Writing Support

As Director of Graduate Writing Support in the Faculty of Arts & Science at the University of Toronto, I teach and support graduate students in various capacities, using various formats. I have worked with graduate students from almost every academic unit within the Faculty of Arts & Science.

Most of my workshops are invited by faculty or graduate students within departments, so feel free to contact me (daniel.newman{at}utoronto.ca) with ideas, suggestions or requests. See the list below for ideas of what’s possible.

My writing-support activities fall into two broad categories, which overlap somewhat:

  1. Helping graduate students improve their writing skills (genre, style, mechanics)
  2. Helping graduate students overcome obstacles to writing (productivity, accountability, community)

They can also be divided into two broad sorts of writing-support formats:

  1. Workshops (clinics, modules and roundtables). Clinics are one-off (usually 2-hour) events, half or fully devoted to instruction. Modules are two or more linked clinics.
  2. Groups (Dissertation Working Groups (Humanities & Social Sciences), Dissertation & Article Working Groups (Life & Physical Sciences), peer-review sessions, writing camps and discussion groups). See below for more information.

Workshops: selected examples

Genre

  • Writing Grant Proposals
  • Dissertation Writing
  • Comps / Prospectus Writing
  • Conference Abstracts
  • Major Research Genres (module)
  • Writing Journal Articles
  • Writing Article Critiques
  • Writing Literature Reviews / Review Articles
  • Writing Proposals for Theses / MRPs
  • Writing Introductions

Style

  • Strategies for Clear Scholarly Writing
  • Developing Your Scholarly Voice
  • Developing Your Scholarly Voice in Ethnographic Writing
  • Writing like a Pro/f
  • Argument and Argumentation
  • Writing Creatively about Your Research

Process

  • Setting Writing Goals
  • Strategies for Productive Writing
  • Writing Abstracts to Generate New Writing
  • Abstracts for Writing, Revision and Summary
  • Revision Strategies
  • From Data to Writing

Roundtables: these events, organized and moderated by me, host a small number of faculty and/or graduate-student panelists, who talk and answer questions about a given topic. I have run two of these events already, with more coming in 2021. are imminent, with two more scheduled for early 2021:

  • The Writing Life of Scholars (panelists are members of the unit’s faculty)
  • Publishing Your Work as a Graduate Student (panelists are students who have successfully published peer-reviewed work, as well as faculty members who have edited journals)

Groups

Dissertation Working Groups (DWG): a group of 10–15 doctoral candidates who meet biweekly to workshop drafts of dissertations-in-progress. Meetings also include occasional writing exercises and brief lessons on writing. I currently run three year-round DWGs (2 for Humanities, 1 for Social Sciences). More details here.

Dissertation & Article Working Groups (DAWG): A variation on the DWG designed for more concentrated writing schedules. Unlike DWGs, which run biweekly throughout the year, DAWGs meet weekly for 5-6 weeks. I piloted this format in late 2020 with seven life science PhDs. Another will run from late January to early March 2021, followed by one running from March to late April.

Peer-review Sessions: these events allow students to get feedback on pre-circulated drafts of their writing, usually in groups of three. These sessions are often run as a follow-up to a more instructional clinic, most often in the context of grant proposals (e.g. SSHRC or NSERC). Some recent peer-review sessions include

  • Grant Proposals
  • Proposals for Post-Doctoral Fellowship Applications
  • Academic Cover Letters
  • Statements of Teaching Philosophy
  • Conference abstracts

Writing Camps: I have run several 2-3 day writing camps for graduate students of any Arts & Science unit, as well as multiple in-house single-department camps (e.g. in Sociology, History, English, Philosophy). Starting in January 2021, I’ll be running a multidepartmental writing camp called Writing Tuesdays. Any graduate student in Arts & Science can register here.