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Graduate Writing Place Consultation FAQ

How are appointments being conducted during distance learning?

During Fall Quarter, all our consultations will be online, using a combination of Zoom and Google Docs. For instructions on how to prepare for and launch your online appointment, view and download our online protocol here.

What should I expect from a Writing Place appointment?

Writing Place fellows are not graders, ghostwriters, proofreaders, or copy editors but rather attentive readers who are trained to engage you in an active conversation about your writing.

A Writing Place fellow will discuss your writing to help you find ways to evolve and edit your text, whether you are in the early stages of working with a prompt or polishing a complete draft. We can explore a complete draft for the clarity of your organization, the coherence and cohesion of your argument, and the efficacy of your sentence structure. We can address issues at the language level no matter your topic or level of English fluency. Ultimately, Writing Place fellows lend their ears to catch writing issues you might not have noticed.

However, if you would like to work with the Writing Place on proofreading your paper, we will read through the paper with you, help you make corrections, and engage you in conversation about grammar and style. Because proofreading and correcting errors can be time consuming, you may need multiple appointments to get through your paper.  If you are looking solely for proofreading and editing, we can recommend editors whom you can pay.

Printable Resource – Preparing for an Appointment  

How do I make an appointment?

When you log in, you’ll arrive at the Writing Place schedule for the current week.  Navigate to the Graduate Writing Place using the mid-screen drop down. You can see which tutors are available on the left.  The available time slots with open appointments are in white, booked face-to-face appointments are in light blue, and booked online appointments are in red.  Any appointment you have booked appears in golden yellow.

Once you select an available time slot, choose whether you want a face-to-face or online appointment and fill in details about your assignment or project in the pop-up. You can also attach a draft of your text for your fellow. You will receive an email confirming your appointment shortly thereafter.  Be mindful of additional instructions and please double-check the appointment type in the subject line of your confirmation email.

Note that there is a “WAITING LIST” with a date on the lower right-hand-side below the schedule for the day.  If you join the waiting list, you will be automatically notified if an appointment opens up.  You can place limits on the time or fellow, though of course the more limited your terms the less likely it is that an opening will occur.  You can attempt to drop-in if there is an open appointment, but it is safest to book ahead.

How long of an appointment should I book?

Appointments in Graduate Writing Place are 1-2 hours in length. The most common type of appointment is a 1 hour, face-to-face meeting. However, clients working on article/chapter-length work who want feedback on the entire piece at once may choose to book 2 hours of back-to-back appointments.  Appointments always include one hour of synchronous work with a Graduate Writing Place fellow on your document, whether you are working with printed copies in person or with a shared Google Doc online. 

A two-hour appointment gives the fellow one hour to read ahead, and is therefore recommended for longer documents (over 15 pages).  In such instances, the consultant spends the first hour reading the work shared with writingplace@gmail.com via Google Docs and jotting notes, which they use to structure a conversation with the client during the second hour. Clients who register for such an appointment should be sure to indicate this preference when they register so that the Writing Consultant doesn’t expect you during the first hour of your appointment. Such appointments are more appropriate for students who are looking for more synthetic feedback/comments on big picture aspects of their writing (e.g., structure, organization, flow). Students who seek feedback at the sentence/paragraph level should work synchronously with writing consultants.

Though it is always best to work with a writing consultant face-to-face, for graduate students at Northwestern who have full time jobs, are conducting research in foreign countries, or simply live outside the Chicago-area, online appointments may be more appropriate. These appointments take place via Google Docs augmented by live conversation on the phone or via Zoom.

In rare instances (normally due to time differences) it is impossible to conduct synchronous online appointments with a student. In such cases, clients should email writingplace@northwestern.edu to ask about setting up an asynchronous online appointment. Clients should also be advised that writing consultants will not perform grammatical line editing during such appointments.

Clients may book up to 4 hours of appointments/month (though no more than 2 hours of appointments/week) in the Graduate Writing Place. For more information about booking appointments, please see the policies tab on this website.

What is the difference between an in-person and online appointment?

Appointments always include one hour of synchronous work with a Graduate Writing Place fellow on your document, whether you are working with printed copies in person or with a shared Google Doc online.  A face-to-face consultation takes place in person at a Writing Place location over printed copies of your document.

If you have an online appointment, please upload your work to a Google Doc and share the link with writingplace@gmail.com at least 30 minutes before your appointment.  You should be logged into your Google Doc and ready to work at your appointment time.

If your appointment is online, we recommend avoiding the “MEET ONLINE?” link.  Instead, you will supplement your work in the Google Doc with chat, Skype, or a telephone call according to the information you provided in the appointment pop up. Your tutor may email you before your appointment to remind you to upload your doc and to ask for your phone number or Skype ID.

How do I share documents with the Graduate Writing Place for an online appointment?

Please upload the document you want to discuss to Google Docs 30 minutes before the appointment. Share your document with writingplace@gmail.com and enable editing so the consultant can work in the document with you. For a tutorial in uploading your document, click this link.

How do I cancel [or edit] my appointment? How should I decide whether to cancel?

It is easy to cancel your appointment up to 12 hours in advance. Just go to schedule, click on your appointment, and scroll down to the bottom where you can click the “cancel” button.  If you need to cancel an appointment, please do so early to allow other students to take advantage of that appointment time.

If you need to edit your appointment or cancel within 12 hours due to an emergency, email writingplace@gmail.com with your name and appointment time in the email’s subject line and describe the situation in the body of the email. Multiple late cancellations may result in your account being disabled.

Which leads to a common question – Should I keep my appointment even if I am not finished with my document?  The short answer is “yes.”

Writing Place fellows are equipped to help you at any point in the writing process. A consultation while you are stuck can be fruitful. It can expose underdeveloped ideas, organizational issues, or leaps of logic that make it hard to follow your argument. A fellow can help you catch issues before they become worse.  That being said, the decision to cancel your Writing Place appointment depends on whether you feel prepared to take advantage of the session.

What happens if I don’t show up?

If you make an appointment, please note it on your calendar or planner and then either show up or cancel 12 hours in advance. If you miss an appointment without canceling, we mark you as a “no show” and the system automatically disables your account. You will need to email the Writing Place and request that your account is reinstated. The Writing Place administrators will typically reinstate your account within a day, unless you have missed many appointments. They decide when to reinstate those accounts on a case-by-case basis.

What are the limitations on the number of appointments I can make?

Writers are eligible for 2 hours of appointments/week, but no more than 4 hours/month. Writers may also work with the undergraduate consultants in the Main Library Writing Place or in the Chicago Campus Writing Place in the Schaffner Library. However, to maximize the allocation of all resources, no student may book more than 2 hours of appointments across all Writing Places in a given week.

Writers wishing to exceed 2 hours appointments/week are always welcome to come for a drop-in writing consultation at either the Graduate Writing Place or the Main Library Writing Place during any hours that a schedule shows as available/unbooked.