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. Increasingly, I am doing workshops within existing graduate courses, professional-development seminars and other departmental activities. 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 sorts of format:

  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, which includes Dissertation Working Groups (Humanities & Social Sciences) and Dissertation & Article Working Groups (Life & Physical Sciences), as well as peer-review sessions, writing camps and discussion groups. See below for more information.

Workshops: selected examples


  • Writing Grant Proposals
  • Dissertation Writing
  • Comps / Prospectus Writing
  • Conference Abstracts
  • Conference Presentations
  • Major Research Genres (module)
  • Writing Journal Articles
  • Turning a Chapter into an Article (or vice versa)
  • Writing Article Critiques
  • Writing Literature Reviews / Review Articles
  • Writing Proposals for Theses / MRPs
  • Writing Introductions
  • Strategies for Preparing for, Writing and Revision Comprehensive Exams


  • Strategies for Clear Scholarly Writing / Clear Writing Tricks
  • Developing Your Scholarly Voice
  • Developing Your Scholarly Voice in Ethnographic Writing
  • Writing like a Pro/f
  • Argument and Argumentation
  • Uncluttering Your Academic Prose / Strategies for Concise Academic Writing
  • Being Strategic about Sentence Construction
  • Being Strategic about Paragraph Construction


  • Setting Writing Goals
  • Strategies for Productive Writing
  • Writing Abstracts to Generate New Writing
  • Using Abstracts for Writing, Revision and Summary
  • Creative Writing about Research to Clarify Your Ideas
  • Revision Strategies
  • Editing Strategies
  • From Data to Writing
  • Getting Started on Your Dissertation
  • Motivation and Productivity

Writing for non-specialist audiences (including the public but also academics from other fields)

  • Storytelling about Research in and beyond Academia
  • Writing about Research for the Public
  • Writing Op-Eds

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 four of these events already, with more coming in 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)
  • Professional Development for for Post-PhD Writing Jobs (in and beyond academia)
  • Academic Cover Letters (panelists are members of the unit’s faculty)
  • Writing about Research for non-Academic Audiences (panelists are graduate students involved in popular communication and outreach)


Dissertation Working Groups (DWG): a group of up to 12 doctoral candidates who meet biweekly to workshop drafts of dissertations-in-progress. Meetings also include occasional writing exercises and brief lessons on writing. To join my Humanities DWGs or my Social Science DWG, first read up on the groups 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; I have run six DAWGs to date. The next one will run in March/April 2022. Read more about DAWGs here.

Postdoctoral Proposal Working Groups (PPWG): A variation of the above designed specifically for workshopping research proposals for postdoctoral applications in Humanities & Social Science fields (e.g. SSHRC, Banting, Killam, etc). These groups run annually in May/June, meeting weekly for 3-4 weeks. Enrollment for the Spring 2022 PPWGs is full. Interested applicants can sign up instead for one of my four two-session Modules on Writing Postdoctoral Research Proposals by click here.

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 have hosted a weekly writing camp called Writing Tuesdays. Any graduate student, postdoc or faculty member in Arts & Science can register here.