15.289 | Spring 2002 | Graduate

Communication Skills for Academics


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Description and Objectives

The purpose of this course is threefold. First, the course will acquaint you with guidelines that will help you create well-crafted academic communication. Second, it will give you the opportunity to practice your communication skills and to receive extensive feedback from your colleagues and from me. You will write and/or revise an article manuscript or conference paper, present a conference paper or job talk, write a manuscript peer review, and engage in various other communication exercises. The article and talk, which are the major assignments of the course, will be based on material from your own doctoral studies. Third, the course will provide an opportunity for you to learn about professional norms for a range of activities that surround the academic enterprise, including, for example, the scholarly publication process and the job search process.

Who Should Take this Course?

This course is for doctoral students in management or related fields. It is best suited to students who have started on their own research, generally in their 2nd year or beyond, and who are beginning to think about the job market. If you are a first year graduate student and would like to take this course, please schedule time to talk to me about whether the course is appropriate for you.


There are four graded requirements in this course, weighted as follows:

Activities Percentages
Written assignment with feedback and revision (conference paper, journal article, or grant proposal) 30%
Oral presentation with option to re-do (conference presentation or job talk) 30%
Manuscript Review (for conference or journal) 15%
Class Participation (including other assigned exercises) 25%

We will discuss and in some cases do exercises (included in your class participation grade) around giving “elevator pitches” about your research, conducting a job search, teaching, and interviewing for field work.

  • Written and Oral Assignments: Your own research should serve as the basis for the first two assignments. In fact, if you are currently preparing a journal article, conference paper, grant proposal, and/or job talk, you may use that work to fulfill assignments in this class.
  • Manuscript Review: One of the tasks faced by most academics is reviewing manuscripts written by others for submission to a conference or journal. Learning how to write a constructive review is a key academic skill that we will discuss and that you will get an opportunity to practice. You will arrange with your advisor or another faculty member in your field to review a paper in your field.
  • Class Participation: Class attendance and participation are important because you will be giving each other feedback on your work, as well as doing short exercises in some classes. Please make every effort to attend all classes.

Practicing Skills, Receiving Feedback

As you will see from the attached class outline, we will discuss several types or genres of academic communication during the course, from journal articles to job talks. Much of the class time, however, will be devoted to giving you an opportunity to practice those genres and to give and receive feedback. Each member of the class is expected to provide critical feedback on the work submitted by his/her classmates.


You will need the following books for the course:

  • Cummings, L. L. and Peter Frost. Publishing in the Organizational Sciences. Sage Publications, 1995. 2nd Edition. [You may substitute a comparable work focused on a field more appropriate to your area of study.]
  • Frost, Peter, and Ralph Stablein. Doing Exemplary Research. Eds. Sage Publications, 1992. [Again, if you are in another area, you may substitute a comparable reading.]
  • Zerubavel, Eviatar. Clockwork Muse: A Practical Guide to Writing Theses, Dissertations, and Books. Harvard University Press, 1999. [Required for all.]

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2002
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments
Presentation Assignments