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SPH Writing Support Services

Getting started with SPH Writing Support Services

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Writing Support Services?

Writing Support Services provides writing education to reduce the gaps in communication and critical thinking skills that are crucial for academic and professional success. We work with students at all levels of proficiency at all stages of the writing process to help them develop and take responsibility for their own writing by providing them with advice, instruction, and support. Overall, we strive to help students become more effective and more confident communicators by discovering their own voices, developing their critical thinking skills, and building their confidence as independent thinkers and writers.

NOTE: Writing Support Services does not provide editing and proofreading services such as manuscript preparation, grant proposal review, etc. We will refer anyone seeking editorial assistance for manuscript submissions, journal articles, and grant proposals to freelance editors/writers who are not affiliated with UTHealth School of Public Health and who establish their own protocols and pay rates.

Where are you located?

We are located in the SPH Library & Graduate Communication Center on the first floor of the Reuel A. Stallones (RAS) Building in the Houston campus of UTHealth School of Public Health. Our physical address is 1200 Pressler Street, RAS E109, Houston, TX 77030.

Can you help me if I’m not at the Houston campus?

Absolutely! Although we are physically located in the Houston campus, our resources and services are available virtually to students at all campuses of UTHealth School of Public Health. First, we provide online writing consultations via web and video conferencing applications, primarily Cisco Webex. Second, we provide a myriad of academic, ESL, and scientific writing resources (e.g., video tutorials, handouts, and PowerPoint presentations) in this LibGuide.

When are you open?

We are open year-round from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

How can I contact you?

You can reach us at 713-500-9121 and via email: SPHWritingHub@uth.tmc.edu.

Who can use your services?

Because Writing Support Services is a teaching unit of UTHealth School of Public Health, our services are intended for current students at all School of Public Health campuses. Thus, only currently enrolled students can schedule writing consultations and participate in our mini-courses and writing groups. However, anyone can access this LibGuide, which houses a myriad of academic, ESL, and scientific writing resources (e.g., video tutorials, handouts, PowerPoint presentations) designed for graduate students in the health sciences.

How much do your resources and services cost?

Our resources and services are free of charge to all UTHealth School of Public Health students.

What do you do and don’t do?

We assist students in many areas of writing to help them develop and take responsibility for their own writing by providing them with advice, instruction, and support. Thus, we expect students to participate in every stage of the writing process. To that end, we will not draft, revise, or edit papers for you, but we will work with you to complete each of these stages. For a complete description of our scope of work, visit the Home page.

 

Briefly, the following are some writing-related tasks that we do and don’t do:

YES

NO

Help you understand grammar and mechanics through practice and discussion

Perform a “grammar check” of your paper where we correct the grammar mistakes for you or without your participation

Help you practice proofreading strategies using your paper

Proofread your paper for you or without your participation

Help you understand assignments and develop ideas for writing your paper

Generate ideas for you or represent your instructor when answering questions about assignments or grades

Help you critically evaluate and responsibly integrate sources through modeling, discussion, and practice

Fix citation errors, find research, or validate references or reference lists for you

Help you evaluate structure, organization, and development of claims and ideas in your paper

Tell you what claims you should write or assess the accuracy of the content in your paper

Help you practice critical thinking and revision when making your own decisions in your own writing

Fix your paper for you

Meet and talk with you about any writing issue for any assignment in any course

Review or discuss your paper without your participation or presence

Help you develop a plan for continued improvement and practice in writing

Solve every writing problem for you, even with repeat sessions

Can I drop off my paper, have it corrected, and pick it up?

No. We are not a drop-off or drive-thru editing/proofreading service, so we will not revise or edit/proofread your paper for you. However, we will gladly meet with you to teach you the writing skills you need to revise and edit/proofread your own paper.

Our goal is to help you become a better writer by improving and enhancing your overall writing skills. If we revised and edited/proofread your writing for you, you might end up with a more polished paper, but you wouldn’t understand what we had done to make it better. By teaching you to self-revise and self-edit/proofread, you will learn how to make not only one particular paper better, but every single paper you write.

Do I need to make an appointment to meet with you?

No, but we encourage you to do so!

You are welcome to drop in during normal business hours (8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Monday–Friday). However, because we might be fully booked when you drop in, especially during high-traffic times around midterms and finals, we highly recommend scheduling an appointment to ensure that we’re available to meet at your desired time.

How do I make an appointment?

To schedule an appointment, visit our online scheduler at https://uth.mywconline.com/. First-time users will need to register for an account using their UTHealth email address. After registering for an account, you can make, modify, or cancel an appointment online. For additional information, visit the Appointment Service page.  

Where do I go for my appointment?

For in-person appointments, you will meet in the office of your selected Writing Support Services team member. For online appointments, your selected Writing Support Services team member will email you the link to their Cisco Webex Personal Room before your appointment time. 

What should I do if I can't keep my appointment?

To ensure that your session is available for other students, please cancel your appointment as soon as you know that you can’t keep it. You can cancel your appointment using our online scheduler up to 2 hours before the scheduled start time. After that, you must contact your selected Writing Support Services team member directly to let them know you need to cancel your appointment.

What can I expect from my writing consultation?

Whether meeting in-person or online, for 30 minutes or 1 hour, you can expect a helpful, relaxed conversation, comprising discussion, reflection, and writing, with someone who wants to help you become a better writer. Specifically, we will review your document, ask you questions about your and your instructor’s goals for the writing assignment, discuss general concerns you have about your writing skills, and then provide targeted feedback designed to help you learn strategies that you can apply to your document as well as all of your other writing assignments. In our experience, students who are prepared to discuss, explore, and experiment collaboratively with their writing in this way tend to benefit the most from these one-on-one writing consultations.

How can I get the most out of my writing consultation?

To get the most of your writing consultation:

  • Bring the assignment (instructions, guidelines, and, if applicable, grading rubric); all drafts you’ve worked on thus far (including brainstorming/prewriting); and a list of writing-related questions.
  • Come before your assignment’s due date to give you time to make revisions based on our constructive feedback.
  • Plan for multiple sessions in case you need more than one, especially for longer documents.

How much of my document will we be able to get through in a session?

Sessions can be scheduled for 30 minutes or 1 hour, so you need to set a realistic goal for how much material can be covered in the amount of time you select. Depending on the length of your document, especially in the case of theses and dissertations, we might recommend that you schedule multiple sessions to review the various sections. Because so many different factors are involved, we cannot guarantee that a certain amount of pages will be covered in a session. Regardless, we recommend that you visit us with your document early enough to allow plenty of time for revisions.

What if I don't have anything written?

Not a problem! You can visit us at any stage of the writing process, even without a draft. In fact, early sessions focused on understanding the assignment and brainstorming ideas are often some of the most productive sessions for students.

If you’re stuck in your writing, come see us! We are well versed in helping students overcome writer’s block. Specifically, we can help you brainstorm, map out ideas, and discuss a variety of strategies for approaching your writing assignment.

Can you help me with my grammar, mechanics, and usage?

Absolutely, but keep in mind that the kind of help we provide involves teaching you how to improve your writing skills. Thus, we will help you identify and understand the grammatical errors in your writing, as well as teach you and model for you revising and editing strategies you can use to fix your writing. In addition to the myriad of tip sheets and handouts on grammar, mechanics, and usage on the Academic Writing page, we offer mini-courses focused on grammar, punctuation, and style. If you need help with these lower-order/sentence-level concerns, we encourage you to review our online resources, enroll in one of our mini-courses, or schedule a writing consultation.

Can you help me with references?

Certainly. We will help you find resources to critically evaluate, responsibly integrate sources, and correctly document your paper, but we will not check citations, fix citation errors, or validate references or reference lists for you. Instead, we will give you resources and teach you what you need to know to do them yourself. For example, if you are using the 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (i.e., APA Style), visit the APA 7th edition LibGuide

For help with your research, including defining a topic, reviewing the literature, and developing a researchable question, you can schedule a consultation with the SPH Liaison Librarian via the following link: Consult With A Librarian.

Can you help me with my résumé and/or CV?

Yes! We collaborate with UTHealth School of Public Health Alumni and Career Services to help students connect and build long-term relationships with potential employers. Specifically, we provide resources related to writing a résumé/CV, cover letter, and personal statement, as well as review these various types of career writing via one-on-one writing consultations. For additional information, visit the Career Writing page. 

Can you help me with a manuscript submission, journal article, or grant proposal?

No. We are a writing support service, not an editing and proofreading service (such as professional author/editing services affiliated with major publishers). Specifically, we are a teaching unit of UTHealth School of Public Health developed to educate students on how to become better writers by working with them on their coursework, thesis, or dissertation. Thus, we aim to help students meet the academic requirements of their degree program, not to get them published or funded. By improving and enhancing their overall writing skills, however, we believe students will increase their chances of getting published or funded in their future professional careers.  

We will refer anyone seeking editorial assistance for manuscript submissions, journal articles, or grant proposals to freelance editors/writers who are not affiliated with the School of Public Health and who establish their own protocols and pay rates. This allows us to keep our focus on completing our mission-critical activities related to writing education.