XENI004: Critical Info Mngmt/Intro to Grad Wrtg for Graduate Technology

Critical Information Management XENI004

Instructor: Mr. Marlen Elliot Harrison, PhD, MA

Office: Oppio 107

Contact: marlen.harrison at jyu.fi,  046 588 0325 (text and phone)

Classrooms: (see Korppi for schedule)



The course focuses on learning academic communication skills needed for learning and studying Mobile Technology and Business through English. Target skills include critical and scientific reading and evaluation of sources, managing, synthesizing and evaluating information, academic presentation skills, and writing exam essay answers. Emphasis is also on learning intercultural differences in communication and academic conventions. The course is fully integrated with subject studies in MoTeBu and other Master level courses.



Assessment will be based on attendance, active participation, and successful completion of assignments. Assessment is on a scale 1-5.

  • ATTENDANCE is required at all scheduled meetings. Should you be absent, it is YOUR responsibility to contact classmates and check the syllabus to learn what you missed. I will expect all missed work to be completed upon your return.
  • Less than 80% attendance for any reason may result in the lowering of your grade (0-5) by one full number.

Required Coursework: You will be assessed on a pass/fail basis for each of the criteria below:

  1. Research Proposal (40%) – You will consider your upcoming Master’s thesis and develop a research proposal for a thesis-style project that includes: a) a section that explains the Purpose of your project and discusses your main Research Questions, b) a clearly explained Hypothesis, c) a Literature Review which includes at least 5 critical sources, d) a section on proposed Methods of collection and analysis,  e) a sample informed consent form and IRB proposal if interested in human subjects, f) an Annotated Bibliography containing no less than 5 critical sources, and g) a section discussing intended audience, perceived benefits to the field, and potential venues for publication and presentation. This will all be posted to your blog (all sources must be cited according to formal conventions)
  2. Individual Presentation (20%) – You will individually introduce your topic to your classmates using a poster. You will upload your poster along with a one-page handout to your blog.
  3. Digital Identity (20%) – You will be required to create a digital identity via a WordPress.com blog where you post the above information (note: this blog may be public or private, it will be your choice). Because our lives are increasingly digital, and it is useful to share our research and ideas, this digital identity will also introduce you to communicating to the world in English via the internet. You will also complete a number of brief activities that will scaffold your learning in this course and post them to your blog.
  4. Participation (20%) – Your instructor will assess your in-class participation and award points accordingly. Additionally, your participation will include a peer review project and final reflective letter.

Rationale for Coursework: In order for you to gain experience in research reading, writing and communication, you will consider what you are passionate about in your field and begin to develop a professional identity reflecting this passion. Your critical analysis will require you to apply your academic reading skills while also helping you practice your research/analytical writing. Your oral presentation will be your first-step toward communicating/presenting to a large group; You will create a  presentation (for the rest of the class) that is geared toward a professional conference in your field, e.g. IETC, ECP, EPSA, SEP, etc. Your instructor will provide more information about required coursework during the course. Assessment of the above (#1-#4) will be based largely on your: presentation skills, interaction with classmates and instructor, professional vocabulary, language quality, fluency, and pronunciation. General Assessment Criteria for Academic Writing Assignments in Int’l Master’s Programmes


By the end of the course you can

  • work purposefully in groups, negotiating and building on the contributions of others to complete tasks
  • present information clearly and persuasively to others
  • locate and retrieve information in your field from a variety of resources (e.g. libraries catalogues, databases, Internet)
  • identify the purposes of texts, analysing and evaluating how writers structure and organise ideas to shape meaning for particular audiences and readers
  • compare and summarise information from different texts and use it to form your own ideas, arguments and opinions
  • use dictionaries and online tools critically for developing your vocabulary and field-specific vocabulary
  • gain a deeper understanding and of the different types of research in your field
  • create a research proposal that may be pursued at a later time
  • be able to explain your project’s relevance to your field and identify venues for publication/presentation
  • identify critical sources in your field
  • create a poster version of your research or work-in-progress
  • be aware of different cultural norms and communication styles that may lead to misunderstanding or conflict.





Course Assistants:

October 11 Introductions, Review of Syllabus, What is Critical?

Today we will:

  • Watch the Youtube Video “Are Smart Phones Making US Dumber?”
  • Discuss the concept “critical” and “good quality information”
  • Review blog set-up and class policies
  • Review blog set-up and use
  • Enjoy a poster presentation from the course assistant, Kate Warren
  • Discuss choosing a topic for academic writing: Mind Maps and Free Writing.
  • Discuss finding sources for academic writing.
  • Discuss citing sources in academic writing.
  • Discuss plagiarism.

Homework (due 18.11):

  • Set up and design your blog at http://Wordpress.com. You’ll find information about setting up your blog in WordPress Support.
    • 1) Go to WordPress.com and click the Get Started icon at the top left.
    • 2) Add your blog address and username (both should be your last name followed by first name; no dots, dashes or spaces; no finnish characters like ä or ö; e.g. angelina jolie = jolieangelina). This site has no relation to the JYU university website and email. Pick a password. Write down your username and password so that you don’t forget it.
    • 3) Add your email address and then submit your info.
    • 4) Check your email and click the activation link.
    • 5) Login to your blog if not already logged in. Eveything you need to know is there in your “DASHBOARD” page.
  • Add your blog info at the bottom of this page as a comment. Please include: your name, group number and blog address, e.g. Angelina Jolie, group 7, http://jolieangelina.wordpress.com. I will use this info to make a master list of blog links for the class.
  • Edit the ABOUT page on your blog and include a short bio and upload a clear photo of your face.
  • Create pages on your blog for info that you will enter later: PROPOSAL, POSTER, LETTER
  • WATCHING: Men’s Movement Revealed; As you watch, consider whether the video is “critical” – why or why not? Be prepared to discuss your position next week in class.
  • READING: Conducting Primary Research (all 9 sections); Reporting Guidelines; and Anne LaMott’s SHITTY FIRST DRAFTS
  • WRITING: Annotated Bibliography – Begin researching the topic you think you’ll most enjoy writing about. Your topic should be one that you have a natural curiosity about and that you feel you can successfully write about. Find at least four sources, three critical and one from any other source, that relates to your topic in some way. Summarize the sources in one paragraph for each source (5-7 sentences) and include an appropriately formatted reference. The following will help you: Purdue Owl: Annotated Bibliographies and Purdue Owl: Examples of Anno Bibs
  • Please find your blog groups (see Blogroll link above week 1 schedule on this syllabus, or in BLOGROLL menu at the top of any page). Please review and offer commentary on your group members’ blogs.



October 18 The Components of a Research Paper

Today we will:

  • Discuss our anno bibs
  • Discuss the Men’s Movement video
  • Practice paraphrasing, summarizing and quoting
  • Discuss plagiarism
  • Discuss lit reviews and methods
  • Have a guest presentation from US Airman Dan Burkhardt (15:15)
  • Review the outline for research papers.
  • Discuss the basics of the research proposal (see homework below).


  • PROPOSAL WRITING: Answer the following questions on your blog
    • 1) What is your major research question or concern? Why are you curious about this and what led you to have an interest in this topic? What purpose will answering this question serve?
    • 2) State or list at least 5 hypotheses/assumptions about this topic and be specific. For example, “I think that steroid use is not regulated as strongly as it could be in American professional football.” Next, re-write these as specific research questions that you can answer in your writing. The previous question could be written in a number of different ways – I want you to write as many possible questions as you can! For example, “Who is responsible for regulating….?”; “Why is steroid usage so prevalent in…?”; “What attempts have been made to prevent steroid use in…?” These questions will help you create the majority of your proposal.
    • 3) Regarding your topic, what has already been done (refer to the sources from your anno bib here)? How is your research different? What contribution will your research make? This section should read like a short literature review (or ciritical review). I recommend you use the info from your anno bib here, put it together and do some editing to make it a cohesive section. We’ll work more on this next week in class and you’ll do this in greater detail in XENI009.
    • 4) Describe the methodology you will use to undertake this research. For example, will you carry out interviews? Will you develop a questionnaire? Be as explicit as possible and explain every step of your research and then go back and explain again in even greater detail!You may need to look back at the critical sources you identified for ideas, or you may need to do a little bit of research on data collection/analysis methods.
    • 5) Audience: List at least 3 conferences where you can reasonably submit your manuscript as a poster or presentation. Likewise, list 3 critical academic journals where you could submit your work for publication. Create a link to each source’s information for authors ( ECP, EPSA, SEP).
  • READING (don’t worry, they are short!):Sowden on Plagiarism (THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT READING FOR THIS COURSE!); Deborah Knott’s Critical Reading for Critical Writing Quoting, Paraphrasing and Summarizing (all 3 sections)



October 25 (2) Mini presentation on your Critical Analysis topic: What you know now, and what more you need to know.

Today we will:

  • Present our homework to our classmates
  • Discuss the significance of rhetoric and different argumentation styles for literature reviews, including how to best use critical information to justify research focus.
  • How to develop the homework into an actual research proposal


  • THESIS MODELS: Thesis proposals: A Brief GuideSample Mobile Technology Thesis ProposalMarlen’s PhD Thesis Proposal
  • WRITING – Shitty first draft of your proposal that illustrates your ability to identify, summarize and write about critical sources posted to your blog on “PROPOSAL” page,  formatted with references/notes/works cited at end. If your formatting does not successfully transfer to wordpress, just upload the document into your page as a file (like you did with your photo on your ABOUT page). ***Remember Shitty First Drafts!!!MOST IMPORTANTLY: You MUST have your work read out loud to you by another person while you follow along on your own copy with a highlighter/pen. Reading out loud to yourself won’t be enough. You’ll be shocked how many mistakes you find this way and wonder why no one ever made you do this before. Trust me!Before you begin, write a 1-2 paragraph goal statement (on the same blog page just before your lit review) clearly and THOROUGHLY explaining in future tense:
    • 1) The purpose of this piece of writing – how will it help you? how will it help the reader? how will it differ from other sections of your overall project;
    • 2) Your goals for this paper – what do you hope to/will you accomplish by the end of this paper?
    • 3) Your target audience – who is this prepared for? Who do you hope will read this? How will you tailor your writing for this audience?

At the end, on the same page as above, write 1-2 paragraphs clearly and THOROUGHLY responding to the same questions but in past tense this time, explaining how you accomplished these goals/challenges. You will need to have your paper proofread by at least one other person in order to complete this assignment and get feedback, especially for questions 3.


November 1 Discussion of formal presentation skills

Today we will:

  • In class peer review of shitty first proposal drafts:

    • Practice giving written feedback: Work with a partner to create a rubric that can be used to evaluate  School Clubs. Your rubric should be simple and allow for both specific and holistic commentary about writing mechanics and research design. We are more interested in the effectiveness of the research, its ability to create a story for the reader, and its ability to address its audience than in its use of language. Post your completed rubric and all comments on your blog’s Peer Review page. SAMPLE RUBRIC
  • Discuss presenting critical information
  • Discuss writing essay exam answers: https://www.jyu.fi/it/en/motebu/studentinfo


  • READING: IRB, MARLEN’s Informed Consent Document from his dissertation study.
  • WATCHING: History of Informed Consent and The Need for Informed Consent
  • READING: Language for presentations (and more); Signposting; OpeningVocabulary
  • CREATING: Prepare a poster version of your project proposal with a one-page handout and post both files to your “POSTER” page. The following may be useful; SAMPLE HANDOUT (click me); An Effective Poster (please review all pages on the site); Posteripohja (JYU)
  • RE-WRITING: Please revise your proposal and post it on your “PROPOSAL” page.
  • WRITING: On its own page entitled “LETTER”, write a reflective letter to your instructor discussing your experience in the course. This should not be an essay, but rather an actual “letter” that addresses any or all of the following: * What grade (0-5) do you think you deserve and why? * What were your expectations of a) your own performance and b) the course overall and a) how did you meet or not meet your own expectations and b) how did the course meet or not meet your expectations? * What was the most useful activity or assignment in terms of advancing your knowledge of Academic Reading and Communciation?  Why? * What would you have done differently or taking the course a second time? What recommendations can you make to your instructor to improve this course for future VAL students? * What was your greatest challenge in this course and how did you successfully or unsuccessfully  meet this challenge? * How will this course be useful to you in the future? Note: You are not limited to the above questions; feel free to write about anything you want your instructor to know.



November 8 Final Presentations

  • POSTERS! (Please post your poster and handout to your blog’s “POSTER” page)
  • FINAL DRAFT OF PROPOSAL DUE by November 15, 2011 (posted to blog on “PROPOSAL” page)
  • REFLECTIVE LETTER DUE by November 15, 2011 (posted to blog on its own page “LETTER”)





Never use the word YOU in academic writing unless the word is being spoken as dialogue in quotes… e.g. She asked him, “Did you ever go to New York?” …or used to address a specific audience… e.g. Dear Marlen,  It has been a royal pain in the ass learning to like you despite the enormous amount of work you assign. otherwise you is indefinable and meaningless... e.g. In research writing you have to start with a good question. In the example above,  isn’t “you” really a metaphor for the writer? Perhaps the sentence should be… e.g. In research writing, I’ve learned that I have to start with a good question. or e.g. In research writing, authors have to start with good questions. HAVE YOU USED YOU YET? GO BACK TO BLOG #1 AND EDIT YOUR YOU’S! 


Be careful when using the word “society” in your writing. Society is merely a group of people with a common goal/belief/practice. e.g. Homosexuality is frowned on by our society. People who identify as such are often ridiculed for their behaviors. …first of all, who is “our” in this sentence and what exactly does the writer mean by “society?”…can we be more specific here? “Homosexuality is frowned on by many religious and political groups in North America.” e.g. There have been many changes in American society’s views on alcohol, from one of tolerance, to regulation, and back again. …this sentence could likely be better written if it was more specific; “society” could be replaced with “government” as they were really the driving force behind prohibition. HAVE YOU USED SOCIETY YET? GO CHECK YOUR LIT REVIEW AND EDIT!


I.  Intro
a.       Question
b.      Purpose
c.       Hypotheses
d.      Forecasting
II.   Lit Review
a.       Restatement of problem
b.      Hey! Did you know…?
c.       Summary of reviewed lit
d.      Forecasting
III. Methods
a.       Who?
b.      When?
c.       Where? Etc
IV. Results
a.       Just the info, please!
V. Discussion
a.       What does it all mean?
b.      How does it relate to lit review?
VI.  Conclusion a.        Restate question and answer it.
b.       Limitations?
c.       Recommendations?

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