Practice of scholarship (Spring 2016)

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The Practice of Scholarship

Media, Technology, and Society 503

Northwestern University

Tuesdays 9am-12pm, Frances Searle Building Room 2-378

Instructor:Aaron Shaw (

  • Frances Searle 2-142
  • Office Hours: M 1-3pm; T 3-5pm and by appointment.

Course resources:

  • We will use Canvas for announcements, submitting assignments, and maybe discussions.
  • Everything else will be linked to from this page.

Overview & objectives

The goal for this course is simple: submit a piece of academic research for publication by the end of the quarter. The piece should (obviously) be original. You should be the primary person responsible for the research and should be the lead author of the submission.

The course and assignments are structured to help you cultivate (more of) the skills, wisdom, and experience necessary to publish independent, original, and high-quality scholarship in relevant venues for your work. There are also several milestones to help you measure your progress towards manuscript submission at the end of the quarter. The seminar will be run as a workshop in which we will provide individual and collective feedback on each other's work. Most weeks, we will also read and discuss materials related to the crafts of designing, conducting, writing, submitting, reviewing, revising, and publishing scholarly research.

A note about this syllabus

You should expect this syllabus to be a dynamic document and you will notice that there are a few places marked "To Be Determined." Although the core expectations for this class are fixed, the details of readings and assignments will shift. As a result, there are three important things to keep in mind:

  1. Details on this syllabus will change, but I will not change readings or assignments less than one week before they are due. If I don't fill in a "To Be Determined" one week before it's due, it is dropped. If you plan to read more than one week ahead, contact me first.
  2. Keep an eye out for emails and announcements I send through Canvas re: updates to the syllabus. You can also review the edit history of this page to track what has changed recently and compare it against earlier versions.
  3. You can always give me feedback and suggestions related to what works and what doesn't about the course. I will explicitly solicit your input a few times during the quarter, but be bold and feel free to submit your feedback to me at any time in any format. In the past, I have made substantive changes to courses on-the-fly in response to student feedback.


The assignments are designed to facilitate your progress toward the course objectives. Due dates for assignments are included in the course schedule below.


Almost every week will have some required readings. In general, I will provide links to readings or distribute them via Canvas. You are expected to complete these before you come to class. There are also some suggested readings and other resources you might find useful.

Writing assignments

In many weeks, I ask you to produce and submit some written work. Unless otherwise noted, you should plan to upload this work to Canvas by 9am on Monday morning each week (24 hours before the class meets). This will make it possible for me and your colleagues to read your work before class.

Feedback assignments

At several points throughout the quarter, I ask you to review and comment on colleagues' work. In general, you should provide your comments in a written format of your choosing (e.g., email) and come to class prepared to discuss them.

Research journal

Throughout the quarter, you should keep a research journal documenting your effort, progress, and reflections on your project in this course. I encourage you to write brief daily entries (or as close to daily as you can) and, at minimum, two entries per week. Entries can be brief and might simply record what you worked on that day, how long you worked on it, and a sentence or two reflection on your work experience. You may also find yourself inspired to write more. I have asked you to submit journal entries to me twice during the quarter for review.

Manuscript submission

Due: Tuesday, June 7

Your final project for the course is a submission-ready manuscript for a peer reviewed conference or journal of your choosing. It (obviously?) should follow the style, length, and formatting guidelines of the venue in which you seek to publish it.

Evaluation and grades

In addition to the frequent feedback you will provide and receive on your work, you will perform self, peer, and course evaluations at several points throughout the quarter. Your final grades for the course will be constructed based on an aggregation of these materials with the following weights:

  • Participation 20%
  • Written assignments 20%
  • Feedback assignments 20%
  • Peer and self evaluations 15%
  • Final manuscript 25%

Course schedule