Working with Graduate Student Clients in the UWC
How we help graduate students Online and face-to-face consultations (limited to ten for theses and dissertations) DATA (Dissertation and Thesis Assistance) Graduate Writing Groups Classes for international students Workshops for graduate students
Some definitions Office of Graduate Studies: Important deadlines, and the steps and forms necessary to complete theses and dissertations Thesis Office: Resources on style and format for theses, dissertations, and other records of study; ensures publication standards are met Advisory Committee: A group of faculty that guide the work, approve the thesis or dissertation, and conduct oral defenses; “chair” or “advisor” heads this committee
Masters students Masters (MA for Master of Arts or MS for Master of Science): 2-3 year program of study often requiring a thesis and sometimes an oral defense or presentation Thesis: presents original research addressing a question and creating an argument in chapter form; length may vary but often about 75-150 pages
PhD or Doctoral Students Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy): a 4-7 year program of advanced study usually requiring a dissertation or three published articles and an oral defense; students first take prelims (preliminaries) to qualify for doctoral study, then write a proposal, then a dissertation, which they must defend in before their committee Dissertation: presents original research addressing a question and creating an argument in chapter form; length may be above 100 and up to 300 pages Defense: varies with discipline; always includes advisory committee asking questions of the student to ensure the dissertation is sound
Tips for Working with Graduate Student Clients As with any client, discuss concerns and determine goals by asking questions. Help find model documents and then review the style, documentation, and structure together. Ask the client to read aloud, but don’t insist, especially for internationals. Demonstrate useful editing and proofreading tricks, and give clients time to practice them, then give feedback on how well they did in identifying and correcting problems. Our Web site includes a list of freelance editors, who charge a fee for line-by-line editing.
AvoidingLine-By-Line Editing If you find recurring errors, explain how to revise and fix one. Next, have the client read aloud the next section of the paper and encourage him or her to identify and correct subsequent errors. You might have to help a bit more at first, maybe you identify the error the second time, but encourage the client to fix it and give feedback on the results. Ask the client to fix recurring errors between sessions. Make a note in the records on what you suggested the client work on independently so the next consultant can follow up.
Types of Documents Some of the most common documents graduate students bring to the UWC
Seminar Papers 15-30 pages Formal academic tone Places the student’s work within the conversation of a current academic field using in-text citations and references (bibliography) current in clients’ field Topic and purpose can vary widely, depending on the course and instructor Likely to include secondary sources and could include primary research May summarize or critique existing scholarship and/or require an original argument
Abstracts Approximately 200 - 250 words Meant to help readers to obtain a brief account of the study/research Include the following elements: What the project has done or its purpose An explanation of the methodology The findings The writer’s conclusions and/or implications or significance of the study May take a different form depending on the discipline and its purpose
Literature Reviews Summarizes research already completed about the topic Describes the relationship between past research and need for the study/research ARGUES for the purpose and value of the research, does not simply list works and summarize them Explains or addresses omission of any “big” issue, text, or person in the writer’s study–explain what writer is not focusing on because of time or scope of project. Written in present or past tense (depending on discipline)
Journal Articles Papers to be submitted to academic journals for publication Clients need to know the submission requirements that each journal specifies on its website or inside the journal itself; include, but are not limited to, length, format, and style (MLA, APA, etc.) Help the client find a model article from the journal to the parameters
Proposals Written prior to writing a thesis or dissertation Length and format will vary from discipline to discipline Must be approved by student’s committee and department’s graduate director Describe research questions, methods, and most importantly, ARGUES for the research’s value as a study
Sections of the proposal Objectives: state in terms that lend themselves to observation/measurement Present State of the Question: summarize pertinent research in the field and document with citations from this literature Procedure/Methods: give the nature of the data and the procedure to be employed in its analysis
Dissertations/Theses Most dissertations are about five chapters, including an abstract, a literature review, methodology, data collection, and a discussion of the findings. Theses are similar but usually shorter and less ambitious in scope or type of research. Disciplines may vary in the structure/content, so another way to understand these documents is similar to a large five-paragraph essay. The middle chapters contain examples to support the argument that is presented in the introduction; however, each chapter should have its own argument, building on the overall argument.
Helping with dissertations & theses Help the student analyze the style of a dissertation or thesis in his or her field Dissertations are available electronically through ProQuest Dissertations, a library database Literature review section is similar to the literature review for an article or seminar paper but wider in scope The following slides give more detail on other sections.
Statement of Problem Often stated one to three open-ended research questions (as in, “This study attempts to answer the following research questions . . .”) Can guide the subsequent content just as a thesis does by setting the scope and focusing the research Some disciplines refer to it as a thesis, others, a hypothesis
Methodology Section How the researcher conducted the research Method of selecting participants; in some disciplines, reasons for selecting a particular topic Process of collecting data Process of measuring and interpreting data
Generally discuss trends or patterns in the data; may report full data in appendices
Quantitative data: countable data often expressed through statistics, tables, or graphs; may be called “hard” data
Qualitative data: observations (field notes), interviews, focus groups, and documents from which the researcher infers trends or patterns and interprets them within a social context
Results Section Summarizes important results Shows some, but not all data, specifically data that answer the research question or support or disprove the hypothesis/thesis Explains results that partially support or do not support the argument Highlights results that explain or support the thesis or that answer the research question
Discussion Section Explains how findings affect or fit in with existing research/theories Outlines limitations of the study Provides recommendations for further research Explains significance of findings—how they impact our knowledge or the way we see or do things
DATA (Dissertation & Thesis Assistance) Students working on dissertations or theses should be routed into the DATA program so that we can offer them targeted assistance. This program is only for students who do not have immediate deadlines and who have time to write and revise between sessions.
Identifying a Thesis/Dissertation Before each session, review the client’s previous session notes. Do any previous notes indicate that they may be working on a dissertation or thesis? One indication is that they have been working on the same document for an extended period of time. Introduce these students to the DATA program. Route them to the online form that will enroll them, if appropriate.
DATA Clients will be assigned a single consultant who will assist them throughout the program and who will help them work independently between sessions. Other consultants be scheduled for their expertise. All students writing theses or dissertations will receive no more than 10 sessions. Those with an immediate deadline will not work with a DATA consultant. The first DATA session does not count in the total ten. If you are assigned to a DATA student, check with the front desk to be sure you have all the information you will need. Direct anyone with questions or problems to a UWC administrator.
Graduate Writing Groups Classes for International Students Workshops
GraduateWriting Groups Small groups of 5-7 graduate students that meet bimonthly with a UWC moderator Focus of each meeting is peer response, where students work in pairs to give and receive constructive criticism Meetings begin and end with students thinking about writing goals, either from the previous week or for the coming week
International Student Classes Taught by advanced consultants Meet once or twice a week in the UWC Consultants work to customize the syllabus but generally cover topics like writing a memo or email or writing an abstract Class is non-credit and not for a grade—it is more like a group consultation
GraduateWorkshops 6-8 workshops a year on topics of interest to graduate student writers Check our Web site for topics, dates, times, and to register