PROMISE: Maryland's AGEP

Grad Student Workshops on Writing. Nov. 17 & Nov. 19

In Grad Student Success Seminar, PROMISE: Maryland's AGEP on November 1, 2010 at 8:28 PM

UMBC and the University of Maryland College Park (UMCP)  will hold Writing Seminars in November as past of their respective Graduate Student Success Seminar and Ph.D. Completion Project Workshop offerings.

UMBC  Success Seminar

Protean Prose: Identifying and Overcoming the Challenges of Academic Writing (A Graduate Level Writing Seminar)
Wednesday, 11/17/10
4:30 – 6:00 PM
University Center (UC) Ballroom Lounge, 3rd Floor


Daniel Burge, Writing Advisor for the UMBC Graduate Student Association, will host this seminar.


John Rollins will also be present to discuss academic integrity and unintentional plagiarism.



UMCP  Ph.D. Completion Project Workshop

CVs and Cover Letters
Friday, 11/19/10
3:00 – 5:00 PM
Ulrich Recital Hall, Tawes Hall


An essential component of an effective job search for positions in education, government, industry and the private sector as well as for applications for fellowships and grants is a carefully crafted, in-depth curriculum vitae (CV). This workshop provides the following: a discussion of the parts of a CV, how to write it, what to include in it, how to use it and how it differs from a resume. Writing tips for preparing a CV will be given, and sample CVs and cover letters will be disseminated.

  1. Daniel Burge’s WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION for the Nov. 17 Seminar at UMBC:

    “Protean Prose: Identifying and Overcoming the Challenges of Academic Writing.”
    Academic writing at the graduate level can often be quite overwhelming. Unlike undergraduates, students at the graduate level are expected to write effectively and to navigate the types of assignments that are routinely thrown their way, whether they are in the forms of dissertations, theses, capstones, journals, abstracts, or statements of research. The various requirements, and tone required in them, can often lead to confusion. But their importance cannot be overstated. In this lecture, therefore, a simple acronym—“Protean”—will be presented to help students through the maze of academic writing. By using four short examples that students will be faced with—the short essay, personal statement, abstract, and GRE exam—students will see how this simple editing tool—comprised of a mere seven steps—can be utilized to simplify academic writing and to help students write effectively no matter the task.

  2. This Graduate Student writing seminar consisted of two main themes: how to cite with emphasis on academic integrity and how to edit one’s own work. In a way, these two themes are one in the same; being able to give credit when credit is due and knowing how to paraphrase ideas learned from other sources is a form of editing. However, in the workshop, these themes were discussed separately in order to allow for adequate discussion about the techniques for citing and for editing. The citation portion of the seminar was given by Dr. John Rollins from the Learning Resources Center and former GSA writing advisor. Daniel Burge, the current GSA advisor presented on his acronym, P.R.O.T.E.A.N. as a tool for efficient editing of one’s work. I will briefly discuss what I learned from this seminar.

    In any academic writing that we do, utilizing our own words and thoughts is the most important manner in which we can convey our credibility as a professional in our field. However, since our work is never done in a vacuum and is always built upon the work of others, being able to cite and give credit to the work of others is paramount to good and effective writing. Moreover, it shows academic and professional integrity. There are two basic ways we can integrate the work of others into our own writing, when necessary: Direct quotation and paraphrasing. Direct quotations should always contain the entirety of a sentence or sentences that the author has used. Then, the quotation should be cited in whatever fashion is required by our field (ie, IEEE, MLA, APA, etc). Direct quotations are typically used when what the author says is important to the overall idea of the paper and paraphrasing loses some of the meaning. Paraphrasing, therefore, should be utilized more often in a way which shows our understanding and digestion of the information. It should not be a regurgitation of what the author has said using synonyms. The paraphrased sentence also should not contain the same sentence structure as the author’s original text. Otherwise, the last two statements would be examples of plagiarism.

    So, as mentioned before, the two themes of the seminar run very parallel with each other with regards to the overall them of self-editing. Burges’ P.R.O.T.E.A.N. acronym for self-editing gives us a guide for analyzing our writing and making edits in an efficient manner. P.R.O.T.E.A.N. stands for Paragraph is built around a central point, Repetition is bad (this is not the exact terminology he used), Opening/Topic Sentences are clear and concise, Transitions are more writing from point to point, Evaluator is understood, Always keep the work in perspective, No imprecise language is utilized. All in all, this tool is meant to help us not just look for spelling errors and incorrect grammar or punctuation, but to make sure our prose flows, is intelligible to the reader and most importantly is geared appropriately towards the intended audience. I like to think it as looking at our writing from a macroscopic view instead of the microscopic view under which it is typically critiqued.

    Natasha P Wilson, 11/18/2010 11:19am

    This comment is mirrored on the PROMISE MyUMBC page for this seminar:

  3. Mr. John Rollins gave a good overview of how and when to paraphrase or quote ideas. Students should refer to their respective department’s writing styles to cite these ideas properly in documents. When the idea is memorable and cannot be paraphrased, the sentence should be in quotes. If the ideas of the quote are more important than who came up with them, the sentence or sentences should be paraphrased and integrated into the document.

    Daniel Burge gave some tips on how to quickly edit your own documents. He described each step of the acronym, “PROTEAN”.
    Paragraph is built around a single point: Paragraphs should be focused.
    Repetitious language is avoided: Avoid using the same words or sentence structure repeatedly
    Opening sentence is clear and concise: Topic sentence should not be wordy.
    Transitions move writing from point-to-point: Paragraphs and topics should flow.
    Evaluator is understood: Keep the audience in mind when writing
    Always keep work in prospective: What is the purpose of the document?
    No imprecise language is utilized: Don’t use ambiguous language.

    Utilizing these tools can help the writer create a well-written document. He also suggested reading the document aloud; this can help the writer recognize bad syntax.

  4. […] Grad Student Workshops on Writing. Nov. 17 & Nov. 19 […]

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