For Graduate Students
We work with graduate students on a variety of documents, including
- Technical Reports
- Grant proposals
- Dissertations and Masters' theses
- Journal articles
- Conference presentations
- PowerPoint presentations
- Job application materials
- Course papers
Ways you can work with the GCC
- Receive feedback on a draft. Upload a draft you have created and ask your tutor to give you feedback. If your draft is long, explain what areas you would like to focus on when you make your appointment. You may make multiple appointments to go over a single draft. We prioritize making sure that your abstract and introduction clarify the importance and purpose of your research and that your results and their implications are clear.
- Creating a space for your research. One of the biggest difficulties graduate students face is explaining the importance of their research. When writing an introduction, abstract, or proposal, you need to explain why your research is important, how it connects to previous research, and how it is a new contribution to your field. Moreover, you typically need to describe this research in a way that makes sense to both experts and non-experts in your field. Our tutors can help you Establish the Revelance of Your Research Contribution.
- Develop a presentation. If you are getting ready to deliver an oral presentation, you may want some help creating effective PowerPoint or Prezi slides. Our tutors will talk to you about research showing what makes an effective conference presentation and work with you to develop slides.
- Rehearse an oral presentation. You can use our tutors as an audience who can give you feedback on your oral presentation skills. We have a private conference room we can use to allow you to run through your presentation. We can even videotape your presentation and review it with you.
- Design figures, graphs, and tables that will make your results clear to a general audience. If you are working on a technical project, how you present your data is central to explaining your research and argument. Our tutors will review some of the principles of effective data visualization with you and help you present your data so your main findings and conclusions are clear to readers.
- Write a literature review. Your literature review should tell a story about the research you are reviewing rather than simply summarize a bunch of studies. Our tutors can help you make sense of this research literature and organize it in a way that provides a rationale for the research you are doing.
- Brainstorm. You can come in just to talk through your ideas and work with a tutor to develop your ideas or create an outline. If you are experiencing writer's block, our tutors can help you select a topic and develop a plan for action.
- Attend one of our workshops. See our list of upcoming workshops for more information.
Making your Appointment
Please upload your draft 2 HOURS in advance- Uploading your draft will enable your tutor to prepare for your appointment and will ensure your appointment begins on time (Please note: A draft is not necessary to visit the GCC if you're still in the brainstorming stage.)
Please upload your assignment prompt and a model essay (if applicable)-When we meet with graduate students, our priority is to make sure that the purpose and rationale for your research is clear to your readers, and that your information appears in the places readers expect to find it.
In order for your tutor to provide advice that is specific to your field or area of study, we encourage you to provide us with a model essay. If you are working on a dissertation or thesis, ask your advisor to provide you an example that she or he considers a good model. If you are working on a journal article, we would like to see an example of a publication from the journal you plan to submit to. We will help you analyze these model documents so you can make your presentation and style match what is expected
Our philosophy on grammar
A paper can be grammatically correct and still very difficult for readers to understand. Likewise, a paper can be logical, clear and concise even though it contains a few grammatical errors. In fact, most readers will forgive a few grammatical errors if they can understand what the writer is trying to say. Errors become most noticeable when a writer’s thoughts or arguments are unclear.
Our philosophy in the GCC is to first focus on making your arguments and ideas clear before we focus on errors. We believe this focus on clarity will improve your writing (and your grade!) more than just eliminating grammatical errors. We also believe that strategies for clear writing can be taught more easily than English grammar rules, which can only be learned through repetition over long periods of time. In other words, we can be a resource for helping you gain grammatical knowledge, but our approach puts your learning as the top priority.
The GCC offers several workshops throughout the Fall and Spring semesters. These works are open and free to all CMU students across all disciplines. For more information on our workshops, including upcoming workshops please visit the Workshops page.
Other CMU resources for graduate students seeking to improve their communication skills
- Graduate Education offers many professional development opportunities for graduate students, including workshops and discussions on grant-writing, gender and communication, preparing job search materials, and other topics.
- The Eberly Center provides support for graduate student teaching and can help graduate students develop teaching statements and teaching portfolios.
- The Intercultural Communication Center supports non-native English speakers in developing fluency in speaking, reading, and writing. They offer many seminars and workshops throughout the year to support non-native English language speakers.
- Public Communication for Researchers offers seminars and support for scientists wishing to communicate with the general public.