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Research Commons: Graduate writing resources

Critical writing

Graduate writers are often encouraged to apply critical writing strategies in their work.

This website offers an introduction to critical writing and how to apply it: Learning the difference between descriptive, analytical, persuasive and critical writing (University of Sydney Learning Centre)

Disciplinary writing

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

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

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

Literature reviews

Literature (or lit) reviews are generally a search within a defined range of information source types to discover what has already been written about a specific range or topic.

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? (Student Learning Commons)
Focusing on the writing aspects, including definitions and guidelines for what to include.

Graduate papers

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).

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

Thesis proposals

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.

Capstone projects – Theses and dissertations

What is a Dissertation? by Gary Shank
Suggests and defines four keywords –lively, substantial, important, original – that describe the dissertation

Completing Your Dissertation Without Tears (Columbia University Teaching Center)

Guide books and general information

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.

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)

These guidebooks provide helpful information about writing at the graduate level and encourage students to think about general issues like audience, tone, style, and language use as well as specific writing projects like research papers, literature reviews, exams, theses, and dissertations. These and other guidebooks are available through the SFU Library:

The resource Academic Writing for Graduate Students may be of particular use to graduate students with EAL concerns.

See also:

  • Theses resources
  • NEW! 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 right here.
For information on writing support services to SFU graduate researchers across all disciplines (including consultations, workshops,  and the Read Ahead Service), see Writing Services Offered by the Research Commons.