Writing & Research CenterWrite there with you

Student Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who can use the OWRC, and for what?

Q: Help! You're booked on the date/time that I need!  What can I do?

Q:†I'm a graduate student.  What services are available for me?

Q: Why should I go the OWRC?

Q:†What if I don’t have a research paper -- can I still come to the OWRC?

Q: Where is the OWRC, and when is it open?

Q: Do I need an appointment?

Q: How long does a conference take, and how often can I come in?

Q: Who is on the staff?

Q: Can I request a particular staff member?

Q: What should I bring?

Q: Can I drop off a paper and pick it up later? Or send it to you by email?

Q: Can one member of a group bring in a paper that the group has worked on together?†

Q: Can you show me how to cite the sources I use in a paper?

Q: Can you help me with grammar?

Q: Will my instructor know that I have come to the OWRC?

Q:†Will you look at papers on the computer?

Q: How can I become a writing consultant?

Q: To whom should I go if I have a question, complaint or a suggestion about the OWRC?

 


Q: Who can use the OWRC, and for what?
A: The Odegaard Writing & Research Center is open to the entire UW community: faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students from any course.  The only exception to our “open-door policy” is that, unfortunately, we cannot typically help students who are writing papers in languages other than English. Most of our visitors bring in papers they are writing for courses, including research and creative work, but we also help with personal writing such as application essays, cover letters, oral speeches, group papers, personal statements, resumes, and articles for publication. If a piece of writing is important to you, it’s important to us!
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Q: Help! You're booked on the date/time that I need!  What can I do?
A: Don't panic! The first option is to keep an eye on our schedule for cancellations. On average, 5-7 appointments open up (often last-minute) on a daily basis, so be sure to check the sign-up page often. If there are simply no online appointments available within your timeline, please stop by the OWRC and let us know you're here for a drop-in consultation -- we have a tutor set aside to work with writers on a drop-in basis during most of our open hours. Writers are then worked with on a first come, first served basis.
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Q: I'm a graduate student.  What services are available for me?
A: 
Currently the OWRC is in the process of trying to determine how we can best serve our graduate student population.  Having graduate and advanced undergraduate writing consultants is a strong start, but we recognize that because graduate-level writing is often more demanding or greater in scope, 45 minute sessions may not provide you with all the feedback you would want.  At this time, we recommend: 1) focusing on only 1-2 concerns at each session; 2) signing up for multiple appointments if your paper is longer than 8-10 pages; and 3) visiting our graduate drop-in consultations in the Research Commons (Allen Library South), where sessions may last up to 1.5 hours.

Are you working on your MA thesis, dissertation, or an article for publication and need specialized tutorial assistance on a regular basis?  Please e-mail Jenny Halpin at owrc@u.washington.edu with your name, department, a synopsis of your writing project, and the specific writing and/or research needs you have.  If enough graduate students from your discipline are interested, opportunities exist for joining an OWRC tutor-moderated writing group.
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Q: Why should I go the OWRC?
A:
Because all writers deserve good readers. The OWRC is a safe place to ask questions about writing and to try out your work on a friendly, responsive reader who will make suggestions and help you find answers to your questions. The extra time you spend on your writing at the OWRC will give you an edge, and will boost your confidence and your performance as a writer. (See Getting the Most Out of Your Session for more information about what goes on in a conference.) Besides, it’s free!
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Q:  What if I don’t have a research paper -- can I still come to the OWRC?
A:
Of course!  While the OWRC is an ideal center to visit if you need to locate and/or make use of sources in your paper (after all, we’re located in the Odegaard Undergraduate Library and work closely with the research librarians on staff) we're more than willing to help you with all of your writing needs!
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Q: Where is the OWRC, and when is it open?
A:
The OWRC is located on the first floor of the Odegaard Undergraduate Library (campus map) in room 121.   

During the regular academic year, we are open during the following hours (except for select campus holidays): Monday-Thursday from 9am-9pm, Friday from 9am-3pm, and Sunday from 12pm to 9pm
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Q: Do I need an appointment?
A:
Short answer: yes.  Signing up for an appointment is highly recommended.  If you do so, you’re guaranteed to see a tutor of your choosing at a specific day/time.  There is no hassle, no wait time, and no worries.  What more can you ask for?     

Students who drop in without an appointment risk not being seen and/or having to wait for a long period of time if we’re busy.  That said, if you need writing assistance and are unable to make an appointment, we recommend you drop into the center regardless.  Sometimes appointments are cancelled last minute.  We also give away a reserved spot if the writer doesn't show up within the first 10 minutes of the appointment.  For more information about our drop-in policies, please visit this page

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Q: How long does a conference take, and how often can I come in?
A:
We limit conferences to forty-five minutes, but up to that limit, the length of a session depends on the length of your paper and the questions that you have. You may come in as often as you like. We do limit students to two appointments a week, but you can try for additional drop-in spots anytime.  For more information about our appointment policies, please visit this link.
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Q: Who is on the staff?
A:
Please visit this link for more information. 
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Q: Can I request a particular staff member?
A:
Sure, as long as that person is on the schedule and not already booked with another writer at the time you want to come in.
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Q: What should I bring?
A:
Bring as much information as you can about your assignment; bring your work-in-progress at any stage; bring your questions; and bring an open mind!

*REQUEST: If you bring a draft of your paper to the center, please make sure it's double-spaced. That way, itís easier for you to take notes on the draft itself. 
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Q: Can I drop off a paper and pick it up later? Or send it to you by email?
A:
Sorry, we don’t “fix” or work on your paper in your absence. The OWRC is all about conversation. Both you and your consultant will be asking and answering questions -- reading your paper together and engaging in a dialogue about what is working and what isn’t, looking for solutions to problems, and exploring different options together. (See Getting the Most Out of Your Session for more information about what goes on in a writing center conference.)  

If what you have in mind is just getting your paper proofread, you should know that we don’t provide that service. We’re happy to do some “supervised proofreading" -- that is, to help you recognize and learn how to correct persistent errors -- but you have to be here!  If a professional proofreading service or editor to do it for you is all you're looking for (e.g., to help with the final polish on an article for publication), please email us with a request for our list of editors-for-hire.
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Q: Can one member of a group bring in a paper that the group has worked on together?
A:
If different group members have written different parts of the paper, they all need to be here to ask and answer questions about their parts. (And yes, that includes late-stage revisions and technical corrections; if there are errors to be found, the person who made them has to be here to correct them!)
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Q: Can you show me how to cite the sources I use in a paper?
A:
Yes. If you have kept track of all the necessary publication information, and if you know which system of documentation you want to use (MLA, APA, CBE, and CSE to name a few), we will help you look up answers to your questions about citation of print and electronic sources. You can also find a lot of information about citing sources (include sample papers formatted in APA, MLA, CBE, and CSE format!) in the Writing Resources section of this web site.
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Q: Can you help me with grammar?
A:
Yes. We always ask you what special concerns you have about a paper when you bring it in, and if “grammar” is one of those concerns, then we will help you find answers to your questions. And as readers, correct grammar and usage are among the many things we look for in reading drafts of papers with students. However, please keep in mind the following:

The OWRC is not an editing and proofreading service, and we don’t promise instant results. Our job is to provide support and reader feedback (in the context of the writing you have done) so that you gradually come to recognize and correct your own errors; our job is not to fix them for you (that would never help you with future work).

Every writing center session involves setting priorities and making choices about what to emphasize. Sometimes grammatical concerns will be the major focus of a conference, but often we will spend our time together on more “global” questions (Does this make sense? Can you follow the structure of my argument? Do I need to explain this more?) and save the fine tuning and polishing for another day and another draft.

You may want to look at our Writing Resources page for online grammar and punctuation handouts and tutorials.
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Q: Will my instructor know that I have come to the OWRC?
A:
Yes, if either you or the instructor requests a record of your OWRC visits, we can send an email confirmation. With your permission, we will also send a brief summary of your conference to your instructor – not to evaluate you or your writing, but just to mention what you and your consultant discussed (e.g. “Jim and I talked about ways to make his introduction into a clear roadmap for the rest of his paper. We also checked the APA manual to find out how to cite some of his sources.”) We send these notes upon request because we know that most instructors are pleased and impressed to learn that a student was conscientious enough to spend extra time on his writing at the OWRC; however, if you request that we not communicate with your instructor about your visits, we won’t.
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Q:  Will you look at papers on the computer?
A:
 
Our tutors are generally happy to read documents on a computer. You are welcome to bring your own laptop or to make use of one of the OWRC's laptop or desktop computers by emailing the document to yourself in advance of the session so that you can open it with the consultant once you begin the session.
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Q: How can I become a writing consultant?
A: 
We are always on the lookout for good undergraduate and graduate tutors.  Please feel free to e-mail Jenny Halpin at owrc@u.washington.edu to inquire about possible job openings. We welcome and encourage applicants from all disciplines.
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Q: To whom should I go if I have a complaint or a suggestion about the OWRC?
A:
The director of the OWRC, Jenny Halpin, would love to hear from you. If she’s not in the center, please send her an e-mail at owrc@u.washington.edu.  


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