actually read it. A compelling abstract is essential for capturing readers’ attention and making them want to read more. But writing an effective abstract is challenging because you need to summarize what motivated you, what you did, and what you found, in a small number of words. In this workshop, Thalia Rubio, a WCC Communication Instructor, a technical writer, and a textbook author, will analyze sample abstracts, discuss editing strategies, and guide you through revising abstracts. You will leave with a better understanding of how to write a strong abstract that clearly presents your research.

Designing Effective and Inclusive Presentation Slides

When: Thu, Oct 19th, 2023
Time: 4-5:30pm

Register here

Well-designed slides can enhance any presentation and enrich your communication. But for slides to be effective, they need to be designed with clarity, purpose, and concision. Effective slides should also be inclusive, accessible to audiences of diverse abilities and characteristics.
In this interactive, in-person workshop, led by WCC Lecturer Chris Featherman, PhD, you’ll learn principles for effective and inclusive slide design applicable to academic and professional communication across the disciplines. 

Joining the Conversation: Using Sources in Academic Writing

When: Tue, Oct 17th, 2023
Time: 4-5:30pm

Register here

We use source materials in academic writing to provide background information, to support claims, and to establish credibility – in short, to join a scholarly conversation. But how do we incorporate sources into our work? Led by WCC Instructor and Communication Specialist Pamela Siska, this interactive workshop will cover the basics of citing, quoting, and paraphrasing, as well as more complicated topics such as common knowledge and self-plagiarism.

Crafting an Effective Statement of Purpose

Register here

The statement of purpose (SOP) is a critical component of a PhD application. But as a document that needs to communicate your background, academic preparation, research interests, and match with a particular program all in one, it can be quite challenging to write! This workshop, taught by WCC Instructor and Writing Specialist, Amy Cheung, Ph.D., will take you step-by-step through the expected components of an SOP. We will examine examples of successful statements and discuss how to organize your content, avoid typical pitfalls, and draft a compelling narrative. 

Small Talk/Big Results: Connecting with your Peers and Neighbors

When: Oct 5, 4-5:30pm
Building E17 room 136 (in person)

Register here

Research has shown that small talk not only fosters a sense of belonging but generally makes people happier, yet many of us dread it. Introverts often think it’s something only extraverts can do, non-native speakers may worry they’ll say the wrong thing or not be understood, and not all cultures rely on it to make social connections. However, in diverse cultures and environments such as ours, small talk is essential in connecting with others; in academic and professional settings, small talk plays an essential role in building community and rapport among students and colleagues. Anyone can learn small talk skills and become more comfortable and confident enjoying small talk in daily life. This workshop is designed to get you started.

Email Alchemy: Effective Communication with Advisors and Collaborators

When: Wed, May 3rd, 2023
Time: 12-1:30pm

Building E19 room 202 (in person)

Registration via Handshake is required.

If you find yourself agonizing as you compose emails to your faculty, advisors, PI, colleagues, or collaborators, this one’s for you! In this workshop, designed for graduate students and postdocs, we will discuss what really matters in professional email communication at this level, and the characteristics of an effective email. We will address special considerations of email etiquette within the context of research and academic life and examine some examples. By the end of this workshop, you will be equipped with strategies and tools to craft even your trickiest and highest-stakes professional emails with ease and confidence. Co-produced by the Writing and Communication Center and Graduate Student Professional Development. Lunch Provided.

Nuts and Bolts of Asking for a Recommendation Letter

When: Wed, April 26th, 2023
Time: 4-5:30pm

Building E19 room 202 (in person)

Register here

This workshop will provide you with practical guidance on how to approach and request recommendation letters from professors, PIs, advisors, or other professional contacts. During the workshop, you will learn how to choose the right person, make a polite and compelling request, and follow up with your contacts. We will also discuss common mistakes to avoid when asking for recommendation letters and strategies for building strong relationships with potential recommenders. By the end of the workshop, you will have the knowledge and confidence to request recommendation letters that will help you achieve your academic and professional goals.

This program is geared towards graduate students and postdoctoral scholars at any stage of their academic career. This workshop is organized as a collaboration between the Writing and Communication Center and the MIT Graduate Student Council. Pastries and drinks will be provided.

Revising Your Poetry

When: Wed, Feb 1st, 2023
Time: 10-11:30am

Building E17 room 136 (in person)

Register here

In this workshop, Susan Spilecki,  a published poet and a WCC Instructor, will explore ways to strengthen our poetry by capturing a reader’s mind and emotions through vivid imagery, dynamic language and careful use of rhythm, stanza and line structures. In addition to revising poems, you will have a chance to develop your own poetics: your own sense of what poetry is and should be.

Please bring 1-2 poems (hard copy) that you are willing to show to others and be willing to give and receive constructive feedback.