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Thesis Writing Workshop (399)


19 and 20 May 2022

Lang EN Workshop language is English

Dr Lea Sgier ; Dr Gretchen Bakke


Thesis writing is often a painstaking process and many doctoral candidates sooner or later run into difficulties, either because they do not know how to deal with such a bulky and long-term writing process, and/or because they do not give themselves the best possible conditions to be able to write productively and smoothly. Too often, the writing-up process becomes a major stumbling block that endangers the whole thesis project.

The Thesis Writing Workshop is a 2-day "kick-off" meeting that will equip the participants with a series of practical tools that can make their thesis writing smoother and better organised. It examines the various issues involved in writing a doctoral thesis: getting started, structure and argumentation, time management and self-motivation, getting and handling feedback, publications and composing a thesis from articles.

It will also build the basis for follow-up in the following academic year by peer writing groups, self-organised by participants. An introduction on how to set up and keep these groups running will be provided at the end of the workshop.


Intended audience

This workshop is intended primarily for doctoral candidates in the social sciences, both in the stricter sense (sociology, anthropology, political science, gender studies, etc.) and in the wider sense (researchers that work with social science tools and methodologies in other disciplines, such as geography, architecture, business administration, environmental or health sciences, etc.). Doctoral candidates in the humanities (history and literature in particular) may also find this workshop of interest.

The workshop is intended for doctoral candidates at all stages, from enrolment up to stages of near-to completion of the doctoral thesis. For some exercises, the advanced candidates (3rd year and beyond) and the early-stage candidates will work separately.

The examples and illustrative materials used in this workshop will come mainly from qualitative research. Participants who do non-empirical social research (for example political theory or logic) are welcome, but need to be aware of the fact that the main focus of the workshop is on empirical (observation-based) types of research. Participants who work in a more deductive mode (experimental sciences or quantitative social science approaches) are welcome, but should be aware that some of the issues discussed in the workshop may not be relevant to them.
Potential participants who have a doubt as to whether this workshop fits their needs are advised to contact the instructors before registering.



By the end of the workshop, each participant will have:

  • Understood the key components of thesis writing (the writing process itself; surrounding conditions such as time-management and supervision; emotional issues; publication)
  • Acquired a set of practical tools to deal with each of these components (for example: a concrete writing agenda; competencies in argumentative discourse; text revision and proof-reading; techniques for supportive and productive feedback)
  • Produced concrete outcomes that they can take with them and work with (short texts; a thesis outline for the advanced students; a table of contents; etc.)

Participants who are interested in setting up a writing peer group will have time to set up a group during the workshop and will receive concrete instructions as to how to operate such a group.


Workshop format

The workshop will consist in a mixture of (kick-off) lectures, individual and group exercises and group discussions. For some exercises the group will be split in two (according to levels of advancement with the thesis or language, for instance).


Preparatory work

The participants in this workshop will be asked to provide some samples of their writing two weeks ahead of the workshop, and to fill in a preparatory questionnaire. Details will be circulated a few weeks ahead of the workshop.
There are no preparatory readings ahead of the workshop. A bibliography and some key readings will be distributed at or after the workshop.



The workshop will be held in English and draws quite heavily on the conventions of Anglo-Saxon academic writing. However, it addresses participants who write their thesis in English or in French (both instructors read and speak French). Participants who write their thesis in German may be included upon request.


University of Geneva and online


Date: Thursday the 19th and Friday the 20h May 2022

Schedule: 9:30 am to 5:30 pm.

Location: University of Geneva and online



Dr Gretchen Bakke holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology form the University of Chicago. She is a private writing tutor for academics of all levels, from Masters students to tenured professors. She has helped to usher over 200 doctoral candidates through the thesis writing process. She teaches dissertation writing at McGill University where she is also an assistant professor of anthropology. She offers intensive short courses in doctoral thesis writing and academic professionalization for universities, professional organizations, and university consortia in North America and Europe.

Dre Lea Sgier est politologue et chargée de cours au Département de science politique de l'Université de Genève. Elle enseigne par ailleurs les méthodes qualitatives dans le cadre de divers programmes doctoraux (Essex Summer School GB; ECPR Winter School; Hong Kong Postgraduate Summer School SSRM; Concordia WSSR Workshops, Montréal), et donne régulièrement des workshops de méthodologie et de « academic writing » en Suisse et à l'étranger (notamment à l'ENS à Paris). De 2010 à 2017 elle a été professeure assistante de méthodes qualitatives à la Central European University (CEU) à Budapest, université postgrade anglophone, où elle a supervisé plusieurs thèses de doctorat et fait partie d'un grand nombre de comité de suivi des thèses. Ses principaux domaines d'intérêt sont les méthodes qualitatives, les questions de genre et politique, et la politique démence, vieillesse et santé. Elle vient de terminer une recherche sur la citoyenneté politique de personnes âgées en institution (Fondation Leenaards, 2017-20) et collabore régulièrement avec l'entreprise d'évaluation Evalux en tant que chercheuse et consultante méthodologique. Ses langues de travail sont le français et l'anglais.


Participants are eligible for reimbursement of incurred travel expenses by train between the city of their university and the location of the workshop (half-fare card, 2nd class).




Délai d'inscription 12.05.2022
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