Profile for Academic Writing Assignment (or, the awful moment when you realise you’re not God’s gift to essay writing)

One of the features of my first year of PhD research is that I am expected to attend postgraduate training sessions. This training is now an integral part of postgraduate education in the UK, and endeavours to provide learners with “generic methods and skills which address the needs of researchers in the modern academic environment and prepare them for their future careers”. In addition to workshops and core sessions intended to instill the necessary skills for a life in employment, it aims to provide writing skills that will help when writing up our research.

To this end, as part of our summative assessment for this module, a written analysis and presentation is expected. The written assessment is self-reflective, commenting on what we believe we have gained from our participation in the module and identifying its most useful aspects.

In my report I concentrated upon my first two written pieces of work, parts of which I have shared with you on this blog previously: “What Have The Digital Humanities Done For Us?” and “Electronic Beowulf and the Digital Chaucer: The Development of the Digital Humanities.” I observed that my writing style (which I’d always assumed was perfectly adequate) had in fact stagnated, and I was not taking into account the changing audience to my work and the variety of different writing frames (report, journal articles, blog posts) that I would be writing in as part of my research.

It is sobering to assess your own work and to find it wanting, but the purpose of the research skills module is to ensure that you are capable of critical reflection, and to acknowledge that your performance will potentially need enhancement.

The report has now been submitted: all that remains is the presentation. I will let you know how I get on…

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