The prestigious conference is being held in the Czech Republic for the first time, and it has also not been hosted by any of the public universities in Central Europe so far. "It is a great honour for us to have the opportunity to organise this important conference, which will be attended by over 230 experts from all over the world. It is a kind of symbolic culmination of several years of effort in this field, which we have capitalized on completing the Technology Agency of the Czech Republic project TL01000274 Publish and Flourish: Supporting the publishing activities of PhD students and supervisors. In this project we developed and piloted academic writing courses for PhD candidates and young researchers. We would also like to share this experience with other colleagues. It is necessary to open a debate on this topic and to promote systemic support for young scientists," says Alena Kašpárková from the Department of Environmental Engineering at VSB-TUO, organiser of the expert meeting and member of the EATAW Scientific Board.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference will take place online. The programme is divided into four sessions and in addition to presenting research results in the field, participants can also look forward to presentations from practical teaching. Among the most prominent guests at the conference is e.g. Dylan Dryer from the University of Maine, who will offer a perspective from the American scientific environment, where academic writing has a greater tradition compared to European countries. John Harbord from the University of Maastricht, one of the EATAW’s leading figures, will stimulate the debate on whether there is or should be a European model of writing support and how it may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Madalina Chites from Romania and Otto Kruse from Switzerland will talk about digital writing and the digital humanities. Although researchers, academic writing tutors and other participants will only be able to meet 'remotely', networking is an important part of the conference.
"We are very pleased that the first EATAW conference in the Czech Republic is being held at our University. Its theme is in line with our efforts to support scientists in publishing. In order to compete, they must not only have excellent results, but also be able to present them well," says prof. Jana Kukutschová, Vice-Rector for Science and Research.
The issue of academic writing has its own specificities in different European countries. In many of them, academic writing centres exist to support students' writing skills, which experts say also helps to deepen and streamline the learning process. "Not only domestically, but also elsewhere in Europe, young scientists consider appropriate English as a priority when writing academic papers. However, the problem is deeper than that; great attention must also be paid to the structure of the text and to persuasive argumentation. Academic writing needs to be seen as a process. The researcher has to revisit it repeatedly, receiving and considering various comments. The review process should be seen as a joint effort to improve the quality of the text," adds Kašpárková.
The European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing is a pan-European association founded in 1999. In addition to organising regular conferences, the most recent of which took place in Sweden in 2019, it also maintains an online forum and publishes the Journal of Academic Writing.