Individualized Support for UVA Graduate Engineering Writing & Presentations

Support and strategies to help you improve your work - theses and dissertations, class assignments, conference presentations, research articles and more. Bring your writing, presentation, or poster in for a consultation.


The Graduate Writing Lab currently provides one-on-one consultation appointments for objective and constructive feedback on writing, presentations, and posters. Our trained writing consultants focus on common composition issues (paragraph or sentence structure, argument development, organization and clarity) and offer ESL support.

One-on-one consultation are currently open to Engineering graduate students, postdoctoral research associates (also called research associates), and postdoctoral fellows. If you are not an engineering graduate student or postdoc and are interested in consultations or other support, be sure to fill out the form linked at the bottom of this page to let us know and help us advocate for expanded offerings.

Consultations

Writing Consultants provide appointments for Master’s and Doctoral students, as well as postdocs (postdoctoral fellows and research associates) within UVA Engineering. Writing Consultants meet by appointment. Appointments are scheduled for 50 minutes and can be made 5 weeks-12 hours in advance through our main scheduler and a limited number of same day appointments are available in 20 or 50 minute blocks through our same day scheduler. You don’t have to have a completed draft of your writing to make an appointment with a Writing Consultant, but we do ask that you bring a few items along to your appointment:

  1. One copy of your work for your writing consultant to use.
  2. One copy of your writing for you to use and take notes on.
  3. The guidelines for the writing you would like reviewed (info about the journal, call for applications or proposals, evaluation criteria, abstract or article guidelines, etc.).

If you are unable to attend a scheduled appointment, please cancel (use the cancel button on your appointment confirmation email) at least 24 hours in advance to allow us to fill that time with another client who needs it. Cancel via the appointment confirmation email (preferred), email gradwritinglab@virginia.edu or DM Kelly &/or your consultant in Slack as soon as you know you cannot make your appointment, even if it is just an hour before. If you are more than 10 minutes late for a scheduled appointment, you may need to reschedule. For last minute concerns or if you know you're running late, please also contact your consultant directly via Slack. After your second no-show, you may be prevented from scheduling additional appointments.

  • FAQ

    Am I eligible for one-on-one consultations with a consultant?

    Are you a part of UVA Engineering? If not, then at this time no. But you can indicate your interest here to help us advocate for expanded support.

    If you are a UVA Engineering graduate student (Masters or PhD), then yes, you can make one-on-one appointments.

    UVA Engineering postdocs can also make appointments. Postdocs are postdoctoral research associates, research associates, or postdoctoral research fellows. You can check your designation in the UVA directory. If you see something other than postdoctoral research associate, research associate, or postdoctoral fellow, you would not be considered a postdoc.  If you are a UVA Engineering postdoc, then you can make one-on-one appointments.

    If you are not a UVA Engineering postdoc or graduate student, you are NOT eligible for one on one appointments with writing consultants. Thus, faculty, staff, research associates, etc. would not be eligible at this time. However, please indicate your interest here to help us advocate for expanded support. You can, however, use the online resources and attend events.

     

    What does an appointment with a Writing Consultant look like? How will they help?

    Your writing consultant will assist you in identifying key areas of improvement and offer feedback with respect to the structure and organization, style, documentation, grammar, content, and argument. Your Writing Consultant will not edit or proofread your paper, nor are they responsible for quantitative or technical accuracy.  During your appointment session, your writing consultant will identify problems and suggest strategies to improve your writing skills with respect to both higher lever concerns – like structure and organization – and lower-level concerns such as format and language mechanics.

     

    How does the appointment process work?

    All appointments are booked online and include up to 50 minutes of one-on-one consultation. Appointments can be booked 12 hours to 5 weeks in advance through the main scheduler. Same day appointments are available on a limited basis and can be booked on the same day appointments scheduler. Often same day availability is announced in Slack. If none of the available times work for you, you can also request an appointment using the link above the schedule on the main scheduling page. Appointments can also be made with Kelly by email or Slack DM. These are usually working through planning larger writing projects like dissertations. Appointments are limited to one or two per week per client.

     

    I cannot come to my appointment. What should I do? (How to cancel)

    If you are unable to attend a scheduled appointment, please cancel at least 24 hours in advance to allow someone else to book the slot. Once you know you cannot make your appointment, please let us know, even if it is an hour before. You can cancel and reschedule appointments using the links in your appointment confirmation email (best choice since it automatically opens the slot for others), email gradwritinglab@virginia.edu, or DM KellyC(GWL) or your consultant in Slack. If you have last minute concerns or know you'll be late, you can direct message your consultant in Slack to let them know. If you are more than 10 minutes late for a scheduled appointment, you may need to reschedule . After your second no-show, you may be prevented from scheduling additional appointments.

     

    How many appointments can I make?

    Graduate engineering students and post docs are permitted to make a maximum of 2 50-minute appointments per week. If you book more than this, your additional appointments may be canceled. If we have high demand, appointments may be restricted to 1 per week. If you book two appointments back to back, remember to give your consultant a break at the 50 minute mark. Do not book more than 2 appointments back to back. We found consultations to become less effective after the second hour due to fatigue.

     

    How many times can I bring my paper (or presentation or poster)?

    A particular paper, presentation, or poster is limited to a maximum of 10 consultation hours, regardless of who is bringing it or how many authors it has. Think about how to use your appointments strategically. Remember, the types of things you find in one part of your paper, are probably present in other parts as well. We recommend using your notes from consultations to help you look at the rest of your work with similar ideas in mind and apply what you learned to revising your work. Most clients never come close to the 10 hour limit. If you're getting close, it might be time to reflect on how you are using your appointments, consider if it'd be easier to add another author or hire an editor, or decide if it might be time for the paper to be shared with lab mates/advisor(s) or submitted. Remember you also have other options for feedback, such as peer review groups and the UVA Writing Center, where you can even make 1-on-1 appointments with ESL faculty for language concerns.

     

    My document isn’t finished; should I keep my appointment?

    Yes! A Writing Consultant can help you at any point in the writing process. You do not need to have a completed draft for an appointment.

     

    Can I bring my Qualifier/Comprehensive Exam or take home exam?

    Writing Consultants are not able to provide feedback on a take-home exam, this includes the SIE, EE, and MSE comprehensive/qualifying exams. If you are unsure if a given paper is allowed to have feedback or be brought for a consultation, please discuss it with your professor/advisor or committee in advance.

     

    How should I prepare for my appointment?

    Please come prepared with questions or concerns to address, and your Writing Consultant will start with holistic concerns before moving to sentence-level issues. Document-level concerns such as structure and organization may affect the meaning and ideas of a document. Therefore, you may need to do significant revision before addressing sentence-level issues such as grammar and mechanics which are likely to change with document-level revision.

    Please remember to come to your appointment with at least one printed copy of your writing for the Writing Consultant to use.

     

  • Online Appointments- Pilot

    Students on central grounds are expected to take advantage of the standard face-to-face appointments most of the time. Online appointments are currently limited in number and offered outside of our usual hours to allow those off grounds and at satellite locations or working full time outside of the university to benefit from consultations. If demand allows, on grounds students who need an online appointment may also be able to book. Appointments for Zoom consultations are booked on via the Online appointments booking link.

     

    What do I need to do to participate in a Zoom consultation?

    More complete instructions with screenshots and key links are available here.

     

    You will need to

    • have a device (usually a computer) with a webcam and audio input/output and a strong high speed internet connection able to support video chat
    • have Zoom desktop installed (currently only zoom desktop allows for screensharing)
    • have your document digitally available on your device so that you can have it up during your screenshare
    • have access to your UVA email the day of your appointment to click your meeting link
    • have a location where you will have enough privacy to have a consultation on your work
    • a quiet enviornment or a headset

    It is reccommended that you test your audio/video before your meeting and make sure you can screenshare your document.

     

    How does a Zoom consultation work?

    Complete screenshot instructions available here

    On the day of your consultation, you will recieve an email with a link to join your zoom meeting. At the time of your consultation, open zoom desktop and click the link. This should connect you to your meeting in Zoom.

    Quick Tip: If you have trouble with the sound in Zoom, check that you do not have mute on in Zoom and that you have the correct audio input and output selected (click the arrow next to the mute button in zoom to see or change these selections).

    At the start of the meeting, your consultant will ask you about the document and your concerns. This usually covers what the document is, what stage you are at with it, the audience (this could be a specific journal, for instance) and where it is going next, what section you will be looking at and what concerns you would like to focus on.

    You should bring your document up on your screen and initiate a screenshare (See instruction on zoom or in the linked document above for help on this). This will allow the consultant to see the document but you remain in control of it and the document never leaves your device.

    You will discuss the document and your concerns with your consultant. 

     

    What if I have trouble with Zoom?

    Test your set up before your consultation if possible and consult our Complete screenshot instructions available here and Zoom's help pages to make sure you have sources of support if needed.

    Let your consultant know what trouble you are having - you can try this in Zoom and if that is not working, follow up via DM in Slack or by email.

    Late: If you will be late, please let your consultant know in slack and or email.

    Common issues with audio: 

    • When you join the meeting, be sure to click join with computer audio/video.
    • Check that you do not have mute on in Zoom and that your device volume is set appropriately.
    • If you are using a headset or headphones, check that they are recognized, their volume is correct, your mic not muted and that you can hear other audio on your device.
    • Check have the correct audio input and output selected in Zoom (click the arrow next to the mute button in zoom to see or change these selections)<- this is usually the issue

     

    What else might I need to know?

    Be aware of your environment when using Zoom. This includes not including anyone else accidentally in the background of your video in image or audio. This can be easy to forget if you are in a public place or at home. If you are in a video chat with your headphones on, it can feel like you are in a one-on-one private space even if you aren't. Be mindful that people around you can still see your screen and hear your discussion. 

    Avoid back lighting yourself. Do not sit with a window behind you because this can make you look like a sillouette. Also avoid highlight reflective surfaces behind you. Luckily, the majority of time your consultant will see your document rather than you on the screen.

    Use a headset if you need to. If you have a quiet environment and a decent laptop, you may not need headphones or a headset. Many laptops, tablets and phones can really good sound and noise cancelling. However, if you have trouble hearing your consultant, if they are having trouble hearing you, you are in a public place, a less than quite location, a shared environment or even at home where family members or roommates might interrupt, you might be better off using headphones or a headset with a mic. 

    Annotations (like writing on the screen) in Zoom are an overlay on the screen. This means they are not attached to the document your are showing and are just a layer in zoom. So if you scroll your document, the annotations won't scroll. If you have useful Zoom annotations, you can use Zoom's screenshot button to automatically save a screenshot in a meeting folder. See the linked document above for more details. For more detailed notes, it's highly reccommended that you make changes or take your own notes in your document (ex. insert comments in word) or elsewhere to make sure you have guidance for your next steps.

    You can get a Zoom Pro account through UVA (optional).

    Please do not record your consultant in audio, video or image without first obtaining their consent.

     

Schedule an Appointment

GWL Main Location (Thornton D216): Schedule online with a consultant (12 hours-5 weeks in advance) <-most appointments

Same day appointments (Thornton D216): Schedule online (time of appointment-24 hours in advance)- book existing same day/night before, limited availability

NEW: Online appointments via Zoom (video chat): Schedule online (12 hours in advance)- limited number of appointments, evenings and weekends, students off central grounds prioritized |These are synchronous video chat appointments where documents are shown through screen sharing; you must have the desktop version of Zoom installed to participate .

Max number of appointments per week: 2 50-minute appointments;

Max number of consultation hours on a given paper/presentation/poster: 10 hours (regardless of who brings the document)

Request appointment- Open appointment times not working with your schedule? Use the link in the description in the main scheduling calendar to submit an appointment request.

Please note, the Graduate Writing Lab does not offer writing, rewriting, copy-editing or proofreading services for students or postdocs. The objective of the Graduate Writing Lab is to help you grow as a professional writer rather than proofread or write for you. You may consider swapping papers with others to edit or hiring a professional editor.

Meet the Consultants

  • Keira Mahoney

    Keira Mahoney

    PhD Candidate, Chemistry | GWL Consultant


    Keira is a doctoral candidate in bio-analytical chemistry researching immunotherapeutic targets for cancers and viruses. She works with many students to clearly communicate their research to an audience through publications and presentations.

     

  • Natalie Thompson

    Natalie Thompson

    PhD Candidate, English | GWL Consultant


    Natalie is a doctoral candidate in the English department. In addition to years of experience teaching and tutoring writing, Natalie spent a year teaching English as a foreign language in Valenciennes, France.

     

     

  • Maria C. Panepinto

    Maria C. Panepinto

    PhD Candidate, Chemistry | GWL Consultant


    Maria is a Chemistry Ph.D. candidate in the Hunt Laboratory researching how to characterize the amino acid sequence of proteins and their post-translational modifications by mass spectrometry. Maria helps students clearly communicate their ideas. 

  • Online Resources

    The Graduate Writing Lab has compiled a selection of online resources relevant to the writing and communication needs of UVA Engineering graduate students.

    View Online Resources
  • Get Involved

    The Graduate Writing Lab provides a number of opportunities for faculty, post docs, and graduate students to get involved. Those with research or grant writing experience might considering being on a panel or leading a workshop. Future opportunities may exist for assisting with research projects, text cleaning, text analysis, qualitative coding, resource development, consultant training and more. See our current opportunities including position announcements by following the link below.

    See Current Opportunities

Graduate Writing Lab on Slack

Have a quick question or want up to date announcements? Join us on Slack. (use your UVA email)

Not a UVA Engineering grad student or postdoc & want help from the Graduate Writing Lab? Help us advocate for wider support by letting us know your interest here. Not finding what you need? Submit your suggestions here.