Academic writing research

The research conducted at the Centre for Academic Writing is varied and inter-disciplinary. CAW academics conduct both individual and collective research projects that examine academic writing from multiple perspectives and disciplinary angles such as:

  • Linguistics and applied linguistics
  • Pedagogy
  • Literary and cultural studies
  • Composition and rhetoric
  • Studies of space and society
  • Writing programme administration.

CAW invites expressions of interest from potential PhD candidates to pursue doctoral research at the Centre. Visiting scholars who are interested in academic writing research or in academic writing provision are also welcome to visit CAW on short research trips. A number of such visitors have already spent a productive time at CAW under the mentorship of CAW academic staff. CAW also has active research connections with various academic writing/language related forums.


MRes/PhD Programme

Prospective students who are interested in pursuing a Masters by Research (MRes) and/or a doctorate in academic writing or related areas are encouraged to contact the appropriate CAW academic directly, based on their individual research interests. 

Current students

Dr Erik Borg of CAW is on the supervisory team for Anna Michalska (lead supervisor Irene Glendinning; additional supervisor, Professor John Davies), and contributes to the supervision of Stella-Maris Orim.

Both students are studying plagiarism and working on an EU-funded research project, the Impact of Policies for Plagiarism in Higher Education across Europe, that Irene Glendinning leads.



The Centre for Academic Writing welcomes academic staff and research students at Coventry University who are interested in any aspects of writing and literacy related topics to join our discussion groups.

The CAW Reading and Research Group convenes five times per year and is a forum of debate on theoretical and empirical issues in academic literacy research that reflect the multiple perspectives on academic writing at the Centre. The meetings combine a focus on specific readings, proposed by its members, with insights into ongoing research projects at CAW. For more details, please contact Dr Catalina Neculai.

The Writing in the Disciplines Reading Group is available for academic staff, support staff, and research students at Coventry University who would have an interest  in academic writing. Staff can discuss with other lecturers the difficulties that students have with academic writing and what can be done to improve their work. To create a jumping-off point for wider discussion, the group focuses on an academic article that will either provide a context, or insight and suggestions for student development. The discussions are facilitated by Dr Erik Borg, and is held twice a term. For more details, please contact Dr Erik Borg.


Current projects

Journal of Academic Writing Project (October 2012–July 2013) 

Dr Elizabeth Hough, Senior Research Assistant

Launched in 2011, The Journal of Academic Writing is an international, peer-reviewed, open-access journal. It focuses on the teaching, tutoring, researching, administration and development of academic writing in higher education in Europe.

This project, carried out in conjunction with the European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing (EATAW), is making a significant contribution to developing Academic Writing as an international field of study. In addition to producing three issues, the project aims to gather and analyse data from the user community in order to further develop the Journal. It will also investigate the extent to which Coventry University academics are interested in using Open Journal Systems software to establish online journals, and offer consultancy sessions/presentations on this topic.


Academic Skills Programme Feasibility Study (April–September 2012)

Dr Janet Hanson, Senior Research Assistant (CAW)

The Coventry University Library, Centre for Academic Writing (CAW), Maths Support Centre (MSC), and e-Learning Unit (eLU) offer provision for developing students’ academic skills. Support includes face-to-face sessions and online resources for students and consultancy for academic staff on incorporating academic skills development into disciplinary teaching. 
Adopting an ‘appreciative inquiry’ approach, this project aims to map this provision and investigate the perceived skills development needs of students. Focusing on the alignment of the Library, CAW, MSC and eLU, it will identify gaps or overlaps in provision and propose ways of achieving greater integration of the offer. The project is also investigating academic skills provision across the UK higher education sector and identifying different models of provision which will inform the project’s proposals. One of the models under consideration is the development of a ‘skills certificate’ that recognises students’ achievements in their development of academic skills.


Disparities in Student Attainment (DISA): Challenges for Academic Writing (April–September 2012)

Dr Christina Howell-Richardson, Senior Research Assistant (CAW)

A particular challenge for previously under-represented groups in Higher Education (HE) is the transition to academic writing and the learning of discipline-specific language usage and literacy practices. Further, the retention and attainment gap for certain groups of British BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) students in HE is well-documented (Connor et al 2003, Richardson 2008, Berry and Loke 2011).

Following from the recommendations of Coventry University academic Dr. Gurnam Singh’s DISA project (Singh 2011) this project involves two main areas of research and development. The first is to research and produce a guide for academics on writing HE assignment briefs. The second is to make CAW’s writing guidance and resources more accessible, working with Coventry University’s e-Learning Unit to re-present resources using multimedia technology.


The British Academic Written English (BAWE)

The British Academic Written English (BAWE) corpus was created through a project entitled 'An investigation of genres of assessed writing in British Higher Education' from 2004–2007. The BAWE corpus contains 2761 pieces of proficient assessed student writing, ranging in length from about 500 words to about 5000 words. Holdings are fairly evenly distributed across four broad disciplinary areas (Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences, Life Sciences and Physical Sciences) and across four levels of study (undergraduate and taught masters level). Thirty-five disciplines are represented.

 This project was funded by the ESRC (Project number RES-000-23-0800) and was a collaboration between the Universities of Warwick, Reading and Oxford Brookes. Lisa Ganobcsik-Williams of CAW was also involved in the project, and details of the pilot corpus are reported in: Nesi, H., Sharpling, G. & Ganobcsik-Williams, L. (2004) "Student papers across the curriculum: Designing and developing a corpus of British student writing". Computers and Composition 21 (4), 401–503.


Other projects
  • The Coventry Online Writing Laboratory (COWL);
  • AWESOME Dissertation Environment (ADE) (CAW in partnership with Leeds University);
  • DALiC Developing Academic Literacy in Context.
 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Logo
University of the year shortlisted
QS Five Star Rating 2020
Coventry City of Culture 2021