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Graduate Student Services

Graduate-level academic writing projects can be complex, long-term, and stressful. In our graduate facing programs, we build networks of support around graduate students to help them succeed in their writing, thrive in their programs, and achieve success in professional development and social/emotional well-being. 

Our graduate student services aim to holistically support graduate students – both as students and as future professionals – as they engage in the multi-year process of socialization and identity development in their disciplines. Writing is a critical site for graduate students’ “disciplinary becoming” (Curry 2016). Thus, we support grad students not only through the texts they produce, but in the larger and often messier process of developing their scholarly selves both on and off the page. 

Services Overview

The Writing Hub offers a diverse suite of services for graduate writers. Depending on their needs, graduate students seeking resources in the Writing Hub can choose to engage in one-on-one or group-based formats, on particular writing genres or on broadly transferable topics of academic writing, through a one-time interaction or an ongoing program. We offer several potential entry points for any graduate student seeking support, which can then open the door for more comprehensive support as the student advances through their program and career. 

Though we offer a variety of different programs, they share several features in common: 

  • All programs are facilitated by peer Graduate Writing Consultants. 
  • All programs aim to create a welcoming and positive atmosphere for writing.
  • All programs aim to identify and make explicit the tacit knowledge of academic discourse. 
  • All programs aim to develop students' familiarity with and practice of tangible writing strategies. 
  • All programs aim to provide empathetic, affective support to graduate writers.

One-On-One Consultations

The Writing Hub hires and trains a team of graduate consultants to meet with graduate students individually about their writing projects. Students can get help with any project at any stage, and do so by self-scheduling a 30- or 60-minute appointment with the consultant of their choice through our online scheduling system. Consultants are prepared to assist writers with a variety of writing tasks – from brainstorming to sentence-level fine-tuning – and are encouraged to develop their own expertise and consultation style during their appointments.

Want to learn more? Visit our Grad Writing Consultations page to understand the foundations of our approach and our Consultant Education page to learn how we train our writing consultants. We invite you to Meet our Graduate Consultants and Make an Appointment!

Graduate Writing Retreats

Graduate Writing Retreats are 20-hour programs that equip students with strategies and support for developing a more positive and sustainable relationship with the writing process, as well as providing structured writing time. Unlike writing “bootcamps” that reinforce an unhealthy “binge writing” mentality, our Retreats aim to foster a regular writing habit to aid in students’ long term development as professional writers. Each retreat consists of five 4-hour sessions, with each session aimed at developing awareness and compassion around different parts of the writing experience. The goal of every retreat is to make writing less painful and more regular. 

Want to learn more? Visit our Grad Writing Retreats information page to get to know our retreat approach, our participation policies, and see our upcoming retreats schedule. 

Daily Writing Room

The Writing Room is a daily service designed to support and nurture graduate students’ regular writing habits. The Writing Room is designed to support and supplement the Writing Retreats. While Retreats help students cultivate a regular writing habit, the Writing Room helps them sustain it through making time and space available for daily writing. The Writing Room is a drop-in service, meaning students can use the Room without having to RSVP or make a commitment. Each meeting starts by having participants set a goal and intention, and concludes by having each participant recap their goal/intention with the facilitator in order to provide soft accountability.

Interested in joining a Writing Room session? Visit our Writing Room information page to get more information for accessing the sessions. 

Weekly Workshops

Our Weekly Writing Workshops are interactive sessions that combine content delivery, active peer-to-peer discussion, and time for structured practice. Workshop topics include key writing genres (such as research proposals, literature reviews, or teaching statements), cross-genre writing skills (such as style and clarity, stance-taking, or telling a research story), and student-writer development (such as reading in the discipline, the revising process, or getting advisor feedback). We offer writing workshops every Friday morning during academic quarters. 

To see our workshops for this quarter, please visit the Graduate Writing Workshops tab in our Events + Sign Ups page to see the schedule and register for a session. 

Grad Student Essentials Workshop Series

Our new Grad Student Essentials workshop series explores six foundational writing topics for early-stage graduate students, particularly students at the doctoral level. Built in collaboration with Writing Hub Grad Writing Consultants, this workshop series seeks to answer the question: “What do we wish someone would have told us sooner about academic writing?" Though the workshops are designed for new graduate students in particular, any graduate student is welcome to attend.

The Grad Student Essentials series will run Tuesdays and Thursdays, 3:00-5:00pm, Weeks 3-5 in Fall Quarter 2020. To learn more and sign up, visit our Events + Sign-Ups page and select the workshop(s) you want. 

Dissertation Writers Workshop

The Dissertation Writers Workshop is specifically intended for ABD graduate students who are in the process of writing their dissertations. Part workshop, part writing retreat, the Dissertation Writer's Workshop consists of 3 consecutive sessions. Each focuses on a different dimension of the dissertation text and the dissertation writing process. With this workshop, we aim to demystify the dissertation and give advanced graduate students time and space to write in the company of their peers. 

To learn about the 3 sessions and find a list of our upcoming workshops, visit our Dissertation Writers Workshop page. 

Department and Program Partnerships

In addition to the above in-house programs and services, the Writing Hub also partners with academic departments, faculty, and other campus units to provide writing support for students in their local contexts. Our partnership programs range from informal (offering periodic workshops or presentations) to formal (cost-shared initiatives for embedded and long-term writing support).

We have formal partnerships with the Sociology Department and the Joint Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership. In each partnership, we jointly hire and train a graduate writing consultant whose time is partially dedicated to providing department-embedded writing support to graduate students in these programs. 

We partner with the Graduate Division to support the Competitive Edge Program, Sloan Scholars Program, and the GrAdvantage campus workgroup (including GradSlam). We also partner with Campus Community Centers, the Career Center, and a variety of academic departments to provide support for their graduate student services and programs. 

If you would like to work with the Writing Hub to develop graduate writing support for your unit or department, please reach out to us at writinghub@ucsd.edu. We welcome collaborations across campus so that we can support as many graduate students as possible. 

Our Approach to Working with Graduate Students

We base our approach to graduate student writing support on seven key foundations: 

  • Graduate students are in the process of “disciplinary becoming” - a long-term social process of learning the boundaries of legitimate discourse in their disciplines and internalizing the norms and practices of their research cultures. As a result, graduate students must engage with texts and genres as instantiations of academic social practice, and be supported in navigating  conventions of scholarly discourse when authoring their own texts (Curry 2016).
  • Because academic discourse is both a social/institutional practice and a set of linguistic constraints, graduate students from a variety of social and linguistic backgrounds will struggle to learn how to write “correctly” in their fields (Casanave and Li 2008). Multilingual students new to writing in professional American academic English will likely feel this struggle acutely (Canagarajah 1993; Cox 2018). Whether working with a monolingual English writer, or a multilingual writer, we prioritize that strong and clear writing entails much more than “correct” grammar, and that this particular category of English language entails several cultural constraints and conventions.
  • The discursive practices of disciplinary research communication, having been internalized through years of academic socialization, can easily be rendered invisible and/or obvious to senior members of a discipline. As a result, graduate student newcomers generally learn this knowledge tacitly, and often through multiple failed attempts. Graduate students benefit from engaging in ongoing mentored conversations and participation experiences to develop their disciplinary discourse knowledge (Starke-Meyerring 2011).
  • Many faculty advisors find giving feedback to graduate writers challenging. Likewise, many graduate students struggle in seeking and understanding advisor feedback on their work. These challenges are amplified when disiciplinary discourse conventions are left implied and/or when there are not ample opportunities for mentored conversations around writing due to department and/or resource constraints. As a result, graduate students and advisors can benefit from programs that support their mutual learning of fundamental rhetorical principles that are at work in academic writing (Paré 2011).
  • The academic writing process occurs throughout the research process, not merely at the end of data collection and analysis.The notion that one merely “writes up” their research collapses academic writing into a deceptively straightforward act of reporting, rather than the complex thinking, sense-making, and persuading task that it actually is (Kamler and Thomson 2006). As a result, graduate students benefit from regular engagement in writing and thinking throughout their research projects. 
  • The long process of disciplinary becoming can entail years of considerable, if hidden, struggle (Starke-Meyerring 2011). To support graduate students in their writing also means supporting them in that long, often messy, and sometimes isolating process. Graduate student writing support thus sits at the intersection of academic support (student success), professional development, and social/emotional well-being (Gray 2018). As a result, graduate writing support programs must also incorporate empathetic, affective support for students who may be struggling with overwhelm, confusion, loneliness/isolation, and institutional exclusion. 
  • Graduate education programs, particularly those at the doctoral level, are crucial sites for diversifying institutions of higher education. The paradox of writing in graduate education ー that writing is a crucial skill for “making it” in the academy but rarely instructed explicitly ー can disproportionately advantage graduate students who possess the cultural capital privileged by the institution, and leave those without such resources vulnerable to imposter syndrome, isolation, and overwhelm. This dynamic can, inadvertently, play out at the individual level of mentoring and advising, especially when disciplinary discourse practices are left implied. Differentiated mentorship practices, outside the hierarchical advisor/student dyad, can be a mechanism for achieving greater inclusion for graduate students (Okawa 2002).  As a result, we see our peer-facilitated programs as an opportunity to develop supportive “horizontal-mentoring” that de-centers institutional authority and instead centers students’ experiences and self-directed learning (VanHaitsma and Ceraso 2017). 

References

Canagarajah, A.S. (1993). Comments on Ann Raimes’s “Out of the Woods: Emerging Traditions in the Teaching of Writing.” TESOL Quarterly, 27(2), 301-306.

Cox, M. (2018). “Noticing” Language in the Writing Center: Preparing Writing Center Tutors to Support Graduate Multilingual Writers. In S. Lawrence and T. Myers Zawacki (Eds.), Re/Writing the Center: Approaches to Supporting Graduate Students in the Writing Center. Louisville, CO: Utah State University Press.

Curry, M.J. (2016). More than Language: Graduate Student Writing as “Disciplinary Becoming.” In S. Simpson, N.A. Caplan, M. Cox, and T. Phillips (Eds.), Supporting Graduate Student Writers: Research, Curriculum, & Program Design. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan. 

Gray, M. (2018). More than Dissertation Support: Aligning Our Programs with Doctoral Students’ Well-Being and Professional Development Needs. In S. Lawrence and T. Myers Zawacki (Eds.), Re/Writing the Center: Approaches to Supporting Graduate Students in the Writing Center. Louisville, CO: Utah State University Press.

Kamler, B. and Thomson, P. (2006). Helping Doctoral Students Write: Pedagogies for Supervision. London: Routledge. 

Okawa, G. Y. (2002). Diving for pearls : Mentoring as cultural and activist practice among academics of color. College Composition and Communication, 53(3), 507–532.

Paré, A. (2011). Speaking of Writing: Supervisory Feedback and the Dissertation. In L. McAlpine and C. Amundsen (Eds.), Doctoral Education: Research-Based Strategies for Doctoral Students, Supervisors, and Administrators. New York: Springer.

Starke-Meyerring, D. (2011). The Paradox of Writing in Doctoral Education: Student Experiences. In L. McAlpine and C. Amundsen (Eds.), Doctoral Education: Research-Based Strategies for Doctoral Students, Supervisors, and Administrators. New York: Springer.

VanHaitsma, P., and Ceraso, S. (2017). “Making it” in the academy through horizontal mentoring. Peitho Journal, 19(2), 210-233.