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


Revision Clinic: Pushing the Draft Forward

Sep 16, 2019 | 12:30pm - 2:30pm | 538 Goodell

If you have a draft, this workshop is for you! You can think of it as a revising boot camp, a place to push forward on projects, refining the argument, purpose, and/or organization. In this interactive workshop, we will practice three different techniques for revising academic projects – so bring a draft of your conference or seminar paper, article, chapter, or any other draft. 


Editing Clinic: Focus on American Academic English

Sep 24, 2019 | 10:00am - 12:00pm | 538 Goodell

Unsure about how to bring clarity and concision to your writing? This clinic will introduce three different exercises for you to try editing your own work. Each exercise is calibrated to help you learn your own syntax, take the confusion out of complex sentences, and bring clarity of thought into the structure of your prose. 


Effective Poster Design

Oct 3, 2019 | 10:30am - 11:30am | 538 Goodell

Conference coming up? Not sure how to make a great poster? Come get a crash-course in making a poster presentation. We’ll cover the basics of graphic design, the software you need, and printing your poster. Get feedback and learn how to use your poster to network in your field and promote your research. Bring your ideas and a laptop to start or improve your poster! 


Public Speaking—for the Anxious and the Not-So-Anxious

Oct 10, 2019 | 10:30am - 11:15am | 538 Goodell

“There are only two types of speakers in the world: the nervous and the liars.”–Mark Twain
Speaking to an audience is part of graduate school, but that doesn’t mean we get a lot of training in it. Come learn the tips and tricks that will make you a more confident public speaker, convince your audience of your brilliance, and leave a lasting impression. 


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