The ability to effectively communicate your research to a variety of audiences is an essential professional skill. From building healthy writing habits to preparing for conferences to dissertation writing retreats, OPD helps students and postdocs improve their writing and presenting skills through a variety of programs offered throughout the year.


I see myself as a successful researcher, but if I didn't develop complementary skills—if I couldn't lead, present, or write—I wouldn't have the tools to effectively communicate what I'm researching. I have attended many OPD workshops and have benefited greatly. I have also encouraged graduate students in our lab, department and across campus to consider both their professional and academic development; these two things go hand-in-hand to ensure success in securing the right job and excelling in your career. 

Elroy Aguiar (Former Senior Postdoctoral Research Associate, Kinesiology)

Upcoming Events

May - Dec

Virtual Coffee Shop: An Online Writing Community for Grad Students & Postdocs

May 31, 2020 - Dec 31, 2021 | Online with OPD!

Do you need accountability and support for your academic writing? OPD is hosting a "Virtual Coffee Shop," an online space to regularly connect with others about their writing. We'll have space to set weekly goals, do pomodoros together, connect in small stage-based groups, and share fun stuff. This community is open to UMass graduate students and post docs working on any part of writing and research. After you preregister for the “Virtual Coffee Shop,” you will be emailed all of the information.


Dissertation Writing Groups (Summer 2021)

May 11, 2021 | Online with OPD!

Working on your dissertation, but feeling isolated at home? Open to graduate students who are at the dissertation-writing stage, this two-week intensive offers both synchronous and asynchronous opportunities to participate in a focused community of writers in order to build support and accountability. Apply by May 11th!


Developing Your Elevator Pitch

May 11, 2021 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm | Online with OPD!

Whether your goal is to communicate the relevance of your work, recruit a potential collaborator, or impress a prospective employer, success hinges on your ability to articulate what you are doing and why it is worth doing. In this first session, participants will learn about elevator pitch structure and draft a baseline elevator pitch. Participants are strongly encouraged to return for next week’s practice session. 


The Summer Strategic Plan

May 14, 2021 | 3:00pm - 4:30pm | Online with OPD!

Getting your summer off to a strong start requires knowing where you want to go and how you plan on getting there. This interactive clinic will provide strategies to plan your research/writing work and give you time to make those plans. Gather your planners, calendars, syllabi, schedules of family members, email—anything you need to make a map of the summer. 


Additional Resources

Graduate students and post doctoral students may access many other support systems to improve their communication skills.

  • The UMass Amherst Writing Center offers face-to-face and online consultations to help graduate students and postdocs clarify ideas, reorganize text, set writing goals and build productive writing practices.

  • The Public Engagement Project organizes events to help researchers contribute to social change, inform public policy, and enrich public debate.

  • The UMass Amherst science community challenges researchers to make their work accessible to a wide range of audiences through the Life Science Café and That’s Life [Science] blog.


Contact us for more information on OPD’s communication workshops and assistance.

Dissertation retreat participants