3Cs of Graduate Writing


The 3Cs of Good Graduate Writing: an overview of features common to US graduate writing that are especially challenging for L2 writers: namely cohesion (information structure and rhetorical patterns expected in English writing); claims (hedging and boosting claims using culturally and linguistically appropriate grammar and vocabulary); and clarity (developing academic and field-specific vocabulary; using L2 learner’s dictionaries and corpora effectively).

Students work on a short piece of writing or a part of a longer course assignment or a thesis/dissertation proposal or chapter (with instructor/advisor’s consent).


None, but students must come with a writing project that they have started, plan to start, or intend to revise. Projects may include coursework, dissertation proposals, dissertation/thesis chapters, abstracts, articles for publication, and other academic or professional genres (e.g., teaching statements, grant proposals, etc.).

Recommended Materials for Reference:

  • Nigel Caplan, Grammar Choices for Graduate and Professional Writer (Michigan, 2012). Also assigned in the grammar module. Available from the UD Bookstore.
  • Swales & Feak, Academic Writing for Graduate Students, 3rd edition (Michigan, 2012)
  • Robert Irish, Writing in Engineering: A Brief Guide (Oxford, 2015)
  • Mika & Danielle LaVaque-Manty, Writing in Political Science: A Brief Guide (Oxford, 2015)
  • Leslie Ann Roldan & Mary-Lou Purdue, Writing in Biology: A Brief Guide (Oxford, 2016)
  • Lynn Smith-Lovin and Cary Moskovitz, Writing in Sociology: A Brief Guide (Oxford, 2016)
  • Shan-Estelle Brown, Writing in Anthropology: A Brief Guide (Oxford, 2016)

Tasks and Readings

Week Preparation In Class
1 Please read these blog posts:

(optional): Grammar Choices, Unit 8

Cohesion: Old new information, paragraph patterns, nominalization and grammatical metaphor
2 Read this advice on using qualifiers

Claims: Analyze results (data commentary) and discussion sections for hedging and boosting.

Practice on sample papers

Write a data commentary together


(optional): Grammar Choices, Unit 7

Using corpora for collocations and synonyms (online module)

Cutting verbiage (online practice – discussion board)

Dictionary practice

4 Please read this blog post about breaking up long paragraphs Consolidation


Creative Commons License
This Graduate Communication Support Initiative module was designed by Nigel Caplan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This version: 12/29/16

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