Research Commons: Writing resources for graduate students

 This page will connect you with guides and resources for academic writing.

 Looking for writing services? Please see Writing services offered by the Research Commons for more about our extensive range, including consultations, workshops, and the Read Ahead Service, available to SFU graduate researchers from all disciplines.

General guides to academic writing for graduate students

Writing Tips for PhD Students by John H. Cochrane
Insight and reminders about what to include in a graduate paper (primarily focused on social science, business, and applied writing, but relevant to all graduate level papers).

The Yale Graduate School of Arts & Sciences provides introductory information about Writing Through Grad School (as well as information about writing a scientific research paper).

Learning the difference between descriptive, analytical, persuasive and critical writing (University of Sydney Learning Centre)

Selected guidebooks to writing at the graduate level available through SFU Library:

Even a Grad Student Needs Sleep (Video: Somnolence+ for SFU)
Sleep and being a grad student do not always seem to be compatible, especially during those overwhelmingly busy days! Yet, sleep is absolutely essential. Tips and recommendations on better sleep can be found in this video. 

Guides and handbooks on writing a thesis or dissertation

The Research Commons is pleased to offer extensive services to support you in completing your thesis. To access these, please visit: Research Commons: Theses services and support.

Online guides

Writing Thesis and Dissertation Proposals (Penn State’s Graduate Writing Center)
Introduces strategies to transition from coursework to the capstone project as well as common elements to include in the proposal along with additional links and suggestions about proposal writing.

Useful Things to Know about PhD Thesis Research by H.T. Kung
A detailed overview of the PhD writing process from start to finish with information on a number of issues including selecting a topic, writing a thesis proposal, producing results, and writing.

Completing Your Dissertation Without Tears (Columbia University Teaching Center)


SFU Library has many guidebooks and handbooks on the topic of writing a thesis or dissertation. To access these books, search the following subject heading in the Library Catalogue: Dissertations, Academic -- Authorship and Dissertations, Academic -- Authorship -- Handbooks, manuals, etc

Guides to writing literature reviews

Literature reviews for graduate students (SFU Library)
Designed as a starting point for graduate students, particularly in the social and behavioural sciences, with an emphasis on finding, keeping track of, and citing sources.

Literature reviews in the applied sciences (SFU Library)
A brief introduction to literature reviews for students in the applied sciences. 

Academic writing: What is a literature review? (SFU's Student Learning Commons)
Focusing on the writing aspects, including definitions and guidelines for what to include.

Selected guides to academic writing in specific disciplines

Online guides

Writing in the Sciences and Engineering (UCLA Graduate Writing Center)
A list of resources and type of writing that graduate students in science and engineering may find helpful

Writing and Speaking Guidelines for Engineering and Science by Michael Alley
Resources and online lessons for scientific writing, presentations, posters, reports, and correspondence.

Business Writing (SFU Library)
An extensive list of resources for business writers

Writing Seminar Papers in the Humanities by Carolee Klimchock (Yale Graduate Writing Center)
A brief overview of the important elements to include in argumentative graduate-level papers in the humanities


Gladon, et al. Getting Published in the Life Sciences. Hoboken: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

Hofmann, Angelika H. Writing in the Biological Sciences: a Comprehensive Resource for Scientific Communication. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Kahan, Jeffrey. Getting Published in the Humanities: What to Know, Where to Aim, How to Succeed. London: McFarland & Co., 2012.

Lewin, Beverly A. Writing Readable Research: a Guide for Students of Social Science. London: Equinox, 2010.

Silyn-Roberts, Heather. Writing for Science and Engineering Papers, Presentations and Reports. 2nd ed., Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2013.

Access more books like these by searching subject headings like the following the Library Catalogue: 

Owned by: Robyn Long
Last revised: 2023-09-06