Developing Academic Writing

Research Skills B2

Nagoya University
Professor Chad Nilep

Course objectives

This course develops skills of academic research writing and logical thinking. Its goal is to help graduate students understand how to incorporate sources into their writing and to write a literature review. Students will make an annotated bibliography and deliver an oral presentation.

The course uses group discussion among students and the instructor. For this reason, all participants must be able to communicate in spoken and written English. All participants should be prepared to discuss actively. This includes asking questions and sharing your ideas.


Students who enroll for course credit are required to meet the following conditions: attend at least 80% of meetings; write an annotated bibliography; deliver one oral presentation. Students who wish to observe the course for no credit may request to do so.


Any graduate student, researcher, or professor may schedule a tutorial with Mei-writing faculty (including Professor Nilep) or Mei-writing tutors. Click here to make an appointment.


This schedule is tentative and may change. Please read the readings and complete the assignments by the date shown. Be prepared to discuss the readings in class.

Date Topics Readings Other assignments
10/15 Introduction, study groups none none
10/22 What is an annotated bibliography? Engle, "The Annotated Bibliography";
Online Writing Lab, "Annotated Bibliographies"

Lecture notes (PDF)
Register at the administrative office of your department. (Deadline varies by department.)
10/29 What is a thesis statement? Lai, "What is a thesis and how to build one from scratch" (PDF)

Lecture notes (PDF)
Preparation for assignment 2: Begin work on your annotated bibliography.
11/5 How can I improve my thesis statement?

What is a literature review?
Taylor, "The literature review"
ACW, "How to write a dissertation literature review"

Lecture notes (PDF)
Write a (one sentence) thesis statement. OPTIONAL: If you want feedback from the whole class email your thesis statement before midnight 10/29 to If you do not email it, bring it to class.
11/12 What is a logical argument? Lecture notes: Deductive reasoning and Inductive reasoning (PDF) OPTIONAL readings from Fundamentals of Academic Writing:
Nilep, "Deductive logic"; Van Heuveln, "Inductive reasoning"; Nilep, "Fallacies"; Gasson, "Rigor in qualitative analysis"
11/19 How do I use logical argument in my writing? Online Writing Lab, "Using logic in writing" Analyze and be prepared to discuss these arguments. (PDF)
11/26 How can sources support (or challenge) my argument? WTS, "Using Evidence";
Ingram et al. "Using a synthesis matrix" (PDF)
Lecture notes (PDF)
11/29 Writing a literature review UNC, "Literature Reviews";
UQ, "Why do I have to have a literature review; Making sense of the literature"

Lecture notes (PDF)
Bring your work-in-progress annotated bibilography to class. Ask any questions you have about the process. (not graded)
12/3 How should I prepare for my oral presentation? Bedford, "Preparing presentations with PowerPoint"
Shives, "Managing public speaking anxiety"
Lecture notes (PDF)
Review Major assignment 1 instructions. Prepare at least two questions to ask about preparing or delivering a presentation.
12/10 What is plagiarism? Why is it a problem? Compare these three:
  1. Stoner, "Why students should avoid plagiarism"
  2. Liberman, "The writer I hired was a plagiarist!"
  3. Pettigrew, "All your profs are wrong about plagiarism"
Based on the three readings and your own ideas, write a short definition of the word plagiarism. (not graded)
12/17 How do I write quotations, paraphrases, and summaries? Nilep, Citation styles

Lecture notes (PDF)
Bring one or more articles, books, or other sources you are reading for your thesis or your research. You will use them to practice citing and paraphrasing.
12/26* Tips from successful writers† Wagenmakers, "How to write clearly";
Perlmutter, "The completion agenda"

Lecture notes (PDF)
1/8 Student presentations   Major assignment 1: Oral presentations
1/21 Student presentations   Major assignment 1: Oral presentations
1/28* Major assignment 2 due. Email your annotated bibliography to


*Dates subject to change, depending on seminar participants' schedules.

†Here is some more advice from successful writers. Thanks to colleague Lauren Gawne for suggesting these.


Note: PDF files can be opened using the free Adobe reader. Get Adobe reader here.

TBA = "To be announced" (決めていない)


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