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Writing services offered by the Research Commons


Graduate writing services logo

The Research Commons provides writing support services to SFU graduate researchers across all disciplines.

A Writing Services Coordinator and a team of Graduate Writing Facilitators are available to work with graduate students at any stage of the writing process. Support is not just limited to theses and dissertations but to any type of academic writing. Learn more about the team.


read ahead service image Read Ahead Service

Students are invited to request a Read Ahead to get intensive writing support that may include one-on-one in-person or electronic consultations  with a Graduate Facilitator or the Writing Services Coordinator.  Graduate Facilitators and the Writing Services Coordinator comment on student writing (but do not edit student work) and suggest resources and ways of making progress.

Once a Read Ahead request is received, a student will normally receive a reply within 48-72 hours (excluding weekends) confirming the request and making plans about how to proceed. Students should not expect that feedback can be provided with less than 72 hours notice (excluding weekends). The time to respond to student work varies depending on the length of the submission, the number of students requesting feedback, and the facilitators’ and writing coordinator’s existing commitments. Be sure to submit your request well in advance of course or semester deadlines.

Make a Read Ahead request

writing consultations image Writing consultations

Students can book in person one-on-one consultations with a Graduate Facilitator or the Writing Services Coordinator to discuss any aspect of the writing process. Consultations can include discussions around time management and goal setting for writing, stages of the writing process, and planning for different writing assignments. Writing consultations are 30 or 60 minutes long and may be available at all three campuses. Students interested in having their written work reviewed in a consultation should submit a Read Ahead request.

Once a Writing Consultation request is received, a student will normally receive a reply within 48-72 hours (excluding weekends) confirming the request and making plans about how to proceed.

Make a Writing Consultation request

presentation consultations imagePresentation consultations

Responding to a call for papers or preparing for a defense? Graduate Writing Facilitators or the Writing Services Coordinator offer consultations for students who are interested in the process of developing a presentation based on their written work. Presentation consultations can help students to prepare for conferences, in-class presentations, and defenses.

Once a Presentation Consultation request is received, a student will normally receive a reply within 48 - 72 hours (excluding weekends) confirming the request and making plans about how to proceed.

Make a Writing Consultation request and choose "Presentation" as the "Consultation Type".


Thesis Boot Camp


Thesis Boot Camp is a multi-day workshop which provides graduate students with the opportunity to spend three days dedicated to making serious progress on their dissertation or master’s thesis. Along with a comfortable, quiet working environment, writing and research support, and snacks and lunches, the program offers students community and motivation in that final push towards the completion of their dissertation or thesis.

graduate open writing lab image Graduate Open Writing Lab: Write Time, Write Space

The Graduate Open Writing Lab is for all graduate students who want the time and a quiet, dedicated space to work on their writing. A Graduate Writing Facilitator will be available for consultations and to answer questions. Registration not required - please drop in!

Spring Semester 2019 [January 7 to April 5]

Burnaby Campus
Graduate Open Writing Lab  - Mondays, 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm, SFU Burnaby, W.A.C. Bennett Library, Research Commons, Rm 7010
(no session February 18)

Vancouver Campus
Graduate Open Writing Lab - Fridays, 11:30 am to 2:30 pm, SFU Vancouver, Harbour Centre - Room HC 7400*
*January 11, it will take place in Room HC 1315, from 1:30pm to 4:30pm as part of New Year's Resolution Writing Spectacular


writing workshops image Writing workshops

Write conversations

Attend writing workshops on a variety of topics including:

  • Writing and Researching your Literature Review for Students in the Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Writing and Researching your Literature Review for Students in the Sciences
  • The Writing Process
  • Concise and Coherent Writing for Graduate Students
  • Outlining and Reverse Outlining
  • Revising and Proofreading
  • Writing More Concisely
  • Drafting and Revising
  • Using and Applying Feedback

Check the Workshop Schedule for a complete list of upcoming writing workshops.

Which service is right for me?


"My supervisor/professor says my writing isn’t clear and I want to do better on my next assignment. I’ve already written a draft of my assignment."

"I’m submitting an article to a journal and I want to make sure that I transition between ideas and that my overall argument makes sense."



"I’m having trouble finding time to write. I want to make progress but I’m not sure how to organize the material I have to make everything fit together into my thesis."

"I have to write a literature review but I’m not sure what to include."



"Writing at home isn’t working so well for me. I want to schedule my writing so I don’t get distracted."



"I know my grammar isn’t very good – I need someone to proofread my work."

Graduate Writing Services do not include editing or proofreading.

For more information, see hiring an editor.


Q.  I have met with a facilitator before but I have a new piece of writing I want help with, what should I do?
A.  You need to make a new request, but you can request a particular facilitator – this will then depend on his/her availability.

Q. How many times can I have a facilitator look at the same piece of writing?
A. Facilitators will normally review the same piece of writing two times.

Q. Do I need to attach the document to the read ahead request?
A. No, once you are contacted by a facilitator, you will be asked to email your document.

Q. I made a request on Saturday, when will I hear back?
A. Normally you will hear back within 48 hours- 72 hours, however, this does not include weekends so you should have a response by Wednesday.

Q. How far in advance of my deadline do I need to submit my work?
A. The volume of requests at any given time of semester combined with the size of the document under review will impact the time to complete the process. Students should not expect that requests made with fewer than 72 hours to a deadline can be accommodated.

Q. Will you proof-read or edit my work?
A. No, but we will highlight recurring grammar issues as well as comment on flow, structure, cohesion and arguments. We can also offer suggestions and resources on how to recognize and improve these elements in your own writing

Q. Can I request a particular facilitator?
A. Yes, and the facilitators will attempt to facilitate such requests, but responses are dependent on facilitator availability.

Information for faculty

Graduate Writing Facilitators provide support for graduate students seeking to improve their writing. Services include:

  • Writing Consultations: one-on-one consultations to discuss strategies for time management, planning writing tasks, elements of style, and writing for different audiences
  • Read Ahead: asynchronous feedback on virtually all types of graduate level writing to improve clarity and coherence
  • Presentation Consultations: support for developing oral presentations based on a student’s writing.

Consultations between students and Graduate Writing Facilitators are confidential. Students may be referred to the services by their instructors and advisors, but Graduate Writing Facilitators will not discuss an individual student’s work with an instructor or an advisor without the express permission of the student.

Graduate Writing Facilitators also develop Course Integrated Workshops. Instructors may request these on-demand in-class sessions designed to meet the needs of students related to specific assignments. Please contact the Writing Coordinator, Renée McCallum, for more information (Phone: 778.782.7165 / Email:

Graduate writing resources

See Graduate writing resources for more information on different types of writing.