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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Winter 2016
Peer Advisor Availability

Writing Peer
Kyle Crocco

Mon: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Tue: 10 a.m.-noon
Wed: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Thu: 10 a.m.-noon

Funding Peer
Stephanie Griffin
Mon: 10 a.m.-noon
Wed: noon-2 p.m.

Diversity Peer
Ana Romero

Mon: noon-2 p.m.
Wed: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

The peers sometimes hold events or attend meetings during their regular office hours. To assure you connect with your Graduate Peer Advisor, we encourage you to contact them by email and make an appointment.


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Entries in writing (45)


What's Keeping You from Finishing Your Dissertation?

There are probably as many answers to that question as there are dissertation writers. But no matter the reason, one thing is likely true: there’s often a large, unspoken disconnect between faculty advisers and graduate students when it comes to writing a dissertation.

In a recent article on Inside Higher Ed, Kerry Ann Rockquemore writes, "Advisers imagine that delays are due to the content of the project, while graduate students are most often struggling with writing and resistance. Because of that disconnect, advisers’ efforts don’t meet students where they are stuck, and the students’ impostor syndrome can be so intense (and the power differential so great) that it keeps them from asking for the type of help they need."

While Rockquemore's article is targeted at faculty advisers, graduate students can glean some good advice that they can start using right away:

  1. Ask yourself, "What is a dissertation?" Let's face it, most graduate students have never written a dissertation before, and the genre is wildly different from the types of papers they've been writing (e.g. binge-and-bust seminar papers) and reading (e.g. closely critiqued seminal works in their field) thus far in grad school. Have a detailed discussion with your advisor about the scope and quality requirements of a dissertation, and ask for a rubric, guidebook, or successful sample.
  2. Get into a daily writing habit. As Rockquemore writes, "It’s well documented that the most productive academics write every day - Monday through Friday - in short periods of time. (And by “writing” I mean anything that moves a manuscript out the door.) However, that’s the opposite of how most graduate students write, or imagine they should write, their dissertations. This emerges from a combination of past binge-and-bust writing habits, the flawed assumption that nothing can get done in 30 minutes a day, and the idea that they must have everything figured out before they start writing." So, if your current strategy isn't working for you, try out a new one!
  3. Figure out what type of support you need and where you can get it. Dissertation writers thrive in a supportive community of active daily writers. This might look like an in-person writing space like the Graduate Writers' Room or an online community of peers that can provide built-in and regular accountability.

To read Rockquemore's full article, click here.

To get regular updates from Inside Higher Ed, sign up for the newsletter, or connect via Facebook or Twitter.


Dissertation Writing Retreat Recap: Day One

BootcamperDissertation Bootcamper hard at work. Credit: openclipart.comFor those of you not attending this year's Intensive Dissertation Writing Retreat, here's a breakdown of what you missed on the first day: setting SMART goals and breaking down goals into subtasks. 

SMART goals

  • Specific: determine the what, when, and how of what you plan to do in detailed terms.
  • Measurable: define in numbers what you will do (pages written, hours worked, concepts worked on).
  • Achievable: make goals you can achieve realistically in the time allotted.
  • Relevant: consider which goals are most productive and important to you.
  • Time limited: set endpoints to your goals and then reevaluate and reassess your progress.


Now that you have goals, make them manageable by

  • Breaking down your goals into tasks: what do you need to do to achieve this goal?
  • Breaking down your tasks into subtasks: what steps do you need to complete each task?
  • Determining the time amount for subtasks: estimate how long will each task and subtask will take.

If you would like help setting goals and tasks for your dissertation, set up an appointment with the Graduate Division's Writing Peer Kyle Crocco


Stay Organized and on Track With Your Dissertation

Writing Tip LogoLook at any dissertation work area and it’s bound to resemble a federal disaster zone. Staying organized is the key to keeping on track. Here are a few articles from former Writing Peer Ryan Dippre on how to stay on top.

Plan your dissertation: Use outlines to put your ideas in order.

File organization: Establish a system to keep your multiple drafts manageable.

Keep your dissertation on track: Ten tips from writing every weekday to knowing when to research and when to write.

For more help with writing, all graduate students are encouraged to book an appointment with the Graduate Division's new writing peer, Kyle Crocco. Kyle can be reached at:

Writing Peer Kyle Crocco. Credit: Patricia Marroquin


Five Tips on Writing for a Non-Academic Audience

Writing Tip LogoAre you planning to write for a non-academic audience? Here are five tips to get you focused. The advice comes from the Chronicle Vitae article "5 Lessons on Writing for the Public," by Anne Trubek.

  1. Join an ongoing conversation: Find a topic people are already talking about and add your new perspective.
  2. Learn the field: If you want to write for a particular magazine, read that magazine to know what the audience expects.
  3. Don't brag about your degree: Editors care less about your degree and more about having an article that is well-written.
  4. Do not research everything: Instead, only read the top books and interview the key players in the field.
  5. Use active verbs: Avoid poor Ph.D. prose and use active verbs and sentence variety.

Do You Suffer from Poor Ph.D. Prose?

Sam WineburgSam Wineburg. Credit: Stanford UniversityIn a sharp interview with Stanford professor Sam Wineburg on the ills of scholarly writing, Wineburg revealed the classic symptoms of poor Ph.D. prose and suggested some cures for your writing woes.

Here's the quick gist of the article:

Is my writing bad? If you or someone you love answers "yes" to either question below, seek immediate assistance now.

  • Are you topic sentences 45 words long?
  • Do you often use words like "posits," "delineates," and "mediates" and you're not mocking someone at the time?

How can I fix my writing?

  • Drop the jargon: write using words that the average person on the street would understand.
  • Read your writing out loud: if you or someone cannot easily understand the content when it's read aloud, then you need to revise. 

Want to learn more? Read the Chronicle of Higher Education article here.

Want help with your writing? Contact the Writing Peer Kyle Crocco at


Motivate Yourself to Write

Now that you’ve found a time to write and a place to write, how do you get started and stay motivated when writing? Here are a few tips from former Writing Peer Ryan Dippre to get your writing mojo working. Click on the links for more advice.

Convince yourself to write: Celebrate small accomplishments and use periodic reflection to help you stay on track.

Get in the writing zone: Make a plan and write on a daily basis to get in the zone.

Your writing process: Analyze your writing process to help you maximize your results.

No-fail secret to writing a dissertation: Spoiler alert: it's daily writing at a set time.

Fresh approaches to writing: Wake up earlier and use other methods than just a keyboard.

For more help with writing, all graduate students are encouraged to book an appointment with the Graduate Division's new writing peer, Kyle Crocco. Kyle can be reached at:

Writing Peer Kyle Crocco. Credit: Patricia Marroquin


Finding a Place to Write

Credit: Carrie BaughcumFinding a comfortable place to write is just as important as having the time to write. Hemingway spoke of a clean, "well-lighted" space.

For some, that place might be the Dissertation Writing Room in the Student Resource Building, for others it might be a café or a study carrel in the library.

Here are a few things to consider when creating your writing environment, courtesy of former Writing Peer Ryan Dippre.

Building your writing environment: Tips on how to build a writing environment.

Consider your writing environment: Different writing environments for different stages of writing.

Writing in different places: Choose different locations for different writing tasks.

For more help with writing, all graduate students are encouraged to book an appointment with the Graduate Division's new writing peer, Kyle Crocco. Kyle can be reached at:

Writing Peer Kyle Crocco. Credit: Patricia Marroquin


Ryan's Writing Tools

NotebooksAll writers need a few good tools.

Here are a few of the best that former Writing Peer Ryan Dippre has researched over the past two years to help you organize your ideas, take notes, and share your research with an outside audience.

Ideas: Tools and tips for working out your ideas.

Notes: From old-fashioned paper to phone apps: ways to get your thoughts down.

Screencasting: Are you visual? Use screencasting tools to get your ideas across.

Voice tools: Like to talk it out? Here's a few tools to use voice to help your writing.

Writing outlets: Find places to write your thoughts and research online.


The Secrets to Finding Time to Write


Want to learn the secrets to finding time to write? Check out the wisdom of former Writing Peer Ryan Dippre. He coveres developing a motivating schedule to using twenty or thirty minutes a day to make progress.

20 minutes: Get work done by writing and revising in small bursts.

30 minutes: Schedule thirty minutes a day when you can get words down.

Finding time to write: How to balance writing with a heavy teaching load.

Motivating schedule: Learn how to craft a schedule that motivates you to complete tasks. 


The Importance of Writing - And Writing Well - In All Fields

Credit: Nic McPheeWhile you may think that extensive writing skills are the purview of Humanities and Social Science fields, a recent article on Vitae argues that STEM scholars should also practice and hone writing skills. Theresa MacPhail draws on her own experience as an assistant professor, as well as interviews with three high-profile technology professionals, to convince STEM students that writing skills matter for any career path. Read the full article here.

In related news, the Dissertation Writer's Room will resume a relatively normal schedule starting in August. Hosted in the Student Resource Building (Room 1103), the Writer's Room is open four days a week during the following times:

Mondays and Wednesdays: 1-4 p.m.
Tuesdays and Thursdays: 9 a.m.-noon

The only exceptions to this regular schedule are Tuesday, August 4 (when it will be open 1-4 p.m.) and Thursday, August 20 (when it will be hosted in SRB 2154). Come join your fellow scholars from across disciplines to exercise your writing muscles! Click here for the full summer schedule.