Sunday, January 12, 2014

EWP 597 Graduate Scholarly Writing Syllabus - Spring 2017

INSTRUCTOR:       Donald K. Wagner

OFFICE:             105 D Moon Library
                      Cel phone: 1-315-335-8682 (before 9 p.m.)
                      Email address:
                      Skype: dkwagner66 


Course Objectives:

Graduate Scholarly Writing has objectives where students learn advanced academic writing principles to produce a proposal, thesis, dissertation, or manuscript. Topics include the writing process, use of sources, and graphics. Scholarly writing style and mechanics are discussed with emphasis on organization, clarity, and conciseness.


Academic Writing for Graduate Students:  Essential Tasks and Skills, 3rd Edition.  John M. Swales & Christina B. Feak. University of Michigan Press, 2012.
On-Line Writing,

Course Overview

Graduate Scholarly Writing is a course designed to help ESF students identify, develop, enhance, and exercise writing skills related to graduate-level academic practice. The course is particularly relevant to students in various stages of study, expecting to write candidacy examinations, research proposals, theses, dissertations, manuscripts, or scholarly articles.

Graduate students face a variety of writing tasks in chosen degrees, varying from one degree program to another. These tasks, however, are similar in two respects. First, the tasks become progressively more complex and demanding
the farther you go in the program. Second, they need to be written "academically."

This course will focus on writing tasks that may be required in
the earlier stages of a graduate career. Later in the course, we look
a little farther ahead.

The course begins by providing an overview of some important characteristics
of analytic and academic writing. Academic writing is a product of many considerations: audience, purpose, organization, style, flow, and presentation.

Students have the opportunity to analyze samples and their own writing as a way of learning and thinking. We analyze the way language is used by the environmental science academic community and examine some of the communication forms between the environmental science community and the rest of the world.

Graduate students will be asked to become familiar with the kinds of writing performed in their degree programs, and look for models of successful examples. Students will also be expected to propose their own description of a research project that exhibits the course objectives and the academic writing principles.

Writing tasks include: Curriculum vitae/resume, cover letter, minutes/agenda, definitions, description, annotated bibilography, project proposal, abstract, academic manuscript*, and oral presentation.

Students taking this course will plan, write, and revise documents and also practice related skills, including analyzing audiences and evaluating documents (their own and those of others) electronically.  As a graduate writing course, it offers guidelines for clear writing and practice in revising and editing, but also gives special attention to ESL students regarding basic grammar, spelling, and punctuation.  Students will be expected to use handbooks and dictionaries (electronic or paper), peers, or to take advantage of the writing consultant resources offered by the university writing program.

Also, to extend classroom learning, students will be asked to participate in on-line writing consultations with the instructor using Skype or Facetime.

Along with some skill in writing in academic environments, I hope you'll experience:
    1.  Language Awareness--With regard to language as a major part of the acquisition of culture, how concerned have I been with what might be called, "signal transmission?"  In other words, who am I as a writer (researcher, professional)?  What signals am I transmitting to others via my writing--about myself as a person, about my topic?  What shifts in language do I make when I shift modes or genres of writing?

    2.  Audience Awareness--Furthermore, who am I writing for?  Who is my audience?  What is that person's position, not only within the academic hierarchy, but also within the social structure and accompanying social network?  Who is my reader culturally?  What about cultural influences such as social class, politics, gender?  Do I understand the cultural perspective of my audience?  Am I aware that they have one?  What is my own cultural perspective? 

    3.  Situation Awareness--How do I write?  How do I fit my writing into the culturally determined structure we call the academic organization–the classroom, the office, the research lab, etc.?  What are my cultural values that I bring to my academic endeavors, including my professional writing?  How do I shape, and how am I shaped, by the situation? Readings and discussions may explore how our own attitudes are shaped by the socio-politico climate and prevailing attitudes toward the environment.

Course Activities:
The details of the following projects will be given as each project begins, so what you find below is limited to an overview.
Introductory Work (Jan 18–29) Almost everything we do this semester will be sub-parts of a major project (thesis, dissertation, manuscript, etc.); the only notable exception will be the introductory work I will ask you to do in the first week or so of class. We will interview each other regarding our academic writing skills, needs, and expectations. Then, after studying an analysis of medical ethics, and an example of my personal professional statement, you will be asked to write a 2-page personal ethics statement.  Will we also examine Unit 1 in the Swales text.
Shaping the Academic Scholarly Project (Jan 29–Feb 5) will call on you to learn some specific genres of scholarly writing and to present that learning to others, thereby increasing their knowledge about it as well. You will be asked to write a short proposal that describes a sustained research project you are interested in.  Swale’s Unit 2 about descriptions (extended, contrastive, and comparative) will be reviewed. Each student will be asked to research one (1) citation in the Swale’s “Reference” section (pp. 407-411), do an annotated analysis of the citation, and give a 5 minute report about it to the class. Explanations of these tasks will be discussed in class, in handouts, and on our blog.
The Documentation Project (Feb 12-Mar 5) is designed to address two issues in academic scholarly writing. The first of these is that writing to teach, to instruct, to demonstrate, to document procedures is a prevalent form of writing in which almost all scholars engage and yet is widely ignored as a skill to be learned and practiced. The second is the fact that much of the scholarly writing that you will do in the future will be on your own, and will need to exhibit accurate grammatical and syntactical form, as well as logical organizational structure, in English. We will look at Swales Units 3, 4, 5. You will begin focusing on the overview of your research project, preparing annotated bibliographies, and focusing on the necessary imperatives.
The Research Project (Mar 19-Apr 30) will require that you construct a research project leading towards your thesis, dissertation, or other scholarly manuscript.  We will look at the imperatives in a research paper: methods, results, graphic representations, and the cycle of moves.  Swales Units 6,7, 8 will be covered. More details will be available later in handouts.
As a way to enter conversation and understanding about academic scholarly writing, plan to do all the TASKS in the Swales text as we review each Unit.  I will randomly collect some of these tasks from you.
How you will be graded
Grade Contract – you will write a grade contract based on the following information about grading for this course.
The final grade for this course is performance-based.  Some course tasks are process-oriented, so participating in group activity is necessary to achieve the minimum grade.  Each student will compose a grade contract in the first few weeks of the course, which will include a grade rationale, citing the grade you will work towards, a reason you want the grade, skills you want to improve, and expectations you have for this course.  At semester's end, you will write a final reflection and self-evaluation of your performance in the course, and will have an opportunity to adjust your original grade rationale based on that self-evaluation.
Final decisions about grades are reserved for the instructor who will use the following rough guidelines when determining if the grade you've contracted for was earned:
To receive a "B" in the course, a student must participate in *all classes and conferences, respond to selected reading materials, satisfactorily complete all assignments on time, and turn in a portfolio at semester's end with a self-evaluation.  To receive a "B+," students must follow all points mentioned for the "B" grade, as well as revise any texts determined by the instructor to be "unsuccessful."  To receive an "A," students must agree to all the requirements for "B" and "B+" and have all final drafts in "publishable" form. Since academic professionals don't receive a "letter grade" on the writing they produce, I will be evaluating your documents initially on the basis of their "success."  The appearance of √+ will indicate that a paper is very successful (professional), needing little or no revision.  A √ will indicate that the document is successful, and with some revision, would be acceptable.  A √- will indicate that a paper needs major revision, and is at this time, unsuccessful.  Students will revise texts up until the final portfolio review.  The portfolio will be worth 50% of your final grade.  Class participation, being involved in discussion and class-related activities, will be worth 30% and the end-of-semester presentation will be worth 20%.
*Please note that attendance can have a direct impact on your grade.  If you're not in class, you cannot properly "participate."  Therefore, more than 3 absences, except in documented emergency situations, will necessarily lower a final grade.
The Writing Center ~
The Writing Resource Center is located in 13 Moon Library where experienced peer tutors and graduate assistants are trained to work with you on all stages of your writing projects.  This is a free resource available to support your writing.  We ask that you come prepared for your appointment by bringing your assignment, ideas, papers, and a specific area you would like to work on.  Tutor hours will be posted the second week of classes. To make an appointment, visit our online scheduling system at and select an available time that works for you. Tutors meet with you for 30- or 60-minute one-on-one sessions and are available for drop-in hours. Time slots fill quickly, especially during peak times in the semester.

Academic Accommodations ~
Students wishing to utilize academic accommodations due to a diagnosed disability of any kind must present an Academic Accommodations Authorization Letter generated by Syracuse University’s Office of Disability Services.  If you currently have an Authorization Letter, please present this to me as soon as possible so that I may assist with the establishment of your accommodations.  Students who do not have a current Academic Accommodations Authorization Letter from Syracuse University’s Office of Disability Services cannot receive accommodations.  If you do not currently have an Authorization Letter and feel you are eligible for accommodations, please contact the Office of Student Wellness and Support, 110 Bray Hall, (315) 470-6660 or as soon as possible.

Academic Integrity ~
SUNY ESF’s Academic Integrity Policy holds students accountable for the integrity of the work they submit.  Students should be familiar with the Policy and know that it is their responsibility to learn about expectations with regard to proper citation of sources in written work. Serious sanctions can result from academic dishonesty.  Further details are available here:

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