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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. A Graduate Writing Facilitator will be available for consultations and to answer questions. Registration not required - please drop in!

Graduate Open Writing Lab - Fridays, September 13 to 2:30pm, 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, SFU Vancouver, Harbour Centre, Room HC 7400.

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.

Data/GIS support

The Research Commons provides Research Data support for faculty and graduate students downtown.  During the Fall 2019 semester, data and GIS consultations are available by appointment or drop-in on alternate Tuesdays, 1:00 - 4:00 pm in room HC 7027 (Sept 24; Oct 8, 22; Nov 5, 19; Dec 3, 17).  Contact for more information or to book a consultation.

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.

R software support

Our Research Programming Peers can help researchers who have questions about using R for analyzing their data and creating visualizations. Peers provide support related to code writing -- they do not offer advice on methodological approaches. During the Fall 2019 semester, R consultations are available by appointment or drop-in on Wednesdays, September 11 to December 11 from 2:00 - 5:00 pm in room HC 7027 (on Sept 25, it will be in Rm 1040, inside Belzberg Library).  Contact for more information or to book a consultation outside of the drop-in hours.

Please contact for more information.

Graduate workshops at SFU Vancouver

Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Writing Up Research

This non-credit, 10-week course is designed for graduate students for whom English is an additional language (EAL).  The course will consolidate many of the tasks from Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Positioning Yourself as a Junior Scholar, and will cover primarily Units Five to Eight of the textbook. The focus of the course is to help prepare you for writing up your own research.

Required textbook:

Swales, John M., & Feak, Christine B. (2011). Academic Writing for Graduate Students: Essential Tasks and Skills (3rd Edition). Ann Arbor: U of Michigan Press (ISBN: 978-0472-03475-8).

Upcoming Workshops

Thursday, September 12, 2019 - 2:30pm to 4:20pm
Thursday, September 19, 2019 - 2:30pm to 4:20pm
Thursday, September 26, 2019 - 2:30pm to 4:20pm
Thursday, October 3, 2019 - 2:30pm to 4:20pm
Thursday, October 10, 2019 - 2:30pm to 4:20pm
Thursday, October 17, 2019 - 2:30pm to 4:20pm
Thursday, October 24, 2019 - 2:30pm to 4:20pm
Thursday, October 31, 2019 - 2:30pm to 4:20pm
Thursday, November 7, 2019 - 2:30pm to 4:20pm
Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 2:30pm to 4:20pm
Vancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 1510

Citation Management Drop-in Lab

Have questions about using citation management software, like Zotero or Mendeley? We can help! Our citation management experts can introduce you to citation management tools, answer questions, and demonstrate features and techniques. Bring your laptop and your questions!

Upcoming Workshops

Wednesday, November 27, 2019 - 3:00pm to 5:00pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Composition Clinic: Learn How to Conduct a Literature Review

Your literature review serves many purposes including improving your research, focusing your thesis or project, and perhaps most importantly, aptly demonstrating your new-found expertise to your reader while providing a strong first impression for your final written product. Join us to learn some valuable procedures, tips, and practices that will help you tackle the beast!

Upcoming Workshops

Friday, October 11, 2019 - 10:30am to 11:30amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Composition Clinic: Learn to Write More Concisely

Get to the point. Say more in fewer words. Attend this workshop to learn key strategies to revise your writing specifically for concision. Most are surprised to learn how drastically these strategies can reduce one’s word count without having to eliminate content!

Upcoming Workshops

Friday, September 20, 2019 - 10:30am to 11:30amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Data visualization with Tableau: The painless, programming-free way to build charts and graphs

Tableau is a data visualization tool that can help you analyze your data and illustrate the patterns and insights behind them. This interactive workshop will introduce researchers to Tableau Public, a free access version of Tableau.

You will leave this workshop with an understanding of how to:
  • connect datasets to your Tableau workbook;
  • create a variety of basic chart types (including bar charts, line graphs, and maps);
  • use Tableau's built-in analysis features, like reference lines, trend lines and calculated fields; and
  • publish and share publication-quality interactive charts and graphs.
Requirements: Participants will need to bring their own laptop and charger. Before the workshop, please download and install the latest version of Tableau Public to your laptop.

Upcoming Workshops

Wednesday, November 6, 2019 - 12:00pm to 5:00pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Hands-On with the Library’s Thesis Word Template: Open Lab

Bring your laptop (either PC or Mac), your document(s), and your questions to this open lab session to get some hands-on, practical help and suggestions with the Library’s thesis template. Join the Library’s support staff anytime during the open lab to learn how to:

  • populate the Table of Contents so that chapter headings and subheadings automatically show up with the correct pagination
  • insert table or figure/image captions so that they are auto-numbered and automatically populated into the List of Tables & List of Figures sections of your document
  • fine-tune the formatting of your tables
  • create very large tables to fit onto a landscape or tabloid (11x17) page
  • apply appropriate styles to make your thesis look consistent, professional and acceptable for Library submission and publication
  • other formatting tips & tricks

Please register so that we know you’re coming.

Upcoming Workshops

Wednesday, September 25, 2019 - 2:00pm to 4:00pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Intro to Geospatial Data with R

The lessons in this workshop will cover how to open, work with, and plot vector and raster-format spatial data in R.

Additional topics include:

  • working with spatial metadata (extent and coordinate reference systems),
  • reprojecting spatial data,
  • and working with raster time series data.

By the end of this workshop, participants will be able to:

  • import and export raster and vector data from R;
  • analyze and edit raster and vector data;
  • explore spatio-temporal data in R.

This half-day workshop will follow the Data Carpentries' syllabus.


Software requirements:

  • Participants will need to bring their own laptops with the most recent version of R and Rstudio installed. For installation instructions and to download the data used in this lesson, see the workshop homepage.

Workshop page (SFU Canvas): GIS workshops page includes workshop descriptions and suggested streams for different disciplines, handouts, slides, and example datasets

Upcoming Workshops

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - 10:00am to 3:00pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 1520

Introduction to NVivo for Windows

NVivo is a qualitative data analysis software program, but what does that mean -- and what does it mean for your research? Find out what NVivo is, when to use it, and how to get started.

In this hands-on introductory workshop, you'll take a tour of the NVivo software environment, using sample data. You’ll be introduced to NVivo’s functions and you’ll leave equipped with the basic info you need to begin working with NVivo. Topics introduced may include importing files and beginning coding.

This workshop is suitable for those with little or no experience using NVivo or other qualitative data analysis software.

Upcoming Workshops

Tuesday, October 8, 2019 - 2:00pm to 5:00pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Lab 1350
Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 4:30pm to 6:30pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Lab 1350

Introduction to Publishing a Student Journal

Are you interested in starting a student academic journal to showcase student work in your department? Or are you a member of an editorial board for an existing student journal and looking for an overview of publishing basics? This workshop will cover the steps for setting-up and running a student journal in Open Journal Systems, including:

  • Creating your journal, choosing a name, and establishing the aims and scope
  • Recruiting editorial board members and understanding their roles and responsibilities
  • Writing an open access statement
  • Choosing between Creative Commons licenses
  • Choosing a form of peer review
  • Publishing and disseminating your journal

Upcoming Workshops

Wednesday, September 18, 2019 - 2:00pm to 4:00pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400 Cancelled

Student Map Presentations

As part of GIS Day 2019, undergraduate and graduate students from any program at SFU have been invited to submit digital or web maps to the SFU GIS Day Student Map Competition. All competition participants will be invited to make a 5-10 minutes presentation during this time. Enjoy light refreshments before the presentations, meet others interested in GIS, and see the maps created by SFU students doing geospatial work. Prizes will be awarded for the strongest maps.

Upcoming Workshops

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 - 3:30pm to 5:00pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 1520

Thesis reBoot

Thesis reBoot is a day-long thesis writing retreat designed for graduate students who have already participated in Thesis Boot Camp.  

Along with a comfortable, quiet working environment, writing and research support, and snacks and lunches, this day-long writing retreat offers students community and motivation in that final push towards the completion of their dissertation or thesis.

More information can be found on the Thesis reBoot page.

Upcoming Workshops

Tuesday, November 12, 2019 - 8:30am to 5:00pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 1420

Write Conversations: Managing Writing Anxiety

Being anxious about academic writing can lead to unhelpful writing habits like avoidance and procrastination. Join us for a discussion on how to make more progress by alleviating writing anxiety!

Upcoming Workshops

Friday, October 4, 2019 - 10:30am to 11:30amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Other services

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