Graduate Writing Consultations

Graduate Writing Consultations: a partnership with UChicagoGRAD

Availability: Graduate Writing Consultants are available through Finals week.

In partnership with UChicagoGRAD, we're delighted to offer graduate student writers one-on-one support for on-going writing projects at no cost. Grad student writers may meet with a Graduate Writing Consultant (GWC) for up to fifty minutes. Sessions are by appointment only.

GWCs are trained by the Writing Program in principles of effective academic writing, and can help graduate student writers analyze and control the rhetorical effects of their writing for particular readers, equipping writers with tools for planning, drafting, and revising more effectively. But because writing at the graduate level is expert writing about a specialized field, in each consultation the GWC will rely upon the writer’s expertise about both their subject matter and their readers.

In these one-on-one sessions, writers work with GWCs not just on problems in particular drafts, but also to develop advanced skills for revision. Writers can meet with a GWC during any stage of the writing process--nearly completed documents, drafts, rough drafts, or really rough drafts. While we ask that all meetings start from some piece of writing, graduate students at the beginning of a project can work with GWCs to begin getting ideas on the page, or to get “unstuck” in the middle of a project.

Writers may also elect to work with GWCs on a rhetorical analysis of published work in their field (a "Field Analysis" session). Field Analysis sessions help writers build practical familiarity with writing conventions specific to their fields. This kind of analysis can be highly useful for writers preparing work for publication or for conference presentations. Please note: these types of sessions don't focus on understanding the content of the writing. Instead,the sessions help writers understand and employ the most effective rhetorical strategies that characterize their academic discipline.

Who can make an appointment with a GWC?

We are happy to work with graduate students across the divisions, including Masters students and students in the professional schools. (Undergraduates in Common Core courses can find writing assistance here.)

What kinds of writing can I work on during a GWC session?

  • Dissertation/Thesis Proposals
  • Thesis drafts
  • Dissertation chapters
  • Abstracts
  • Conference papers
  • Seminar papers or other papers for coursework
  • Journal articles

For help managing a job or fellowship application, we ask that you consult other University resources that can provide more tailored, genre-specific advice. UChicagoGRAD and the Chicago Center for Teaching both offer consultations, classes, and workshops that focus on these kinds of documents. You may email UChicagoGRAD's Fellowship Proposal Specialist directly for an appointment. For English Language concerns, such as the proper use of idioms or how to use definite and indefinite articles, we suggest visiting the The English Language Institute.

How do I schedule a consultation?

1. Book an appointment

You can submit your document when you make the appointment, or you may email it to us at gradwriting@uchicago.edu. We must receive your document at least 24 hours before your appointment time.

2. Fill out and submit your cover sheet
  • Fill out the cover sheet at least 24 hours before your appointment time.
3. Email your document to us
  • If you did not submit your document to us when you made your appointment, you may do so by email. Email no more than 10 double-spaced pages of your document to gradwriting@uchicago.edu. In the subject line of your email, please write your name and appointment day and time, such as "Chris Lee - Fri 7/2 10:00am."

Even if you have not yet begun formally drafting, we ask that you submit at least two pages toward the draft. If you’re really stuck, please email us, again with your name and appointment day/time in the subject header.

If we do not receive your document and cover sheet at least 24 hours in advance of your appointment time, your appointment will be cancelled! 

See below for further details about the appointments, such as how to fill out the cover sheet and what happens during a session.

 

What do I submit before a GWC session?

For every session, you must submit in advance some text-- either your own work, or an article to analyze -- along with an on-line cover sheet form.

Text: Each consultation focuses on up to 10 pages of a writing project, or a piece of writing from your field. If you have not yet begun formally drafting, we ask that you submit at least two pages toward the draft. If you’re really stuck, please email us at gradwriting@uchicago.edu.

Cover sheet: In addition to submitting a document to us, you must fill out an on-line cover sheet form.

The cover sheet form does more than ask for your name and departmental affiliation; it’s a series of guided questions to get you thinking critically about your writing. It's also an opportunity for you to establish goals for the session. Filling out the cover sheet form is, in effect, the beginning of your session: a substantive thinking exercise that will amply repay the effort and attention you give to it. If you're curious about the kind of answers that are most productive, you can view sample cover sheet responses below:

What can I expect in a typical session?

  • At the beginning of each session, the GWC will chat with you briefly to ask follow-up questions based on your cover sheet and to determine an agenda for the meeting.
  • The GWC will ask questions about your text and help you diagnose patterns and issues.
  • The GWC will work with you to make plans for revision and/or begin implementing some revisions.
  • Since you have been working to build expertise in your field, the GWC will ask you questions about your audience and the conventions of writing in your discipline. The GWC is not there to judge content, but to help you judge the rhetorical effects of what you have written and how your audience may respond. With your audience in mind, we will help you figure out ways to revise your text to achieve your desired effect.
  • GWCs are not copy-editors/proofreaders. If you are looking for copy editing, the Writing Program can set you up with a trained, fee-based editor.

When and where do GWCs meet with students?

In Autumn, Winter, and Spring quarters, multiple GWCs meet with graduate students five days a week in a dedicated room on the A-Level of the Regenstein Library. During the Summer session, virtual appointments may also be booked, and will be held via Skype.

What if I have to cancel or reschedule?

We understand that things come up, but we ask that you please cancel/reschedule any appointments with as much advance notice as possible, but at least 48 hours in advance. If you fail to notify us in a timely manner, we reserve the right to restrict your access to GWC sessions. If you miss more than two scheduled appointments, you will not be allowed to schedule appointments for the following quarter.

Your Feedback

In order to continually reflect on and adjust our practice, we will be collecting a lot of data on the sessions--including your feedback! Your GWC will ask you to fill out a survey about your experience in the session(s); this survey is not obligatory, but we hope that you’ll take a moment to let us know what some of the most effective aspects of each session were, and how we might improve.

Would English Language Learners benefit from visiting the GWCs?

Yes! But please note: GWCs cannot do line-by-line editing, or proofread for grammar or English idiom usage. Rather, GWCs work to help graduate student writers anticipate and meet the needs of their readers. Much of this work involves the structure of entire arguments, and is equally applicable to the work of all graduate student writers. GWCs also give graduate student writers tools for structuring sentences in order to convey complex information clearly. Many intermediate to advanced English Language Learners have found these tools extremely helpful. But to use them, writers need enough command of the language to be able to choose which of several alternative sentence structures best meet the needs of their readers.

For other important ESL concerns, especially concerns related to the proper use of idioms, definite and indefinite articles, and the labyrinthine complexities of English verb tenses, we suggest visiting the The English Language Institute at the University's Center for the Teaching of Languages on the second floor of Cobb Hall.