Any graduate writer may make appointments for individual consultations at the Writing Center. In addition, if you are working on a thesis or dissertation proposal, a thesis or dissertation draft, or an article for publication, you may make appointments with the Writing Center’s Thesis and Dissertation consultants, who are trained with work with you on your advanced disciplinary writing.
How to get the most out of Writing Center consultations
The best writing feedback comes from readers who are familiar with doing research in your field: this is the feedback that can stimulate your thinking, help you develop and articulate your contribution to knowledge, 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.
Writing Center consultants can complement the feedback your receive from your mentors and colleagues: Working with a writing consultant 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. Consultants can also share strategies for discovering the conventions of writing specific to your field. You’ll get the most from the Writing Center’s consulting services if you follow these tips:
Schedule appointments with the same consultant
This consultant can become familiar with your project and your discipline’s genre conventions. The more your consultant 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 consultant to focus on manageable pieces of your draft.
Bring exemplars of similar projects to show your consultant
Your consultant 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 consultant the opportunity to talk about those conventions.
Understand what your consultant can and cannot do:
- The consultant can work with you on strategies for composing, organizing, focusing, clarifying, editing, and proofreading your work.
- The consultant can ask questions that help you clarify and focus your ideas.
- The consultant can provide feedback from the perspective of an educated general audience.
- The consultant, a non-specialist in your field, may not be not representative of your thesis’s or dissertation's primary audience.
- Your consultant cannot replace your faculty or your colleagues when it comes to conversing with you about your projects.
- Consultants 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.