Course code ValoD001

Credit points 6

English for Research Professionals

Total Hours in Course162

Number of hours for seminars and practical classes64

Independent study hours98

Date of course confirmation08.03.2021

Responsible UnitLanguage Centre

Course developers

author Sociālo un humanitāro zinātņu institūts

Tatjana Šinkus

Dr. paed.


Daina Grasmane

Dr. paed.

Course abstract

The study course aims at a coverage of the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in research work. It includes focus on improving scientific writing skills, presentation and oral skills (discussion and fluency building), research vocabulary building, and search and selection of relevant information, using authentic research literature. Teaching and independent studies are combined. Diverse methods are used in the teaching-and-learning process: Role play, debate, discussion, textual and vocabulary work. Doctoral students become familiarized with the European Research Area and acquire the formal styles used in journal publications and conference contributions. Different forms of writing, including literature reviews, research proposals, conference submissions and formal letters, are covered. The key principles of communication in the classroom, authenticity in terms of tasks and texts, learner autonomy, and critical thinking and analysis underpin all the activities. Information communication technologies (ICT) are widely used in the classes. The course includes practical classes, seminars and workshops, and ends with a final examination.

Learning outcomes and their assessment

Knowledge and understanding of the role of the ERA, the formal style used in research publications and conference contributions in the English language; how to prepare a research proposal, Power Point presentations, a poster, and a review of research literature. The assessment of knowledge takes place in every class through the completed home assignments.
Skills: to review, evaluate and use creatively authentic research literature in English for the doctoral students’ own research needs; to discuss, provide argumentation and find solutions to research problems in their fields of interest, to develop their own research proposals and use the formal writing style in their contributions, submissions and correspondence, and to write formal letters to journal editors, foreign researchers, and conference organizers. Evaluation takes place in every class through the completed home assignments.
Competence: to function confidently in an English-speaking academic and professional environment; to plan, organize and conduct professional and research activities in the English language to achieve their set goals. Evaluation takes place in every class through the completed home assignments.

Course Content(Calendar)

1. The European Research Area. A short history. The areas of action: knowledge sharing, international cooperation, investing in research, and thematic priorities. The policies to strengthen ERA. Partnerships for ERA. 4h
2. The formal style used in scientific writing. Common grammatical errors. Stylistic differences: colloquial and research styles. British English and American English. 4h
3. A research proposal. A call for proposals. The format. The elements of a proposal: the title, the qualifications of the author, abstract, problem identification, review of the relevant literature, description of the research project, solution/work plan, significance, methods, budget, timeline, references and appendices (supplementary material or data). 4h
4. The structure of a research article. Abstract. Summary. IMRAD. Types of abstracts. Differences between an abstract and a summary. 4h
5. Documentation styles. In-text citations and references. References to books, journals, proceedings, and electronic sources. 4h
6. Posters. A poster as an effective communication tool and a homogeneous unit. Poster types: floor, table and wall posters. Poster criteria. Poster design: structure and technical guidelines. 4h
7. Power Point presentation. The purpose of one’s presentation. The needs of the audience. Impact on the audience. Effective use of voice. Technical language recognized by specialists in the field. Adjusting the complexity/formality of the language to the audience. The structure of the presentation. 4h
8. Journals. Journals in diverse fields. Instructions for authors. The contributor’s profile. Avoiding plagiarism. 4h
9. Reviews. Professional peer reviews and scholarly peer reviews (or refereeing). Blind refereeing. Review criteria. 4h
10. Grants and scholarships. Applications for grants/scholarships. The Visby programme for PhD students to study in Sweden, the Fulbright Program in the USA, ERASMUS programme, grants by the Nordic Council of Ministers, grants and scholarships offered by the Swiss government and the Swiss Research Council. 4h
11. International activities. Doctoral students’ participation in international conferences and seminars, in Latvia and abroad. Exchange of experiences. 4h
12. International research projects. Participation in international research projects by doctoral students or by their organizations. 4h
13. CV and formal letters. The European CV, a letter of reference, a letter of motivation, an application for a position, a letter of invitation for a conference/seminar, and a cover letter to a journal editor. 4h
14. The structure of the PhD thesis and its content. Useful words and phrases to describe the structure and content of a PhD thesis. Connectives used to express cause-effect relationships. Vocabulary used for reviewing theories, approaches and research studies, conducted by other authors. 4h
15. Power Point presentations. Power Point presentations delivered by doctoral students on their investigations. 4h

16. Final examination. 4h

Requirements for awarding credit points

Power point presentation prepared for an international research conference, oral reports on relevant research literature found in libraries and on the Internet, given once a month during practical classes; a written research proposal presented during classes, 4 formal letters and Europass CV, a review of an article, a written abstract presented during classes. Active participation in classroom activities. Attendance of at least 80% of the classes.

Description of the organization and tasks of students’ independent work

Independent work: to read and review 120 pages of research literature, to write summaries of 10 research articles, to compose a list of bibliography, to make a vocabulary of relevant terminology, including 250 new terms, and to acquire them for active use.

Criteria for Evaluating Learning Outcomes

Final examination. The English level of the doctoral students, who have given a high quality presentation in the English language in an international conference at LLU and have submitted a research article for publication in the conference proceedings, is assessed by the examination board. The rest of the doctoral students take their final examination. It consists of 3 tasks by which the doctoral students’ knowledge, skills and competence to use the English language in diverse types of communication with a focus on research activities are assessed.

Compulsory reading

1. Calabrese R. The Elements of an Effective Dissertation and Thesis: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting It Right the First Time. Maryland: Rowan
and Littlefield Education Ltd., 2006.124 p. ISBN: 1-57886-351-1.
2. Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper (Ed. Fink A.G.). 3rd revised edition, Sage Publications Inc., 2009. 272 p.
ISBN-13: 9781412971898.
3. Gustavii B. How to Write and Illustrate a Scientific Paper/ 2nd revised ed. Cambridge University Press, 2008. 178 p. ISBN-13:9780521703932.
4. Swales J., Feak Ch. English in Today’s Research World: A Writing Guide. Michigan: The University of Michigan Press, 2000. 304 p.

Further reading

1. Kramiņa I. English for Research Activities: A Handbook for Researchers. Riga: The University of Latvia, 2007. 116 p. ISBN: 9984-772-08-X.
2. Kramiņa I. Research Guidance: Explored and Explained: A Handbook for Research Advisers. Riga: LU Akadēmiskais apgāds, 2009. 116 p. ISBN: 978-9984-45-073-5.
3. Smith P. Writing an Assignment: Effective Ways to Improve Your Research and Presentation Skills, 4th edition, Oxford: How To Books Ltd, 2000.110 p. ISBN: 85703-654-9.

Periodicals and other sources

1. Agricultural and Food Science, published by the Scientific Agricultural Society of Finland.
2. Agricultural Research, published by the Department of Agriculture, the USA.

3. English for Research Publication Purposes. [Tiešsaiste] [Skatīts 08.03.2021.]. Pieejams:


The course is included in the compulsory part of the study programme.