English for Academic Research

Course Leader: Dr Stephan Houghton

Home Institution: Université de La Réunion, France

Course pre-requisite: B2 or higher in English on the European CEFR

Course Overview
English has become the lingua franca of academic research and is increasingly becoming the medium of instruction used in higher education. However, academic English presents numerous, specific challenges for non-native users of the language. This course aims to develop the English-language written and oral skills necessary for academic research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The course will focus on production skills through two parallel-modules on (1) Written Communication and (2) Public Speaking. Students will gain practical experience in writing abstracts (conference and research-article) and conference posters (IMRaD-format), and giving technical (poster presentation) and non-technical (3-Minute Thesis) oral presentations. The course should interest students intending to embark on or already involved in academic research in science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course, a successful student will be able to,

(i) write a conference and research-article abstract;

(ii) write and design a conference poster (IMRaD-format);

(iii) prepare and deliver a poster presentation;

(iv) prepare and deliver a 3-Minute Thesis presentation.

Course Content

(1) Written Communication

Conference abstracts

Research-article abstracts

Conference posters

(2) Public Speaking

Poster presentations

3-Minute Thesis presentations

Instructional Method
A blended-learning approach will be used during the course consisting of online resources and in-class workshops. Online resources (videos, documents, quizzes on a dedicated Moodle platform) will provide pre-workshop preparation and post-workshop consolidation activities of course content. Workshops will involve pair and group-work on task-based, discussion-based, and practical activities.

Completion of online activities and full participation in workshop activities will be necessary for the successful achievement of the learning outcomes.

Required Course Materials
Students will need access to a computer with an internet connection and the following software: word-processing software (e.g. Word, Pages, or similar), presentation software (e.g. PowerPoint, Keynote, or similar), and data-graphing software (e.g. Excel, Numbers, or similar).

Background Reading List:

Abstracts and the Writing of Abstracts (2009) John M. Swales, Christine B. Feak. University of Michigan Press. (ISBN: 9780472033355)

Academic Writing: A Handbook for International Students (2018) Stephen Bailey. Routledge. (ISBN: 9781138048744)

Academic Writing for Graduate Students - Essential Tasks and Skills (2012) John M. Swales, Christine B. Feak. University of Michigan Press. (ISBN: 9780472034758)

Designing Science Presentations - A Visual Guide to Figures, Papers, Slides, Posters, and More (2013) Matt Carter. Springer. (ISBN: 9780123859693)

The Craft of Scientific Presentations - Critical Steps to Succeed and Critical Errors to Avoid (2013) Michael Alley. Springer. (ISBN: 9781441982780)

English for Presentations at International Conferences (2016) Adrian Wallwork. Springer. (ISBN: 9783319263281)

Written Communication and Public Speaking modules of the course will be evaluated separately.

(1) Written Communication. Students will receive feedback and be evaluated on two written assignments: a conference abstract (50%) and a conference poster (50%).

(2) Public Speaking. Students will receive feedback and be evaluated on two oral assignments: a poster presentation (50%) and a 3-Minute Thesis presentation (50%). Feedback will take the form of peer and instructor comments and video-recordings of the presentations.