By Valeria Pozdnyakova, PhD, tutor at HSE School of Foreign Languages & Svetlana Suchkova, PhD, director of HSE Academic Writing Center

Are you preparing a research article for publication? If you are, here is a yes-no checklist for you:

  • I’ve chosen the journal.
  • I’ve carefully studied the journal’s scope and decided that my topic is a good fit.
  • I’ve read the Writer’s Guidelines carefully and highlighted what to focus on.
  • I know the required style (MLA, APA, Chicago, etc).
  • I’ve read articles from this journal and analyzed how the journal requirements are executed in these articles.
  • I’m familiar with the…

By Heather Belgorodtseva, an EFL Teacher and Teacher Trainer. She can also be found writing about discourse analysis and online communication at Those Sharp Words.

If there’s one thing that everyone knows about academic writing, it’s that the passive voice shouldn’t be used. But why is this ban in place, and is it actually a valid criticism?

What is the passive?

The passive voice is a way of manipulating a sentence so that the doer of the verb is not the subject, does not kick off the sentence, so is less focused on. …


By Evgeniya Lubennikova, English language instructor, The School of Foreign languages, HSE. Evgeniya can be reached at e.fedorova@hse.ru

When I heard my students speak English for the first time, I immediately knew that I had to show them off. Their native-like English and assertiveness made it crystal clear that I should organise a Pecha Kucha event at our university and it should be a blast with a star-studded cast.

A few words about what Pecha Kucha is. It is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and you talk along…


By Svetlana Bogolepova, PhD in Linguistics, Associate Professor and Programme Academic Supervisor at Higher School of Economics

Have you ever got rejections for not using appropriate vocabulary and style in your article?

Have you ever looked for a word to use in a phrase or sentence?

Have you ever doubted if you used a vocabulary unit appropriately in a context?

Then, this entry is for you.

Vocabulary knowledge is an indispensable element of language proficiency. The width and depth of vocabulary knowledge determine success in all language skills. You cannot read effectively unless you understand 95% of vocabulary in a…


By Konstantin Sheiko, PhD University of Wollongong in History and International Relations, AWC consultant

The amount of global data increases threefold annually. Academic publications are an integral part of this “data accumulation snowball” effect: around two million articles get published every year. Currently, China and the US are the leading centers of the world’s academic publication activity.

From www.scimagojr.com

Fun fact: China has recorded an astounding 3,000% increase in its annual volume of academic output since the start of the 21th century!

At some point in the near future an exponential increase in the overall volume of published data worldwide can be…


By Dmitry Abbakumov, PhD KU Leuven in Educational Sciences, Head of HSE Centre for Computational Educational Sciences

Five years ago, I stepped on my doctoral route, which led me to the title of Doctor of Educational Sciences from KU Leuven four years later, in September 2019. When I moved to Belgium, I planned to write a monograph — a typical type of dissertation in Russia, also called “the brick.” However, my wise supervisor suggested that I should consider another type — a collection of articles, which was becoming very popular. …


I love playing with metaphors. Comparing two seemingly incomparable things helps to visualize the situation and create a memorable image. This is a powerful cognitive tool that fosters our understanding of a phenomenon while identifying its core and details.

I decided to ponder over writing a research article for publication in metaphorical terms and explore a range of occupations* the author has to take up. It seems that the writer juggles lots of things at the same time. S/he is like Shiva, “creating, destroying, protecting,” and sharing the knowledge of the universe.

Shiva or Mahadeva is one of the principal…


Everybody knows the famous poem This is the house that Jack built. If we compare it with the Russian version Дом, который построил Джек, we can notice the difference in punctuation. Both sentences contain relative clauses but the rules of punctuation in Russian and English are different.

Types of Clauses

English language has two types of relative clauses: defining and non-defining, and the rules of punctuation in the two are opposite. This causes confusion among non-native English speakers. …


According to Graham (2006), listening is an area in which most EFL learners feel the least successful compared to other language skills. Even scholars, who do research and write articles in English, may find it challenging to follow conference presentations or interact with other speakers because they lack listening skills. Yet, listening is vital for communication. Speakers listen almost half of the time (40–50%) in conversation both in everyday and academic contexts (Graham, 2017).

Only by listening can we become better listeners

Academic and general listening share many common features (Goh, 2008). …


Numbers are the unpopular stepsister of ELT. Despite their simplicity they are not easy. Even very high-level learners struggle with numbers. They struggle in a particular way, which I’ll come to in a moment. At the end of this blog, there are some activities to focus on numbers. They are designed for solo practice but can be easily adapted for working with others.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

There are a few reasons why numbers are difficult. First, our brains process numbers differently from language. To simplify, it is massively a left brain-right brain issue. Second, on a practical level, in all national education curricula…

HSE Academic Writing Center

The Academic Writing Center at the Higher School of Economics, Moscow, provides writing support to everyone involved in research.

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