You are here

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, May 10 to August 16, 2019, 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, SFU Vancouver, Harbour Centre, Room HC 7400. Note: on May 10, the session will take place in Room HC 1425, from 1:30pm to 4:30pm.

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 spring 2019 semester, data and GIS consultations are available by appointment or drop-in on Tuesdays, 1 - 4:30 pm in room HC 7027 (no consultations February 5 or 26).  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

The Research Data Peers for R 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. 

Graduate Peer R Facilitators will be available in person for office hours every week Wednesday 2:30pm--5:30pm, in HC 7027 at the SFU Vancouver campus. Drop in with your R questions, and bring your own laptop with R and RStudio installed.  Please contact for more information.

Graduate workshops at SFU Vancouver

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, May 29, 2019 - 1:00pm to 3:00pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Cite your sources easier and faster with Zotero

Want to make your research and writing more efficient? Hate the last minute rush of trying to create a correctly formatted bibliography? This workshop is for you! We will introduce Zotero, a citation management tool that can help you import, organize, share, and manage your citations and documents, as well as create correctly formatted in-text citations and bibliographies in almost any style -- in seconds.

Bring your laptop: this interactive workshop will cover registration, installation, and everything that you need to know to get up and running with Zotero.

Upcoming Workshops

Saturday, May 25, 2019 - 9:30am to 11:00amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 1600

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, June 26, 2019 - 12:00pm to 5:00pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Hands-on with the Library Thesis Word Template

The SFU Library thesis template is a Microsoft Word file designed to assist students in preparing theses, projects, and extended essays. The template uses custom styles to ensure that your document  conforms to SFU-specific formatting standards and acceptable for Library submission.

This hands-on workshop will cover:

  • the structure of the SFU Library thesis/project/extended essays
  • styles: what Word styles are, the organization of the Library thesis template styles and how to apply the styles
  • how to insert tables, figures/images, auto-numbered captions and notes
  • how to generate and update the Table of Contents, List of Tables and List of Figures
Requirements: Participants will need to bring their own laptop (either Mac or PC) with Microsoft Word installed. Note: the template has been tested with the following versions of MS Word: Word 2011 (Mac), Word 2013 (Windows), and Word 2016/365 (Windows and Mac), so it is advisable not have anything older than these versions.
Working Files: Closer to the workshop date, necessary working files will be emailed to all registrants.

Upcoming Workshops

Saturday, May 25, 2019 - 2:00pm to 4:00pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 1530

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, May 22, 2019 - 1:00pm to 3:30pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400
Wednesday, June 12, 2019 - 1:00pm to 3:30pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400
Wednesday, July 17, 2019 - 1:00pm to 3:30pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400
Wednesday, August 14, 2019 - 1:00pm to 3:30pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

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, July 16, 2019 - 5:30pm to 7:00pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Lab 1350

Introduction to Spatial Thinking and ArcGIS

  • Which areas in Ontario are susceptible to drought? Which areas are susceptible to longer periods of drought and which to shorter periods?
  • What is the travel route of the Anna's hummingbird (Calypte anna)? Does it pass close to areas where predators are present, specifically those which prey on eggs?
  • Are neighbourhoods with low socioeconomic status spatially correlated to high morbidity rates?

Many of these questions ask about the spatial relationship between two or more phenomena. This workshop is an introduction to spatial thinking and the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). This workshop assumes attendees have no previous experience with GIS.

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

  • think spatially about their research;
  • understand the elements of GIS;
  • use a leading industry software (ArcGIS);
  • create simple maps using geospatial data;
  • look for and find geospatial data and resources.

Software:  Participants will need to bring their own computer, running the Windows operating system. This workshop requires the use of ArcGIS Desktop, which is available for download and can be installed on Windows operating systems only. Instructions on installing ArcGIS Desktop and other necessary information will be sent out to participants closer to the workshop date.

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

Upcoming Workshops

Wednesday, May 8, 2019 - 2:30pm to 4:30pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Key Strategies for Staying the Course (Procrastinate Later!)

After having constructed a clear path forward in the earlier workshop, now it’s time to talk about how to stay on track! Here we’ll discuss strategies for self-discipline, time-management, and tackling pervasive pitfalls like procrastination, distraction, and working in a communication void. We’ll also suggest strategic ways of using Research Commons’ spaces and services to help you meet your summer 2019 goals!

Upcoming Workshops

Friday, May 10, 2019 - 11:45am to 12:30pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 1425

Level Up! Tips and Tricks for Research Productivity

Learn how to keep up with research! In this workshop, we'll go over tips and tricks that can save you time during your research, including setting search and citation alerts, forward chaining, software tools to help with writing reference lists and literature reviews, and more.

Upcoming Workshops

Friday, May 10, 2019 - 11:00am to 11:30amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 1425

Make Waves: Raise Your Research Profile

Are you looking to raise the profile and impact of your research? If you have a thoughtful, curated, and professional academic profile, your research is more likely to be found, read, discussed, and shared online. Building your online research profile can connect your research with relevant communities and increase uptake and application of your work. Bring your laptop to this facilitated drop-in session. Librarians will be available to support you with any of the following:

  • Depositing your work to Summit, SFU's Research Repository
  • Creating, updating or refining your online profiles in ORCID, Google Scholar, or ImpactStory
  • Leveraging #AcademicTwitter
  • Discussing options for going public with your work
  • Developing strategies for building or enhancing your personal website to host your online bio and CV

Upcoming Workshops

Wednesday, July 24, 2019 - 12:00pm to 3:00pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Making Literature Reviews Easier with NVivo for Windows

This interactive workshop introduces importing and coding of literature review materials and key tools that can be particularly helpful when reviewing literature in your area of research.

Topics covered include:

  • introducing NVivo and setting up a project
  • working with your information
  • identifying themes, topics and ideas and collecting data to support them
  • using tools such as text search query, matrix coding query, and Framework Matrix.

What will you achieve from this session? You will have the knowledge to set up a literature review in NVivo, and begin to work with your information. You will also be able to use NVivo to organize your content and begin to identify themes, topics or ideas. It is appropriate for those who have had some experience with NVivo. For more information about NVivo at SFU, please visit NVivo Software for Research Analysis.

Participants should also have some familiarity with citation management software (Zotero, Mendeley, Refworks, EndNote, etc). Zotero will be used during this workshop.

Upcoming Workshops

Thursday, June 13, 2019 - 1:00pm to 2:30pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Lab 1350

NVivo Drop-in Lab

Bring your laptop and your NVivo questions to this drop-in lab session! Our facilitators are experienced NVivo users, and can help orient researchers to using NVivo software for organizing, coding, and analyzing textual, audiovisual, social media, and other data. They can also support other uses of NVivo, such as organizing literature reviews and handling survey data.

Upcoming Workshops

Wednesday, May 15, 2019 - 1:00pm to 3:00pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400
Wednesday, July 10, 2019 - 1:00pm to 3:00pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Preparing to Publish

Graduate students are always encouraged to publish but often without really knowing what that means or how to start. This workshop will focus on navigating the peer review process and will also touch on the topics of open access, working with an editor, and co-authorship.  It will include a discussion of copyright transfer agreements and licenses and provide insight into publishing venues for assuring your research has the best possible visibility, accessibility, and impact.

A few questions this session will help to answer:

  • How does the publishing cycle work?
  • How can you assess potential publishing venues?
  • What is peer review and how can you respond to reviewer comments?
  • What rights can you retain to your published research?
  • What are predatory publishers and how can you avoid them?

Upcoming Workshops

Saturday, May 25, 2019 - 2:00pm to 4:00pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 1600

Research Ethics: Ethics Principles and Institutional Requirements

The purpose of this session is to engage students in considering and discussing the ethical conduct of research involving humans. A number of topics will be covered, including a brief overview of the ethics review process.

Upcoming Workshops

Saturday, May 25, 2019 - 9:30am to 11:00amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 1530

Sketching Your Summer 2019 Writing Road Map

In this power-charged mini-workshop, facilitators will help students establish clear writing goals and plans of action to achieve them over the summer. Key topics will be making a realistic schedule, crafting benchmarks to assess your progress, foreseeing and planning for potential challenges or road blocks, and providing a structured path through the seemingly abstract, amorphous journey of thesis writing!

Upcoming Workshops

Friday, May 10, 2019 - 10:00am to 10:45amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 1425

Write Conversations: Concision: Less is More

Drowning in words? Get to the point. Say more with less. We'll review how to recognize and cut wordiness and redundancy. By applying these strategies, you'll see immediate improvements in sentence clarity!

Upcoming Workshops

Friday, May 17, 2019 - 10:30am to 11:30amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Write Conversations: Don't Plagiarize: Understanding how to Paraphrase

Learning how to accurately and skillfully use our own words to describe other scholar’s ideas remains a challenging process for many graduate students, and understandably so. While practicing and improving paraphrasing is guaranteed to level-up your writing, doing so without plagiarizing can and should be an ongoing concern. Come to this discussion to learn more about that foreboding beast "plagiarism," and its lesser known version "patch writing," so that you are better able to both spot it in students' writing and avoid it in your own.

Upcoming Workshops

Friday, July 5, 2019 - 10:30am to 11:30amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Write Conversations: Everything in 250 words or less: Writing abstracts

Wondering how you can put all of that crucial information about your research into just one paragraph? Join today’s discussion for some tips to master this pesky task that follows so much of our hard work. Even 250 words can make a difference in selling your potential audience on the value of your research!

Upcoming Workshops

Friday, June 7, 2019 - 10:30am to 11:30amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Write Conversations: Getting the feedback you need and applying it

Our professors’ feedback can be one of the most valuable tools we receive as graduate students, leading to deeply meaningful change in our thinking and writing – if we can figure out what to do with it! Don’t let those teachable moments go to waste. Let’s talk about how we can improve incorporating (and accepting) others’ feedback into our writing process.

Upcoming Workshops

Friday, June 28, 2019 - 10:30am to 11:30amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Write Conversations: Lay Language

Lay language is needed in order to convey technical and advanced ideas in ways that are more effective than “dumbing it down”. You may be preparing a grant or fellowship proposal, writing for online purposes or fine tuning your “job talk”— all of which require you to translate your work and research to persons outside of your core field of study.

Upcoming Workshops

Friday, July 19, 2019 - 10:30am to 11:30amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Write Conversations: Open topic (free for all)

Have some burning writing questions? Need to get something off your chest? These open topic Write Conversations discussions are an opportunity to have a free flowing conversation about writing with your peers and a Graduate Writing Facilitator.

Upcoming Workshops

Friday, May 31, 2019 - 10:30am to 11:30amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400
Friday, June 21, 2019 - 10:30am to 11:30amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400
Friday, August 2, 2019 - 10:30am to 11:30amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Write Conversations: Overcoming procrastination and developing a writing habit

Join us for a conversation about all those things that keep us from writing. We will also discuss some practical strategies for building writing into your life so that it becomes a regular practice.

Upcoming Workshops

Friday, May 24, 2019 - 10:30am to 11:30amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Write Conversations: The Home Stretch: Revising and Proofreading

Knowing when to revise, what to look for, and when it's time to proofread will help you edit your own writing more effectively.

Upcoming Workshops

Friday, July 26, 2019 - 10:30am to 11:30amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Write Conversations: Transition Words and How to Use Them

Are you getting feedback that your writing is “choppy”? Are you overusing certain transitional words and phrases like “however” or “on the other hand”? Join today’s discussion on how to use transitions thoughtfully so that your reader can comprehend your writing with ease and clarity.

Upcoming Workshops

Friday, June 14, 2019 - 10:30am to 11:30amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Write Conversations: What is a Literature Review?

Believe it or not, it’s not just a long summary of relevant literature. 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.

Upcoming Workshops

Friday, July 12, 2019 - 10:30am to 11:30amVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 7400

Writing and Researching Your Literature Review

This interactive workshop focuses on the literature review and literature search. At this session you will learn:

  • conventions of literature reviews,
  • search strategies,
  • advanced features of research databases,
  • and tips to further develop effective and efficient research skills.

Upcoming Workshops

Saturday, May 25, 2019 - 11:30am to 1:30pmVancouver, Harbour Centre, Rm 1600

Other services

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