Writing Educational Research (EDER 603.23)

May 11, 2017

U of C logo - 2015I am feeling energized! This spring, I get to teach one of my all-time favourite courses: Writing Educational Research (EDER 603.23). I’ll be working with Master of Education (M.Ed.) students to help them craft a term paper into a manuscript for publication.

Why do I love this course? Because it generates results! Some of the students who take this course really do end up getting their work published in peer-reviewed journals, conference proceedings, books and professional publications. Here are some real-life examples of students who have taken this course with me and have published their work:

There are additional students who have written to me to tell me they have manuscripts in progress. I really love to see authentic, real-world outcomes from student learning and these are some fabulous examples.

Course description

Here is the official description of the course:

This course will focus on examining and developing the skills associated with crafting an academic report and discussion on research data. Topics include genres and purposes of academic writing, as well as venues for presentation and publication. An academic paper is more than a compilation of relevant literature, attending information and a conclusion.

An acceptable paper, whether intended for an academic or a professional audience, and whether a report of findings or a theoretical-philosophical argument, takes a clearly defined idea, situates it in the current literature, and supports it with a well-structured discussion. The principal intentions of this course are to introduce students to the various structures of academic and professional papers and to provide support in their efforts to craft, present and potentially publish their written work.

A traditional approach to writing educational research involves first learning about writing, then learning to write. Learners first study sample texts, analyzing them and then dissecting them, examining their structure, argument and style. The next step often involves producing an original piece of writing that mimics the style, tone and structure of the sample text. The final step is to integrate elements of the student’s own voice and style with elements of the texts they have previously studied. The rationale behind this approach is that the student must first learn what counts as excellent writing by learning about writing. Only then are they prepared to write themselves.

This course takes a non-traditional approach to learning to write about research for scholarly or professional purposes. Students will focus on writing, offering feedback to peers, revising, and incorporating feedback.

Students take on three key roles during this course:

  1. Writer – Crafting an original work intended for sharing in a public forum.
  2. Reviewer – Developing your skills offering substantive and supportive feedback to peers to help them improve their writing so that they, too, are successful in sharing their work in a public forum.
  3. Reviser – Learning to consider and incorporate peer feedback thoughtfully. As scholars and professionals, we recognize that our work is stronger when we incorporate revisions from trusted colleagues whose intention is to help us succeed.

Check out a copy of the course outline here:

EDER_603.23_L09_Eaton_SP2017 – approved


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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

Journal of Educational Thought – Celebrating 50 Years

April 18, 2017

When I first started in my role as an Assistant PrJET 50(1)ofessor in the Werklund School of Education, one of my former professors, Dr. Ian Winchester, approached me about being a book review editor for the Journal of Educational Thought. I accepted immediately. I set to work acquiring titles and recruiting people to write book reviews for the journal.

It has been a fabulous experience so far, as I’ve had the opportunity to meet other scholars, re-connect with former students, and mentor a couple of current students, too.

Today, the editorial assistant, the fabulous Aber Abulhassn, stopped by my office with a copy of the latest issue of the journal. This issue is special for a few reasons. Firstly, I’m named as the Book Review Editor (a position previously vacant). I am thrilled about that. Secondly, I actually have a book review published in this issue, wish is lovely in a “meta” kind of way. Finally — and this is what’s most inspiring — this is volume 50, issue 1 of the journal. That’s right, this journal has been around for half a century.

Dr. Winchester’s opening editorial is “Fifty Years of the Journal of Educational Thought“. In it, he traces the history of the journal, with its origins starting at the University of Calgary. He discusses how the landscape for journals has changed and the how “this is not any easy time for journals” (p. 3), but closing on a high note by inviting readers to “raise a glass to the first fifty years” (p. 3).

I feel honoured to be part of a publication with half a century of tradition and quality. I recognize that I share a special path of those who have come before me, contributing to a long-standing publication in the field of academia.


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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.

Readings for Writing Educational Research (EDER 603.23)

April 10, 2017

I have taught this course a dozen times now. Every semester, I find great new resources to share with students. Sometimes students share resources they have found during their learning journey, too. In this blog post, I collect, curate and share information about the required readings, along with some excellent supplementary resources to help you learn to improve your academic writing.

I offer a big shoutout of appreciation and acknowledgement to the students who have added resources to this list over the years.

Required Readings

  1. Belcher, W. L. (2009). Writing your journal article in 12 weeks: A guide to academic publishing success. SAGE Publications, Inc.
  2. American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Online resources (Available at no cost. Also, see the course outline for resources specific to the University of Calgary)

  1. Basics of APA Style (Tutorial): http://www.apastyle.org/learn/tutorials/basics-tutorial.aspx
  2. Workbook to accompany Belcher’s text: http://www.wendybelcher.com/pages/WorkbookForms.htm

Recommended readings on writing for publication in research and professional journals

  1. Bednar, J. A. (n.d.). Tips for Academic Writing and Other Formal Writing.   Retrieved from http://homepages.inf.ed.ac.uk/jbednar/writingtips.html

  2.  Fisher, J. P., Jansen, J. A., Johnson, P. C., & Mikos, A. G. (n.d.). Guidelines for writing a research paper for publication. Retrieved from https://www.liebertpub.com/media/pdf/English-Research-Article-Writing-Guide.pdf

  3. Hartley. (2008). Academic writing and publishing: A practical handbook. Retrieved from http://inf.ucv.ro/~mirel/courses/MIAM114/docs/academicwriting.pdf

  4. Hess, D. R. (2004). How to write an effective discussion. Respiratory Care, 49(10), 1238-1241. Retrieved from http://site.ufvjm.edu.br/ppgodonto/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Artigo_6-1.pdf

  5. Liumbruno, G. M., Velati, C., Pasqualetti, P., & Franchini, M. (2013). How to write a scientific manuscript for publication. Blood Transfusion, 11(2), 217-226. doi:10.2450/2012.0247-12

  6. Lowe, C., & Zemliansky, P. (Eds.). Writing spaces: Readings on writing (Vol. 1). West Lafayette, IN: Parlor Press. Retrieved from http://writingspaces.org/sites/default/files/writing-spaces-readings-on-writing-vol-1.pdf

  7. Pautasso, M. (2013). Ten simple rules for writing a literature review.   Retrieved from http://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article?id=10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003149

  8. Rocco, T. S., & Hatcher, T. (2011). The handbook of scholarly writing and publishing. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Recommended readings on how to give (and receive) peer review and peer feedback (and deal with rejection)

  1. Durso, T. (1997). Editors’ advice to rejected authors: Just try, try again. The Scientist. Retrieved from http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/18603/title/Editors–Advice-To-Rejected-Authors–Just-Try–Try-Again/
  2. Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112. Retrieved from http://education.qld.gov.au/staff/development/performance/resources/readings/power-feedback.pdf doi:10.3102/003465430298487
  3. Seals, D. R., & Tanaka, H. (2000). Manuscript peer review: a helpful checklist for students and novice referees. Advances in physiology education, 23(1), 52-58.
  4. Shashok, K. (2008). Content and communication: How can peer review provide helpful feedback about the writing? BMC Medical Research Methodology, 8(1), 3. doi:10.1186/1471-2288-8-3.

Recommended supplementary readings on how to get published

  1. Belcher, W. L. (2009). Reflections on ten years of teaching writing for publication to graduate students and junior faculty. Journal of scholarly publishing, 40(2), 184-200. doi:10.3138/jsp.40.2.184
  2. Lovejoy, T. I., Revenson, T. A., & France, C. R. (2011). Reviewing Manuscripts for Peer-Review Journals: A Primer for Novice and Seasoned Reviewers. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 42(1), 1-13. doi:10.1007/s12160-011-9269-x

  3. McGrail, M. R., Rickard, C., & Jones, R. (2006). Publish or perish: a systematic review of interventions to increase academic publication rates. Higher Education Research and Development.
  4. Parsons, J. (2016). How to write an article for The Canadian Journal for Teacher Research (CJTR) from your graduate work? The Canadian Journal for Teacher Research. Retrieved from http://www.teacherresearch.ca/blog/article/2016/02/01/292-how-to-write-an-article-for-the-canadian-journal-for-teacher-research-cjtr-from-your-graduate-work
  5. Pearce II, J. A. (2012). Revising manuscripts for premier entrepreneurship journals. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 36(2), 193-203. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6520.2012.00502.x

  6. Zwaaf, E. (2013). 8 Reasons I accepted your article. Elsevier. Retrieved from https://www.elsevier.com/connect/8-reasons-i-accepted-your-article

A note to other professors and educators: I am happy for you to share this list with your own students. Instead of copying and pasting this blog post into your own course outline (because that would be plagiarism), please put a link to this blog post in your syllabus.

Related posts:

How to provide peer review feedback http://wp.me/pNAh3-1qH

How writers can learn to accept criticism http://wp.me/pNAh3-1oA

What’s the difference between a citation and a reference? http://wp.me/pNAh3-1F9

Why APA formatting matters http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Hc

12 Phrases to Avoid in Your Academic Research Papers http://wp.me/pNAh3-1JX

How many sources do you need in a literature review?  http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Hu

What’s the difference between a manuscript and an article? http://wp.me/pNAh3-1SV

Why “as cited in” should be avoided in academic writing  http://wp.me/pNAh3-1BH

10 Great writing resources for grad students – http://wp.me/pNAh3-1Bc

How to create a research paper outline: 5 great resources http://wp.me/pNAh3-1y6

Template for a 10-page graduate research paper in social sciences http://wp.me/pNAh3-1s2


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Reflections on co-facilitating workshops with research assistants

April 4, 2017

For the past several months I have been leading a research project called “Investigating academic integrity in the Werklund School of Education: Process, policy and perceptions”. The main topic we have been addressing is plagiarism. This has resulted in invitations to give workshops in the School of Education, across campus and online. I co-facilitated three of these workshops with research assistants (RAs) Here is what I have learned:

RAs benefit from knowing the workshop details during the planning process. I outlined who the audience for each workshop was, where it would be held and how much time we would have. This helped them have a broad overview of all the workshops, not just the one they were working with me on.

RAs bring energy and insights into the planning process. We had two planning sessions, during which the RAs helped me to find resources, activities and build slide decks. As a result, the activities were more dynamic and engaging than if I had done all the planning alone.

Assigning RAs activities to lead creates a more meaningful experience for them. When I co-facilitate with colleagues, we decide who will lead which activities. I figured since the RAs working on this project are all aspiring or practising teachers, learning to co-facilitate a workshop by leading activities would be more meaningful than simply circulating handouts or taking notes. During every workshop, each RA had the opportunity to facilitate at least one activity. The result was a more dynamic workshop for the participants and a more meaningful opportunity for RAs.

When you treat RAs like professionals, they act like professionals. From the planning stages of the workshop, through to the follow up, I made a conscious effort to treat the RAs as fellow professionals, not “just students”. In return, their deportment, dress and presentation of themselves during the workshops was nothing less than exemplary. In one case, a person introducing us wasn’t sure if my co-presenter was a student or another faculty member! (I beamed with pride when that happened.)

It is OK to relinquish some control. This seems obvious, but at first I have to admit that I was a little unsure about handing over the reins to students. My fears were completely misplaced. The RAs facilitated just as well as I did (if not better!)

RAs need help documenting their workshop facilitation experience. After every workshop, I sent the RAs a citation to add to their slowly-developing c.v.’s They needed guidance learning how to document their experience and understand it as part of their developing professional experience.

Overall, I found that working with RAs required more time and energy than if I had done all the work myself, but it was time well spent. The end product was a better workshop that was more fun to plan and deliver and more dynamic for the participants themselves. I feel pretty lucky to work with such a stellar group of emerging professionals.

Here are some other posts related to this research project:


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25 Strategies to Prevent Plagiarism

March 17, 2017

As part of the workshops the research team and I have been offering on plagiarism, we give participants a copy of this handout, with 25 strategies on how to prevent plagiarism in their classes.

25 Strategies to Prevent Plagiarism

We talk about some of these strategies during the workshops. Participants report that they do not know how to prevent plagiarism. Sometimes, participants tell us that it has never occurred to them that they could incorporate prevention strategies into their teaching practice, but instead, they have only thought about — and struggled with — how to address plagiarism after it has occurred. In the workshops, we talk about how instructors can implement plagiarism prevention strategies in their own courses. The discussion becomes more productive and more positive when we focus on what we can do to help students cultivate their understanding of academic and research integrity, as part of developing their reputation as emerging professionals.

Workshop participants report back that they have appreciated having these strategies on a single-page handout. So, I am sharing the handout here with you, so you can use it, too. The audience for our workshops is instructors in higher education institutions, but many of the strategies can be adapted for K-12 and other contexts, too.

Funding for this study was provided by  the University of Calgary Werklund School of Education Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Grant.

Here are some other posts related to this research project:


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Workshop for Educators: Academic Integrity – Opening Up the Conversation Around Plagiarism

March 15, 2017

Today my research assistants, Jenny and Ian, collaborated with me to facilitate a workshop to faculty members and grad students in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, on plagiarism. This workshop is part of the knowledge sharing and mobilization for a research project on plagiarism in our school of education.

Here’s a photo of the group discussing their experiences with plagiarism in their professional practice in higher education contexts.

2017-03-15 - Worshop photo 1

We brainstormed ideas about why students plagiarize:

2017-03-15 - Workshop photo 2

Then, we talked about the reasons why students plagiarize, as informed by the research literature, and compared participants’ responses to what is evident in the literature. There were numerous parallels between participants’ experiences and what we found in the literature.

2017-03-15 - Workshop photo 3

Finally, we shared strategies about how to prevent plagiarism and also how to address it if you encounter it in a student’s work.

You can find a copy of our slides from the workshop here:

You can download a copy of the supplementary materials guide that we gave out to participants here: http://hdl.handle.net/1880/51859

Funding for this study was provided by  the University of Calgary Werklund School of Education Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Grant.

Here are some other posts related to this research project:


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Plagiarism Workshop for Hokkaido University of Education Exchange Students

March 13, 2017

Today I co-presented a workshop on plagiarism for exchange students from Hokkaido University of Education who are at the University of Calgary for a one-month stay to improve their English language skills.

My co-presenter was Benedict “Kojo” Otoo, a graduate research assistant working with me on the academic integrity research project.

You can find a copy of our slides online here: https://youtu.be/zBnqdGM36P0

Related posts:

Here are some other posts related to this research project:


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