Research Commons: Consultations with specialists and help with software

The Research Commons is pleased to offer specialized support at both Research Commons locations, with some services also being offered virtually. Support is offered in the following areas:

 Research process

Expert help with research & literature searching

Getting started on your literature review and not finding the search results that you expect? Your liaison librarian can help! Liaison Librarians are subject specialists who work closely with SFU departments, providing personalized assistance to graduate students and serving as expert guides to SFU Library's services and information sources. For more information, or to request a consultation, contact a Liaison Librarian

Citation management

Citation or reference management tools collect your journal article, book, or other document citations together in one place, and help you create properly formatted bibliographies in almost any style -- in seconds.  Citation management tools help you keep track of your sources while you work and store your references for future use and reuse. 

The Citation Management Team provides consultations and support for both Zotero and Mendeley. 
For help, please contact

Finding and working with data

The Research Commons provides resources and services to address the growing use of statistical and numerical data by SFU graduate researchers across many disciplines. Services include:

  • Data searching and access
  • Data preparation
  • Custom subsetting
  • Mentoring

For assistance, please contact the Data Services Team at

Communication, publishing, knowledge mobilization

Publishing, digital humanities projects, & scholarly communication

The Digital Scholarship team can provide support in the following areas:

  • Publishing, including help choosing a journal for publication & information about open access publishing
  • Developing a digital humanities project
  • Selecting tools for a digital humanities project
  • Understanding copyright & your rights as an author
  • Demonstrating the impact of your research
  • Developing your online academic presence & support for your visibility as a researcher

For assistance, please contact the Digital Scholarship team at

Starting an open access journal, making an existing journal open access, creating an online student journal or classroom journal, or publishing an open access book? Contact SFU Digital Publishing

Knowledge Mobilization

Dr. Lupin Battersby, the Knowledge Mobilization Officer, can assist SFU researchers (faculty, research support, staff, and graduate students) with: 

  • Navigating SFU resources for mobilizing knowledge
  • Pre- and post-award support including advice on writing knowledge mobilization plans and feedback on project materials and outputs.
  • Tailored training in knowledge mobilization principles, frameworks, and skills

For assistance, please contact Lupin at

English as an Additional Language (EAL)

Dr. Timothy Mossman can assist with:

  • Academic writing: word usage, grammar, sentence structure, making connections between ideas, elaborating and expanding arguments, logical reasoning, paraphrasing  techniques, and more.
  • Academic reading: skimming and scanning, critical reading, comprehension and analysis, and more.
  • Conversational and academic speaking and listening: comprehensibility, presentation techniques, pronunciation, pragmatic competence, and more.

Request a consultation at: Writing Services offered by the Research Commons.


GIS consultations

GIS consultations (typically 30 - 60 minutes) are available to provide in-depth assistance to researchers from any discipline. A consultation can be focused on topics such as the following: introducing GIS, technical issues, searching for and accessing geospatial data, answering questions specific to your project, and demonstrating software features and techniques.

Consultations are facilitated by the GIS & Map Librarian or the Graduate Student GIS Peers, depending on the focus of the consultation. To book a consultation, please use our GIS consultation request form.

Qualitative Data Analysis with NVivo

Graduate Student NVivo Peers can assist with:

  • Orienting researchers to NVivo software for organizing, coding, and analyzing textual, audiovisual, social media and other data.
  • Other uses of NVivo such as organizing literature reviews, and handling survey data.

To book a consultation with a Graduate Student NVivo Peer, please use our NVivo Consultation Request form.

Important: Graduate Student NVivo Peers can use sample data to demonstrate the software. If you would like to bring your own project file, please review these pre-consultation guidelines prior to your appointment.

R workshops and consultations

Workshops on R

Those interested in learning R from an introductory perspective should attend one of the Research Commons workshops on R before booking a consultation.

Using R software for data analysis

The Graduate Student Research Programming Peers can help researchers who have questions about using R for analyzing their data. Peers provide support related to code writing—they do not offer advice on methodological approaches.

To book a consultation with a Graduate Student Research Programming Peer, please contact

Data anonymization: Please note that any data needs to be suitably anonymized if working with sensitive subjects before meeting with the Peer. 

Data Visualization with Tableau

Tableau is a data visualization package that allows users to manipulate views of datasets and present them in different ways. Tableau allows you to easily visualize data without having to know programming. Graduate Student Data Visualization Peers can assist with orienting researchers to Tableau software. Peers provide support related to working with Tableau software—they do not offer advice on methodological approaches.

To book a consultation with a Graduate Student Student Data Visualization Peer, please email Visual analytics consultations are typically 30 - 60 minutes and are available to researchers from any discipline.

Data anonymization: Please note that any data needs to be suitably anonymized if working with sensitive subjects before meeting with facilitators. 

The Vancouver Institute for Visual Analytics (VIVA) also provides in-depth assistance for data visualization research projects. To book a consultation, please email

 Writing and theses


Graduate Writing Facilitators provide support for graduate students working on their theses, term papers, journal articles, grant applications, and other writing related to their graduate studies.

Facilitators work with students one-­on-­one through in-­person consultations and online support at all three campuses and for students working at a distance.

For more information on graduate writing consultations, see Writing Services Offered by the Research Commons.

Thesis formatting & submission

To book a consultation for assistance with thesis formatting and submission, use our booking system. Learn more about this service and thesis writing in general on our Thesis assistance pages