Graduate College


Skillfully communicating your research and ideas through your writing is crucial in any field. This section is designed to help you understand faculty expectations of graduate student writing, and develop the skills to meet those expectations. You’ll find podcasts featuring faculty in a wide range of fields, as well as workshops on writing effectively. There are also resources to guide you in compiling and writing literature reviews.

Writing in graduate school

Writing groups

ASU graduate students can get help from the Graduate Writing Centers to organize a writing group. Writing groups offer students a way to stay motivated, meet due dates and receive meaningful feedback on their writing. To be matched to a writing group, please complete the graduate writing group form.

Writing effectively: the basics of writing (webinar recording)

We often get so caught up in producing substance in our writing that we lose sight of the basics. In this workshop, we’ll refresh your memory of the writing basics that are often neglected, but will go a long way in helping you communicate your points in a fundamentally sound way. This workshop will provide an overview of the writing process from beginning to end. [46:53]

Writing effectively: avoiding plagiarism (webinar recording)

In today’s digital world, it is very easy to plagiarize in one’s writing, whether intentionally or unintentionally, and the consequences can be very severe. This webinar explores the various forms plagiarism can take and how you can make sure you are using sources without plagiarizing. [30:41]

Writing effectively: the art of argument (webinar recording)

Much academic writing takes the form of argument. You begin with a claim and then set out to write in support or opposition depending upon the results of the research. This webinar helps you understand how to make a sound argument, as well as provides background on different genres of argument and their application. [50:42]

Writing effectively: clear and effective sentences (webinar recording)

While writing sentences seems easy enough, there are some tricks that can be implemented to ensure the intended message is delivered in a manner where the points flow together and make the piece easier to read and follow. This session explores how you can stay on message with concise sentences, create rhythm with parallelism, and make connections using coordination and subordination to not only write clear and effective sentences, but a clear and effective paper. [56:21]

Writing effectively: a refresher on grammar and usage (webinar recording)

A quality argument can be diminished by a lack of polished writing. In today’s world of email, Twitter, text messaging, and slang, following the conventions of grammar and usage can often be a difficult task. Some of the common issues include simple things like subject-verb agreement, composing complete sentences, avoiding run-on and comma-spliced sentences, and pronoun agreement. This webinar provides a refresher on some of the grammar specifics that may have been forgotten in order to help you present your work in a manner that reflects its quality. [46:33]

Writing effectively: tips for multilingual writers (webinar recording)

Writers whose native language is not English face many challenges as they attempt to put their thoughts on paper. Whether it is the lack of direct translation to English, the rules of grammar, cultural norms, or any number of other issues, the not-so-simple task of writing in graduate school is made much more difficult. This session provides tips for writers whose native language is not English and will hopefully provide some clarification on some of the basic challenges that multilingual writers face. [47:43]

Writing effectively: setting yourself up for success (webinar recording)

Success in writing is often predetermined before pen is put to paper (or fingers to keyboard).  Before beginning a piece of writing, it is important that you have devised a plan for that writing. This could entail familiarizing yourself with the conventions of the specific genre, creating an outline, or ensuring that you are prepared to fully support your argument. In this webinar, these considerations and others are discussed in detail to help you better prepare before sitting down to write in order to be successful in your writing. [58:14]

Challenges of good writing: part 1

Drs. Susan Gray and Anna Holian of the Department of History and Dr. Tracy Fessenden of Religious Studies share their thoughts with Dr. Jeanne Simpson about using narrative as a rhetorical strategy, the importance of precision and economy of language, and engaging the literature of one’s field with humility and thoughtfulness. iTunes [29:04]

Challenges of good writing: part 2

Drs. Susan Gray, Anna Holian and Tracy Fessenden discuss with Dr. Jeanne Simpson the importance of self-knowledge and discipline in the writing process. iTunes [6:20]

Challenges of good writing: part 3

Drs. Susan Gray, Anna Holian and Tracy Fessenden share their thoughts with Dr. Jeanne Simpson on different approaches to asking for feedback on drafts, and the pros and cons of each. iTunes [13:43]

Writing so your audience understands the “so what”

Dr. Jeanne Simpson leads a discussion on good writing with Drs. Cassia Spohn, Nancy Rodriguez, and Scott Decker from the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. These scholars highlight the importance of focus and clarity, understanding the audience, and identifying and explaining the “So What” of a piece of writing. iTunes [28:15]

Structure and simplicity

Dr. Jeanne Simpson discusses the structure of good writing and the benefits and importance of simplicity in writing with Dr. Winslow Burleson from Computer Science and Engineering. They also discuss the process of collaborating with other scholars and the idea of using a model or template in organizing the structure of a piece of writing. iTunes[27:20]

Common english mistakes by graduate students

Great tips for avoiding many common writing mistakes made by graduate students. The examples provided are from a math/science perspective, but can be applied to and are pertinent to all disciplines.

Clarity, complexity and style

Drs. Ben Minteer, Jamey Wetmore, Merlyna Lim, and Clark Miller (from Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology) talk with Dr. Jeanne Simpson about how style can make or break a piece of writing and about the tenuous relationship between clarity and complexity. They also discuss the challenge of engaging the reader and paying attention to the way one’s writing comes across to a particular audience. iTunes [42:19]

Resources, advice and tools

Graduate students and faculty seeking to improve their writing should view these resources at the University of Toronto. Covers every stage of writing from the initial planning to the final editing and for all types of projects (e.g. letters, book reviews, lab reports, abstracts, dissertations, etc.).

Faculty expectations of graduate writing

Developing the scholarly voice

Learned professionals are those who write well, communicate well and have a firm grasp of the expectations of the discipline they represent. Dr. Jenefer Husman, an Associate Professor in ASU’s School of Social & Family Dynamics emphasizes the need to “read a lot and write a lot," incorporate the help of peers, and seek out esteemed scholarly works and use them as a guide to develop the “Scholarly Voice.” iTunes [11:53]

Approaching writing like a performance

Two scholars, Dr. Kay Norton and Dr. Sandra Stauffer, from the ASU School of Music come together to offer advice about writing from a performer’s perspective. Similar to the preparation for a musical performance, Norton and Stauffer suggest that students apply the same principles to writing. These principles include breaking down a large project into smaller components and perfecting the individual pieces and then assembling the piece in its entirety to create a polished final product. iTunes [17:15]

Logic, flow and storyboarding

Beyond grammar, the logic and flow can make or break a piece of writing. Dr. Chris Buneo and Dr. Vincent Pizziconi, from the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, explain that a piece of writing must be cohesive and guide the reader through the argument and not just individual pieces. As science writers, they discuss how the use of the charts, graphs, and other figures can be used to, in a sense, tell a story of the data in a way that your audience is able to understand what your intend. iTunes [11:34]

The varying expectations of writing

The nature of a writing project, whether it is for a class or for publication or for a thesis/dissertation, impacts the expectations faculty have of that writing. Dr. Subramanian Rajan and Dr. Edward Kavazanjian, from the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, discuss how they approach different types of writing and what they expect of writing that is for a class, for publication, or for the thesis/dissertation and the nature of the feedback they give for each type. They also talk about the importance of organization, creating an outline, and amount of effort required to accomplish quality writing. iTunes [9:39]

Writing as an iterative process

For students in interdisciplinary fields, it is important to be able to write so that the work can be understood by the entire audience, including those who are not in your specific discipline. In this podcast, Dr. Douglas Fridsma and Dr. Graciela Gonzalez, from the Department of Biomedical Informatics, discuss some of the challenges faced by graduate students in fields that are relatively young and not well known to the broader academic community. They also talk about the writing process being a slow one, in which each piece builds upon the previous and where revisions often seem endless, and strategies for not getting bogged down. iTunes [20:42]

Compiling literature reviews

Writing support at ASU

Grammar and style resources