Writing Process Reengineering Week
On December 10, 11 and 12, 2019, I will be holding three sessions about my approach to scholarly writing at the Copenhagen Business School. The first will be directed at doctoral students, the second will be focused on the craft of writing journal articles, and the third will look at how to help your students become better writers. The unifying theme of all three sessions is the art of writing down what you know, in coherent prose paragraphs, during well-defined moments, for the purpose of discussing it with other knowledgeable people. Each seminar can stand alone, but their sum is designed to be worth more than its parts.
(Click on the titles to sign up.)
“To know whom to write for,” said Virginia Woolf, “is to know how to write.” As a scholar you are writing for other scholars whose thoughts you have access to through the literature. And you are writing for them because they are qualified to help you think more carefully about things. To put it bluntly, they are qualified to tell you when you are wrong. During your doctoral education you should become increasingly comfortable with criticism, and your writing is one of the most important ways in which you open yourself to it. Good writing is open to the reactions of your peers and this means that your prose has to have a certain kind of strength. You develop this through practice, one paragraph at a time, and this seminar will give you some tools and techniques to do exactly this.
It’s fair to say that the journal article is the “unit of production” in the academic enterprise. It’s the “deliverable” and, for better and for worse, the measurable output. For most researchers it is a major “key performance indicator” and we do well to take it seriously. But it’s possible to take it too seriously, to worry too much about the end product and forget to enjoy the process that produces it. Only occasionally will we have the irrefutable “success” of publication. At the end of the day — at the end of each day, that is — we have to be satisfied with the paragraphs we have written, and that is what this seminar will help you do. We will analyse the outline of a “standard social science article”, identifying the purpose and posture of each section, including the all-important introduction and conclusion. This will help us to think of the writing process one moment and one paragraph at a time.
Writing is also an important part of teaching. But it is famously difficult to make writing an explicit part of university instruction, not least because of the costs involved. Many people (and especially students) believe that improvement requires detailed feedback on many pages of student writing. This is often unworkable because there is not enough time. This seminar will apply the principles of Writing Process Reengineering to the design and assessment of student assignments. It will leverage the writing moment and the academic paragraph to the end of letting students experience their own writing, and that of their fellow students, cultivating an awareness of quality and the skills to produce it. Most importantly, it will help teachers quickly and easily identify good writing and suggest lines of improvement through deliberate practice.
How to Write
Monday, September 16 at 17:30 and Tuesday, September 17 at 17:30, Copenhagen Business School, Solbjerg Plads 3, room SP202
Writing is not just a tool you use in school. It is a craft you learn here, and use the rest of your life. Your future employers will value good writing as much or more than your current teachers. So you will not regret the effort you make to become a confident writer. Knowing that you can express yourself in writing about your expertise, whether that be management or marketing or finance or organization, is an invaluable foundation for success.
This lecture will introduce you to a simple approach to improving your writing skills, one paragraph at a time. It will also introduce you to the resources that are available here at CBS to help you when you encounter difficulties in your writing process. Finally, it serves as an introductory lecture to our Craft of Research Workshop, which is open throughout the year to help you train.
The lecture takes about an hour, and there will be plenty of time at the end for questions. (Note that the lecture is held on two evenings; you are welcome to attend both, but the content is the same.)
How to Finish Your Project or Thesis
17:30 – 19:30, Wednesday 10 April 2019, Copenhagen Business School, room SP201 (register here)
As the semester draws to an end, many students at CBS are getting ready to hand in a year-end project or final thesis. In this lecture, Thomas Basbøll, CBS Library’s resident writing consultant, will suggest a way to organize your work in the four weeks leading up to submission. He will help you clarify both how much you have left to do and how much time you have left to do it in. The trick, he will argue, is not to count the days that are available to you, but the hours, and then to make an explicit plan for how to use each one of them most effectively.
The lecture will last about an hour and there will be plenty of time afterwards for questions. Thomas will build on the two lectures he held at the beginning of the semester about “how to write” and “how to structure” your research papers, which you can view here.
Writing Process Reengineering
12:35 – 15:35, Wednesday 24 April 2019, Copenhagen Business School, SP D 2.20 (register here)
Writing is an essential part of a life in research. Over the years, CBS’s resident writing consultant, Thomas Basbøll, has helped countless scholars become more productive and more effective writers, while fostering continuous improvement. From day to day, and week to week, you want to work in a way that both clarifies your thinking and improves your style. This seminar introduces a comprehensive approach to managing your writing process, whether you’re writing a book or a dissertation, an article or a chapter. Writing Process Reengineering focuses on the composition of individual paragraphs during discrete “writing moments”. A healthy writing process is simply a series of such moments, each of which reliably produces a unit of scholarly prose. With time, this not only strengthens your style but makes writing itself a more enjoyable activity.
Article Writing Seminar
12:35 – 15:35, Thursday 25 April 2019, Copenhagen Business School, SP D 2.20 (register here)
(This seminar builds on ideas presented in the Writing Process Reengineering seminar, but it is not required that you have attended that session.)
It’s fair to say that the journal article is the “unit of production” in the academic enterprise. It’s the “deliverable” and, for better and for worse, the measurable output. For most researchers it is the “key performance indicator” and we do well to take it seriously. But it’s possible to take it too seriously, to worry too much about the end product and forget to enjoy the process that produces it. Only occasionally will we have the irrefutable “success” of publication. At the end of the day — at the end each day, that is — we have to be satisfied with the paragraphs we have written, and that is what this seminar will help you do. We will analyse the outline of a “standard social science article”, identifying the purpose and posture of each section, including the all-important introduction and conclusion. This will help us to think of the writing process one moment and one paragraph at a time.