The Writing Center

Graduate Writing Consultations

Grad tutoring

How to get the most out of Writing Center consultations

The best writing feedback comes from readers who have expertise in doing research in your field: this is the feedback that can stimulate your thinking, help you connect ideas, and improve your arguments. Thus your advisor, your other faculty, and your graduate student colleagues are outstanding sources of feedback for your course papers, thesis or dissertation. Even so, Writing Center tutors can provide support for these projects. Working with a tutor can, for example, help you talk through your ideas, focus and clarify your meanings, tighten up your prose, shape your work for general audiences, and use a variety of strategies for revising and editing your work. You’ll get the most from the Writing Center’s tutoring services if you follow these tips:

Schedule appointments with the same tutor

This tutor can become familiar with your project and your discipline’s genre conventions. The more your tutor knows about your project and your field, the better they can respond to your work.

Schedule appointments regularly throughout the term

You can use regular Writing Center appointments to keep yourself on track when it comes to long-term projects like theses and dissertations. In addition, scheduling regular appointments allows you and your tutor to focus on manageable pieces of your draft.

Bring exemplars of similar projects to show your tutor

Your tutor may not be familiar with the conventions of graduate level writing in your field—the kinds of claims scholars make, the kinds of evidence they offer, how research reports are structured, whether writers use “I” or “we” in their publications, and so on. Bringing a model paper—whether a journal article or a sample student paper or thesis—can give you and the tutor the opportunity to talk about those conventions.

Understand what your tutor can and cannot do:

  • The tutor can work with you on strategies for composing, organizing, focusing, clarifying, editing, and proofreading your work.
  • The tutor can provide feedback from the perspective of an educated general audience.
  • The tutor, a non-specialist in your field, may not be not representative of your thesis’s or dissertation's primary audience.
  • Your tutor cannot replace your faculty or your colleagues when it comes to conversing with you about your project.
  • Tutors cannot provide short-term fixes for drafts. They can work with you on sentence level issues, but they cannot edit or proofread your work; they show you how to become your own best editor and proofreader.
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