Author Archives: Cecile

Master’s and doctoral writing – YouTube videos


Hello research writers! Along with two fabulous graduate assistants, Abena Boachie and Xiaolin Xu, we have created a whole range of videos on thesis writing, writing for publication and why writing is sometimes so difficult. Generously funded by Memorial University’s School of Graduate Studies, we have created short animated videos that are, hopefully, more entertaining than my long rambling PowerPoint videos.

On this blog, we will be creating new pages to organise the videos for you and these will be posted shortly. In the meantime, all the videos are freely available on YouTube and you can find them if you search “Cecile Badenhorst”. There are 25 new videos to add to the existing 16 videos. All the videos are based on literature from the field of Writing Studies, my own research, and from many, many years of teaching research writing to master’s and doctoral students. They are a culmination of “things that work”.

I hope you enjoy the videos and find them helpful. Any suggestions for further videos would be welcome because we will be making more.


A stimulating collegial event: the 2018 meeting of IDERN (International Doctoral Education Research Network)


Overview of the recent IDERN meeting in Japan by the DoctoralWriting SIG team.

DoctoralWriting SIG

By Susan Carter, Claire Aitchison and Cally Guerin

We three editors of the DoctoralWriting SIG had the re-energising experience of attending IDERN at Hiroshima University in Japan, 15-17 September, 2018.  IDERN is a loose group of people who come together every two to three years to discuss trends in doctoral research. The business of meetings is steered by a committee that organises key sessions including an introduction from the hosting country and followed thereafter by a series of provocations to stimulate discussion groups. This year the meeting was beautifully hosted by Machi Sato (Hiroshima University) and her team.

We learned about doctoral education in Japan from Professors Yohsuke Yamamoto and Shinichi Kobayashi, who described successful Japanese doctoral programs but nonetheless identified a need for reform, and for international collaboration.

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How many hours writing for the doctorate?


Here’s an excellent blog on thinking through the logistics of a writing a thesis:

DoctoralWriting SIG

By Ian Brailsford, Postgraduate learning adviser, Libraries and Learning Services, University of Auckland.

The rose-tinted view of the leisurely doctorate taking as long as it needed to complete (if it ever really existed) has been consigned to history with global drivers for ‘timely completions’. But it’s fair to say that doctoral candidates have more flexibility in determining their work schedules than most other ‘knowledge workers’. So, in determining this schedule, how much time should doctoral candidates devote to the business of writing a thesis?

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Write Your Way Out


Excellent blog post from Explorations of Style about writing blocks:

Explorations of Style

I recently had a request to give a talk to graduate students about writer’s block. This term is frequently mentioned in the context of graduate writing, presumably because of the general sense that something is inhibiting the writing processes of students at this level. While I was explaining why I didn’t want to give a talk on writer’s block, I realized that I spend quite a lot of time telling various people that I’m sceptical about the concept of academic writer’s block. Having recently read two interesting takes on writer’s block in academia in the past year (from Helen Kara and Julia Molinari), I decided that my own disinclination to use this concept might be worth exploring here on the blog.

In general, I am resistant to identifying common graduate writing difficulties as writer’s block. Most graduate writers who are struggling with their writing are actually struggling with their…

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Play, Visual strategies and Innovative Approaches to Graduate Student Writing Development

Hello all
This is just to let you know that a new special section of Vol. 28 of  the Canadian Journal for Studies in Discourse and Writing/Rédactologie has just been published, titled “Play, Visual strategies and Innovative Approaches to Graduate Student Writing Development.” Britt Amell and myself had the wonderful task of putting together this special edition.  We enjoyed working with the authors, reviewers and the editorial team from CJSDW.
This section comprises eight pieces by contributors from Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and Thailand. The table of contents is outlined below, or you can visit the website at
Please enjoy the selection of papers and share them widely with those to whom they may be of interest.

Helping students write a literature review – Part II


DoctoralWriting SIG

This is Part II of the guest post by Cecile Badenhorst of Memorial University in Canada. For an extended discussion of these ideas, go to her article on “Literature reviews, citations and intertextuality in graduate student writing”

In the first part of this blog post, I suggested that explicitly teaching students the genre of literature reviews and the many ways experienced academic writers use citation practices can help students understand this challenging genre. In this post, I want to focus on complexity in literature reviews. These papers require complex higher order thinking skills and the ability to critique, evaluate and review knowledge in sophisticated ways. Reproducing this complexity is often the most challenging for students. It is even more challenging for those of us involved in teaching this genre: How do we make the complexity more visible and accessible?

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Helping students write a literature review – Part I


DoctoralWriting SIG

Cecile Badenhorst MA (UBC), PhD (Queen’s) is an Associate Professor in the Adult Education/Post-Secondary program in the Faculty of Education at Memorial University.  Her research interests are post-secondary, higher education and adult learning experiences, particularly graduate research writing, academic literacies and qualitative research methodologies. In this 2-part guest post she explains her approach to teaching postgraduates about literature reviews.

By Cecile Badenhorst

After many years of running workshops on “How to write literature reviews”, I realized that postgraduate students often left with a few useful tools but without that deep understanding of what was required. Without a doubt, the literature review is one of the most challenging genres students face. It is also one of the most challenging genres to teach. How do you explain in an hour or two a process that takes years of practice, feedback and revision to hone and refine? Recently, I conducted research on literature…

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“Yes, you are a writer!”


Here’s a wonderful blog article for you to read.

Explorations of Style

I recently gave a talk for the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education about the importance of claiming our identity as academic writers. This topic is one that I have returned to repeatedly in this space. I am sharing a revised version of the talk in this post because it covers an aspect of the topic that I haven’t addressed in much detail here: the practical implications of having an incomplete identity as an academic writer. I’m also sharing this talk because it gives me an excuse to include this delightful drawing that an audience member did during my talk.

Cayley-Writing “Yes, you are a writer” by Giulia Forsythe is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I can’t tell you how much I love this drawing. I spoke for over an hour and the artist, Giulia Forsythe, captured the essence of so much of what I said. Since…

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Tending tenderness and disrupting the myth of academic rock stars


Urbane Adventurer: Amiskwacî


In euro-american academia, the arts, media, politics, and literature we are enthralled, obsessed with two things: ‘innovation’ and individuality. The triumph of individual will to manifest something new new new trumps everything else. Granting agencies often focus on a single Principle Investigator to the exclusion of whole teams of human and more-than-human beings who make certain projects or ideas possible. News reporters want to find the new voice, the emerging voice, the singular representative of a community to demonstrate the raw will of a single body, mind, and spirit. They want us to believe that these achievements are not the product of the blood, sweat, and labour of myriad co-convenors, co-thinkers, collaborators, and co-dreamers who lift each other up in often dreary, cold, and impossible (impassible) academic systems and structures. They want us to believe that there is no village of academic aunties (as per Erica Violet Lee’s brilliant…

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Finding time to write


Finding time to write is an ongoing problem for many writers.  It’s the number one issue that gets raised in my classes.

This morning, I listened to a podcast by Writing Excuses which I found very useful.  It’s called:  ‘Butt in chair, hands on keyboard‘. Although not developed for academic writers, much of what they have to say is relevant.

Listen and see what you think.