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Research Commons services at SFU Vancouver

Writing support

SFU Vancouver graduate students can access various types of writing support through the Research Commons. Graduate Writing Facilitators are available for one-on-one writing consultations, or you can meet with a facilitator to get feedback on the content of an upcoming presentation. Read Ahead consultations provide intensive and extended support for graduate students writing theses, projects, or other longer papers.

Please visit Writing services to find out more or to request an appointment.

Our Graduate Open Writing Lab: Write Time, Write Space provides a quiet, dedicated space for graduate students to work on their writing at SFU Vancouver. 
Graduate Open Writing Lab (Facilitated) - Fridays, 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, SFU Vancouver, Harbour Centre - room locations listed below:

  • Jan 19, Rm 7356
  • Jan 26, Rm 101
  • Feb 2, Rm WCC 430 [Note this is in the Wosk Centre for Dialogue, across the street from Harbour Centre, access from Seymour St.]
  • Feb 9, Rm 2235
  • Feb 16, Rm 7356
  • Feb 23 to Apr 9, Rm 101

(no session on March 30)

Writing workshops at SFU Vancouver are included in the list of graduate workshops below.

Thesis support

The Library's Assistant for Theses is available to meet with graduate students for formatting and thesis submission assistance.  Appointments can be made using the Research Commons' consultation booking software.  In-person appointments are available at all three campuses.

ESL/EAL support

Please use our Consultation Request form to book a consultation for help with academic reading and writing, speaking, pronunciation, presentation techniques, and more.

NVivo support

Graduate Peer NVivo Facilitators are available to assist graduate students by email ( or in one-on-one consultations. To schedule a meeting, please use the request form on the Consultations page. The Research Commons also offers workshops and other training on the use of NVivo software.

At SFU Vancouver, NVivo is installed on computers in the Belzberg Library. Please see NVivo: Getting Started for information on downloading NVivo to an individual computer.

Graduate workshops at SFU Vancouver

An Introduction to Using Tableau for Data Visualization

Tableau is a data visualization tool that is being used to help analyze data and illustrate the patterns and insights behind them.

This interactive workshop will introduce researchers or students to Tableau Public, a free access version of Tableau.


  • No prior experience with Tableau is necessary.
  • Participants will need to bring their own laptop preloaded with the latest version of Tableau Public

Upcoming Workshops

Saturday, February 3, 2018 - 3:00pm to 4:30pmHarbour Centre, Rm 1520

Find Data / Share Data

Are you interested in increasing the visibility of your research? This workshop will help you describe your data for long term access and findability.   As a bonus, we'll also show  you how to find data relevant to your research.

Some of the tools we'll be looking at are DataCite, Abacus, ICPSR and Radar.

Upcoming Workshops

Saturday, February 3, 2018 - 1:00pm to 2:30pmHarbour Centre, Rm 1520

Getting Started With QGIS for PC Users

QGIS is Open Source GIS software for viewing, editing, and managing spatial data in a wide variety of commonly used vector and raster formats. Free to download, QGIS can be installed on Mac, Windows, Linux, and Unix operating systems -  however, this workshop will only cover QGIS for Windows. This workshop will provide and introduction to the basic features of QGIS using data from the Lower Mainland.

Note: you will need to bring your own Windows laptop, loaded with the latest version of QGIS for Windows, available here: Please download latest version of QGIS for Windows prior to attending the workshop.

Upcoming Workshops

Saturday, February 3, 2018 - 10:00am to 12:00pmHarbour Centre, Rm 1520

Introduction to GitHub

GitHub is a website and hosting service that is celebrated in tech circles. Did you know that it's useful for non-programmers? In this hands-on workshop, we'll be covering the fundamentals of GitHub including repositories, version control, project management, wikis, and Gist. The content is designed for novice users; all learners are welcome. Come to discover how this digital tool can improve collaboration in your research projects.  To participate in this workshop, you must bring a laptop (preferred) or a tablet. You may be contacted with software installation instructions prior to the event.

Upcoming Workshops

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 - 9:30am to 12:30pmHarbour Centre, Rm 2510

Introduction to R for Non-Science Majors

This workshop is designed for non-science students interested in the statistical computing program R. No prior knowledge of R is required. Often data outside of the sciences includes textual data, such as a corpus or series of surveys. In this workshop we’ll learn how to process textual data in R, as well as the basic skills to start analyzing it. Specific topics covered include the R environment (directories, workspace, scripts, and packages), data structures (vector, matrix, data frames, lists), and the beginnings of simple data analysis (built-in statistical packages, elementary statistics, etc.).

Note: Workshop participants will need to bring their own laptops, with R and RStudio installed prior to attending the workshop.

Upcoming Workshops

Saturday, February 3, 2018 - 10:00am to 4:30pmHarbour Centre, Rm 1600

Let's Talk!

Let's Talk! is a weekly workshop that gives students for whom English is an additional language an opportunity outside of class to improve their English conversation skills, learn strategies for academic success, and have fun meeting people.

Participants will develop their conversation and listening skills through a variety of topics, such as stereotypes, slang and idioms, social media, Canadian and global culture, presentation skills, pronunciation, and story-telling.

Upcoming Workshops

Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 1:20pm to 2:20pmHarbour Centre, Rm 1505
Thursday, February 1, 2018 - 1:20pm to 2:20pmHarbour Centre, Rm 1505
Thursday, February 8, 2018 - 1:20pm to 2:20pmHarbour Centre, Rm 1505
Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 1:20pm to 2:20pmHarbour Centre, Rm 1505
Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 1:20pm to 2:20pmHarbour Centre, Rm 1505
Thursday, March 1, 2018 - 1:20pm to 2:20pmHarbour Centre, Rm 1505
Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 1:20pm to 2:20pmHarbour Centre, Rm 1505
Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 1:20pm to 2:20pmHarbour Centre, Rm 1505
Thursday, March 22, 2018 - 1:20pm to 2:20pmHarbour Centre, Rm 1505

Pronunciation for Social, Academic, & Professional Settings

This non-credit course provides the rules, learning strategies, and contextualized practice in the stress, rhythm, and melody of English words, phrases, and discourse. Students will also learn how a Canadian accent differs from American, British, and Australian varieties of English by analyzing popular TV shows.

Upcoming Workshops

Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Thursday, February 1, 2018 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Thursday, February 8, 2018 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Thursday, February 22, 2018 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Thursday, March 1, 2018 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Thursday, March 22, 2018 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Thursday, March 29, 2018 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Harbour Centre, Rm(s) 1500 & 2925

Records Security & Surveillance Self-Defense

Tools and best practices will keep your records more secure. We'll consider security topics including cloud storage, full disk encryption, digital preservation, and secure destruction of records.
In the hands-on component of the workshop, participants will undertake surveillance self-defense by:
  • Installing a password manager,
  • Enabling two-factor authentication on an account, and
  • Using plug-ins for safer browsing (i.e. Privacy Badger, HTTPS Everywhere).

Note: attendees must bring their own device and laptops are preferred.


Upcoming Workshops

Thursday, January 25, 2018 - 6:00pm to 8:00pmHarbour Centre, Rm 1520

Thesis Boot Camp

This multi-day boot camp is for SFU graduate students at both the PhD and Masters level, who are currently writing their thesis or dissertation.

Here's your opportunity to dedicate three days to making serious progress on your dissertation or master’s thesis. Along with a comfortable, quiet working environment, snacks and lunches, you will benefit from structured time, dedicated space, professional advising and peer support—all motivating factors in that final push towards completion of your dissertation or thesis.

Upcoming Workshops

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 - 8:30am to 5:00pm
Wednesday, February 14, 2018 - 8:30am to 5:00pm
Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 8:30am to 5:00pm
Harbour Centre, Rm 1410-1430

Your Interdisciplinary Web Archive Collaboration

Web archives are intimidating. You're dealing with size and scale issues, wild formats from the live web, and just a massive amount of information to sift through. But, we can't hide our heads in the sand, and ignore it. This is our cultural heritage, and we need to make sense of it. You definitely don't want to tackle this alone, and the good news is that has been a lot of work done already, and there are a lot of great people working here. Nick Ruest will discuss the research and tools he is working on with an interdisciplinary team of collaborators from fields as varied as history, political science, sociology, and computer science to help make sense of it all.

This talk is presented by the BC Research Libraries Group.




Nick Ruest is the Digital Assets Librarian at York University, co-Principal Investigator of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded The Archives Unleashed Project, co-Principal Investigator of the SSHRC grant “A Longitudinal Analysis of the Canadian World Wide Web as a Historical Resource, 1996-2014”, and co-Principal Investigator of the Compute Canada Research Platforms and Portals Web Archives for Longitudinal Knowledge.

At York University, he oversees the development of data curation, asset management and preservation initiatives, along with creating and implementing systems that support the capture, description, delivery, and preservation of digital objects having significant content of enduring value. He was previously active in the Islandora and Fedora communities, serving as Project Director for the Islandora CLAW project, member of the Islandora Foundation’s Roadmap Committee and Board of Directors, and contributed code to the project. He has also served as the Release Manager for Islandora and Fedora, the moderator for the OCUL Digital Curation Community, the President of the Ontario Library and Technology Association, and President of McMaster University Academic Librarians’ Association.

Upcoming Workshops

Friday, February 16, 2018 - 10:00am to 11:30amHarbour Centre, Room TBA

Other services

Other learning, general writing, and EAL services and workshops are available at SFU Vancouver through the Student Learning Commons.