Writing Support

 

At the StAAR Center, we approach writing as inherently collaborative and recursive, as well as an ongoing learning endeavor. We believe every writer deserves a discerning, compassionate reader and that conversation is beneficial to developing your writing. We aim to demystify academic writing and engage writers in a more robust process. 

You can meet with us during any stage in your writing process: from brainstorming and organizing ideas, to drafting, revising, and polishing. We will work together to strengthen and refine your argument, clarify and organize your ideas, deepen your analysis, and develop your writing style and process. We can also demystify citations and disciplinary conventions.

Whether you are a first-year undergraduate starting your first college paper or a doctoral candidate finishing your dissertation, our goal is to help you feel confident about your writing.  

Book a Writing Appointment on Tutor Finder!

More About Writing Support

First-Year Writing

We can help with the transition from high school to college writing. Our consultants are familiar with the expectations of the classes that fulfill the first-year writing requirement.

Writing for any Class

Your development as a writer doesn’t stop outside of English class or after the first or even the second year of college. Each new year, class, discipline, or project brings new challenges and learning opportunities. Writing is situational; it can change depending on the audience, situation, discipline, or genre. Using a process-based approach, we can help you better understand the expectations of different disciplines.

Multilingual Writers and International Students

We are dedicated to helping you develop your voice and ideas. Our writing consultants are also trained to answer questions about diction, rhetoric, grammar, and word choice for greater clarity. We can demystify American academic expectations and essay structures. Our approach is focused on your choices as a writer: your paper always remains your own.

Senior Honors Thesis

Because longer projects such as a thesis can benefit from early and regular discussion of the overall structure, chapter outlines, and early drafts, we recommend ongoing meetings with the same writing consultant. Through the Senior Writers Action Group (SWAG), we offer workshops specific to the senior thesis (such as developing a thesis writing process, using citation management software, writing in STEM fields, and preparing for your defense), as well as our popular weekend thesis write-ins, which provide dedicated blocks of focused writing time. SWAG programming begins in October -- please check the StAAR calender for senior thesis-related events!

Personal Statements

Personal statements are a unique and challenging genre of writing! Whether you’re applying for law school, medical school, graduate school, grants, fellowships, or scholarships, or other opportunities, we can help you develop and revise your personal statement. If you are a current Tufts student, please make an appointment through Tutor Finder. Tufts alumni can have up to two appointments for personal statements. Alumni do not have access to Tutor Finder, so please email us with the answers to the following questions:

  • What type of personal statement are you working on?

  • What is your deadline?

  • Where are you in your process, and what are your main concerns?

  • What is your general availability to meet for a synchronous virtual session?

Using Sources

Our writing sessions offer a safe space to develop strategies for incorporating outside sources into your writing, such as properly integrating quotations, paraphrasing effectively and appropriately, and citing accurately. 

Policies
  • Appointments are limited to one session per day, three sessions per week, and 15 hours of writing tutoring per semester. Contact us if you have questions.
  • You must give us at least six hours' notice if you need to cancel an appointment. If you cancel with less than six-hour notice, it is considered a no-show. After two no-shows, Tutor Finder will not allow you to make another appointment. At that point, you must contact the program director, Kristina Aikens, to discuss your options.
  • In order to work on a take-home exam, you must present written permission from the professor, which can be provided in the syllabus, assignment sheet, or an email.
  • Do not make an appointment for another student or bring another student's paper to a writing tutoring session. Violating this rule may result in a suspension of services. Please contact us if you or a friend is having trouble making an appointment or is close to hitting the appointment limit and we will find a solution!
  • In the case of group writing projects, one student may make the appointment but the entire group should attend, unless you have split up the writing and only want to work on your own section of the paper.

 

Graduate Student Programming

Graduate Writing Consultations

We provide one-on-one support for graduate-level projects such as seminar papers, qualifying papers, thesis proposals, fellowship applications, theses, doctoral dissertations, and abstracts and papers for conferences or publication. We understand the particular challenges graduate students face. Writing consultations may be arranged for regular weekly appointments or on an as-needed basis. 

Writers Block (Graduate Writing Group)

Writers Block is a weekly writing accountability group for graduate students. Each weekly, three-hour session includes a short check-in where you can set personal goals and chat with other graduate students about struggles, successes, and strategies. The rest of the session is dedicated writing time to help you build a regular writing habit. A writing consultant will be available to provide structure and consultations as needed. 

Fall 2020 Writers Block Dates: We are currently meeting remotely on Fridays, 9am - 12pm. Please sign up for Writers Block on Tutor Finder or email Taylor.Parrish@tufts.edu to be added to the listserv.

Graduate Writing Retreats

Graduate Writing Retreats are week-long, writing-intensive events designed to help graduate students make significant progress on their thesis, dissertation, qualifying papers, or related independent projects. Usually held in January, June, and August, our graduate writing retreats provide a supportive environment where you can learn and practice healthy writing habits and focus entirely on your writing. Each retreat includes weekly and daily goal-setting, dedicated writing time, and the opportunity for feedback from graduate writing consultants as desired. Registration is required. (This box and the StAAR Center calendar will be updated when registration for the next retreat opens.)

Resources for Health Sciences and Fletcher 

StAAR Writing Support is currently available only to students in Arts and Sciences, Engineering, and SMFA, but other schools offer the following: 

  • The Health Sciences campus offers Health Sciences Writing Consulting for students enrolled in Tufts Medical School, Dental School, Tufts Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and Friedman School of Nutrition. Health Sciences Writing Consultants support projects such as research papers, clinical articles, personal statements, theses, doctoral dissertations, conference papers, proposals, posters, and abstracts. 

  • The Fletcher School offers its own Graduate Writing Program available through the Ginn Library.

Become a Graduate Writing Consultant!

We hire graduate students in all disciplines from GSAS and SOE to be graduate writing consultants! Currently, applications are closed, but will reopen in March 2021 for a Fall 2021 start date. Please check back in the spring for more information.

Writing Fellows Program

Writing Fellows Program

The Writing Fellows Program fosters writing as a process by building time and attention for review and significant revision into course schedules. Writing fellows are undergraduate peer writing tutors who are assigned to specific courses from a variety of disciplines and work with the same students throughout the semester. Writing fellows read drafts of papers before meeting with student writers, then talk with the writers about their process and goals, asking questions to help them make decisions about revising their papers. 

Education and Learning Opportunities for Writing Fellows

Writing fellows and the faculty in the program are committed to writing as a process and to developing their teaching and tutoring practices: 

  • New writing fellows take a full-credit, semester-long seminar on writing tutoring pedagogy. Besides helping them become more skilled tutors, this also encourages them to analyze their own writing habits and styles.
  • Returning fellows participate in ongoing discussions about writing and pedagogy.
Information for Faculty

Writing Fellows faculty meet regularly to share strategies, assignments, tips, and goals for writing instruction in their courses. Faculty interested in joining the program can find more information on the StAAR Center Faculty Partnerships page.

Courses Offered Fall 2020
Course Title Professor
ANTH 168 Anthropology of Colonialism/ Decolonizing Anthropology Bishara
ENV 1 Intro to Environmental Studies Stein
CH 30 Community Health Methods Acevedo, Tendulkar
EC 127 Urban Economics Hardman
ENG 21 British Lit Beowolf to 18th C Keiser
HIST 96 Foundation Sem: Europe Proctor
PS 185 Nuclear Weapons in International Politics Taliaferro
PSY 147 Multitasking Ward
REL 100 Religion and Film Lemons
SOC/CH 186 International Health Policy Taylor

 

Become a Writing Fellow!

Thank you for your interest in becoming a writing fellow! We hire each spring semester for a fall start date; currently, all our positions are filled for 2020 - 2021. We will update this page by January 15 at the latest with information on how to become a writing fellow in Fall 2021. 

Position Statements

Statement of Anti-Racist Practice

*This statement is a draft, under review by our student staff. Approval of the final version is pending.*

As professionals and student employees dedicated to assisting writers, we recognize that the proliferation of the English language, both written and spoken, has long been used as a tool of colonialism and white supremacy. As a diverse group, in addition to educating ourselves about this history, many of us have personally experienced and been shaped by linguistic racism ourselves.

 

In our roles as writing assistants, in an effort to combat this systemic injustice, we commit ourselves to the following:

  • We prioritize understanding how white supremacy has influenced academia generally and academic writing specifically in our WF and GWC training.

  • We respect every writer’s right to their own language (see Students’ Right to Their Own Language), and we celebrate and advocate for linguistic diversity.We understand so-called “Standard English” as a myth and refuse to conceptualize it as apolitical. We will not serve as gatekeepers of the English language.

  • When we encounter oppressive language or rhetoric, we will address it thoroughly with the writer, discussing any conscious or unconscious bias underlying the language

  • We will regularly reflect on our own writing experiences and identities as writers, --to confront our own biases and assumptions related to our writing and our work as writing assistants.

Students' Right to their Own Language

NOTE: This statement is a draft currently under review by our student staff. Approval of the final version is pending.*

For too long, American schools have forced students to conform to a style of speaking and writing that adheres to white, middle/upper-class expectations. Many students have learned to code-switch, using different language at home than at school. This practice has endangered some languages altogether and has resulted in students losing both language skills and confidence in their own expression. 

While we emphasize the importance of considering one’s genre, audience, and rhetorical situation in writing, we simultaneously support each student’s right to use their own language. We support the practice of code-meshing, in which writers combine traditional academic language with dialects of English, non-English languages, written “accents,” and other variations. Code-meshing in scholarly writing has existed since at least the 1970s, and we crave further expansion of academic language. We assist writers in making their own rhetorical choices, even if those may not adhere to traditional expectations. More broadly, we honor the writer’s agency in writing, even as we acknowledge the complex power structures that influence that writing. Our goal is to help students revise thoughtfully, through informed choices about their writing, rather than to enforce any one mode of communication.

 
Inclusive Language (including statement on pronoun use)

Note: This statement is a draft under review by our student staff. Final approval is pending.

As writers, we are aware of the power of language to oppress, and we strive to make our own language use as inclusive as possible. We recognize the important work of feminist, LGBTQIA, anti-racist, and disability activists in changing language norms and raising awareness of sexist, gender-exclusive, racist, ableist, xenophobic, transphobic, and other oppressive language. We defer to each individual’s pronoun choice. We encourage use of singular they, in opposition to some style guides, because people are more important than grammar -- and because the malleability of language has been and should be a form of resistance to oppression. 

Through attempts to understand and educate, not shame, we as writing assistants commit to addressing oppressive language in student writing and helping writers to become aware of both unconscious and conscious bias in academic research and writing. We specifically commit to addressing oppressive language that does not directly affect us or our identities, in an attempt to lessen the burden for our colleagues who are directly affected, and we reserve the right to end conversations that seek to harm us deliberately. We aim to increase empathy and awareness as well as reduce the prevalence of oppressive language.