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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Summer 2015
Peer Advisor Availability

Professional Development Peer
Shawn Warner-Garcia

Mon-Thu: 10 a.m.-noon

Writing Peer & Funding Peer
Kyle Crocco

Mon, Wed: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Communications Peer
Melissa Rapp

Mon: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Wed: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Diversity Peer
Charles Williams

By appointment

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 (42)


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.


How to Salvage Your Summer Writing

Credit: Rennett StoweIn a recent article on Inside Higher Ed, Kerry Ann Rockquemore responds to a reader who is concerned that it's already mid-July and the writer hasn't made a dent in big writing projects. Her tips included:

  1. Get real about why you have not been writing.
  2. Create a 30-day writing plan.
  3. Write every day.
  4. Join a supportive community of daily writers. (We suggest such communities as the Intensive Dissertation Writer's Retreat and the Dissertation Writer's Room here at UCSB!)

Read the full article on Inside Higher Ed's website here.

To get regular updates from Inside Higher Ed, sign up for the newsletter, like it on Facebook, and follow it on Twitter.


CLAS Offers Writing Support to Graduate Students

Are you looking for help with your papers, or just a quiet place to get work done?

Every Thursday evening, UCSB's Campus Learning Assistance Services (CLAS) provides a tranquil writing space exclusively for graduate students in the Student Resource Building, Rooms 3280 and 3282.

You can type away and avail yourself of the free coffee, tea, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, as well as the free writing consultations from one of CLAS’s professional tutors. During a writing consultation, you will usually read parts of your paper aloud, letting your tutor help you identify any issues with flow, logic, and clarity. Writing consultations can also focus on outlining, getting started with writing, and techniques for improved editing. All disciplines are welcome.

Writing Space and Free Consultations

When: Every Thursday, 6-10 p.m.

Where: SRB 3280 and 3282

Who: All UCSB graduate students

Questions? Contact Jay Stemmle at


Update (July 10, 2015): The CLAS graduate student writing space will be closed until further notice.  Writing consultations for graduate students will be available on a first-come-first-served basis from 6-10 p.m. next Thursday, July 16, via Skype at the user name CLASacademicskills.


Dissertation Formatting Tips and Tricks with Microsoft Word

Table of contentsFormat your table of contents. Credit: Hanna PeacockIf you've spent valuable time in your life trying to format your dissertation (or any paper for that matter), you probably want to kill somebody. Don't. Life in prison isn't worth it. Instead, take some tips from Hanna Peacock's Grad Hacker article on formatting your dissertation.

Hanna's Tricks and Tips

The "Insert Page" or "Section Breaks" features help with tedious tasks like page numbering, page orientation, and inserting figures.

Use "Styles" for your paper headings to help create your Table of Contents.

For more information on these tips and a few bonus formatting tricks, check out Hanna's article.

For more grad life tips, check out Grad Hacker.